Children's Monitor Online
A Public Policy Update from the Child Welfare League of America

   
   
Vol. 23, Issue 6: 2/22/2010   
Headlines

Bryan Samuels Approved for ACYF

Two New Reports Raise Concerns About Medicaid

HHS, Education Department Leaders Brief National Organizations

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Bryan Samuels Approved for ACYF

On Friday, February 11, the U.S. Senate approved the nomination of Bryan Samuels to head up the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families. The agency plays a critical role in the oversight of many human service programs including child care and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families but, most importantly to CWLA, also child welfare programs. As a result, the agency is vital to the effective implementation of the Fostering Connections to Success Act (P.L. 110-351). In praising the action Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, "Bryan Samuels has devoted his career to working on behalf of children, youth and families. His distinguished career in public service has been guided by his personal experience growing up in a residential school for disadvantaged children. He is committed to making a difference in the lives of at-risk children, and will be an outstanding leader at the Administration for Children and Families." The Senate took the action along with 26 other nominations. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) was reported to have placed a hold on all presidential nominees as way to get funding for some projects in Alabama.

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Two New Reports Raise Concerns About Medicaid

Two new reports on Medicaid were released last week that raise concerns about the public insurance program for children in care and the poor. The Kaiser Family Foundation released data on Thursday indicating there has been a recent large increase in enrollment. Many states are experiencing increases at twice the rate as the year before. The second report, from Families USA, indicates at least 30 states are contemplating cutbacks to Medicaid beginning in July, unless Congress acts to keep extra money flowing into the program.

These reports paint a picture of a difficult period in the history of Medicaid, which has been the primary source for health insurance for children in care since its inception in 1965. Medicaid covers a broad range of health and long-term care services, but benefits vary widely by state. Medicaid is a particularly important source of comprehensive care for children, and provides long-term care, mental health services, and care needed by people with disabilities. Most services are provided through private health care delivery systems.

The economic stimulus legislation (P.L. 111-5) from a year ago included substantial relief. Under the stimulus package, Medicaid funding increased by $87 billion, which is passed onto the states mainly through an increase in the federal match (FMAP), with each state seeing its match increase by 6.2% from October 1, 2008 through December 31, 2010. CWLA is continuing to urge Congress and the Administration to include an FMAP extension in the jobs bill that is currently being drafted. More information is available on the CWLA Advocacy webpage.

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HHS, Education Department Leaders Brief National Organizations

In the wake of President Obamaís budget proposal that signals strong investments for child care and early education, administration leaders of the Departments of Health and Human Services and Education convened a briefing last Thursday to report on their current priorities and interagency initiatives. The briefing was moderated by Joan Lombardi, Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development. She was joined by Jacqueline Jones, Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Early Learning at the Department of Education; Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, Director of the Office of Head Start at the Administration for Children and Families; Shannon Rudisill, Associate Director of the Child Care Bureau at the Administration for Children and Families; and Naomi Goldstein, Director of the Office of Planning Research and Evaluation, also at the Administration for Children and Families.

These leaders on federal early childhood initiatives addressed the audience, which included Bryan Samuels, the newly confirmed Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, and representatives from more than 50 national child advocacy organizations. In addition to a repeated emphasis on the panelistís desire to receive feedback from providers and to share information across the spectrum of childrenís services, the briefing focused on specific proposals and strategies for efficient and effective implementation. CWLA was pleased to hear the administrationís consideration for children in and at-risk of entering the child welfare system and references to the importance of extending the Fostering Connection Actís lead on ensuring educational stability to pre-K children, toddlers, and infants.

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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

March 28-April 11: Spring break for Congress
April 15: Deadline to adopt budget resolution
May 15: House may begin passing regular appropriations bills
July 3: Target date for House to pass all 12 appropriations bills
August 7: Target date for senate to pass all 12 appropriations bills


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