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

   
   
Vol. 18, Issue 48: 12/19/2005   
Headlines

Special Note

CWLA Continues Efforts to Ensure Foster Care Cuts Are Excluded From Final Budget Reconciliation Bill

Revised FY 2006 HHS Annual Funding Bill Approved

Funding for Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program Falls Short

House Approves Methamphetamine Legislation

Faith-Based Advocates Utilize Prayer Vigils to Oppose Budget Decisions

CWLA Submits Comments to HHS on CFSR Outcome Measures

CWLA Submits Comments to EPA to Ensure Safety of Children in Foster Care

CWLAs Legislative Alerts Now Available to Subscribers

Children 2006: Securing Brighter Futures

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Special Note

Children's Monitor will not be published on December 26 due to the holidays. The next issue will be posted January 3. CWLA wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday season.

Back to Headlines

CWLA Continues Efforts to Ensure Foster Care Cuts Are Excluded From Final Budget Reconciliation Bill

CWLA continues to lead the charge on Capitol Hill to ensure that the final budget reconciliation bill does not include the House-approved measure to reduce Title IV-E Foster Care by $600 million. These cuts would primarily impact foster care and supports for grandparents and other relatives caring for abused and neglected children

CWLA members and other advocates have bombarded Capitol Hill with this message through calls, emails, and visits. These efforts are to ensure the needs of children will be considered as Congress takes final action on reducing overall federal spending.

It is unclear if Congress will come to an agreement on a final budget reconciliation bill before recessing for the holidays. So far, the negotiations and debate have been limited to closed discussions among Congressional Republican leaders. The Senate-House conference committee conferees have not been officially named.

Substantial differences exist between the Senate budget reconciliation bill that limits overall cuts to $35 billion, and the House bill, with $50 billion in cuts. The House bill includes the $600 million cut to Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance and other measures that reduce Medicaid services for beneficiaries, reduces federal funding for Food Stamps, Child Care, and Child Support Enforcement, and makes changes to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program by adding additional work requirements for TANF recipients with very little new funding for child care. The Senate bill does not contain these provisions.

To learn more about CWLA's efforts and how you can get involved, please visit our website.

Back to Headlines

Revised FY 2006 HHS Annual Funding Bill Approved

On December 14, by a narrow margin of 215 to 213, the House approved the FY 2006 annual appropriations bill that sets the funding level for programs administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Education and Labor (H.R. 3010). The House had rejected the bill on November 17 by a vote of 209 to 224. The final bill is identical to the version rejected earlier by the House except for a reallocation of $90 million from vaccine funding to rural health care programs. The Senate was also expected to pass their version of the appropriations bill prior to recessing for the holidays.

The FY 2006 bill cuts funding for programs administered by HHS by nearly a billion dollars from FY 2005, and also cuts $59 billion in funding below last years level for the U.S. Department of Education. The U.S. Department of Labor also received a funding loss of $430 million.

The final bill reduces funding for many programs that support children, including the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program and child care. Head Start received only a modest increase of $11 million, representing the lowest funding increase for Head Start in more than a decade. Funding for other programs including the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, Youth Training grants, and the Drug Free Schools Act are all reduced or frozen.

Congress is also considering imposing a 1% across the board cut. That decision may be made before Congress recesses for the holidays. To learn more information about funding for specific programs, go to CWLA's website.

Back to Headlines

Funding for Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program Falls Short

As Congress gets ready to approve FY 2006 funding for the Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) program at $395 million, it will fall far short of the $505 million that Congress is authorized to approve. This is the lowest funding provided for this program since FY 2002.

PSSF, formerly the Family Preservation and Support Services Program, is an important federal flexible source of funding for an array of services for families with children, and one of the few federal sources for services to prevent and remedy the difficulties that bring families to the attention of the child welfare system. The program is also an important tool in attempting to reach the goals of the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA). The funds must be used for family preservation and family support, family reunification, and adoption services.

White House support for full funding for this program has waned. President Bush highlighted an increase in funding for this program in his 2000 campaign, but he has requested full funding in every budget submitted to Congress from 2000-2004. In 2005, the Presidents budget only recommend funding PSSF at $410 million.

Seeking full funding for PSSF will continue to be one of CWLA's top legislative priorities. Congress will review the program in 2006. For more information about PSSF, visit our website.

Back to Headlines

House Approves Methamphetamine Legislation

On December 14, the House approved, the Methamphetamine Research Act (HR 798) aimed at tackling the environmental impact of methamphetamine. The bill passed by voice vote.

The bill requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop guidelines and protocols for assessing the safety of a former meth production site. The legislation seeks to target the impact from the residue left from chemicals used in the methamphetamine "cooking" process as it soaks into the walls and the floors. If still present, these lingering chemicals result in lasting physical health conditions for the inhabitants of the home.

