Children's Voice Mar/Apr 2008

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CWLA Short Takes

Honor Children, Raise Your Flag

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and April 25 is Children's Memorial Flag Day--an initiative CWLA started in 1998 to focus attention to the tragedy of violent child deaths. Learn how you can join hundreds of organizations and communities nationwide in supporting the Flag Day initiative.

Worth a Round of Applause

CWLA recognized several individuals during the December 2007 Adoption and Foster Care Training Conference in New Orleans for the significant contributions they have made to the field of adoption over many decades. Barbara Tremitiere and O. Delmar Weathers were named CWLA's 2007 Adoption Pioneers. Joseph Crumbley was recognized for Best Practice in Kinship Care.

Tremitiere worked for 34 years at Tressler Lutheran Services in York, Pennsylvania, as a consultant, caseworker, supervisor, adoption director, and clinician. She has also served on the adjunct faculty at five colleges, and as the Executive Director of One Another Adoption Program. She is the author of Kids in Batches, the "Magic" of Adoption Success, and The Large Adoptive Family: A Special Kind of "Normal." As if that weren't enough, Tremitiere is also the mother of 15 grown children, 12 of whom were special-needs adoptions.

Weathers has advocated for and provided services to children and families for 33 years. She spent the first half of her career as a clinical social worker. Later, she became the Chief of the Adoption Opportunities program at the U.S. Children's Bureau. Through her vision and leadership, new programs evolved that increased the number of adoption placements of children with special needs. Currently she is a board member of the Black Administrators in Child Welfare. Crumbley has provided consultation and training nationally and internationally in the area of kinship care, from Los Angeles to Philadelphia, and from New Zealand to Canada. He is the coauthor of Relatives Raising Children: An Overview of Kinship Care and Transracial Adoption and Foster Care.

Upcoming Conferences

SEPTEMBER 15-17: 2008 Western Region Training Conference
It Takes Courage and Compassion to Serve Children and Families: Tools for Competence and Confidence
Hilton Hotel, Portland, Oregon
Dates and locations subject to change. For more information on the CWLA calendar, including conference registration, hotels, programs, and contacts, visit CWLA's website, or contact CWLA's conference registrar at register@cwla.org or 703/412-2439.

What's on the Agenda?

CWLA's 2008 Legislative Agenda and 2008 Hot Topics are hot off the presses. If you didn't pick up copies at the CWLA National Conference in Washington, DC, read them online. The Legislative Agenda is a 16-chapter booklet on topics ranging from adoption to youth services. This year's Hot Topics booklet outlines CWLA's goals for a 2010 White House Conference and its stand on kinship care.

Data Crunching

In 2005, an estimated 109 million children had no available caregivers in Asia (62 million), Africa (39 million), and Latin America and the Caribbean (8 million). This figure does not include children needing caregivers in Europe.

Between 1989 and 2004, the number of international adoptions increased 183%. During that period, 211,648 children were adopted into the United States from other nations. In 2004 alone, there were 22,911 intercountry adoptions in the United States, while 51,993 children were adopted from the public child welfare system.

Source: National Data Analysis System (NDAS) Issue Brief International Adoption: Trends and Issues. Find this and other related information at http://ndas.cwla.org. NDAS is a free online service started in 1999 by CWLA and sponsoring states.

News from the Hill: Confronting Potentially Harmful Federal Regs

CWLA's Government Affairs staff took immediate action last summer when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a proposed regulation in the Federal Register that would affect significantly the contours and reimbursement of Medicaid rehabilitative services.

Among CWLA's concerns with the proposed regulation is the possibility of federal Medicaid dollars being taken away from services deemed "intrinsic" to other programs, including child welfare and foster care, and specifically therapeutic foster care. The rule also proposes excluding federal Medicaid dollars from services to residents of institutions for mental disease who are younger than 65, including residents of community residential treatment facilities with more than 16 beds--a move that could potentially drive up costs for child-serving agencies and force children into more restrictive environments.

CWLA posted an online summary and analysis of the proposed rule and solicited comments from CWLA members and other organizations about how the regulation might negatively affect their services to children and families. CWLA also cosponsored a congressional briefing in October that discussed the importance of Medicaid rehabilitative services for children and adults with physical and mental disabilities and how the proposed regulation would decrease access to vital services for these populations.

The briefing featured Twila Costigan, Adoption and Family Support Program Manager at Inter-mountain Children's Home and Services in Montana, as well as Jeffrey Crowley, a senior research scholar at Georgetown University; Ron Brand, Executive Director with the Minnesota Association of Community Mental Health Program; and Bonnie-Jean Brooks, President and CEO of Opportunity Housing in Maine. The briefing helped prompt a congressional hearing in November by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that examined proposed regulatory changes. Costigan returned to Washington to testify about the potential impact of the changes.

She explained during both the briefing and the hearing how rehabilitative services allow program staff into therapeutic foster homes to model and teach effective interventions to parents and children. Being able to use flexible Medicaid rehabilitative funding also allows her agency's therapeutic providers to conduct "innovative programs" for seriously emotionally disturbed (SED) children. One such program is a successful summer program that serves SED children ages 3-17 with structured therapeutic interventions.

"The loss of the Medicaid rehabilitative services has the likely consequence of eliminating therapeutic foster and group home care for SED children in Montana," Costigan said during the October briefing. "For Montana children who cannot be maintained safely in regular foster care, the next level of care will inevitably be the more restrictive and more expensive residential treatment center option."

After such arduous, collaborative education and work by CWLA, its members, and similarly affected organizations to minimize the regulation's impact, a six-month moratorium, halting the rehabilitative services regulation until June 30, 2008, was signed into law on December 29, 2007. CWLA will continue to work with CMS and Congress to preserve access to rehabilitative services and ensure best policies are in place for children who rely on them.

Watch Costigan's testimony on YouTube.


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