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

   
   
Vol. 19, Issue 8: 2/20/2006   
Headlines

2007 Budget and Tax Cut Wait for Congress After President's Day Break

CWLA Releases Workforce Study

Study on Child Welfare Court Consent Decrees Available

CLASP Reviews Impact Of Child Welfare Cuts

CWLA Joins Effort to Make Children a Priority in Times of Disaster

CWLA's Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Children 2006: Securing Brighter Futures

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



2007 Budget and Tax Cut Wait for Congress After President's Day Break

House and Senate activities in Washington are closed this week in honor of President's Day. When returning on February 27, both chambers will begin making decisions on how to address the President's proposed budget for 2007. Unclear is whether senators and house members will attempt another budget reconciliation package or attempt to pass the annual appropriations bills. This will also be joined by separate legislation to address such programs as Medicare and Medicaid for cuts.

Moderates in both chambers are increasingly skeptical that another round of cuts to social service programs, as revealed in the President's proposed budget, would be easy to pass during an election year. This also makes the possibility of another budget reconciliation package difficult to enact.

On February 1, the House gave final approval to budget reconciliation legislation that targets $39 billion of federal funding over five years. Also included was a $600 million cut to Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance.

Although the 2007 budget will be a top priority for returning members, joint Senate and House conference committee members will discuss how to fit all the suggested tax cuts into a tax-cutting reconciliation bill that is suppose to cost no more than $70 billion. This past week, Senate Democrats delayed the start of the conference committee by proposing nonbinding motions to instruct what should and should not be included in the tax-cut bill.

The Senate bill does not include a three-year extension of the capitol gains tax cut, because some Senate Republicans, including Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), opposed its inclusion. Regardless, many Senate Republicans, including Finance Chair Charles Grassley (R-IA) want to ignore the Senate provision and include it by agreeing to the House provision.

The tax bill is being passed as part of the 2005 budget reconciliation package. That means the 2005 budget reconciliation package of $40 billion in cuts, passed in early February, and the tax cut package of $70 billion that is likely to pass this spring, will actually result in a net increase in the federal deficit.

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CWLA Releases Workforce Study

CWLA's popular child welfare workforce salary study is now available. Published every two years, the survey marks trends concerning the child welfare workforce. For more than 20 years, the study has provided information about average salaries, broken down by such categories as chief administrators, public and private; child protective services workers; residential workers; child day care staff; and research.

The survey covers education levels for the same categories of workers. The starting salary for a child protective service worker with a college degree working for a public agency ranged from a low of $24,410 to a high of $42,468.

For private agencies, this range was $22,000-$65,981. For residential child and youth workers with college degrees, starting salaries ranged from $14,560 to $43,835, in public agencies. Private agencies in the same category had a starting salary range of $12,500-$33,177.

For child day care workers, the starting salary range for lead teachers was $16,000-$46,685. Child day care teachers (nonlead) were $13,162-$25,805. The average salary for child day care teachers (nonlead) was $14,133-$25,815. The survey also includes data on benefits structures and staffing level information.

The survey is available to CWLA member agencies on the CWLA members-only website. Copies will also be available to purchase online after February 24.

CWLA has continually advocated for greater supports for the child welfare workforce to ensure that those protecting our most vulnerable children are the most highly qualified, well educated, and fairly compensated for their service. CWLA's 2006 Legislative Agenda (online at www.cwla.org/advocacy/2006legagenda.htm beginning February 27) also emphasizes the child welfare workforce.

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Study on Child Welfare Court Consent Decrees Available

CWLA, along with the American Bar Association Center on Children and Law
have released a new research paper that details state child welfare consent
decrees from 1995 to 2005.

Over the past decade, an increasing number of state child welfare systems have operated under consent decrees that mandate what services must be offered. This review examines child welfare class-action litigation in 32 states, with consent decrees or settlements in 30 of these states. The report is an attempt to examine decrees or settlements currently in effect or having expired in the last 10 years.

