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Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Highlighted child welfare legislation from 8-22 to 8-25

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Our Friday recap of highlighted legislation on our Facebook page:

  • S. 1234: Partners for Stable Families and Foster Youth Affected by Methamphetamine or Other Substance Abuse Act
    Bill description: A bill to amend part B of title IV of the Social Security Act to reauthorize grants to assist children affected by methamphetamine or other substance abuse under the promoting safe and stable families program.
    Bill status: Waiting for a hearing in the Senate Finance committee.

    This bill currently has no cosponsors, and its sponsor is Sen. Charles Grassley [R-IA]. Another bill (H.R. 2790, highlighted here) has also proposed to reauthorize these grants, but without the emphasis on methamphetamines. According to the Social Security Act, these grants "are designed to increase the well-being of, improve permanency outcomes for, and enhance the safety of children who are in an out-of-home placement or are at risk of being placed in an out-of-home placement as a result of a parent's or caretaker's methamphetamine or other substance abuse." In addition to reauthorizing these grants, this bill would allow new partnerships to emerge while reauthorizing already-existing 5-year grants for an additional two years. However, with this reauthorization comes a call for an evaluation to measure the effectiveness of the grants. This will allow the government to determine whether to continue the program or not.

    Press Release: Introduction of the Partners for Stable Families and Foster Youth Affected by Meth or Other Substance Abuse Act
  • H.R. 2063: Look-back Elimination Act of 2011
    Bill description: To eliminate the requirement that, to be eligible for foster care maintenance payments, a child would have been eligible for aid under the former program of Aid to Families with Dependent Children at the time of removal from the home.
    Bill status: Waiting for a hearing in House Committee on Ways and Means

    This bill was introduced by Rep. John Lewis [D-GA5] and has 4 cosponsors. Rep. Lewis introduced it last year as well but it never received a hearing in committee. By eliminating the AFDC-eligibility requirement and introducing new income eligibility measures based on "modern, balanced criteria," more children in care will be eligible to receive federal Title IV-E funding, thus helping states meet the costs of providing services to these children.

  • H.R. 1576: Dave Thomas Adoption Act of 2011
    Bill description: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow penalty-free withdrawals from individual retirement plans for adoption expenses.
    Bill status: Waiting for a hearing in House Committee on Ways and Means

    This bill has been introduced by Rep. Peter King [R-NY3] every year since the 107th Congress (2001-2002); it currently has 8 cosponsors. If enacted, this bill would allow individuals to take money from their retirement plans up to $10,000 in the year the child was adopted, without penalties (currently a 10% tax), potentially eliminating some financial barriers to adoption. [There is an additional clause regarding the adoption of children with special needs that is a bit difficult to interpret; what follows is our interpretation of the clause based on fact-checking and research. We recommend that you do not use this interpretation as fact; rather, you should consult with your tax advisor.] Additionally, couples who adopt a special needs child can withdraw money from their IRAs (up to $10,000 still) for three years from the adoption without penalty.

  • S. 961: Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act of 2011
    Bill description: To create the income security conditions and family supports needed to ensure permanency for the Nation's unaccompanied youth, and for other purposes.
    Bill status: Waiting for a hearing in the Senate Finance committee

    This bill was introduced by Sen. John Kerry [D-MA] and has 3 cosponsors. It had also been introduced in the 110th Congress but did not make it out of committee. This is a very important bill for child welfare professionals and their clients. Some of the key aspects include lowering the age at which youth can first access Chafee services to age 14, increasing funding for the Chafee program, supporting states in partnering to place children in foster homes across state lines, ensuring that children receive SSI survivor/disability benefits, supporting programs that improve family relationships, and allowing youth to remain in foster care until age 21, among others.

    Press Release: Reducing Youth Homelessness

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