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

   
   
Vol. 23, Issue 35: 12/13/2010   
Headlines

House Passes One-Year Continuing Resolution

TANF Extension Finally Clears Congress

CAPTA Passes the House, Returns to the Senate

New Chairmanships Set for 112th Congress

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



House Passes One-Year Continuing Resolution

On Wednesday the House passed a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded through the end of fiscal year 2011. The CR provides flat funding levels for most discretionary government programs and services and cuts nearly $46 billion from President Barack Obama's proposed budget. Some important programs did receive funding increases to meet the growing needs of the populations that they serve, including Head Start, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), food stamps, and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. In addition, the CR included a $5 million increase for adoption incentive payments to States.

The measure is currently pending in the Senate, and Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) is planning to amend it by adding approximately $18 billion in funding, most of it for security and foreign affairs programs. If Inouye's amendment passes, the bill will be referred back to the House. If the Inouye amendment fails, the Senate will try to send the House-passed version of the CR to President Obama for his signature. The Senate could also try to attach an emerging deal on extending the expiring 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, which once again would mean the package would then go back to the House for consideration. The government is currently operating under the previous continuing resolution which keeps agencies funded through December 18, which gives Congress less than a week to pass a final package.

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TANF Extension Finally Clears Congress

Also on Wednesday, the President signed into law H.R. 4783, the Claims Resolution Act of 2010. While the primary purpose of this bill was to settle claims made by African American farmers and Native Americans against the federal government, it also included a provision extending the authorization for block grants to states under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program through September 30, 2011, as well as a six-month extension of TANF supplemental grants through June 30, 2011. Unfortunately the TANF Emergency Fund, which expired back in September, was not restored. Prior to passage, TANF had been operating under a short-term extension that was set to expire on December 3. While the extension will temporarily help vulnerable children and families avoid a lapse in services, Congress still needs to complete a comprehensive reauthorization of the program.

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CAPTA Passes the House, Returns to the Senate

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) Reauthorization Act of 2010 (S. 3817) passed the House unanimously by a voice vote on Wednesday. A few changes added to the bill will require it be returned to the Senate for final passage. The changes include clarification that cross-jurisdictional information sharing of maltreatment reports is required for entities that have a right to know. There is also codification of a requirement for states to have mandatory reporter categories. In addition, a Health and Human Services study was added to the bill that would look at prosecution immunity laws across the country to determine how they complement or conflict with professional assistance to good faith abuse and neglect reports. Finally, a requirement is added to the National Incidence Study to collect data on reports that are screened out because of cross-jurisdictional complications.

The Senate had been briefed on these changes and is expected to pass the final version as early as today. Doing so will not only reauthorize the foundational requirements for child protective services, but will also add new provisions for enhanced cross-system collaboration addressing the co-occurrence of child maltreatment and both domestic violence and substance abuse. In addition, there will be greater recognition of tribes and tribal organizations' role and eligibility under certain CAPTA programs. Furthermore, the early childhood community will be included in related research and training targets, while the eligible use of several funds will explicitly encourage innovative best practices like differential response and family group decisionmaking.

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New Chairmanships Set for 112th Congress

Anticipating the arrival of the new class of freshmen next month, House Republicans have announced their committee chairs for the 112th Congress. The Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over most child welfare programs, including Title IV-E, will now be led by Representative Dave Camp (R-MI). Representative Sander Levin (D-MI), also of Michigan, who served as chair of the committee for the latter part of the second session of the 111th Congress, will continue to serve as the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee.

Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) will chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over Medicaid, CHIP, and some mental health programs. Upton has already named his chairman of the Subcommittee on Health, Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA). Pitts has committed to pursuing a piecemeal repeal of the health care overhaul law. In the past, Pitts voted against expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program and requiring insurers to treat mental illness the same as other medical conditions.

Other committees whose shift of power could impact child welfare are the House Budget Committee, which will be chaired by Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), the House Appropriations Committee, which has jurisdiction over funding federal agencies and discretionary programs, to be chaired by Representative Harold Rogers (R-KY), and the House Education and Labor Committee, expected to be chaired by Representative John Kline (R-MN). The Education and Labor Committee has jurisdiction over the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, as well as the White House Conference on Children and Youth and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

CWLA looks forward to establishing positive relationships with the newly elected chairmen and their staff as we continue to advocate for policies that protect and provide a safe and promising future for all children and families.

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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

- December 17: Target date for last day of lame duck session.
- December 18: Continuing resolution on the federal budget expires.
- January 5: First day of the 112th Congress.

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