The analysis determined that 76% of the decrees and agreements addressed placement issues, 65% addressed protective services, 68% focused on providing services to children or families, and 63% addressed issues involving the child welfare workforce. The study includes a state-by-state summary, state-by-state description, and actions taken in various areas of concern.

Legislation in both houses of Congress would time-limit consent decrees in all forms, including child welfare cases. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Representative Roy Blunt (R-MO) have introduced the Federal Consent Decree Fairness Act (S.489/ H.R. 1229), which would allow defendants to request a modification or termination of the consent decree four years after it is originally agreed to, or after the election of a new state or local government official. Plaintiffs would have the burden of proving why the decree is still needed; after 90 days of filing, if the court has not acted on the request, the decree would automatically be terminated.

Consent decrees are legal agreements enforced by courts, entered into usually by state or local governments with parties that file the complaints. In most instances, a federal court oversees an agreement entered into by the parties. The basis for the action is frequently federal law or regulations. The targets of these decrees include a range of areas, such as child welfare, health care, environmental law, mental health, civil rights, and discrimination laws. The duration of these decrees depends on how many service areas the state must address and its success in implementing the requirements of the decree.

To access the study, Child Welfare Consent Decrees: Analysis of Thirty-Five Court Actions from 1995 to 2005, visit our website.

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CLASP Reviews Impact Of Child Welfare Cuts

On February 22, 12:30-1:30 p.m. EST, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) will host a national audio conference call on child welfare and the impact of the recently enacted budget cuts. The call will include interviews with Rutledge Hutson of CLASP and Dave Berns, Director of Arizona's Department of Employment Security. The focus of the call is the changes that have just been made to child welfare in the budget bill enacted in early February, as well as changes proposed in the Administration's FY07 budget. The call is open any individual or organization. The cost is $16, and online registration is available.

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CWLA Joins Effort to Make Children a Priority in Times of Disaster

CWLA has joined Voices for America's Children, the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, and the National Mental Health Association to call for greater supports for the needs of children in times of national crisis. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina left up to 2,000 children misplaced from their relatives or caregivers, and most current data from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reveals that more than 160 children are still missing from care.

The organizations call on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to establish a new office responsible for anticipating and meeting the immediate and long-term needs of children in times of emergency and recovery.

Noting that the aftermath of Katrina affected not only the children in the area but also the workforce, CWLA President and CEO Shay Bilchik said, "Child-serving agencies have struggled to repair their facilities and operate their programs, and caseworkers, like the children and families they serve, are under pressure to find housing, child care, schools, and needed health and mental health services."

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CWLA's Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

CWLA's Legislative Alerts provide breaking news, advocacy information, and critically important timely details of legislative battles. In an effort to broaden CWLA's advocacy network on behalf of children, anyone can now subscribe and receive the same information. This effort compliments CWLA's weekly electronic legislative newsletter, the Children's Monitor, which is also available free 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.

Subscribe to Legislative Alerts.

Subscribe to Children's Monitor.

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Children 2006: Securing Brighter Futures

With one week until CWLA's 2006 National Conference, it's still not too late to register. Feb. 27-March 1, CWLA will bring together the leading child welfare practitioners, teachers, researchers, and advocates to Washington, DC, for three days of learning and sharing in order to best 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 directly from policymakers. Members of Congress need to hear what their votes will mean for the children, youth, and families in your state and community. Make your voice heard at Hill Day 2006!

All registrations at this point must be faxed to CWLA at 202/638-4004. For more information about the 2006 conference, visit our website.

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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

February 18-26: President's Day Recess

February 27-March 1: Children 2006: Securing Brighter Futures

March 18-26: Congressional Spring Break

March 15-18: Target for Senate and House to pass budget resolutions

March 18-26: Congressional Break

April 8-23: Congressional Spring Break

April 15: Deadline to complete negotiations between the Senate and House and adopt a single, final budget resolution


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