There is a lot happening at the Capitol related to our field of Child Welfare! CASCW is keeping tabs on 40 bills that are related to child welfare, and watching 16 of these with a close eye. The majority of these bills have seen no action since they were introduced, when things start moving we'll update you. The focus now is primarily on the budget, but that will shift toward policy bills after a March 25th deadline.
This week we'll recap a few child welfare bills did get some attention:
HF556 had a hearing 3/9. This is a bill that protects juveniles who have been sexually exploited, and it does so by shielding them from criminal charges and connecting them to support services. The bill passed out of committee and into the Judiciary Policy and Finance committee. MPR Midmorning hosted a great conversation about this issue.
Jeff Bauer, the Director of public policy for the Family Partnership, explained the problem this way:
"There is a conflict in MN state law. On the one hand, one of the definitions of a 'child in need of protective services' is any child under the age of 18 involved in prostitution. On the other hand, that same child could be considered criminal under state law. How that plays out on the county level is that there is ambiguity in how that child is treated by the system."
Things are moving and shaking in the early childhood world. Thanks Esther and Mary Kaye for sending us this story about why early ed makes good business sense:
SF 331 Michel; Bonoff; Berglin; Nelson
HF 669 Drazkowski
Short Description: Early childhood education scholarship finance system creation; parent aware quality rating system provisions; early education tax credits establishment
If you're interested in a bill we mentioned earlier, the Family Reunification Act of 2011 (HF 749) the Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis' Youth Law Project did an overview of the bill, which you can read HF 749 Reunification Act_Legal Aid Final Fact Sheet 2011.pdf.
HF0447 had a hearing in Health and Human Services Reform on 3/8/201. This bill regards vulnerable adult protection.
A good change occurred in the Governor's adjusted budget! The projected budget deficit was lowered by approximately $1 billion. "As a result of the improved forecast, Governor Dayton reduced his original cuts to health and human services by approximately $200 million. Some of the main changes include limits reduction to CCSA block grant to $5 million for FY2012-13. Dayton's original proposal would have reduced the grant by $22 million for the biennium." (from coverage by MSSA)
This is still a painful reduction to agency budgets stretched thin after years of budget cuts. You can watch Mary Reagan's testimony about the adjusted figures and the redirection of funds exclusively to Child and Adult Protection (she spoke about 4/5 of the way through the hearing).
The GOP leadership in the MN House and Senate gave a preview of their budget proposal, an all cuts approach. Here is an overview of the cuts.
Some national coverage:
MN: Minn. bill to bring investors into social services
The Associated Press State & Local Wire March 7, 2011
A plan to revamp Minnesota government by getting investors to fund social service programs is drawing bipartisan support at the Capitol.
SF 254, a bill related to Adult foster care has a meeting scheduled in the Senate: Health and Human Services on 03/16.
Mark your calendars for quick action:
Representative Abeler announced that his committee bill (which sets budget for health & human services) will be unveiled on Tuesday, March 22. The committee will hear public testimony on March 23 and take final action on the package on March 24.