Mr. McDERMOTT. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 6156) to renew the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services to approve demonstration projects designed to test innovative strategies in State child welfare programs, as amended.
The Clerk read the title of the bill.
The text of the bill is as follows:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. RENEWAL OF AUTHORITY TO APPROVE DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS DESIGNED TO TEST INNOVATIVE STRATEGIES IN STATE CHILD WELFARE PROGRAMS.
Section 1130 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1320a-9) is amended--
(1) in subsection (a)--
(A) in paragraph (2), by striking ``1998 through 2003'' and inserting ``2011 through 2016'';
(B) in paragraph (3)--
(i) in subparagraph (A), by inserting ``or kinship guardianship'' after ``placements'';
(ii) in subparagraph (C), by striking ``address kinship care'' and inserting ``provide early intervention and crisis intervention services that safely reduce out-of-home placements and improve child outcomes''; and
(iii) by redesignating subparagraph (C) as subparagraph (D) and inserting after subparagraph (B) the following:
``(C) If an appropriate application therefor is submitted, the Secretary shall consider authorizing a demonstration project which is designed to identify and address domestic violence that endangers children and results in the placement of children in foster care.'';
(C) in paragraph (4), by inserting ``or kinship guardianship'' after ``assistance''; and
(D) in paragraph (5), by inserting ``and the ability of the State to implement a corrective action approved under section 1123A'' before the period;
(2) in subsection (e)--
(A) by striking ``and'' at the end of paragraph (6);
(B) by striking the period at the end of paragraph (7) and inserting ``; and''; and
(C) by adding at the end the following:
``(8) an accounting of any additional Federal, State, local, and private investments (other than those with respect to which matching funds were provided under part B or E of title IV) made, during the 2 fiscal years preceding the application to provide the services described in paragraph (1), and an assurance that the State will provide an accounting of that same spending for each year of an approved demonstration project.'';
(3) in subsection (f)(1)--
(A) in subparagraph (B), by striking ``; and'' and inserting ``, including all children and families under the project who come to the attention of the State's child welfare program, either through a report of abuse or neglect or through the provision of services described in subsection (e)(1) to the child or family;''; and
(B) by redesignating subparagraph (C) as subparagraph (D) and inserting after subparagraph (B) the following:
``(C) a comparison of the amounts of Federal, State, local and private investments in the services described in subsection (e)(1), by service type, with the amount of the investments during the period of the demonstration project; and''; and
(4) by adding at the end the following:
``(h) Indian Tribes Considered States.--An Indian tribe (as defined in section 479B(a)) shall be considered a State for purposes of this section.''.
SEC. 2. BUDGETARY EFFECTS.
The budgetary effects of this Act, for the purpose of complying with the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010, shall be determined by reference to the latest statement titled ``Budgetary Effects of PAYGO Legislation'' for this Act, submitted for printing in the Congressional Record by the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, provided that such statement has been submitted prior to the vote on passage.
Mr. McDERMOTT. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and to include extraneous material on H.R. 6156.
Mr. McDERMOTT. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, the legislation before us today will help States test innovative approaches for improving outcomes for vulnerable children who come to the attention of our child welfare system.
The bill restores the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services to permit up to 10 demonstration projects annually to allow States and tribes to test efforts to improve child welfare policy. The legislation is cost neutral, and it provides the renewed waiver authority for the next 5 years.
To both increase our understanding of waiver policies and to ensure improved accountability, the legislation newly requires States to report the various sources of Federal, State, local, and private funds that are used in providing specific services under a demonstration project.
Finally, the bill adds a new Federal emphasis on supporting child welfare waivers that identify and address problems related to domestic violence that lead to children being placed in foster care and for waivers that provide early intervention and crisis intervention services that safely reduce out-of-home placements.
Past experience has taught us that child welfare waivers can help States improve outcomes for children while also informing child welfare policy at the national level. Twenty-three States received one or more waivers under the previous demonstration authority, which began in fiscal year 1996 and ended in March of 2006. Although the authority has expired, a handful of States continue to have demonstration projects in operation today.
One of the most successful strategies tested through the prior waiver authority was providing assistance to grandparents and other relatives who assume legal custody of children in foster care. Through the use of kinship care and guardianship assistance arrangements, children were able to find safe and loving homes with family members. This strategy proved to be successful in improving the outcomes of foster children, and it became Federal policy when it was incorporated into the Fostering Connections
to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, which was signed into law 2 years ago.
While providing waivers can be a useful tool in improving child welfare policy, we ultimately need more comprehensive changes to fully reform the system:
Waivers cannot correct certain basic flaws within our current method of financing child welfare programs, starting with the fact that increasing numbers of children are not eligible for Federal foster care assistance because of badly outdated eligibility criteria;
We also need systemic reforms which place a much greater emphasis on preventing abuse and neglect from occurring in the first place. I intend to continue to work towards broader reform to address these and other challenges facing programs serving children at risk of maltreatment.
