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

   
   
Vol. 23, Issue 25: 7/26/2010   
Headlines

Aid Enacted for Unemployed, But Not for States

House Subcommittee Prioritizes Child Care and Early Learning

Child Welfare Data & Technology Conference

HHS Announces $88 Million for Home Visiting Programs

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Aid Enacted for Unemployed, But Not for States

Last week Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed legislation to retroactively restore emergency jobless benefits to millions of people who have been out of work for more than six months. The Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2010 would also ensure that up to 99 weeks of income support would be available to a broader universe of jobless workers through the end of November. It is estimated that more than 2.5 million people have been without aid since June.

The jobless benefits bill was originally a provision that was part of a much larger package of tax extenders but Congress has had to scale the measure back in order to assuage concerns about the growing national debt that have been raised by conservative Democrats and Republicans. As a result, the following provisions have been taken out of the bill: an extension of $25-a-week bonus payments that were added to unemployment checks under last year's stimulus package, billions of dollars in state aid, and additional state Medicaid funding that would allow states to continue to provide much-needed services to vulnerable children and families.

On Tuesday, Representatives Danny Davis (D-IL), Gwen Moore (D-WI), and Ed Towns (D-NY) called on their colleagues in Congress to vote on extending the federal Medicaid assistance (FMAP) to states before the August recess. Currently, the FMAP provision is included in a stalled version of the Senate's extenders legislation. It was not included in the House's version of the bill.

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House Subcommittee Prioritizes Child Care and Early Learning

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education has marked up and approved a bill for FY 2011. The summary of the bill shows a $1.838 billion increase in appropriations for the Administration for Children and Families, including an increase of $700 million for the Child Care and Development Block Grant and $866 million for Head Start, consistent with the subcommittee's goal to economically assist working families. More details will be forthcoming when the full committee takes up the bill, including funding levels for specific child welfare programs. As with the bill as a whole, the increases for child care and Head Start are slightly less than the administration's budget request in February. The full House Appropriations Committee markup has yet to be scheduled.

Senate appropriators postponed a markup of their parallel bill that was scheduled to begin on Thursday.

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Child Welfare Data & Technology Conference

The National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology, managed by CWLA, held its 13th annual conference in Bethesda, Maryland, early last week. Bryan Samuels, Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families gave the opening keynote address, emphasizing the importance of data collection for tracking outcomes. The three-day conference spanned data and technology topics from national trends in foster care to individual program evaluation and also included consultation workshops. The resource center provides ongoing technical assistance to states, tribes, and courts on data and systems and holds the conference to offer information on the latest innovations and an opportunity for national collaboration and information sharing. CWLA is a lead partner in the execution of the resource center's services.

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HHS Announces $88 Million for Home Visiting Programs

On Wednesday July 21, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the department was awarding $88 million in grants, provided under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), to support evidence-based home visiting programs focused on improving the well-being of families with young children. In total, the ACA provides $1.5 billion for these initiatives over the next five years.

To date, 49 states, the District of Columbia, and 5 territories applied for and were awarded funding under this program. States and jurisdictions are now in the process of conducting statewide assessments to identify existing home visiting programs and areas of high need. The assessments are intended to inform states and other eligible entities on how to best use the grant funds to ensure effective coordination and implementation of evidence-based high-quality home visiting programs that will ultimately improve maternal and child health, foster healthy child development, and prevent child maltreatment.

In the initial application, each state's governor designated the state entity that would be responsible for administering the grant funds on behalf of the state. The state's portion of these funds is allocated by formula based on the number of young children in families at or below 100% of the federal poverty level in the state as compared to the number of such children nationally; a copy of the approximate funding levels is available from HHS. Of the monies provided to the states and jurisdictions, $500,000 is immediately available to support their needs assessments and to begin planning their programs. The remainder of the grant funds will be released for use after the state or jurisdiction completes its needs assessment and, based on that needs assessment, submits an approvable plan for addressing the home visiting needs they have identified.

Both the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) are continuing their commitment to collaborating on this initiative at the federal level and ensuring that expertise in each of these areas is engaged in the home visiting effort.

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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

August 7: Target date for Senate to pass all 12 appropriations bills
August 9-September 10: Summer recess
October 8: Target adjournment for the House; Senate date is to be determined


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