Legislation Introduced to Extend IV-E Waivers

Recently Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced the bipartisan State Flexibility for Family First Transitions Act, which would allow states with existing Title-E waivers to extend those waivers for two years. The goal of this legislation is to help states transition to successful Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) implementation. If this bill does not pass, existing waivers would expire Sept. 30, 2019. Learn more about the bill. (Source: National Child Abuse Coalition)

HHS Waiver Granted to Christian Social Services Group from Non-Discrimination Rule

On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families issued a waiver to Miracle Hill Ministries, a Christian social-service agency in South Carolina, from a regulation that bans discrimination based on religion or sexual orientation in foster care placements. Miracle Hill came under scrutiny when it turned away non-Christian and same-sex families from becoming foster parents through their program. The group received nearly $600,000 in state and federal funding last year to support foster care families. A regulation put into place during the Obama administration bans discrimination because of religious or sexual orientation. HHS is preparing to release a rule giving its newly established Conscience and Religious Freedom division the ability to investigate and enforce religious discrimination claims, according to the Wall Street Journal. In order to understand the best way for the policy department to respond, please fill out this short survey that should only take two minutes, sharing your organization’s position on this ruling.

Government Shutdown

During the shutdown, appropriations for some federal agencies and programs lapsed, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), immigration programs (including E-Verify and EB-5 regional investor visas), and many others.

This week the Senate brought up two bills – one that included funding for President Trump’s border wall proposal led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the other proposal led by Democrats that would provide a temporary extension through Feb. 8 to reopen the government and continue negotiations. Both bills failed to get the 60 votes needed to advance.

Today, President Trump announced he would support a three-week short-term extension to reopen the government, with assurances that negotiations on his border wall proposal would continue. The Senate and House are expected to pass the bill today, for immediate signature. President Trump shared in his announcement today that if need be, he would shut the government down again on Feb. 15 or use other emergency measures to fund his proposal (hinting at the possibility of an emergency declaration). As negotiations continue and the situation develops, we will keep members posted about the impact.

Important Notice for SNAP Participants

Though the USDA has the budget authority to fund the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for February, we are concerned that participants are not aware that they have received their February disbursement early (on January 20) and will need to make it last.

We need your help. Health and human services agencies, community-based nonprofits, local food pantries, and other advocates need to advise SNAP participants who receive their February SNAP benefits on or around Jan. 20 that the issuance is not a bonus, but an early issuance of their February benefits. SNAP participants should be careful to budget their SNAP benefits to last them through the entire month of February. (Source: The American Public Human Services Association)

TANF Bill Signed into Law

Recently, funds were not available for the TANF program. The majority of the recipients of these funds are children. In the interim, states had to cover the cost and states were doing their best to pull together unspent federal funds. Last week, the House of Representatives approved an extension of the TANF program through June 30, 2019. This past week, the Senate approved the measure and it was signed by the President on Thursday. This is a big relief for advocates, as funding was caught up in the shutdown.  

New Children’s Bureau Graphic on Reasons Children Entered Foster Care

The Children’s Bureau last week released a new infographic showing the top 5 reasons children entered foster care in FY2017 according to the 2017 AFCARS Report.

(Source: National Child Abuse Coalition & HHS

 

White House Meeting with Immigration Stakeholders

On Thursday, Jan. 24 the White House hosted a meeting with immigration stakeholders. Attendees including the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, United Latin American Citizens, LIBRE Initiative, and others. The conversation centered around comprehensive immigration reform, a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, and other topics. Other organizations were invited but reportedly declined the invitation. (Source: Children’s Budget Coalition)