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

   
   
Vol. 23, Issue 28: 9/13/2010   
Headlines

Congress Returns for Brief Stint Before Elections

Call Congress Today: Social Security for All Generations Call-In Day

Sign on to Support Increased Funding for Child Care & Early Learning

Effort to Insure Eligible Children Continues

Deadline Nearing for Statewide Needs Assessments

Positive Trends from Updated Child Maltreatment Data

New Study on Children Living in Poverty

Family Unification Awardees Announced

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Congress Returns for Brief Stint Before Elections

Congress comes back to Washington this week for a short session after the August recess. Major issues await them including tax policy and expanding child nutrition programs, while at the same time they are facing growing pressure to attend to the November elections. On taxes Congress has been urged by President Barack Obama to extend middle class tax cuts and pass a business assistance package. The child nutrition legislation passed the Senate just before the August recess and the House is considering different versions. Neither of these measures is assured of passage, however, as the federal budget deficit continues to exert growing demands on Congress. It is expected Congress will be in session until the end of the first week in October and then be back after the November election for a lame-duck session.

Back to Headlines

Call Congress Today: Social Security for All Generations Call-In Day

Today, September 13, is the national call-in day to contact Congress with a message to protect Social Security for all generations. CWLA is working with other organizations to generate calls today to raise awareness about this issue. Social Security provides vital financial security not only to our nation's retirees, but also to children through Survivors, Disability, and Supplemental Security Insurance benefits. The message that Social Security benefits Americans of all ages is needed now more than ever. Members of President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform have made clear that they intend to recommend cuts to Social Security.

We invite you and your networks to participate by calling Congress today to ensure that they hear about the importance of Social Security for all generations. Please follow these simple steps and make your calls today.

Three easy steps to participate in the Social Security for All Generations Call-In Day:

1. Dial 1-800-795-5336 and follow the prompts to enter your zip code. Then press "1" to connect to your first senator or representative's office.

2. Once you have followed the prompts a staff person will answer the phone. Tell the person where you're calling from, and that you're calling to remind your senators/representative that....

Message:
Today, 6.5 million children receive benefits through Social Security. Social Security cuts would mean a considerable loss of economic security for children and break the promise of Social Security for all generations. Please tell the senator or representative to support children. Cuts to Social Security would hurt children, families, and older adults.

3. Since all your members of Congress have a stake in this debate, please call 1-800-795-5336 again to get connected to each office. Once again enter your zip code, then press "2" to be connected with your second senator. After you have called your senators, please reach out to your representative.

Back to Headlines

Sign on to Support Increased Funding for Child Care & Early Learning

Upon returning to D.C., Congress will be looking to finalize the appropriations process. Both House and Senate appropriators have prioritized child care and early learning by proposing increases that keep services available and start to address additional need. Join advocates across the country to urge the committees to maintain proposed funding increases in the final fiscal year 2011 appropriations measure. This includes (1) $1 billion more for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, (2) $990 million more for Head Start and Early Head Start, (3) $300 million to support a new Early Learning Challenge Fund, and (4) $20 million more in funding for the Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers (Part C). These programs are important prevention measures that help families work and give children access to early learning opportunities. Investments are critical to reach all of the children and families who could qualify, but for whom not enough services are provided. Advocate for these important family supports by signing on to this letter by September 20.

Back to Headlines

Effort to Insure Eligible Children Continues

Since the enactment of the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) in 2009, 16 states have expanded income eligibility levels in their CHIP and/or Medicaid programs, 21 states have taken steps to further streamline their enrollment and renewal processes, 4 states have received approval for the new Express Lane Eligibility option in Medicaid and/or CHIP, 29 states have elected to lift the five-year waiting period for eligible children or pregnant women who are lawfully residing in the United States, and 28 states are using a data-matching process to verify citizenship for purposes of Medicaid and CHIP eligibility.

The enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) earlier this year sought to expand coverage for vulnerable children and families to an even greater extent. Shortly after passage, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius issued a challenge to enroll the approximately 5 million uninsured children in Medicaid/CHIP, most of whom are eligible for immediate enrollment. The challenge, called Connecting Kids to Coverage, would build on the efforts of both CHIPRA and the ACA. Although still difficult to determine exactly characteristics of the uninsured, a recently released Health Affairs report provides substantial details on who these uninsured children are. The report illustrates that 60% of the uninsured children in America live in 10 states and almost 40% of them reside in California, Texas, and Florida. In addition, the report concludes that states are continuing their efforts to increase Medicaid/CHIP participation rates. There remains much work to ensure that the vulnerable children and families that are eligible for Medicaid/CHIP have access to the health care coverage and services they need. In the coming years many more of the uninsured, including older youth who age out of care, will gain access to coverage once Medicaid is expanded.

