CWLA CEO Christine James-Brown wrote an article this week acknowledging the look back anniversary as a time to urge Congress to change its course. In her Huffington Post piece, she criticizes House Leadership for passing a FY 2013 budget that includes steep cuts to discretionary spending, proposes replacing scheduled defense cuts with cuts to non-defense programs, would repeal the Social Services Block Grant (a critical funding stream for child welfare systems around the country), convert Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to block grants. She also notes that while discretionary spending on children has declined by nearly $2 billion over the last two years, now is the time for Congress to start investing in our most vulnerable children. “It’s equally obvious that it (Congress) must fix the eligibility requirement and put an end to all these years of leaving foster children behind,” writes James-Brown.
The current structure of eroding eligibility for Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance means the federal government is increasingly doing less to partner in protecting children. In fact, the landmark welfare reform legislation passed by Congress in 1996 did away with the more than 60-year-old anti-poverty program Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) but Congress never detached the eligibility requirement for federal foster care support from the AFDC program and therefore we have what is known as the “look back” eligibility requirement for federal foster care assistance.
CWLA continues to believe that the eligibility link to a federal program that no longer exists is bad policy. We’ve called on Congress to eliminate the link altogether and provide support for all abused and neglected children. In order to protect all children who have been removed from their homes, the IV-E entitlement must be strengthened by extending its guarantee to all children in and adopted from foster care, regardless of the income levels of their parents or caregivers. It is unlikely that Congress will address IV-E reform during the remainder of this legislative session, but nonetheless CWLA is asking you to join us in challenging all Members of Congress, regardless of political affiliation, to put children first — not only when it comes to campaign slogans, but in their legislative priorities.