Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, today announced a hearing to review legislative proposals designed to improve America’s child welfare system. The hearing will take place on Wednesday, February 27, 2008, at 10:00 a.m. in room B-318 Rayburn House Office Building.
In view of the limited time available to hear witnesses, oral testimony at this hearing will be from invited witnesses only. However, any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the subcommittee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing.
The child welfare system, which is administered by State and local agencies with Federal financial participation and oversight, is responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of vulnerable children and families under its supervision. The system faces numerous challenges in ensuring positive outcomes for these children. Between 2001 and 2004, in its first round of Child and Family Service, Reviews, the Department of Health and Human Services found that no State achieved all of the Federal outcome measures for ensuring the safety, well-being, and permanency of children. These evaluations generally indicated that States were most adept at ensuring children were not exposed to repeated child abuse and neglect and remained in their homes whenever appropriate and possible, and that States faced the greatest difficulty in achieving permanent and stable living arrangements for children, enhancing the capacity of families to meet the needs of their children, and ensuring the provision of health care services for kids in care.
Researchers, commissions, and program administrators have identified certain features of the child welfare system that may hamper efforts to promote the well-being of at-risk children. Many have pointed to the current Federal financing structure for child welfare activities, which is progressively covering fewer children in need of foster care, while also inadequately funding family-oriented services that might reduce the need for foster care. Additionally, concerns have been raised about the child welfare system’s difficulties in: recruiting and retaining a qualified workforce; providing adequate assistance to relatives caring for children removed from their homes; assisting foster children beyond the age of 18; and ensuring adequate health care and educational oversight for children in foster care.
In an effort to comprehensively address these problems, Subcommittee Chairman McDermott recently introduced the Invest in Kids Act (HR 5466). This legislation would: (1) create a new Federal-State partnership to provide services aimed at reducing the need for foster care; (2) ensure Federal foster care assistance for every child in need of care; (3) support a qualified child welfare workforce; and (4) connect foster children to support, family, health care and school through such policies as allowing Federal foster care coverage to continue until age 21, providing Federal guardianship payments for relatives caring for children removed from their homes, and requiring improved oversight of the health care and education needs of foster children. Additional proposals have been suggested by other Members of Congress, the Administration, national commissions, and advocacy organizations.
In announcing the hearing, Chairman McDermott stated, “We have no greater responsibility than ensuring the well-being of America’s most vulnerable children. I want to begin addressing how we might better meet that obligation, on a comprehensive basis if possible or on an incremental basis if needed. These children are depending on us, and failure cannot be an option. ”
FOCUS OF THE HEARING:
The hearing will focus on legislative proposals designed to strengthen the child welfare system and improve the outcomes of children in care.
DETAILS FOR SUBMISSION OF WRITTEN COMMENTS:
Please Note: Any person(s) and/or organization(s) wishing to submit for the hearing record must follow the appropriate link on the hearing page of the Committee website and complete the informational forms. From the Committee homepage, http://waysandmeans.house.gov/, select “110th Congress” from the menu entitled, “Hearing Archives” (http://waysandmeans.house.gov/Hearings.asp?congress=18). Select the hearing for which you would like to submit, and click on the link entitled, “Click here to provide a submission for the record.” Once you have followed the online instructions, completing all informational forms and clicking “submit” on the final page, an email will be sent to the address which you supply confirming your interest in providing a submission for the record. You MUST REPLY to the email and ATTACH your submission as a Word or WordPerfect document, in compliance with the formatting requirements listed below, by close of business March 12, 2008. Finally, please note that due to the change in House mail policy, the U.S. Capitol Police will refuse sealed-package deliveries to all House Office Buildings. For questions, or if you encounter technical problems, please call (202) 225-1721.
The Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record. As always, submissions will be included in the record according to the discretion of the Committee. The Committee will not alter the content of your submission, but we reserve the right to format it according to our guidelines. Any submission provided to the Committee by a witness, any supplementary materials submitted for the printed record, and any written comments in response to a request for written comments must conform to the guidelines listed below. Any submission or supplementary item not in compliance with these guidelines will not be printed, but will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
1. All submissions and supplementary materials must be provided in Word or WordPerfect format and MUST NOT exceed a total of 10 pages, including attachments. Witnesses and submitters are advised that the Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record.
2. Copies of whole documents submitted as exhibit material will not be accepted for printing. Instead, exhibit material should be referenced and quoted or paraphrased. All exhibit material not meeting these specifications will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
3. All submissions must include a list of all clients, persons, and/or organizations on whose behalf the witness appears. A supplemental sheet must accompany each submission listing the name, company, address, telephone and fax numbers of each witness.
Note: All Committee advisories and news releases are available on the World Wide Web at http://waysandmeans.house.gov.
The Committee seeks to make its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. If you are in need of special accommodations, please call 202-225-1721 or 202-226-3411 TTD/TTY in advance of the event (four business days notice is requested). Questions with regard to special accommodation needs in general (including availability of Committee materials in alternative formats) may be directed to the Committee as noted above.
How many signatures can we offer them, please sign this petition and pass it to as many people as you can WE NEED OUR VOICE HEARD!
Our children are being abused by CPS and the Family Court laws in place today!