Led by House sponsor Representative Bart Gordon (D-TN), the legislation will also require the EPA to join efforts with the National Academy of Sciences to study the health effects of meth labs to first responders and children.

CWLA has obtained records through the Freedom of Information Act from the Department of Justice that reveal 15,192 children were directly impacted through federal or state methamphetamine lab seizures from 2000 through October 2005. Drug Enforcement Administration information shows that nearly 62,000 methamphetamine lab seizures occurred between 2000 and 2004.

The Senate may also get a chance to consider meth legislation prior to recessing for the holidays. S. 103, The Combat Meth Act, is expected to be added to the Senate bill that reauthorizes the Patriot Act. Senators Jim Talent (R-MO) and Diane Fienstein (D-CA) are the lead sponsors in the Senate. The House passed their version of the Patriot Act, with the Meth provisions, on December 14.

With passage, the bill would limit the amount of pseudoephedrine an individual can purchase to no more than 7.5 grams during a 30-day period. Pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient in cold medicines such as Sudafed, is a critical precursor ingredient in methamphetamine production. The bill would require retailers to place cold medicine behind the pharmaceutical counter and to track individual purchases. The new restrictions would limit sales to one box a day and three boxes per month.

Currently, 34 states have enacted legislation that limits the amount of pseudoephedrine an individual can purchase.

Visit our website to read CWLA's testimony earlier this year to the House Government Reform Committee concerning the impact of methamphetamine on children.

Back to Headlines

Faith-Based Advocates Utilize Prayer Vigils to Oppose Budget Decisions

To ensure Congress considers the needs of children and other vulnerable populations, faith-based advocates have conducted 70 prayer vigils in 35 states. Their protests have focused on the possibility of Congressional decisions to cut foster care, Medicaid, food stamps, child care, and child support enforcement as part of the overall budget reducing effort.

On December 14, their efforts culminated with over 400 faith-based advocates coming together for a prayer vigil in Washington, DC. Held near the U.S. Capitol, Jim Wallis, Founder and Executive Director of the Christian Ministry Group, Sojourners Magazine, led attendees in a carefully orchestrated peaceful demonstration of civil disobedience. Capitol police later arrested 114 religious leaders as they refused to clear the entrance to a congressional office.

Back to Headlines

CWLA Submits Comments to HHS on CFSR Outcome Measures

CWLA submitted comments December 8 to HHS on their proposed regulatory proposal to change the way child welfare data is collected and used in the Child and Family Service Reviews (CFSR). Access CWLA's comments on our website.

Back to Headlines

CWLA Submits Comments to EPA to Ensure Safety of Children in Foster Care

CWLA submitted comments December 12 about proposed regulatory changes offered by the Environmental Protection Agency that would place children in foster care--who have mental or physical disabilities or are living outside the United States--at risk of being potential human subjects in determining the effects of pesticides on an individual.

Access CWLAs comments on our website.

Back to Headlines

CWLAs Legislative Alerts Now Available to Subscribers

CWLA's Legislative Alerts provide breaking news, advocacy information, and critically important timely details of legislative battles. Previously, the alerts were only sent to CWLA members.

In an effort to broaden our advocacy network on behalf of children, anyone can now subscribe. This effort compliments the availability of CWLAs weekly electronic legislative newsletter, the Children's Monitor, which is also available to any subscriber. We encourage you to register to receive these items directly and to pass on the information to other colleagues, family, and friends.

Back to Headlines

Children 2006: Securing Brighter Futures

Preparations are underway for CWLA's 2006 National Conference: Securing Brighter Futures, February 27- March 1. CWLA will bring together leading child welfare practitioners, teachers, researchers, and advocates to Washington, DC, for three days of learning and sharing about how best to meet the needs of children in foster care.
CWLA's annual Hill Day gives conference attendees the opportunity to meet with members of Congress about the issues that affect the children, youth, and families we serve. Hill Day participants will learn about key children's issues facing Congress from leaders in the field, CWLA staff, and key policymakers. Members of Congress need to hear what their votes will mean for the children, youth, and families in your state and local community. Make your voice heard at Hill Day 2006! Last March, CWLA's voices were heard as part of the No Caps on Kids! campaign that prevented stronger measures in Congress to block grant the foster care program.

To gain more information about the 2006 conference, see the presentations and to register, please visit our website.

Back to Headlines

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

Before Christmas: Target adjournment for First Session of 109th Congress
January 18, 2006: 2nd Session of 109th Congress begins
February 6, 2006: Release of President's FY 2007 budget


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.