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

   
   
Vol. 24, Issue 10: 3/21/2011   
Headlines

Budget Extended for Three Weeks, Cut $6 Billion

Congressional Recess This Week, Opportunity for Advocacy

These Cuts Won't Heal: Budget Webcast Today

Report on State-Level Cuts to Mental Health Services

NGA Brief on Impact of Home Visiting

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Budget Extended for Three Weeks, Cut $6 Billion

Last week Congress approved and the President signed into law a three-week extension of the budget. This latest short-term extension will fund the government through April 8. It cuts funding $6 billion and prevents a shutdown. The extension gives negotiators a little breathing room as they look for a budget deal for the rest of the fiscal year. The spending reductions in this extension did not impact child welfare programs for the most part; however, among the $6 billion in cuts is a troubling $91 million cut to juvenile justice programs. These funds were earmarked for specific agencies and programs. Many of the cuts made thus far have been aimed at this type of spending.

CWLA's Government Affairs team has created a chart comparing funding levels for a number of critical programs serving vulnerable children and families in the House and Senate plans.

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Congressional Recess This Week, Opportunity for Advocacy

There continues to be a huge difference between House and Senate positions on the budget and funding for programs serving children and families are at risk. Through March 26, Congress is in recess and members will be in their home districts. This creates an opportunity to invite them to your program/facility for a visit, or to meet them in their offices. You can connect with your senators at www.senate.gov and with your representatives at www.house.gov.

We encourage you to reach out to the senators and representatives this week and urge them to protect resources for programs dedicated to serving vulnerable child and families. The budget shouldn't be balanced on the backs of children and families because these cuts won't heal! If you would like additional information or other assistance in regards to these meetings please contact the CWLA Government Affairs team.

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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 team is hosting a series of members-only webcasts. Registration is open for the next webcast, which will be today at 3 p.m. Eastern. This webcast will include details of the cuts in the latest CR as well as the latest updates on the overall federal budget debate, highlighting the Congressional recess this week, and discussing which members of Congress may be most in need to hearing from child welfare advocates.

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Report on State-Level Cuts to Mental Health Services

The National Alliance on Mental Illness recently released a report (PDF) on state-level cuts to mental health spending over the last two years. The two largest sources of state support for mental health services are Medicaid and state general funds administered by state mental health authorities. The report provides information about changes in state general funding (non-Medicaid) of mental health services from 2009 to 2011. Between 2009 and 2011, states cut $1.8 billion from their budgets for services for children and adults living with mental illness. States are anticipating even deeper cuts for the upcoming fiscal year, due in part to the loss of additional federal assistance which may cause significant reductions across the board.

These drastic cuts put youth and adults living with serious mental illness at greater risk of homelessness, involvement with the juvenile and criminal justice systems, loss of critical developmental years, and premature deaths and suicides. Data confirms that even prior to the economic recession, more than half of people living with serious mental illness received no services in the previous year (and worse for children and youth in care). Although Medicaid funding was not the focus of the report, states may respond to the impending loss of federal Medicaid dollars by cutting back optional services currently available in state Medicaid programs.

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NGA Brief on Impact of Home Visiting

The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices recently issued a brief promoting and describing steps for states to make the most of federal Affordable Care Act home visiting dollars by coordinating comprehensive early childhood systems. After pointing to positive short- and long-term outcomes resulting from evidence-based home visiting models, the brief details ways in which states can efficiently maximize new and existing home visiting funding. In acknowledging current fiscal strains, home visiting integration into a comprehensive early childhood system is promoted to states as an opportunity for an informed way to wisely spend.

The brief outlines research finding positive child and family outcomes resulting from home visiting programs, gives an overview of the variety of funding sources and a discussion of challenging areas of coordination among programs in a state, as well as between home visiting programs and broader family support services. The brief concludes with detailed strategies to maximize the impact of home visiting programs. Specific state examples of policies and projects enacting each strategy are provided.

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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

- March 21 to March 25: Congressional Recess.
- March 29: CWLA Advocacy Day during the National Conference.
- April 8: Continuing Resolution expires.

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