1:30 PM EDT
Geoff Davis, R-KY 4th

Mr. DAVIS of Kentucky. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise today in support of H.R. 2883, the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act, a bill that continues a tradition of bipartisanship in crafting child welfare legislation.

The bill we're considering today reauthorizes two important child welfare programs, incorporating a series of improvements developed during hearings held by the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources over the past few months.

In addition to continuing and making improvements to two major child welfare programs, this bill also renews authority for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to approve child welfare waivers during the next 3 years. Past waivers have allowed States to test new and better ways of helping children at risk of abuse and neglect.

Earlier this year, the House unanimously passed legislation renewing this authority, but the Senate has not followed suit.

This bill, which our colleagues in the Senate also support and which was favorably reported by the Senate Finance Committee yesterday, will allow innovation to continue and may yield information to improve child welfare programs in the future. The bill will also establish a process to create needed data standards in child welfare programs. This language is a first step towards improving collaboration between social service programs.

We have often heard in hearings that States and programs within States have difficulty coordinating services because of difficulty sharing data, and that this lack of coordination increases costs and decreases effectiveness. This bill directs the Secretary of HHS to work with the States to establish national data standards so that all State child welfare programs are speaking the same language.

To show the wide support for this bill, Mr. Speaker, I would like to insert letters of support into the Record from the following organizations: The National Conference of State Legislatures; the American Public Human Services Association; the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators; the American Institute of CPAs; the American Humane Association; the North American Council on Adoptable Children; Voice for Adoption; the Association on American Indian

Affairs; the National Indian Child Welfare Association; Youth Villages; First Focus Campaign for Children; Zero to Three (The National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families); the National Foster Care Coalition; the Child Welfare League of America; the Children's Defense Fund; the Center for the Study of Social Policy; and the Public Children Services Association of Ohio.

NATIONAL FOSTER CARE COALITION,

Washington, DC, September 13, 2011.

Hon. Max Baucus,

Chairman, Senate Finance Committee, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.

Hon. Geoff Davis,

Chairman, Subcommittee on Human Resources, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

Hon. Orrin Hatch,

Ranking Member, Senate Finance Committee, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.

Hon. Lloyd Doggett,

Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Human Resources, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

Dear Chairman Baucus, Ranking Member Hatch, Chairman Davis and Ranking Member Doggett: The National Foster Care Coalition extends its support to the reforms made through the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act of 2011.

In these challenging times we still believe important reforms can be made with the child welfare system. Waiver provisions provide an opportunity for states to strengthen their child welfare systems in some very important ways.

We appreciate and support the inclusion of important provisions we highlighted including: Greater attention placed on the care and the development of infants and toddlers who come into contact with the child welfare system. Continuation of the substance abuse grants and that these grants will have a broader substance abuse focus. Funding for child welfare workforce development and the accompanying requirements on monthly visits to children in foster care. Additional clarification on the state

tracking and reporting of the adoption maintenance-of-effort provisions as enacted by PL 110-351 will provide a greater assurance that more funds are re-invested into state child welfare systems. Clarification of the education protection for children in foster care. Provisions that will help address issue young people in foster care face with identity theft. Attention to youth rights, participation in transition planning, and connections with birth family members.

We also support the increased attention to tracking the use of psychotropic medications, the increased focus on addressing trauma, the new study on the recruitment of foster, adoptive and kin parents and we want to extend our assistance in addressing the challenges of making improvements to data collection and data matching.

We appreciate your efforts to move the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act of 2011 forward in a bipartisan/bicameral way by the end of September. The National Foster Care Coalition will promote this legislation among its membership and is pleased to provide any assistance in moving the legislation forward.

Sincerely,

THE NATIONAL FOSTER CARE COALITION.

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PCSAO,

Columbus, OH, September 14, 2011.

Hon. Max Baucus,

Chairman, Senate Finance Committee, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.

Hon. Geoff Davis,

Chairman, Subcommitte on Human Resources, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

Hon. Orrin Hatch,

Ranking Member, Senate Finance Committee, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.

Hon. Lloyd Doggett,

Ranking Member, Subcommitte on Human Resources, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

Dear Chairman Baucus, Ranking Member Hatch, Chairman Davis and Ranking Member Doggett: Public Children Services Association of Ohio supports The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act of 2011.