Before I close, I want to quickly note that this bill continues a proud tradition of the Ways and Means Committee and of the Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support of reporting out bipartisan legislation to improve our child welfare system.
During the last Congress, I worked with Representative Jerry Weller of Illinois to enact the Fostering Connections Act, which made a series of important changes to Federal policy related to children in foster care. It passed here by unanimous consent.
Today, I am joined by the ranking member of the subcommittee, Representative John Linder, in bringing this legislation to the floor; and I expect that it will also pass by unanimous consent. It has been a great pleasure to work with John.
I know you are retiring, and I am going to have to work with a new subcommittee chairman one way or another, or with a ranking member.
So I am looking forward to continuing this tradition of dealing with the problems of children who need somebody to look out for them, and it should be a bipartisan issue every time.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. McDERMOTT. Mr. Speaker, I would like to enter into the Record letters of support for H.R. 6156 that I received from the National Conference of State Legislatures and from the American Public Human Services Association.
OF STATE LEGISLATURES,
Washington, DC, September 21, 2010.
Re Renewing Waiver Authority in State Child Welfare Programs (H.R. 6156).
Hon. NANCY PELOSI,
Speaker of the House, Cannon HOB, Washington, DC.
Hon. JOHN BOEHNER,
House Minority Leader, Longworth HOB, Washington, DC.
DEAR SPEAKER PELOSI AND MINORITY LEADER BOEHNER: On behalf of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), we urge you to support H.R. 6156, a bill to renew the authority of the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to approve demonstration projects designed to test innovative strategies in state child welfare programs. Congressman McDermott and Congressman Linder have fashioned bipartisan legislation that helps create opportunities to enhance the state/federal
partnership to assist our nation's most vulnerable children.
NCSL supports reinstating and expanding federal waiver authority so that states can test the results of increased funding flexibility on the development of service alternatives and on the overall delivery of child welfare services, targeting programs to address the needs of their children. By renewing Title VI-E waiver authority from 2011 through 2016, H.R. 6156 will give states an enhanced ability to provide early intervention and crisis intervention services that will safely reduce out-of-home
placements and improve child outcomes.
H.R. 6156 will allow states to improve the quality of their child welfare interventions and reinvest savings in their programs. It will also provide both state and federal legislators more information on what innovations are effective to transform the lives of children who are at risk of abuse and neglect. We applaud Congressmen McDermott and Linder for crafting this legislation.
Representative MARY JANE WALLNER,
New Hampshire House of Representatives, Chair, NCSL Standing Committee on Human Services and Welfare.
Representative WES KELLER,
Alaska House of Representatives, Chair, NCSL Standing Committee on Human Services and Welfare.
American Public Human Services Association and National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators,
September 21, 2010.
Hon. JIM MCDERMOTT,
Hon. JOHN LINDER,
House Ways and Means Committee, Income and Family Support Subcommittee, Washington, DC.
DEAR CHAIRMAN MCDERMOTT AND RANKING MEMBER LINDER: Thank you for your bipartisan leadership in supporting state flexibility through the use of IV-E waivers. The American Public Human Services Association and its affiliate, the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators, support H.R. 6156 which renews the Health and Human Services Secretary's authority to approve demonstration projects designed to test innovative strategies in State child welfare programs.
While we support H.R. 6156, we believe it is critical to address restructuring of federal child welfare financing in the near future. Financing should be aligned with the goals and outcomes expected of states. In October 2009, NAPCWA's Executive Committee commissioned a workgroup comprised of child welfare administrators from large, medium and small states, as well as state and locally administered states, and counties. The workgroup developed recommendations on how to restructure the current
Title IV-E financing mechanism. Introducing legislation on comprehensive finance reform that addresses the proposals outlined by NAPCWA is essential if all states are to benefit from the opportunities available to those few states who apply for a waiver.
Title IV-E waivers were instrumental in helping states to be innovative when supporting children, youth and families. Waivers gave states the flexibility to target services and supports to best meet the needs of at-risk populations. Waivers provided the opportunity for states to offer guardianship to relatives who wanted to serve as a permanent family for young people, yet did not want to sever parental rights. States such as Florida and counties such as Los Angeles, Calif., have significantly
reduced the number of children who languish in care. The number of children experiencing repeat abuse has also decreased.
State practice helped inform federal partners that IV-E should be applied in ways other than foster care. States operating demonstration programs should be allowed to continue to do so.
The overarching premise of IV-E waivers is to prevent children from entering the foster care system in the first place. Waivers play a critical role and are a step forward toward improving the system. We strongly encourage Congress to pass comprehensive child welfare financing reform consistent with what has been learned through the waivers. Federal funds should be aligned so that states have the ability to use resources to keep children at home when it is safe to do so and services to ensure
that children do not languish in foster care.
Thank you for your dedication. We look forward to the continued work of improving [Page: H6898]
services and outcomes for vulnerable children.
Executive Director, APHSA.
Erin Sullivan Sutton,
Mr. McDermott. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time and urge a ``yes'' vote.