Policy Priorities

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Legislative Updates

CDF ensures that the voices of children are heard at the Congressional level by pursuing and supporting legislation that addresses children’s unique needs. The bills below, introduced in the 111th Congress, directly or indirectly impact children in or at risk of entering the child welfare system.

Fostering Success in Education Act (S. 2801)

Summary: The Fostering Success in Education Act, introduced by Senator Al Franken (D-MN), will help child welfare and education agencies collaborate to provide children in foster care with school stability and equal access to educational opportunities. S. 2801 builds on the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, which required child welfare agencies to coordinate with education agencies to ensure that children could remain in their original school when they enter care or were moved to a new foster home, unless it was not in the best interest of the child.

Child Welfare Workforce Improvement Act (S. 2837)

Summary: The Child Welfare Workforce Improvement Act, introduced by Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) will help improve outcomes for abused and neglected children and their families by increasing support for the child welfare workforce. This bill expands training opportunities for an expanded group of staff working with children and families in the child welfare system. The bill establishes a competitive child welfare workforce improvement demonstration program to help states, tribes and large counties improve their workforce by developing plans to implement essential components of an effective child welfare workforce. S.2837 directs the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study on the obstacles to improving child welfare practice and make recommendations on how to improve the workforce and practices.

Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.
Full-text of S. 2837: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:s2837is.txt.pdf

Medicaid Services Restoration Act of 2010 (H.R. 4787/S. 1217)

Summary: The Medicaid Service Restoration Act clarifies certain Medicaid policy and financing issues that disproportionately impact the special health-care needs of vulnerable populations such as children and youth in the child welfare and foster care systems, people with disabilities, and those with mental illness. This bill provides a definition of therapeutic foster care (TFC) in federal statute for the first time and creates a new medical assistance category in Medicaid that will finance TFC. This will improve the quality of care for the estimated 50,000 children in TFC by offering a streamlined, transparent system of reimbursement. This service category would help ensure access to needed clinical treatment services, utilizing clinically validated programs and evidence informed treatment procedures which are individualized for each child or youth. Additionally, it protects and supports case management services and assures Medicaid reimbursement for eligible youth who are in psychiatric facilities. The House bill (H.R. 4247) is a bipartisan effort by Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Representative John Sullivan (R-OK) and the Senate bill (S. 1217) that was introduced by Senator Stabenow (D-MI).

Every Child Deserves a Family Act (H.R. 4806)

Summary: Congressman Fortney Stark (D-CA) reintroduced the Every Child Deserves a Family Act. This legislation would open more homes to foster children by working with states to end discrimination against adoptive and foster parents based on sexual orientation and marital status. The passage of the Act would increase the access of foster children to permanent homes by working with states and eliminating laws, policies, practices, and procedures that categorically exclude potential adoptive and foster parents because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. States that continue discrimination on a categorical basis would receive reduced federal funding if the bill is passed.

Status: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means
Full-text of H.R. 4806: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h4806ih.txt.pdf

Safe Babies Act (S. 1554/H.R.3474)

Summary: Introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), S. 1554/H.R. 3474 is intended to reduce the recurrence of abuse and neglect and improve the health and well-being of maltreated infants and toddlers. This bi-partisan bill achieves this by amending the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) to require the development of local Court Teams for Maltreated Infants and Toddlers. These Court Teams will be responsible for: conducting monthly reviews of cases handled by the court teams; implementing best-practices in child welfare cases and child-focused services for case plans of maltreated infants and toddlers; training community members working with the court teams; identifying areas for improvement in mental health and substance abuse treatment; and prioritizing after-care services for families after their involvement with the child welfare system. This bill also creates the National Court Team Resource Center to help these Court Teams by providing information, training and other assistance. This Resource Center will also collect data related to the operation and outcomes of the Court Teams’ projects.

Full-text of S. 1554: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:s1554is.txt.pdf
Full-text of H.R. 3474: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h3474ih.txt.pdf

Keeping All Students Safe Act (H.R. 4247/S. 2860)

(Originally titled, “Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act”)

Summary: This bill, introduced by Congressman George Miller (D-CA) and Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), would be the first national legislation to prevent and reduce harmful restraint and seclusion in schools. It is intended to ensure the safety of all students and staff and to promote a positive school culture and climate. The bill is in response to information from a 2009 GAO report finding hundreds of allegations of abuse, and even death, as a result of inappropriate restraint and seclusion use in schools. If enacted restraint and seclusion for the purpose of discipline and convenience would be prohibited. Restraint and seclusion would only be allowed in response to imminent danger and if performed by a trained staff member. This bill requires states to ensure a sufficient number of staff trained in appropriate restraint and to produce an implementation and reporting plan within two years. The bill prohibits schools from including restraint or seclusion on individual education or behavior plans and requires schools to establish procedures following incidents of restraint or seclusion. The bill does not prohibit the use of time out or devices used by students or trained professionals for therapeutic or safety purposes. The bill includes grant provisions to facilitate implementation and analysis of related best practices.

Status: H.R. 4247 was first introduced and referred to House Committee on Education & Labor on December 9, 2009, and passed the House on March 3, 2010. S.2860 was introduced and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pension.
Full-text of S.2860 : http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:s2860is.txt.pdf
Full-text of H.R. 4247: http://edlabor.house.gov/documents/111/pdf/legislation/HR4247Seclusion_Restraint.pdf

Healthy Local Policies for Schools Act of 2010 (S. 3128)

Summary: This bill, introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), would enroll all Title IV-E or B (I NEED TO DOUBLE CHECK THIS) eligible children in foster care in the National School Lunch Program that provides daily healthy, nutritious breakfasts and lunches to children in need. This bill amends the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to make foster children categorically eligible for the school lunch and breakfast programs, provided the appropriate state or local agency provides the children's local educational agency with documentation regarding their status as foster children.

Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.
Full-text of S.3128: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:s3128is.txt.pdf

Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement of 2010 (H.R. 4976)

Summary: Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) introduced legislation that establishes an online gambling tax that would help fund the foster care system. This bill creates the Transitional Assistance Trust Fund that funds programs for youth who are currently, or were formerly, in foster care. The Transitional Assistance Trust Fund provides assistance to states for expanding education opportunities, including streamlining and coordinating education financing opportunities and counseling to help these youth complete their academic goals, post-secondary education and job training opportunities, and subsidies for public transportation. States will need to submit a state plan on how they will provide transitional assistance to youth in foster care in order to receive payments under the Transitional Assistance Grant Program. The amount of money a state can receive is based on a formula system. This new tax could raise $30 billion over ten years in new state tax revenue, and 25 percent of the revenue collected from federal taxes – and an estimated $42 billion over ten years – would go to the Transitional Assistance Trust Fund. This bill has bipartisan support.

Status: Referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and in addition to the Committee on Education and Labor, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.
Full-text of H.R. 4976: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h4976ih.txt.pdf