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

   
   
Vol. 19, Issue 13: 3/27/2006   
Headlines

House and Senate Resume Work

CWLA Replies to New York Times Article on Plight of Black Men

Meth Briefing Focuses on Effect on Children

Increased Supports for Children with Emotional Disorders Gain Notice

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



House and Senate Resume Work

The House and Senate return to Capitol Hill this week with the top goal of completing work on a final 2006 budget resolution. Congress is set to leave for two weeks on April 8 for its Spring break. Technically, a budget resolution is to be completed by April 15, but Congress is unlikely to meet that deadline.

The House Budget Committee plans to debate a House resolution on March 29. It is unclear how close to the President's budget House leaders will stay. Some members of the Republican caucus would like additional cuts to entitlement programs, but others are concerned about adopting a second set of cuts to programs such as Medicaid and Medicare only a few weeks after adopting $39 billion in cuts in the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act in February.

After the House Budget Committee acts, the resolution will go to the House floor for debate, and then Senate and House Budget Committees will have to negotiate their differences. Affecting the timing is the fate of the 2005 budget reconciliation tax cut package. Senate and House conferees are trying to agree on what should be included in a $70 billion tax cut. To maintain the parliamentary protection a reconciliation bill has, Congress must approve the 2005 tax cut package before adopt its 2006 budget resolution.

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CWLA Replies to New York Times Article on Plight of Black Men

CWLA President and CEO Shay Bilchik has submitted a letter to the editor to the New York Times in response to a recent article on the worsening plight of black men in the United States. In the letter, Bilchik makes the connection between initiatives designed to meet the challenges faced by this population and the current debate in Washington to cut their funding.

In the letter, Bilchik says:
The article highlights a history of benign neglect of young black males and their communities, which will never be changed without the realization that a massive commitment of resources at all levels is needed. Some of the challenges facing urban youth described in the article are addressed within the federal budget debate currently under way in the U.S. Congress.

The cold reality is the President's recent proposed budget cuts funding for the very initiatives created to deal with these challenges. Job Corps is cut. Workforce initiatives are cut, especially those aimed at youths. Education programs designed to keep students in school and on track for college are cut. Delinquency prevention is cut. Even mentoring programs are cut, programs that had enjoyed a level of support from the President. Federal resources are essential in effectively reaching at-risk young people and keeping them on the right track.

Thankfully the U.S. Senate decided to add $9 billion back into these programs in their just-passed budget resolution. Now it's the House of Representatives' turn. Let's hope they do as their Senate colleagues did and put much-needed resources back into these efforts.
The original article is available on the New York Times website.

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Meth Briefing Focuses on Effect on Children

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has called on lawmakers to "remember the children" as anti-methamphetamine legislation continues to move through Congress. At a March 20 Congressional briefing, AAP, along with representatives from the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children and U.S. Indian Health Services, noted the immediate and lingering dangers present for children exposed to meth.

Initial research from Dr. Penny Grant, currently in press, reflects that children living in meth environments are often at greater risk for neglect and experience high levels of educational delays and a complete absence of medical and dental care. Twenty-seven percent of the children studied experience developmental delays, with speech and language the most often identified. Those children with severe delays show similar signs of autistic features, with an inability to express themselves verbally.

The 2006 National Drug Threat Assessment, published annually by the U.S. Department of Justice, identifies meth as the most significant drug threat in the country. With more than 39% of state and local law enforcement agencies reporting that increased meth use is spreading across the country, dangers are affecting all segments of the community. The assessment continues by showing that even as domestic meth production is decreasing, mainly through state and federal restraints on precursor chemicals used in manufacturing, this is offset by the increased introduction and distribution of meth manufactured in Mexico.

Information gained by CWLA through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that from 2000 to October 2005, 15,192 children were affected by meth labs that were seized by local or federal law enforcement.

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Increased Supports for Children with Emotional Disorders Gain Notice

At a March 21 Congressional briefing, the National Association for Children's Behavioral Health and the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems released recommendations for Congress to consider when looking at the role of Medicaid services for children and youth facing emotional or substance use disorders.

Medicaid serves 25% of all American children at some point in their lives, and nearly 60% of low-income children rely on Medicaid for health care services. Medicaid has continuously proved to be a vital program for children in foster care, as states are able to access Medicaid-funded services to address lasting physical and mental health concerns that are not typically covered under Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance. Some of these services include targeted case management (TCM), rehabilitative services, and psychiatric services that are provided in residential facilities.

The organizations' recommendations to Congress include increased availability for Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment; protecting services of TCM; securing Medicaid rehabilitation options; and advancing available Medicaid-funded 24-hour psychiatric services for those that under age 21.

These proposals compliment those included in CWLA's 2006 Legislative Agenda.

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CWLA 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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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

April 8-23: Congressional Spring Break
April 15: Deadline to complete negotiations between the Senate and House and adopt a single, final budget resolution
May 27-June 4: Memorial Day Break


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