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CWLA Releases Legislative Wish List in Advance of State of the Union Stressing Four Key Ways to help Vulnerable Children

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Shawn Flaherty

WASHINGTON, DC - In advance of the President's State of the Union address and as the new Congress gets underway, the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), the nation's oldest and largest membership-based child welfare organization, has released its legislative wish list, with key issues impacting the health and welfare of vulnerable U.S. children that it hopes the Administration and Congress will tackle in the coming year.

"Children are not a political or partisan issue. They are a national priority. As the new Congress starts, finding ways to work together is imperative to helping vulnerable children succeed," said CWLA CEO Christine James-Brown. "That's why we present our wish list as a roadmap for the President and Congress to follow that puts children at the forefront. Wise decisions today will have long-term impacts on children, families and our nation's future."

The country continues to face many challenges with a growing poverty rate that disproportionately affects children, high unemployment, millions of uninsured families, and alarmingly a recent increase in the number of reports of abuse and neglect. Despite these obstacles, the nation's foster care system significantly shrunk in a decade's time. Declining by 115,000 children in care, the drop is the result of a multitude of factors, including a sustained and coordinated effort to change how children are supported and the landmark 2008 Fostering Connections Act, which enjoyed broad bi-partisan support and aimed to improve outcomes for foster children. To continue making progress and guard against adverse effects of the recession, CWLA is proposing the following legislative wish list to the President and Congress in preparation for the State of the Union:
  • Continue the momentum for child welfare reform. The 2008 Fostering Connections Act passed two years ago with broad bipartisan support. Strong support for reform remains and is still desperately needed. CWLA urges the President and Congress to use their power to take the next step in reforming the child welfare system.
  • Invest in children. Services and supports for the most vulnerable children face growing pressures both from recent increases in abuse and neglect and state and local budget cuts. CWLA encourages the President and Congress to support strong federal investments in critical child welfare interventions.
  • Implement improvements in children's health services and coverage as enacted in the Affordable Care Act. Children's health will be improved significantly by the advancements enacted last year. CWLA encourages a continued push for implementing the full array of improvements called for in the bill.
  • Call for a White House Conference on Children and Youth, a long-overdue means to convene a national discourse on the topic of vulnerable children and make recommendations to improve outcomes. Now is the time to reestablish this conference, to put the nation on a path to making children and families a national priority. CWLA encourages the President to give his support and lead this conference.
"We hope that the President's remarks will embrace and reflect these issues. Children of poverty and other vulnerable children are counting on us to not let them down," James-Brown added.

About CWLA
CWLA is a powerful coalition of hundreds of private and public agencies serving vulnerable children and families since 1920. Through its programs, publications, research, conferences, professional development, and consultation, CWLA speaks with authority and candor about the status and the needs of American children, young people, and families. As the nationally recognized standard-setter for child welfare services, CWLA provides direct support to agencies that serve children and families, improving the quality of the services they provide to more than nine million children every year.

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