As a state that has shown improved outcomes related to our budget neutral Title IV-E Protect Ohio Waiver (Ohio leads the nation with a 43% Safe Reduction in the number of children in foster care between 2002-2010; AFCARS data), we strongly support Congress' recognition that children and families in other States can also benefit from Title IV-E Waivers allowing flexible funding. We encourage you to consider broader child welfare funding reform in the near future.

Ohio's child welfare system is also extremely supportive of reauthorization of the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services and Promoting Safe and Stable Families programs under the present funding. Ensuring funds to strengthen families--keeping them intact, reunifying or finding and supporting alternate permanent families--is essential for our children's well being. We know that children grow best in stable, permanent families.

The Court Improvement Program in Ohio has aided in reforming our system. Courts play a critical role in decision making and oversight related to child safety and permanency, and the CIP in Ohio has focused on timeliness, improving procedures, focused well being oversight and adapting court philosophy and procedure as more children are raised by kinship families.

Ohio is struggling with too many children coming into foster care due to pervasive addictions to prescription pain killers, heroin, and other substances--we support the substance abuse grants part of this bill, and appreciate the broader application for various substances, to allow time-limited treatment services so children can safely reunify with recovered parents.

Ohio is ready to embrace other bill provisions such as addressing issues for foster children and youth including prevention of identity theft and improving transitional youth planning, improving educational outcomes, strengthening sibling connections, and addressing the developmental needs of infants and toddlers in foster care. Our Child Fatality Review system already strives to review all available data and apply lessons and recommend improved policy to prevent future child deaths, and Ohio

is dedicated to re-investing saved funds as more children become eligible for Title IV-E Adoption Assistance funds.

We appreciate your efforts to move The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act of 2011 forward in a bipartisan/bicameral way by the end of September, 2011. As elected and representative Trustees of Public Children Services Association of Ohio, we urge Congress to promptly pass this important legislation.

Please contact PCSAO's Executive Director, Crystal Ward Allen, at 614-224-5802 or crystal@pcsao.org with any questions, concerns or requests.

Sincerely,

Crystal Ward Allen, [Page: H6297]

Executive Director, PCSAO on behalf of Public Children Services Association of Ohio, 2011 Board of Trustees:

Chip Spinning, President/Director, Madison Co. Dept. of Job & Family Services;

Denise Stewart, Vice President/Director, Mahoning County Children Services;

Randall Muth, JD, Secretary/Director, Wayne County Children Services;

Moira Weir, Treasurer/Director, Hamilton Co. Dept. of Job & Family Services;

Scott Ferris/Director, Allen County Children Services;

Andrea Reik/Director, Athens County Children Services;

Dwayne Pielech/Director Belmont Co. Dept. of Job & Family Services;

Kate Offenberger/Director, Carroll Co. Dept. of Job & Family Services;

Catherine Hill/Director Hocking County Children Services;

Teresa Alt/Director, Huron Co. Dept. of Job & Family Services;

June Cannon/Director, Miami County Children Services;

Gary Crow/Director, Lorain County Children Services;

Corey Walker/Director Paulding Co. Dept. of Job & Family Services;

Lisa Wiltshire/Director, Scioto County Children Services;

John Saros, JD/Director, Summit County Children Services.

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FIRST FOCUS

CAMPAIGN FOR CHILDREN,

Washington, DC, September 15, 2011.

Hon. Max Baucus,

Chairman, Senate Finance Committee, U.S.Senate, Washington, DC.

Hon. Geoff Davis,

Chairman, Subcommittee on Human Resources, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

Hon. Orrin Hatch,

Ranking Member, Senate Finance Committee, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.

Hon. Lloyd Doggett,

Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Human Resources, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

DEAR CHAIRMAN BAUCUS, RANKING MEMBER HATCH, CHAIRMAN DAVIS AND RANKING MEMBER DOGGETT: I am writing on behalf of First Focus, a bipartisan advocacy organization committed to making children and their families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions, to thank you for your leadership and commitment to moving forward The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act of 2011 in a bicameral and bipartisan manner by the end of September 2011. We are pleased that the bill

reauthorizes the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services Program and the Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) Program, and restores waiver authority to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. We hope that Congress will follow your lead and swiftly pass this critical legislation.

First Focus is dedicated to the long-term goal of substantially reducing the number of children entering foster care, while working to ensure that our existing system of care protects children and adequately meets the needs of families in the child welfare system. We are especially concerned with increasing our federal investments in prevention efforts and providing supports and services for at-risk families to ensure they never enter the child welfare system in the first place.

