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

   
   
Vol. 23, Issue 26: 8/2/2010   
Headlines

Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Labor-H Funding Bill

Legislation Advances to Use Internet Gambling Revenue for Child Welfare

House Subcommittee Panel Discusses Title IV-E Waivers

HHS Solicits Comments of Evidence of Effectiveness, Data Systems

NIH Announces Appointment of Alan Guttmacher as Director of NICHD

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Labor-H Funding Bill

Last week the Senate Appropriations Committee approved legislation for funding the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education departments. The bill, known as the Labor-H bill, set the FY 2011 discretionary funding under their jurisdiction at $169.6 billion. While still awaiting a detailed summary, including specific funding levels for child welfare programs, a $1 billion increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant and $990.3 million increase for Head Start/Early Head Start, consistent with the President's budget proposal, was approved. In addition, the bill includes $300 million for an Early Learning Challenge Fund, a competitive funding stream intended to cultivate coordinated early learning systems that was originally intended to pass with health reform. Even with both House and Senate Appropriations Committee bills complete, it is unclear if Congress will take a final vote ahead of the election recess in October. If a Continuing Resolution is substituted, all programs will remain at last year's funding levels.

Back to Headlines

Legislation Advances to Use Internet Gambling Revenue for Child Welfare

The House Financial Services Committee approved legislation last week to govern internet betting (H.R. 2267). The bill, sponsored by the chair of the committee, Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), would allow the Treasury Department to set rules for licensing internet gambling organizations. Frank said the bill would not be considered on the House floor until it can be moved in tandem with a tax bill from Representative Jim McDermott. McDermott's bill would impose a 2% federal tax on internet gambling and generate an estimated $40 billion over 10 years. McDermott's bill designates some of the money to foster care programs.

Internet gambling is prohibited in the United States, but millions of Americans make online bets with offshore, online operators who are not regulated. Frank's bill would require licensed internet gambling operators to prohibit access by minors and residents of states where internet gambling is prohibited. The bill would prohibit internet gambling licensees from accepting bets or wagers on sporting events, except for pari-mutuel racing, such as horse racing or greyhound racing, that is permitted by law.

The committee approved the bill by a vote of 41 to 22. Seven Republicans voted in support of the bill, while four Democrats opposed the measure. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) voted present. Similar legislation, S. 1597, has been introduced in the Senate, but has not been taken up by any committee and it's unclear when that might happen.

Back to Headlines

House Subcommittee Panel Discusses Title IV-E Waivers

Last Thursday Chairman Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Ranking Member John Linder (R-GA) of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support held a hearing to discuss past results from and current opportunities for waivers for Title IV-E, the foster care provisions of the Social Security Act. McDermott stated his intention to introduce legislation reauthorizing up to 10 waivers over 5 years. A panel of experts provided testimony including Ruth Kagi, Washington State House of Representatives; George Sheldon, who leads the CWLA member agency the Florida Department of Children and Families; Dr. Fred Wulczyn, University of Chicago researcher and lecturer; Dr. William Bell, President of Casey Family Programs, a CWLA member agency; and Rutledge Hutson, Director of Child Welfare Policy, Center for Law and Social Policy.

A waiver is a Congressionally initiated measure that authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to approve suspended regulations of a particular social policy as long as basic client protections and cost-neutrality are maintained. Title IV-E waivers were first authorized in 1994 and since then, more than two dozen states have made use of the flexibility they afford to launch demonstration projects. Such innovation has spanned prevention, specialized, and postpermanency services, but the panel of experts cited subsidized guardianship as the most successful to date. The panel generally agreed that the inclusion of subsidized guardianship as a state option in the recent Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act reveals how the waiver can be a beneficial tool.

Even so, there was no dissension on the need for more comprehensive child welfare finance reform regardless of additional waiver authorizations. While some testimony strenuously maintained emphasis on the need for immediate flexibility in state use of IV-E funds through waivers, others pointed to the potential for action on waivers to delay comprehensive reform, particularly in light of the limited capacity of waivers to improve outcomes for children nationwide and to cultivate innovation across the continuum of needed child welfare services. McDermott and Linder both agreed on the necessity to further evaluate and address the structural deficiencies of child welfare financing. The hearing concluded with the chairman's direct call for comprehensive reform proposals.

Back to Headlines

HHS Solicits Comments of Evidence of Effectiveness, Data Systems

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for establishing criteria for evidence of effectiveness of the home visiting program models and ensuring the process for establishing the criteria is transparent and provides the opportunity for public comment. As a result, HHS has released the proposed criteria for evidence of effectiveness for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, which is open for public comments until August 17. According to ACA, the majority of funds (at least 75%) must be used for home visiting program models with evidence of effectiveness based on rigorous evaluation research. There are two types of criteria that must be met in order for a home visiting model to be considered evidence-based for the purposes of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program including the criteria for well-designed, rigorous impact research and the criteria for evidence of effectiveness of a home visiting service delivery model.

HHS is also welcoming comments on the proposed methodology for their systematic review of the evidence, also due by August 17. The review is being carried out through a contract to Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. and led by the Administration for Children and Families in collaboration with the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The review will be completed after comments on this notice are received and considered.

Final comments will be included in the official program announcement inviting eligible participants to apply for funding under the grant program. In addition, eligible entities can expect to have an opportunity to present documentation in their applications for the ACA Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program to demonstrate that additional home visiting models meet the final criteria. Lastly, the criteria proposed in the notice only applies to the home visiting program for states and territories, and criteria for the ACA tribal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program will be issued separately. Download the full notice.

HHS has also issued a request for public comments on proposed modifications to data collection systems within the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), and a proposed redesign of the Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS). The AFCARS modifications are in response to changes resulting from the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act and include the collection of data on children in foster care and who are a part of subsidized adoption and guardianship agreements. The proposed SACWIS redesign is intended to address evolving state practice models and growth in information technology. Comments for both are due October 21.

Back to Headlines

NIH Announces Appointment of Alan Guttmacher as Director of NICHD

Last week, the National Institutes of Health announced the appointment of Alan E. Guttmacher MD as director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), one of the 27 institutes and centers that comprise the National Institutes of Health. The focus of the NICHD is on human health and development, from conception, through the reproductive years, on disorders affecting women, and on rehabilitation after injury or disease. The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation.

Guttmacher is a graduate of Harvard College. He attributes his interest in medicine to his early career as a middle school teacher, when he developed an interest in the origins and treatment of pediatric learning disorders. After graduation from Harvard Medical School, he served as a physician in several developmental pediatrics programs at Children's Hospital in Boston, where he then completed an internship and residency in pediatrics and a fellowship in medical genetics. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine, and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Back to Headlines

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.

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.