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

   
   
Vol. 24, Issue 16: 5/23/2011   
Headlines

HHS Releases its FY2011 Final Funding Levels

Senate Poised For Competing Budget Votes

Separate Title IV-E Waiver Bills Introduced in House and Senate

Promise Neighborhoods Legislation Introduced in the Senate

These Cuts Won't Heal: Budget Webcast Today

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



HHS Releases its FY2011 Final Funding Levels

In accordance with the enacted budget, P.L. 112-10, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has submitted its fiscal year 2011 Operating Plan to Congress. Included in the plan are the final funding levels for various programs. P.L. 112-10 funded the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at $3.38 billion, a $51.5 million reduction from FY2010. Based on that reduction, SAMHSA cut the Substance Abuse Block Grant by approximately $16 million, the Substance Abuse Prevention Programs of Regional Significance by $6 million, and the Substance Abuse Treatment Programs of Regional Significance by $10 million. The two largest mental health cuts in the SAMHSA Operating Plan were the Mental Health Programs of Regional Significance ($11 million) and the Children Mental Health Services ($3.5 million).

The Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant was cut by $4 million. Family Planning was cut by $17 million. In general, the cuts to the Administration for Children and Families, including all the major child welfare funding streams, were relatively small and mainly due to the .2% across-the-board cut. P.L. 112-10 included increases for Head Start ($326 million) and child care ($96 million). However, as previously reported, CAPTA discretionary grants were reduced by $3 million in a short-term continuing resolution.

As a result of Congress not completing the FY2011 budget until April, HHS will be forced to implement these cuts in just four months, as the current FY ends September 30.

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Senate Poised For Competing Budget Votes

This week the Senate is set to vote on two budget plans for 2012: H. Con. Res. 34, the budget resolution passed by the House in mid-April, and the budget plan released by President Barack Obama back in February. Neither budget is expected to pass the Senate, but the vote count on the House-passed budget will be important to show the degree to which that plan has support in the Senate. Several Republican moderates could end up voting against it, dealing a setback to the negotiating position of House leaders. The President's budget, on the other hand, is in many ways considered out of date as Obama has put forth more aggressive deficit reduction plans since its release. It has been those plans, not his formal budget, that have been the subject of the negotiations between Vice President Joseph Biden and House and Senate leaders.

Progress toward a bipartisan budget solution continues to be elusive, as indicated by the breakdown in the Gang of Six negotiations. Last week Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) withdrew from the group, leaving three Democrats and two Republicans at the table. His departure revealed the extent to which the two parties remain apart in terms of revenues, entitlements, and spending cuts. Without Coburn, it is unclear if the group will have enough sway to persuade fellow senators to support their plan even if they come to an agreement. Meanwhile, the Biden-led negotiations will continue, although they are more focused on the short-term picture and finding an agreement on increasing the statutory debt limit before the cap is reached.

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Separate Title IV-E Waiver Bills Introduced in House and Senate

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the State Child Welfare Innovation Act, S. 1013, to create a new waiver authority program for Title IV-E last week. For three years the new waiver program would enable up to 10 new states to operate three-year waiver demonstrations, for a total of 30 new state waivers. The focus of the waivers would be on permanency, safety, and prevention. Participating states would have a maintenance-of-effort requirement and the reporting process would be improved. Additionally, in order to qualify, states would have to implement at least three of the following policies: a child welfare bill of rights; a plan to address the health and mental health needs of children; limitations on the use of psychotropic drugs; congregate care plan improvements; improving planning for youth in care; improving placement of children with siblings; recruiting and retaining quality foster homes; preparing youth for transitioning out of care; reconnecting older youth; and improving foster care entry through family finding, family substance abuse treatment, and domestic violence programs.

Meanwhile in the House, Representatives Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Geoff Davis (R-KY) have already reintroduced a waiver bill (H.R. 1194), similar to a bill that passed the House last year. Unlike the Senate bill, the House bill would not create a new waiver program, but would reactivate the existing program whose authority expired in 2006. Under the House bill authority for the Department of Health and Human Services would be reinstated to grant 5-year waivers for up to 10 new states to test innovative approaches. H.R. 1194 would extend the waiver program through FY2016.

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Promise Neighborhoods Legislation Introduced in the Senate

Authorizing legislation for the Promise Neighborhoods competitive grant program was introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) on May 16. The bill (S. 1004) includes five original cosponsors: Senators Robert Casey (D-PA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), John Kerry (D-MA), and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). Promise Neighborhoods is the first federal initiative to put education at the center of comprehensive efforts to fight poverty in distressed neighborhoods.

S. 1004 splits the grants into two titles, creating neighborhood partnership grants and school grants. Both of these share the goal of creating a pipeline of needed services and programs that follow a child from his or her parent's prenatal education though early learning, school transitions, integrated student supports, family and community engagement, family supports, and college and career readiness and completion. Progress in academic achievement, student development, and college and career readiness must be demonstrated to receive funding beyond three years and significant success must be demonstrated for awardees to renew the grant beyond five years. Implementation funds require a 100% match, with possible waivers or reduction exceptions.

The bill calls for family and community engagement in several aspects of the planning, implementation, and public review of the projects. It also highlights the use of the evidence base in both project planning and as an ongoing feature of project implementation and sustainability.

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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 is hosting a series of members-only webcasts. Tune in today to receive an update the FY2012 budget negotiations. If you are not already signed up, please register. To attend this important webinar, follow the directions provided by the confirmation e-mail that you will receive.

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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

- May 30 to June 3: Senate recess.
- June 6 to June 10: House recess.
- June 27 to July 5: House Independence Day recess.
- July 1 to July 11: Senate Independence Day recess.

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