CWLA's Letter to the House Ways & Means Committee about Budget Reconcililiation
October 25, 2005
Dear Member of Congress:
As the Ways and Means Committee considers ways to reduce overall federal spending through budget reconciliation, the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) and our nearly 900 public and private child-serving agencies across the country urge you to reject proposals that do further harm to children who have already been abused and neglected. Two proposals in the Committee bill would particularly impact children now living with grandparents and other relatives.
We urge you to reject the proposal contained in the draft bill that overturns an important Ninth Circuit judicial decision, Rosales v. Thompson. This decision has resulted in more abused and neglected children living with relatives becoming eligible for federal foster care and adoption assistance. Repealing this court determination would have the most immediate effects for the children now qualifying for federal assistance in California and the other states and territories in the Ninth Judicial Circuit (Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Guam, and the Mariana Islands). However, children in other states could also be affected. In California alone, 4,400 additional children living with relatives have been able to receive federal foster care support since the Rosales decision. Repeal of the Rosales decision would also impact some children's ability to receive federal adoption assistance as decided by a recent court ruling in Georgia (Harris v. Martin, U.S District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, 2004 WL 1905331 (N.D.GA)).
The draft reconciliation bill also puts into law proposed regulations (Administrative Costs for Children in Title IV-E Foster Care, published in the Federal Register on January 31, 2005) that would have a detrimental effect on the provisions of services to abuse and neglected children, would reverse longstanding policies set forth by this Committee in the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act to encourage the placement of children with relatives whenever possible, and impede efforts to reunify children with their parents. Children in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana, as well as other states, would be greatly impacted by these provisions.
Your consideration of these measures comes only days before you will also be considering legislation designed to reduce tax revenues, which will result in even more pressure in the near future to reduce or cap federal funding for abused and neglected children once again. These decisions may also be compounded by a vote to enact an across the board budget cut that will further reduce child abuse and prevention services provided by the Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) and the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) programs that are designed to prevent child abuse and neglect.
CWLA hopes you will reject these shortsighted proposals that deny supports to abused and neglected children in order to meet the goal of reducing overall federal spending. This country needs to strengthen our commitment to children and provide more to address their needs. We urge you to instead ask that we begin to work together to enact reforms based on the very real and urgent needs of our children.
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