As you know, initially created in 1993, PSSF was reauthorized in 1997 under the Adoption and Safe Families Act. The program was amended in 2001 and again in 2005 as part of the Deficit Reduction Act. The 2006 Child and Family Services Improvement Act extended funding for the program until 2011. It is currently authorized through September 30, 2011. The program supports a number of critical State (and eligible tribal) child welfare activities, including family preservation services, family support

services, time-limited family reunification services, and adoption promotion and support services.

PSSF is a relatively small funding stream compared to the open-ended entitlement for foster care under SSA Title IV-E, but is still critical to the work of State social service agencies given that it may be used to provide services to children and families in need and to help keep families together. In contrast to the bulk of federal child welfare funding, which is targeted solely at foster care, PSSF seeks to prevent child abuse and neglect, avoiding the removal of children in the first place

while supporting timely reunification. These funds are often combined with other State and local resources as well as private funds, and support a range of services, including parenting classes that promote competencies and positive relationship skills; home-visiting services for at-risk parents as well as other family-based services; respite care for caregivers of children with special needs; and a range of other innovative programs and

services for at-risk families. According to the FY 2009 National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), states reported that they provided prevention services to more than three million children. PSSF allowed states to pay for services to 30 percent of those children. These are critical services and we believe that the reauthorization of PSSF will only strengthen the program and its core goals, ensuring its success for years to come.

We also applaud your efforts to ensure that child welfare waiver demonstration projects are reauthorized and remain a critical vehicle for promoting flexibility while fostering innovation in practice at the state level. We are especially pleased that the bill authorizes ten new demonstration projects annually for a duration of five years. While we would urge you to consider extending waiver authority beyond FY 2014, we are encouraged by your efforts to ensure that demonstrations projects continue

in the near term. Absent a broader reform of the child welfare financing structure, states are in need of greater flexibility in the use of available federal child welfare funds. In addition to title IV-B programs, child welfare waiver demonstration projects are a critical vehicle for providing a broad array of support services to children and families, and promote flexibility and foster innovation in practice at the state level.

Among other provisions, we are pleased that The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act includes new requirements for states to address the emotional trauma experience by children in foster care, adopt protocols for prescribing and monitoring psychotropic medications, and describe their efforts to address the developmental needs of young children in care and reduce their length of stay in care. The bill also continues grants to address substance abuse in families with children

at-risk of entering into foster care, continues funding for the Court Improvement Program, and provides needed clarification with respect to a provision in the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act related to ensuring the educational stability of foster children for each foster care placement.

First Focus stands prepared to work with you to ensure swift passage of The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act. We thank you for your leadership on this and other issues impacting children and families, and look forward to working with you to ensure better care for our nation's most vulnerable children.

Sincerely,

BRUCE LESLEY.

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CWLA,

Washington, DC, September 15, 2011.

Hon. Geoff Davis,

Chairman, Subcommittee on Human Resources, Longworth, Washington, DC.

Hon. Lloyd Doggett,

Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Human Resources, Longworth, Washington, DC.

DEAR CHAIRMAN DAVIS AND RANKING MEMBER DOGGETT: On behalf of the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) and our public and private member agencies that work directly with abused, neglected, and vulnerable children, youth, and their families, this letter is in support of the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (HR 2883) to reauthorize Title IV-B of the Social Security Act and restore the authority of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to authorize

demonstration projects via a waiver of Title IV-E. CWLA members are located in all fifty states and provide a range of child welfare services from prevention to placement and permanency services including child protection, family support and preservation, adoptions, foster care, kinship care, and treatment

services provided in residential settings. As a non-profit leadership and membership-based child welfare organization, CWLA is committed to engaging people everywhere in ensuring that all children and youth have the support that they need to grow into healthy contributing members of society.

Part I, Child Welfare Services (CWS) provides critical flexible funding for a broad range of services designed to support, preserve, and/or reunite children and their families. While we know that prevention services are underfunded, in light of current austerity we acknowledge that the maintenance of this program's $325 million authorization is positive. However, with the expectation of further cuts to discretionary funding levels over the next decade, it is critical to reiterate within this

context that vulnerable children and families should be held harmless in all budget balancing strategies.

