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

   
   
Vol. 19, Issue 19: 5/8/2006   
Headlines

Call Your Senators on Wednesday May 10, National Call-In Day for Kinship Caregiver Support Act

House Leaders Get Deal on Budget Resolution while Tax-Cut Package Moves Forward

Home Visitation Programs Highlighted

Sign the Petition for Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Proposal Would Create Commission to Eliminate Programs

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



Call Your Senators on Wednesday May 10, National Call-In Day for Kinship Caregiver Support Act

May 10 is the National Call-In Day to support the Kinship Caregiver Support Act (S. 985). 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 Kinship legislation that provides 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.

You can call toll-free 888/233-1221 to be connected to the Capitol Hill switchboard. Then ask to be transferred to your Senator's office. Tell your Senators to help children on Mothers Day by cosponsoring S. 985.

This legislation was introduced with bipartisan support by Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Norm Coleman (R-MN). The bill would improve supports for grandparents and others caring for abused and neglected children. It would assist the millions of children who are being raised by relatives and other nonrelative legal guardians because their parents are not able to care for them. Nationwide, more than 6 million children are being raised in households headed by grandparents and other relatives, and 2.5 million children are in these households without any parent support.

More information on the Kinship Caregiver Support Act is available on our website.

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House Leaders Get Deal on Budget Resolution while Tax-Cut Package Moves Forward

The Republican House leadership reached a deal with moderates late Wednesday on the budget resolution, agreeing to shift some discretionary dollars from the Defense Department to Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education, while maintaining a budget freeze. The deal falls short of what the Senate has approved because it does not allocate as much for HHS and education and it does not raise the discretionary spending level of $873 billion. The fact the Senate and House budget resolutions are so different increases the possibility there will be no joint budget resolution this year.

While the budget debate was moving forward in the House, Senate and House conferees were reaching agreement on a $70 billion tax cut. The tax cut is part of the 2005 budget reconciliation bill adopted earlier this year, which includes a $3 billion cut in programs. One remaining hurdle for the tax-cut package is Senator Charles Grassley's (R-IA) insistence that both houses agree on a second tax-cut package that would pass in tandem with the $70 billion package. The second tax-cut bill would likely require 60 votes in the Senate to break a filibuster, since it does not have the fast-track protections from parliamentary delays that a reconciliation bill receives.

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Home Visitation Programs Highlighted

The call for increased federal support for home visitation programs was highlighted again last week as the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago and the National Conference on State Legislatures held a briefing on program successes and difficulties states have experienced with various types of home visitation services.

Home visitation services have become increasingly popular. More than 400,000 children up to age 5 are served through 37 separate state initiatives focused on providing families with the skills, knowledge, and tools that allow children to grow in healthy environments.

Research from Chapin Hall, available at www.chapinhall.org/article_abstract.aspx?ar=1365, documents that for those families who received at least 15 home visits, significant gains were made in maternal depression, perceived stress, and parental competence. Each of these are strongly related and linked to future instances of child abuse and neglect.

Many home visitation programs are state-funded. Initiates under way in Congress seek to provide the first dedicated federal support focused on home visitation. The Education Begins at Home Act (S. 503/ H.R. 3628) would provide $400 million over three years to allow states to expand programs, while also reauthorizing Early Head Start. Lead sponsors of the legislation include Senator Chris Bond (R-MO) and Representative Danny Davis (D-IL).

More information is available on our website.

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Sign the Petition for Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is an international agreement that requires signing nations to protect the basic rights of their most vulnerable citizens--children. The United States and Somalia are the only two countries that have not ratified the CRC. It's time for our country to join the rest of the world and ratify the CRC.

CWLA has joined with SOS Children's Villages-USA and other organizations in an effort to gather 25,000 petition signatures to send to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, urging our government to ratify the CRC. You can help us meet our goal of 25,000 signatures by signing the petition today at www.sos-usa.org.

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Proposal Would Create Commission to Eliminate Programs

As House leaders have negotiated and gathered votes for a budget resolution, they have committed to some members a vote on legislation that would establish a commission to eliminate federal programs. The commission proposal is similar in format to a commission created to close military bases. The principle behind the way such a commission works is for an appointed body to make recommendations based on its own deliberations and for Congress to either reject or accept the entire package of final recommendations.

Under such a commission, programs and funding could be eliminated with little legislative debate or amendment. The commission would have the authority to review most human service programs, but could not eliminate or review entitlement and defense department programs. Any recommendations would be submitted to Congress and then voted on with little ability to change or debate individual cuts and program eliminations.

There are two bills now in the House that would create such a commission: H.R. 3277, sponsored by Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX), and H.R. 2470, sponsored by Representative Todd Tiahrt (R-KS).

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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

May 10: Call In Day in support of S. 985, the Caregiver Support Act
May 27-June 4: Memorial Day Break
July 1-10: July 4th Break
July 29: House Summer Recess Begins
August 5: Senate Summer Recess Begins
September 5: Congress Returns


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