Back to Headlines

Deadline Nearing for Statewide Needs Assessments

The Affordable Care Act Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program requires states to provide a statewide needs assessment as a condition of receiving payment of FY 2011 Title V Block Grant funds, regardless of whether or not the state plans to provide home visiting services under the ACA grant program. The needs assessment need to be submitted on behalf of the agency or entity designated by the governor in the initial application. As was the case with the initial application, the lead entity must be granted support in writing from the States' Title V agency, Title II CAPTA agency, Head Start Collaboration Office, and the Agency for Substance Abuse. In addition to securing the support from the above-mentioned agencies, the needs assessment required under this grant program must also coordinate with the needs assessments conducted for the Title V Block Grant, CAPTA, and Head Start Programs.

In order to meet the requirements of an acceptable needs assessment, each state entity must identify communities with concentrations of premature birth, low birthweight infants, and infant mortality, including infant death due to neglect, or other indicators of at risk prenatal, maternal, newborn, or child health; poverty; crime; domestic violence; high rates of high-school dropouts; substance abuse; unemployment; or child maltreatment. The state must also identify the quality and capacity of existing programs or initiatives for early childhood home visiting in the state, including the number and types of programs and the numbers of individuals and families who are receiving services under such programs or initiatives; the gaps in early childhood home visiting in the state, including descriptions of underserved communities where possible; and the extent to which such programs or initiatives are meeting the needs of eligible families. Finally, the state must explain the state's capacity for providing substance abuse treatment and counseling services to individuals and families in need of such treatment or services. The needs assessment is due by September 20th.

More information on the needs assessment can be found at www.hrsa.gov.

Back to Headlines

Positive Trends from Updated Child Maltreatment Data

A new report on the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) data by the University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center shows overall substantiated child maltreatment dropping from 10.6 to 10.3 per 1000 children, a 3% decline in the rate of substantiated child maltreatment from 2007 to 2008. This represents about 772,000 children, which is the lowest level of child maltreatment since the NCANDS was put in to place in 1990.

Physical abuse declined 3% to an estimated 119,500 cases. Neglect declined 2% to an estimated 546,600 substantiated cases. These declines add to an already substantial positive long-term trend, especially for sexual and physical abuse. Sexual abuse has declined 58% from 1992 to 2008, while physical abuse has declined 55%. Neglect has dropped less, with only a 10% decline since 1992.

In addition, the latest data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) was released at the end of August. The data indicates improvements were made in FY 2009, including decreases in the number of children in foster care (423,000 children in FY09 vs. 463,000 in FY08) and entering foster care (255,418 children in FY09 vs. 273,000 in FY08) and a small drop in the average length of time a child spends in foster care (mean months: 26.7 months in FY09 vs. 27.2 in FY08).


Back to Headlines

New Study on Children Living in Poverty

A new brief from the Urban Institute offers a first-time national look at the characteristics, access to services, and parenting approaches for infants living in poverty whose mothers are depressed. The authors reveal that 11% of infants living in poverty have a mother suffering from severe depression. At the same time, many of these families are connected to services, such as Women and Infant Children, health care services, food stamps, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, presenting opportunities for policymakers and service providers to help these families.

Back to Headlines

Family Unification Awardees Announced

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced $20 million of Family Unification Program (FUP) funding in early August. FUP addresses the intersection of child welfare and homelessness at both the front and back ends of the system by providing rental vouchers for families with children at risk of entering foster care due to lack of housing and emancipating young adults who are at risk of becoming homeless. HUD's press release reveals that the 2,543 Housing Choice Vouchers will help more than families stay together, reuniting or keeping an estimated 5,000 children with their parents, and will provide stable housing for approximately 750 young adults who are aging out of the foster care system.

Back to Headlines

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

October 8: Target adjournment for the House. Senate date is to be determined.
November 2: Election Day.
There is growing expectation for a lame duck Congressional session after the election.


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.