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

   
   
Vol. 19, Issue 14: 4/3/2006   
Headlines

House Budget Committee Adopts Budget Close to President's Request

Child Welfare: A Congressional Overview Series Begins

Child Well-Being Index Shows Modest Improvements

Senate Committee Passes Indian Child Protect Act

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



House Budget Committee Adopts Budget Close to President's Request

On March 29, the House Budget Committee adopted a budget resolution that follows most of the President's 2007 proposed spending levels. The resolution does not include the proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid but does include a discretionary funding level of $873 billion, the same as the Administration's request. Discretionary spending covers all programs that require an annual appropriation. The House resolution proposes $6.8 billion in benefit cuts from mandatory programs. This is significantly less than the $39 billion in cuts passed for FY 2006 and reflects the difficulties in passing that budget. The funding level in the House resolution and in the administration's budget also proposes an increase of 7% for the Defense Department. If adopted, such a proposal would, in effect, require cuts to many domestic programs, since the defense budget makes up more than half the discretionary spending.

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Child Welfare: A Congressional Overview Series Begins

On March 30, CWLA began a new Congressional briefing series, designed as informational sessions for Senate and House staffers, focusing on the needs of the child welfare system. CWLA Government Affairs Codirector John Sciamanna highlighted the federal government's role in providing child welfare services, including detailing all programs available for service.

Through this new Congressional Overview Series, CWLA will join with other leading national organizations to present the most up-to-date information to members of Congress and the public. Future briefings will focus on specific aspects of the child welfare community.

At the briefing, CWLA released two documents outlining the child welfare population and the federal support services. Background of Child Welfare Services details population trends of child abuse, children in foster care, adoption rates, and youth transitioning from care. Funding of Child Welfare Services provides an overview of all federal streams that support child welfare services, and notes on current funding levels. To obtain an electronic copy of the materials, e-mail govaffairs@cwla.org.

The Urban Institute presented findings from its yet-to-be-released survey, Cost of Protecting Children V: Understanding State Variation in Child Welfare Financing. The survey documents the amount states spent on child welfare activities in FY 2004 and what services the funds supported.

Highlights of the survey, conducted with leading state child welfare officials, include a 4% increase in total child welfare spending since FY 2002, even though 16 states witnessed a decline in total spending. This growth in child welfare spending came from increased state and local support, while federal funding remained at about the same level.

As far as federal funding sources, dollars flowing from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the Social Services Block Grant decreased, while funding from the IV-E programs of adoption assistance and foster care increased, along with funding from the IV-B programs, mainly Promoting Safe and Stable Families. The increased level of state support is varied, with some states reporting increases due to higher costs or increased child welfare caseloads.

CWLA will further detail the report in later issues of the Children's Monitor.

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Child Well-Being Index Shows Modest Improvements

On March 28, the Foundation for Child Development (FCD) released its annual report on child well-being in the United States. The report shows a continued improvement in the Child Well-Being Index (CWI) between 2004 and 2005. The indicators are a compilation of statistics and information gathered through the work of Duke University since 1975; 28 different indicators are grouped together in seven subsets, such as health, safety/behavior, and community connectedness, with the base year of 1975 set at a score of 100. According to the study, the well-being of children in 2005 was 104.67, compared with 103.91 for 2004.

FCD issued a press statement highlighting the latest data and singled out education as the one area where "great strides" have not been made since 1975. The Brooking Institute, sponsored a forum on this year's CWI, focusing on the education measurements.

The 28 indicators do not include information on child abuse and neglect, foster care, or adoption. During a presentation on the indicators at the Brookings Institute last year, Project Coordinator Kenneth C. Land indicated that child abuse and neglect information had not been included in the indicators because the information has not been as reliable or consistent enough to include.

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Senate Committee Passes Indian Child Protect Act

On March 29, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs passed S. 1899, the reauthorization of the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Act. The legislation reauthorizes funding for child protection programs for tribal communities. The act was first passed in 1990 and is intended to channel funds to Indian country, including funding for resource centers and child abuse treatment programs. Funding has been very limited throughout the act's history, a fact noted by Committee Chair John McCain (R-AZ) and Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) at an earlier Senate hearing.

The committee-passed bill included some amendments. Changes were made to some of the current background check requirements. The legislation also directs the FBI, the U.S. Attorney General, and the Department of the Interior to report to Congress annually on child abuse in Indian country. The legislation directs The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to assist these other government bodies in collecting data on allegations and investigations of abuse, the number of victims, sentencing patterns, and rates of recidivism. A second study would also detail any impediments to reducing abuse and how those barriers could be addressed. The legislation is unlikely to come up for a vote on the Senate floor before the spring break beginning April 8.

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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.

To subscribe to Legislative Alerts
To 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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