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

   
   
Vol. 23, Issue 12: 4/12/2010   
Headlines

Congress Returns for Spring Stretch

Kinship-Guardianship Assistance Programs Now in 15 States

ACF Issues Guidance on Criminal Records Check for Foster Parents

Significant Funding for Teen Pregnancy Prevention

Sign-On Letter for Medicaid Services Restoration

New Health Reform Law Saves Arizona's CHIP Program

National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System Report Released

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Congress Returns for Spring Stretch

Both houses of Congress return today to embark on their longest stretch of work in this session. Between now and the end of May when they break from Memorial Day, they will possibly deal with or start work on 12 appropriations bills for FY 2011, a financial reform bill, a jobs bill, the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), climate change legislation, and a nuclear arms treaty. How much of this list they can move through both houses (the treaty is Senate only) remains to be seen, but there will be no shortage of work. In addition to these challenges there are several other issues CWLA and other advocates are hoping the Congress can move on, including following through on the President's proposed increases in child care funding and the reauthorization of a nutrition bill. It remains to be seen if significant progress can be made before time runs out in this Congress.

Back to Headlines

Kinship-Guardianship Assistance Programs Now in 15 States

The Children's Bureau has now approved amended state plans for Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Michigan that will allow the states to utilize Title IV-E funds for the new kinship-guardianship option as provided for through last year's Fostering Connections Act (P.L. 110-351). As of last month, 11 additional states (including the District of Columbia) are attempting to expand their Title IV-E programs to kinship care by either filing their amendments to the Children's Bureau or are revising their already amended plans according to instruction from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The 11 are: the District of Columbia, Maine, Missouri, Oregon, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Montana, Washington, New Jersey, Illinois, and Colorado.

The kinship-guardianship option became effective shortly after the Fostering Connections Act was signed into law in October 2008, but there is no timeframe or deadline for states to take the option. While some were expecting states to act more quickly, the enactment coincided with the recession, which has had an impact. Factors that may have inhibited states include some states requiring legislative changes; other states enacting dramatic cuts in human service funding; and others awaiting further instruction and clarification from HHS, which was provided earlier this year. According to the President's FY 2011 budget proposal, the Administration projects that 14,300 children will be served through the Title IV-E kinship program in 2011. That would be an increase of 5,800 over FY 2010, with total costs for 2011 at $78 million. Title IV-E kinship care, like foster care under Title IV-E, covers less than half the children in care since eligibility for federal funding is still tied to a state's Aid to Families with Dependent Children eligibility from July 1996.

Back to Headlines

ACF Issues Guidance on Criminal Records Check for Foster Parents

On March 26, HHS issued a program instruction on how states will be held accountable for the required criminal record checks for foster parents as a result of the enactment of the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act of 2006. The guidance, ACYF-CB-PI-10-02, indicates that compliance of the background check requirements will be carried out through the Title IV-E foster care eligibility reviews for the period that starts on October 1, 2010--the start of the 2011 fiscal year.

The Walsh Act did not require background checks but did expand their reach. States, such as California and New York, had the ability to use an alternate list of offenses in assessing prospective foster patents if the child's safety and protection were assured. The Walsh Act eliminated this provision referred to as the state "opt-out" of background checks. In fact states continued to do background checks with some states like California arguing they had a longer list of offenses to review than what is mandated in federal law.

The guidance indicates that the reviews will focus on criminal record checks for new or prospective foster parents. It also explains how they will define this group. The Walsh Act also mandated background checks against state child abuse registries. The Title IV-E review will be limited to foster care and not the child abuse registries. That part of the Walsh Act was not without controversy, since a child abuse registry may not always exist in a state and states have differing reasons for placing someone on a registry. Someone could be placed on a registry as a way to monitor or access services and the individual may not be guilty of a crime. Such registries may not always have a due process procedure. The instruction indicates that the registry issue is dealt with through other regulations.

Back to Headlines

Significant Funding for Teen Pregnancy Prevention

The President's FY 2011 proposed a new Teenage Pregnancy Prevention initiative to address the high teen pregnancy rates by replicating evidence-based models and testing innovative strategies. The Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) recently released guidance to apply for funding from the new teen pregnancy prevention initiative, of which the funding announcement is the first component. Under this guidance, a total of $75 million is available on a competitive basis for the purpose of "replicating evidence-based programs that have been proven through rigorous evaluation to reduce teenage pregnancy, behavioral risks underlying teenage pregnancy, or other associated risk factors." The guidance includes a list of programs eligible for replication with this funding. The OAH plans to release a separate announcement about the $25 million available for promising programs and innovative strategies at a later date.

In addition, the recently passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148) includes a mandatory appropriation of $75 million in FY 2010 for state grants as part of the new Title V Section 513 Personal Responsibility Education Grant program, to be run through the Administration for Children and Families, as well as the continuation of $50 million in Title V Section 510 Abstinence Education funding. The legislative requirements for these programs are available to download.

