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

   
   
Vol. 24, Issue 7: 2/28/2011   
Headlines

Shut Down or Extend the Continuing Resolution?

These Cuts Won't Heal: Budget Webcast Today

Examining the House Budget Bill's Impact on Health Programs

James-Brown to Speak at Forum on Social Security and Children

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Shut Down or Extend the Continuing Resolution?

While Congress observed the President's Day recess last week negotiations proceeded on finishing the federal budget for fiscal year 2011. The specter of a government shutdown overhangs these negotiations as the deadline for the current continuing resolution (CR) is this Friday. The House passed a budget bill for the remainder of the fiscal year that cuts more than $100 billion in spending from President Barack Obama's request but Senate leaders termed that bill dead on arrival. House leaders announced they were working on legislation to extend the CR temporarily that would include cuts proportional to the length of time of the extension; for example, a 2-week extension would result in $4 billion in cuts.

Senate leaders worked on budget legislation as well and have has thus far resisted the idea of a short-term extension that includes cuts of this magnitude. While they have preferred to keep funding at last year's levels until a budget is negotiated for the remainder of the fiscal year, late last week the Senate was working on a short-term extension that included cuts similar to those in the President's budget request for FY 2012. If the two chambers cannot compromise on a short-term extension by Friday, the government would temporarily shut down.

It is unclear what the impact would be on human services and child welfare programs in particular if there is a shutdown. Many federal workers would be impacted soon after the shutdown began. State workers and contractors including private child welfare providers would also potentially be impacted. It is unlikely that federal reimbursement for providing services like foster or kinship care and adoption assistance would end during a shutdown, but such reimbursement could be interrupted. The care of persons in the custody of the United Sates is considered an essential government service and as such should be exempted from a shutdown.

Any impact would depend largely on the timing and duration of any shutdown and decisions regarding how severe it would be. Another issue is how states would respond given their own severe budget pressures and whether any decisions by states would negatively impact children and families.

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These Cuts Won't Heal: Budget Webcast Today

As part of the CWLA budget campaign, These Cuts Won't Heal, the Government Affairs Division will host a series of members-only webcasts. Registration is open for the first webcast, which will be today at 3 p.m. Eastern. The webcast will provide the latest updates on the federal budget debate, highlight upcoming votes, and discuss which members of Congress may be most in need to hearing from child welfare advocates.

In addition CWLA has done a comprehensive rundown about the FY 2011 budget process and the President's FY 2012 budget proposal. These materials are available on the members-only website.

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Examining the House Budget Bill's Impact on Health Programs

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report detailing the state-by-state impact of cuts proposed under H.R. 1, the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act. This bill, which recently passed in the House of Representatives, would reduce non-security discretionary funding for FY 2011 by $64 billion. The timing of the final passage of the FY 2011 budget is particularly burdensome for states that will have to make drastic cuts services in the last seven months remaining in the current fiscal year. In fact, many mental health and substance abuse patients may be without medical care as a result of the deep cuts the bill makes to mental health and substance abuse services for those in need.

The House bill would reduce funding for the portion of the budget that contains the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant, the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant, and other substance abuse and mental health programs by 6.3%, which translates to a loss of more than $139 million for the block grants alone. Together, cuts in discretionary funding for these grants constitute 65% of the substance abuse and mental health services spending of the Department of Health and Human Services. Unfortunately, these cuts are less likely to produce anticipated savings and more likely to increase costs to the criminal justice, child protection, and child welfare systems.

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James-Brown to Speak at Forum on Social Security and Children

Christine James-Brown, CWLA President & CEO, will be speaking at a forum on Capitol Hill Thursday at 2 p.m. Generations United is facilitating the forum as they release their new profile publication, Social Security: What's at Stake for Children, Youth, and Grandfamilies. The event will take place at 2168 Rayburn Building, the Gold Room.

The event will feature remarks from James-Brown; Virginia Reno, Vice President for Income Security, National Academy of Social Insurance; Generations United Board Chair, William L. Minnix, President and CEO of Leading Age; and Morrisella Middleton, a grandmother raising her grandson. The forum will highlight how Social Security benefits children and the impact Social Security has had in protecting families. Policy recommendations that legislators could implement to sustain this important program for future generations will also be addressed.

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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

- February 28: Congress returns from President's Day recess; CWLA budget webcast for members.
- March 4: Continuing resolution on FY 2011 expires.
- March 29: CWLA Advocacy Day during the National Conference.

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