While Nebraska Appleseed continues to work with state lawmakers and local stakeholders to improve our state’s child welfare system, we also have been following several efforts to address child welfare issues at the federal level.
Last week, I attended a gathering of policy advocates in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative. The Capitol Hill briefing was attended by more than 150 policymakers, child welfare experts, advocates, agency heads, judges and others interested in improving outcomes for children and families served by state and local child welfare systems.
At the briefing, a new report and proposal for federal financing reform and improved outcomes in child welfare was released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative. The report and proposal, “When Child Welfare Works: A Proposal to Finance Best Practices,” is aimed at improving kinship and family foster care, and reducing the amount of time kids are in state care and federal spending on shelter and non-treatment group home care. You can click here to read a summary of the report and recommendations.
Movement for federal foster care financing reform is welcome news to us at Nebraska Appleseed, as we have long supported the need for changes to Title IV-E (the primary source of federal child welfare funding), which is outdated and tied to old welfare (1996 AFDC) income standards. Click here to read an article on Federal Foster Care Financing Issues in Nebraska (the article itself is slightly outdated, but explains the basics).
Also in federal foster care financing news: Nebraska recently received a Title IV-E waiver, which caps the amount of funding Nebraska receives for a period of five years in exchange for flexibility in the use of those dollars. We will be closely monitoring Nebraska’s implementation of the waiver. Watch this space for news in the future!
My trip to D.C. last week was actually my second this fall. Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend another convening of state child welfare advocates through the State Policy Advocacy Reform Center (SPARC), an initiative to improve outcomes for children and families involved in the child welfare system by building the capacity of and connections between state child welfare advocates.
Among many great topics, we heard from congressional staffers about S. 1518, which seeks to reduce sex trafficking and promote normalcy for older youth in foster care and H.R. 3205, the Promoting Adoption and Legal Guardianship for Children in Foster Care Act. There was movement last week when H.R. 3205 passed the House of Representatives on October 22nd.
Among other things, this bill would extend the Adoption Incentives program until 2016, phase in new categories of awards and incentives for states, and reauthorize family connection grants. The bill would also require states to report on how state dollars saved from the phasing out of income eligibility for federal adoption assistance are being reinvested in child welfare. Click here to read a summary of H.R. 3205