Tag Archives: Child Welfare

Congressional Priorities – Corporations Over Abused and Neglected Children?

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Where are our priorities?  If you look at what is happening in Congress, you will be reminded (again) that they are in the wrong spot!  Last week on Tuesday, April 29th, the House Ways and Means Committee convened and adopted seven different bills.  Six of the seven addressed the tax code and extended certain business-related tax deductions.  These six tax bills cost approximately $310 billion over ten years and were approved by the Committee without any requirement that the bills show an offset of cost savings.

Then, there was the seventh bill, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Improving Opportunities for Youth in Foster Care Act (HR 4058). This is the bill that brought my attention to what was going on in our Capitol on a seemingly random Tuesday in April.  This bill was the only bill addressed that day that did not address the tax code AND it was the only bill that required at least some of its costs be offset.

To reiterate and make clear – our government could find billions of dollars to extend tax breaks to businesses, but, when trying to spend a few million dollars to try to help kids that are abused and neglected, those advocating for the change are going to have to find a way to pay for it.  What kind of priority is that?  What does that say about us?  If the saying, “put your money where your mouth is” holds, true, I’m hearing our Congress say we care way more about helping businesses than we do about helping the most vulnerable in our society.  Is that true?  I’m getting sick just writing it.

Certainly our current cast of characters in Congress would tell us that there is an offset of fiscal benefits to the economy such as more jobs and more taxes coming in from providing businesses with tax breaks.  There is likely some truth to that.  But $310 billion worth of benefits over 10 years?  I’m not buying it.  And, let’s compare that to what was argued over in HR 4058.  Before it could pass, a section of HR 4058 had to be removed because it was projected to cost approximately $12 million over the same 10-year time period. The section would have required state child welfare agencies provide a young person leaving foster care with a Social Security card, birth certificate, health information and in some cases a bank account. Wouldn’t providing youth the appropriate documentation and support upon leaving care lead to better education and housing outcomes for kids and ultimately more of these youth working and paying taxes too?

The way these seven bills played out highlights the winners and losers on Capitol Hill.  It is a reflection of who is in charge of the House and where their priorities stand.  I choose not to stand quietly and to instead put voice to my concern – our children are the most valuable asset to our country.  Let’s treat them that way!

Author: Christina Riehl is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Children’s Advocacy Institute.

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Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities: First Public Meeting

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On February 24, the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, a committee established by the Protect Our Kids Act of 2012, will hold its first public hearing. To attend in person participants needed to RSVP by last Friday, February 14 but for individuals that cannot attend there is a call-in phone number at 877-939-8175, with the meeting ID number 3067305 (push # when prompted for Attendee ID).

In the last hours of the 112th Congress on January 2, 2013 the Senate approved the Protect Our Kids Act, (HR 6655). The bill establishes a commission to examine child deaths in the United States. The legislation was being championed by Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and he was later joined by the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Congressman David Camp (R-MI). The original bill was introduced by Senator John Kerry (D-MA) (S 1894) in the Senate. The commission has 12 members. The President selected six of the members and the House and Senate leadership each appointed three members with the majority parties selecting two of the three members. The work of the commission will be paid for by a reallocation of $2 million from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) contingency funds.

President Obama completed the selection process last September when he announced his six selections. The presidential appointees are: Dr. David Sanders, Casey Family Programs, Theresa Martha Covington, the National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths, Patricia M. Martin, Presiding Judge of the Child Protection Division, Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Michael R. Petit, Every Child Matters Education Fund, Jennifer Rodriguez, Youth Law Center (YLC), Dr. David Rubin, the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

The six congressional members and who selected them are: Wade Horn, Deloitte Consulting by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, former Congressman Bud Cramer by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Amy Ayoub, Nevada public speaking and presentation skills coach by Majority Leader Harry Reid, Marilyn Bruguier Zimmerman, National Native Children’s Trauma Center by Senator Reid (and Senator Max Baucus), Susan Dreyfus, Alliance for Children and Families, by Speaker John Boehner, and Cassie Bevan, Graduate School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania by Speaker John Boehner. An expanded biography piece and a link to the legislation is available on the National Child Abuse Coalition website.

The commission’s work includes an examination of:

  • best practices in preventing child and youth fatalities that are intentionally caused due to negligence, neglect, or a failure to exercise proper care
  • the effectiveness of federal, state, and local policies and systems aimed at collecting accurate and uniform data on child fatalities
  • the current barriers to preventing fatalities from child abuse and neglect, and how to improve child welfare outcomes
  • trends in demographic and other risk factors that are predictive of or correlated with child maltreatment, such as age of the child, child behavior, family structure, parental stress, and poverty
  • methods of prioritizing child abuse and neglect prevention families with the highest need
  • methods of improving data collection and utilization, such as increasing interoperability among state and local and other data systems

After working in these areas the Commission is directed to make recommendations in two general areas: reducing child fatalities resulting from abuse and neglect for federal, state, and local agencies, the private sector and nonprofit organizations, including recommendations to implement a comprehensive national strategy, and they are to develop guidelines for the type of information that should be tracked to improve interventions to prevent fatalities from child abuse and neglect.

~ Written by John Sciamanna