U.S. House of Representatives pass child welfare legislation

In an unprecedented move, five bipartisan bills were passed in the House on June 20, 2017. The child welfare legislation reflects many provisions of the Family First Prevention Act that was passed by the House last year, but not the Senate. This year, the House took swift action after each piece of legislation was introduced in early June. The concern now is how the Senate will respond to the legislation, and if the legislation will find the bipartisan support there. [More]

House Ways and Means introduces legislation supporting Welfare to Work

On June 8, 2017, bipartisan legislation was introduced to support low-income Americans as they transition out of welfare and into the workforce. The legislation – entitled the “Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act (H.R. 2842)” and sponsored by Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Danny Davis (D-IL) – is intended to expedite the time it takes for families to obtain employment. In the opening statement by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), Brady cited the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which indicates that despite job openings at the highest level since the government began tracking in 2000, the labor force participation rate is at a near forty-year low. [More]

NGA calls for Congressional action on CHIP renewal

On May 11, 2017, the National Governors Association (NGA) released a letter to the Senate Finance Committee and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce calling for Congressional action to renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for five more years. The letter is signed by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, NGA Chair, and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, NGA Vice-Chair for Health and Human Services. [More]

Disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline with trauma-informed, school-based diversion programs

When schools practice harsh discipline and remove students from the school (e.g., through out-of-school suspensions, expulsions, arrests for minor offenses, etc.), it can lead to students’ involvement with the juvenile justice system. This school-to-prison pipeline disproportionately affects minority students, students with mental illnesses and behavioral issues, students with disabilities, and students with histories of abuse and neglect. [More]

Rural Areas – Sometimes It’s the Distance, Not the Journey

Providing services to children and families has always been a challenging and complex problem. Through agencies, these services are often contracted to local providers. Distance, travel, and method of transportation have always been a further complicating factor, especially in rural areas. As an Indiana governor suggested – “identify a problem, fix a problem, don’t embrace it.” [More]

Administration for Children and Families releases 2015 Maltreatment Report

Each year, the Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF’s) Children’s Bureau releases a report with the latest data available on an analysis of child abuse and neglect information collected from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Territories. Known as the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), this data and analysis program was established by the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) in 1988. The first NCANDS report was based on data for 1990 and since then NCANDS has been reported annually, with the Children’s Bureau collecting and analyzing the data in its “Child Maltreatment” report submitted to Congress each year. The 2015 Child Maltreatment Report was released at the end of January 2017 and reflects data reported for Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2015. [More]

HHS encourages Governors to consider state innovation waivers

On March 13, 2017, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a letter to all governors outlining the parameters under which states can obtain waivers under section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). HHS notes that state innovation waivers to implement high-risk pools and state-operated reinsurance programs may be an important opportunity to lower health insurance premiums for consumers, to improve health insurance market stability in the state, and to increase consumer choice. [More]

Foster Care Crisis - What’s an Agency to Do? Part 2

Increasing demands for licensed foster homes have led many jurisdictions across the country to review their foster care services for children coming into their care. Though critical, these reviews are only one piece of a very complex puzzle. Child welfare agencies must also review the foster care system in the context of the current increasing demand, challenging family circumstances, and trauma children coming into the system. [More]

Amended ACA repeal legislation headed for critical vote in the U.S. House of Representatives

On March 20, 2017, the leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives released amendments to the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would repeal many provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The new amendments to AHCA would allow states to impose work-related activity requirements on specified categories of adult Medicaid recipients as a condition of eligibility. The work-related activity requirements would not apply to the aged, disabled, pregnant women, and certain other Medicaid eligibility groups; and would incorporate broad definitions of work-related activities and exemptions aligned with longstanding TANF requirements. An enhanced Medicaid administrative matching rate (a five percentage point increase on top of the usual 50 percent rate) would be available for Medicaid administrative expenditures necessary to implement the work-related activity requirements. [More]