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

   
   
Vol. 19, Issue 17: 4/24/2006   
Headlines

Congress Returns with Appropriations and Budget Debate, Finance Committee Hearing

Long-Term Medical Impact of Child Abuse Highlighted

Save the Date: May 10 Is National Call-In Day for Kinship Caregiver Support Act

National Children's Memorial Flag Day, April 28

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Congress Returns with Appropriations and Budget Debate, Finance Committee Hearing

The House and Senate return this week for what is scheduled to be the longest uninterrupted session for the rest of 2006. Congress will next break for Memorial Day and, between now and then, will deal with a number of pending issues, including a final budget resolution, completion of the 2005 reconciliation tax cut package, lobbying reform, an emergency supplemental appropriations bill, and work on all the appropriations for federal fiscal year 2007.

The Senate will return Monday and begin to focus on passage of the supplemental appropriations bill. Most of the funding is for the war in Iraq. The House approved a supplemental with total funding of $91 billion, including $67 billion for the war. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $106 billion package, with $72 billion for the war. The rest of the funds are mainly for hurricane-stricken areas of the country. The fact that the supplemental is considered an emergency request means it is not counted against any spending caps Congress imposes on itself.

While the full Senate takes up the debate on a supplemental, on Tuesday, April 25, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the effect of methamphetamine abuse on the child welfare system. This is the first hearing the Finance Committee has held on child welfare issues in the last two sessions of Congress. The committee is also likely to address the reauthorization of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families program later this spring. The committee is expected to hear from experts on substance abuse issues and representatives of the child welfare system in rural areas of the country.

The House will once again attempt to build a consensus around a budget resolution. Two smaller groups within the Republican House caucus are pushing for different priorities. A conservative caucus is pushing for budget restrictions and cuts closer to what the President proposed in February, whereas another group of Republicans is pushing for a budget resolution closer to what the Senate has adopted. The Senate resolution allows for some increase in spending in the human service and education areas of the budget.

Some House Republican are also asking for changes to the budget process that would result in future restrictions on spending. If House leaders fail to reach an agreement, they may move forward without a budget resolution and start passing appropriations bills. That would likely mean the House and Senate would be passing bills with different overall spending caps. Such an approach would increase the pressure to roll several bills into one omnibus bill and increase the likelihood appropriations would not be agreed to until after the election.

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Long-Term Medical Impact of Child Abuse Highlighted

Leading medical researchers and practitioners came to Capitol Hill last week to draw increased attention to the lasting effect that childhood abuse, neglect, and trauma play on further functioning in life. Presenting the highlights of the ongoing Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES), Drs. Robert Anda and Vincent Feliti noted that two-thirds of the more than 17,000 children and young people involved in the study had at least one adverse childhood experience. These experiences are defined as childhood abuse or neglect; growing up in homes where domestic violence, substance abuse, or mental illness is present; or other aspects in the home negatively affecting child growth.

ACES clearly shows the link between childhood experiences and future health and social outcomes, including poor adolescent and reproductive health; smoking, alcohol, and other drug use; extreme levels of sexual behavior; poor mental health and well-being; poor stability in relationships; homelessness; and low performance in the workforce. Other health concerns for children who experience heightened rates of adverse childhood experience lead to heart, lung, and liver disease; suicide; and HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Legislatively, this link between early negative experiences in childhood affecting all other aspects of development was addressed in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Services for children exposed to domestic violence, home visitation programs, and engaging men and youth in prevention efforts are some of the new initiatives included in the reauthorization. Funding for these new initiatives is yet to be decided by Congress. Also, CWLA, along with other 30 other national child and medical organizations, has called on congressional leaders to increase funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, which would establish a network on the medical aspects of child abuse and neglect.

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Save the Date: May 10 Is National Call-In Day for Kinship Caregiver Support Act

CWLA has partnered with AARP, the Children's Defense Fund, Generations United, the National Hispanic Council on Aging, and other organizations to urge Congress to pass legislation providing additional support for those who provide safe and caring homes for children who are not able to live with their parents. CWLA is calling on all advocates and friends of children to reach out to their Senators on Wednesday, May, 10. Further information, including the toll-free telephone number, will be provided in the next Children's Monitor.

The Kinship Caregiver Support Act (S. 985) and the Guardianship Assistance Promotion and Kinship Support Act (H.R. 3380) were included in the CWLA Legislative Agenda and Hot Topics. These bills provide much needed relief for the millions of children who live with relatives and non-kin guardians.

On April 25, the partnering organizations above are sponsoring a congressional briefing highlighting the role that grandparents and other guardians play in ensuring a safe, protective home for children. Congressional staff will have the opportunity to hear from state policymakers, advocates, and grandparents as to how the supports actually are a critical need.

Support for kinship families was cut earlier this year with the passage of the Deficit Reduction Act. The legislation, passed by one-vote margins in the House and Senate, cut more than $350 million from kinship care by repealing a Ninth U.S. Circuit ruling in Rosales v. Thompson that expanded Title IV-E Foster Care eligibility to some children being cared for by grandparents and other relatives.

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National Children's Memorial Flag Day, April 28

National Children's Memorial Flay Day is April 28th. Flag Day is part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month and was launched by CWLA as a public awareness campaign in 1998 to direct attention to the tragedy of violent child deaths, and to reduce child mortality. Each year, nearly 3 million children are reported abused and neglected, and more than 1,000 die tragically from abuse and neglect. For the past three years, all 50 governors have united in an impressive bipartisan effort to raise public awareness about the continuing problem of violence against children.

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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.

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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

April 23: Congress returns from Easter Break

May 27-June 4: Memorial Day Break


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