Tuesday, July 1, 2008

H.R 6307

"House Passes Bipartisan Bill to Extend Kinship, Foster Care

On June 24, the House of Representatives passed the Fostering Connections to Success Act (H.R. 6307) by a voice vote. Representatives Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Jerry Weller (R-IL), the chair and ranking members, respectively, of the Subcommittee on Income Support and Family Security, introduced the bipartisan bill the week before.

The legislation draws from an earlier bill McDermott had introduced, the Invest in KIDS Act, H.R. 5466. CWLA has endorsed both bills.

The new legislation extends support for kinship care, provides a state option to extend foster care to age 21, extends access to federal training funds to private agencies, provides tribes governments direct access to Title IV-E funds, requires greater health planning by states for children in foster care, requires greater coordination of ongoing education by the state and local education agency for foster children, and reauthorizes the adoption incentives program.

The legislation is significant for at least three reasons: It contains significant child welfare policy reforms, it is bipartisan, and it is paid for. McDermott had indicated on several occasions he would seek bipartisan agreement over common issues of support if Congress did not pass his earlier comprehensive Invest in KIDS Act. All items are included in the CWLA 2008 Legislative Agenda.

The floor debate demonstrated broad bipartisan support. McDermott said, "I think there are children out there right now who are going to benefit from this," and Weller indicated, "Members of this body stand in the place where the parents of children in foster care belong. That is a serious responsibility, and this legislation accepts that responsibility and makes solid, bipartisan improvements."

The bill, if enacted, could make significant advances in support for kinship care, foster youth, and tribal populations and would strengthen access to training for the child welfare workforce. Perhaps equally important, the bill is paid for by including what are referred to as offsets. These offsets, or changes in programs or cuts in other areas, generate federal revenue and mean the federal deficit would not worsen as a result of the bill's passage. The two offsets are to allow the IRS the ability to collect or recover unemployment compensation collected through fraud, and to allow the U.S. Treasury greater flexibility in investing federal funds.

The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it will be referred to the Senate Finance Committee. Last month, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced the Improved Adoption Incentives and Relative Guardianship Support Act of 2008 (S. 3038). This bill is his version of the adoption incentive program and includes a kinship care extension of Title IV-E funds, as well as several other provisions on adoption."

1 comment:

  1. Amen for kinship support! Thanks for bringing this bill to our attention. Sounds like it contains some sound policy (for once) and the bipartisan support is refreshing. Thanks for keeping us posted.