Back to Headlines

Sign-On Letter for Medicaid Services Restoration

On March 9, Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Sullivan (R-OK), and Dan Boren (D-OK) introduced the Medicaid Services Restoration Act (H.R. 4787). Companion legislation, S. 1217, was introduced last year by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). This bill seeks to provide support and protection of vital services in three major ways. First, the bill would improve therapeutic foster care (TFC) by creating a Medicaid service category under which TFC services would be reimbursable. It would also protect rehabilitative services by clarifying that Medicaid will reimburse the medical services that children in psychiatric hospitals and residential treatment centers receive. Finally, the bill supports case management services by continuing to reimburse for such services offered by qualified buyers and easing the administrative burden on case managers by permitting states to use more reasonable and efficient payment methodologies. CWLA has provided a summary of the Medicaid Restoration Act.

CWLA and partner organizations are circulating a sign-on letter for national and state organizations in support of this bill. To add your organization, contact Laura Boyd. The deadline for signatures is April 15.

Back to Headlines

New Health Reform Law Saves Arizona's CHIP Program

On March 18, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer wrote to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services notifying them that the state would eliminate the KidsCare Program effective June 15, 2010. KidsCare covers children whose families have income between 100% and 200% of the federal poverty guideline. In doing so, Arizona became the first state to eliminate its Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The governor also announced a rollback of Medicaid coverage for childless adults in a move that is expected to eventually drop 310,000 people from the rolls.

State legislators insisted that the current fiscal climate left them with few choices. To date, three states, including Arizona, have capped enrollment to their CHIPs in the last year. However, California and Tennessee have since removed their caps.

On March 25, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System released a letter to Brewer regarding the impact of federal health reform on the elimination of KidsCare. The letter recognizes that as a result of the maintenance of effort provision in federal health reform, the state will need to restore, at a minimum, the KidsCare program with a freeze on no new enrollment. As a result, the KidsCare Program is safe from elimination for the time being. The legislature now must repeal the action that eliminated the KidsCare program, and is expected to do so before the June 15 sunset date.

Back to Headlines

National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System Report Released

Annually coinciding with Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, HHS releases national data in accordance with the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). This year's report on the latest child maltreatment figures covers the year 2008. Case-level data from 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico reveal that out of an estimated 3.3 million referrals to child protective services, approximately two-thirds (2.06 million) were investigated. From those investigations, roughly 772,000 children were found to be victims of child abuse and neglect. This is down slightly from 794,000 last year, with the corresponding rate per 1,000 children in the overall population decreasing by only a small fraction from 10.6 in 2007 to 10.3 in 2008.

Carmen R. Nazario, HHS assistant secretary for children and families said "Although we are encouraged by the decrease in child maltreatment, the results show too many children still suffer from abuse and neglect, and we have not yet experienced the full impact from the economic situation. As our commitment, we will continue to strengthen prevention strategies that target critical resources for families and communities at risk."

Of the substantiated reports, the majority (71.1%) involved neglect. The most vulnerable child population continues to be the youngest children, though older youth are more likely to suffer physical or sexual abuse. Tragically, the estimated number of children who died as a result of maltreatment held fairly steady from the previous year, at 1,740.

Consistent with previous reports, a significant 36.7% of children substantiated went without postinvestigation services. A positive finding reveals that preventive services were provided to 3.8 million children at a rate of 50.2 per 1,000 children, almost double that of recent years. In addition, of the 3.3 million referrals made to CPS for an assessment, 8.2% were referred to an alternative response for services. According to the report, it takes 66 hours or 2.8 days on average and 85 hours or 3.5 days at the median to respond to allegations of maltreatment. The average number of completed CPS cases per worker inched higher in 2008 from 66.4 to 68.3. Finally, one-fifth of substantiated victims (20.9%) were placed in foster care. While it is certainly an improvement that eight more states reached the national standard for the absence of maltreatment in foster care (99.68%), only 24 states met this standard.

Back to Headlines

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

April 15: Official deadline to adopt budget resolution
May 15: House may begin passing regular appropriations bills
May 31-June 4: Memorial Day recess
July 3: Target date for House to pass all 12 appropriations bills
July 4-9: Independence Day break
August 7: Target date for senate to pass all 12 appropriations bills
August 9-September 10: Summer recess


Back to Headlines

Click here to see the list of previous issues

If you know of others who would like their names added to this list, please have them visit www.cwla.org/advocacy/monitoronline-optin.htm. To remove yourself from this list, send an e-mail to monitor@cwla.org with "Remove from Monitor Online List" in the subject line.

© Child Welfare League of America. The content of this publication may not be reproduced in any way, including posting on the Internet, without the permission of CWLA. For permission to use material from CWLA's website or publications, contact us using our website assistance form.