State Child Welfare Services Plans serve as a lynchpin for the continuum of strategies designed to prevent and ameliorate maltreatment. Through requirements encompassing case reviews, permanency planning, program development, agency administration, and systems collaboration activities, fundamental protections and core service provision is ensured for the vulnerable populations served with these funds. CWLA commends the subcommittee for strengthening these plans. H.R. 2883 requires the plans to

respond to identified emotional trauma needs associated with maltreatment and removal, strengthens oversight of prescription medication monitoring protocols, encourages activities to reduce time in foster care and address developmental needs especially for children younger than five, and mandates the reporting of child maltreatment deaths.

Part II, Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) is an important funding stream for the operation of specific service categories. Although the services overlap, the four specified categories in PSSF create important distinctions in types of families in need. The additional targeted activities bring attention and resources to pressing needs including caseworker visits, substance abuse, court improvement, and mentoring for children of prisoners. CWLA supports the way that HR 2883 maintains this

structure. Again, while we see a need for additional resources, we recognize the nation's strained financial condition. Therefore, we appreciate [Page: H6298]

the continuation of $200 million in discretionary funds and the room appropriators have to fully fund the program. In recognition of the difficulty of increasing

funding, we think it is important that HR 2883 amends the reporting requirements to Congress to include actual spending in addition to planned spending by service category. We believe that increased tracking of these funds will further reveal that they are supporting necessary and effective programs for vulnerable children and families.

Courts are an integral component of the child welfare system, providing pivotal decisions of maltreatment findings and approval of permanency changes. PSSF is one of the few places in child welfare law where funding is provided for the courts. We appreciate your receptiveness to our suggestions for the continuation of the $30 million annual set-aside for the Court Improvement Program and the dedication of $1 million specifically for tribal courts and are pleased to see them both included in HR

2883. In addition, we support the way the bill bolsters court improvement plans by clarifying that they should include requirements related to concurrent planning and increasing and improving the engagement of the entire family in court processes. CWLA also applauds the enhancement of the substance abuse

and mentoring grants under HR 2883. Because all children affected by parental substance abuse, regardless of the particular substance used, deserve assistance, CWLA strongly agrees with the removal of the provision giving greater weight to applicants addressing methamphetamine abuse specifically.

CWLA welcomes the bill's data standardization and improved data matching section. We understand that the administration has undertaken efforts in this direction and appreciate the recognition in both branches of government of the critical importance of sharing information across systems. CWLA is also very pleased to see the changes HR 2883 makes related to foster care and adoption, including the clarification of the educational stability requirement for children in care, the efforts to address

any credit issues for foster children at least 16 years of age, and the requirement for states to document savings from the de-link of adoption assistance payments. Furthermore, we support the related requirement to document spending on post-adoption services. This is a strong recognition of the importance of supporting lasting permanency.

Title II of the bill restores the ability of HHS to authorize demonstration projects through Title IV-E waivers designed to increase permanency, improve outcomes, and prevent abuse and neglect. CWLA believes that waivers can be helpful in testing and evaluating innovative approaches within the child welfare system that have promising potential. However, CWLA does not believe that the restoration of waiver authority constitutes a comprehensive solution to the problems facing the child welfare

system. More ambitious approaches to reforming the federal financing structure should be undertaken. Accordingly, CWLA supports the bill's three-year restoration of waiver authority while consensus on more comprehensive approaches is being developed. CWLA specifically supports the eligibility requirements included in HR 2883. The policy conditions have the power to encourage states to implement practices that will improve their child welfare systems and the lives of those within them.

CWLA appreciates your leadership in crafting this important legislation. HR 2883 makes positive improvements to IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act and we support its passage. If you have any follow up questions, feel free to contact Sean Hughes, Director of Congressional Affairs at 202-590-8772 or Suzanne Ayer, Policy Associate at 202-688-4178.

Sincerely,

Christine James-Brown,

President/CEO.

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September 19, 2011.

Hon. Geoff Davis,

Chairman, Subcommittee on Human Resources, Committee on Ways and Means, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

Hon. Lloyd Doggett,

Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Human Resources, Committee on Ways and Means, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

DEAR CHAIRMAN DAVIS AND RANKING MEMBER DOGGETT: We write in support for the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (H.R. 2883) and specifically to express our appreciation for the provisions that would promote the positive development of very young children in the child welfare system. Our organizations have worked together to identify ways that all levels of government could better address the developmental needs of infants and toddlers who have been abused or neglected.

This work resulted in the publication last spring of A Call to Action on Behalf of Maltreated Infants and Toddlers, which advocates for child welfare policies and practices that view the care of young children through a developmental lens. We are so pleased that the legislation you have introduced would take important steps toward infusing child welfare policy with that developmental approach.

We particularly appreciate the provision requiring state child welfare plans to include a description of activities to address the developmental needs of young children. Early brain development occurs at life-altering speeds, making infants and toddlers particularly vulnerable to the effects of abuse and neglect. Maltreatment can literally alter the chemistry of the brain, weakening its architecture and placing young children at significant risk for later cognitive, social, and emotional deficits.

If child welfare practices are not oriented toward supporting this sensitive stage of development, as well as families' ability to nurture their children, they can compound the effects of maltreatment. Ensuring that child welfare practices are informed by what we know from the science of brain development can promote early intervention that will improve the outlook for these babies and avoid the costs to both child and society resulting from developmental impairments.

The significance of the legislation you have authored becomes clear when we consider that infants and toddlers represent a quarter of children who are abused and neglected and almost a third of children entering foster care. We believe it will encourage states to reexamine how they are addressing child welfare cases involving young children and consider steps to systematically promote positive development for vulnerable babies.

We appreciate your leadership in highlighting the needs of young children within federal child welfare law. We stand ready to help the Congress, the Administration, and the states in building a child welfare system that helps all young children realize their potential.

Sincerely,

American Humane Association,

Center for the Study of Social Policy,

Child Welfare League of America,

Children's Defense Fund,

Zero To Three.

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ZERO TO THREE

Washington, DC, September 19, 2011.

Hon. Geoff Davis,

Chairman, Subcommittee on Human Resources, Committee on Ways and Means, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

Hon. Lloyd Doggett,

Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Human Resources, Committee on Ways and Means, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.

DEAR CHAIRMAN DAVIS AND RANKING MEMBER DOGGETT: On behalf of Zero to Three, I write to offer our support for the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (H.R. 2883) approved by the Ways and Means Committee last week. Zero to Three is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the healthy development of infants and toddlers. We believe this legislation will help ensure the well-being of our most vulnerable children: infants and toddlers in the child welfare

system. We particularly appreciate the provision requiring state child welfare plans to include a description of activities to address the developmental needs of young children. This provision is a tremendous step forward for children whose development is threatened by maltreatment

and, at times, foster care practices that are not informed by the science of early brain development. Other provisions adding services to enhance child development and facilitate family visitation will also promote child well-being and healing parent-child relationships.

These steps are particularly important, because infants and toddlers are the most vulnerable to maltreatment and comprise 31% of children entering foster care. The first three years of life are a time of rapid brain development, when the foundation for all learning that follows is created. Relationships are the context within which early development unfolds, so it is not surprising that babies are particularly sensitive to the effects of maltreatment. Maltreatment can literally alter the chemistry

of the brain, weakening its architecture and placing young children at risk for later cognitive, social, and emotional deficits. Maltreated infants and toddlers are four to five times more likely than other young children to have developmental impairments. The removal of babies from their parents' care, coupled with foster

care practices that often are not guided by their developmental needs, can compound the effects of maltreatment. The good news is that intervening early with practices that support healthy development can improve the outlook for these babies and avoid the costs to society that accompany developmental impairments.

Last spring, Zero to Three joined with American Humane Association, Center for the Study of Social Policy, Child Welfare League of America, and Children's Defense Fund to issue A Call to Action on Behalf of Maltreated Infants and Toddlers. This publication advocates for child welfare policies and practices at all levels of government that view the care of young children through a developmental lens. This legislation is the first step in answering that call. We believe it will spur states to bring

the science of early brain development into their child welfare systems. We applaud your leadership in infusing this perspective into federal child welfare law and promoting positive development for vulnerable babies.

Thank you for all you do for young children who face great adversity in their lives.

Sincerely,

Matthew E. Melmed,

Executive Director.

[Time: 13:30]

I also want to thank the ranking member of the Human Resources Subcommittee, Mr. Doggett of Texas, for working with me on this legislation and for his efforts to improve how we serve children and families across the country.

Finally, I want to note that this legislation does not add to the deficit since it simply extends current funding levels of the programs that are extended.

I urge all of my colleagues to support this legislation, and I reserve the balance of my time.