House of Representatives Introduces Stronger CAPTA Bill
Recently, House Committee on Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) re-introduced the “Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act” (CAPTA) (H.R. 485). This legislation was introduced after rising rates of child maltreatment over the past decade. This bipartisan bill would authorize $540 million in funding to expand and strengthen both the quality of child protective services (Title I) and networks of prevention services (Title II). The funds would also provide support for the system, helping it to address challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Alliance’s Senior Director of Government Relations, Ilana Levinson, was quoted in an article in The Imprint last week: “We know that child abuse is not inevitable, it’s preventable, and we know what works to prevent it,” said Ilana Levinson, Alliance’s senior director for government relations. “CAPTA is a critical next step after the Family First Prevention Services Act in reimagining a child and family well-being system that is more prevention focused.”
Utilizing Title IV-E Funding to Support Legal Representation for Children in Foster Care
Recently the Children’s Bureau released a new Informational Memorandum, which urges state and tribal IV-E agencies, courts, administrative offices of the courts, and Court Improvement Programs to work together to ensure high quality legal representation for parents, children, and child welfare agencies at all stages of child welfare proceedings. It also provides the maximum allowable IV-E administrative reimbursement for children and parents involved in the title IV-E foster care legal proceedings. It also includes new research and strategies to promote high quality legal representation.
New Workforce Development Bill Introduced in the House
At the end of January, Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) and Fred Upton (R-MI) introduced H.R. 487, the Revitalize and Expand SNAP Education and Training (RESET) for America’s Future Act. This bill would provide $100 million for workforce development and training programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Specifically, the federal government would reimburse 100% of program costs (usually, states are required to pay 50%). Programs that would be eligible for federal reimbursement must be rigorously evidence-based and outcomes-based. The bill would also allow program enrollees to participate in any covered program for up to six months.
Chairman Bobby Scott Focuses on Public Workforce System in New Bills
Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, introduced several new bills this month to strengthen the workforce during the economic crisis and beyond. The National Apprenticeship Act of 2021 would commit over $3.5 billion over five years to fund more than 1 million apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships across the country. Along with Reps. Andy Levin (D-MI) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Chairman Scott also introduced the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act, which invests $15 billion over the next 3 years into the public workforce system. These funds will support on-the-job training, apprenticeships, career navigation support, and online skills training, and will prioritize short-term training for health care and other frontline jobs.
Public Health Emergency to Likely Last All of 2021, Say HHS Secretary
Norris Cochran, acting secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), published a letter to governors with guidance on the status of the ongoing public health emergency (PHE), which allows the Secretary to change certain elements of the public health system, such as access to telehealth. In the letter, Cochran reiterated that the PHE had been extended on Jan. 21 for another 90 days. To help governors plan beyond that timeframe, he added that the PHE will likely be maintained for all of 2021, and 60 days’ notice will be given once it is determined when the PHE will end. The 6.2 percentage point increase in the Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) will expire at the end of the quarter in which the PHE expires.
White House Releases Memorandum on Housing Discrimination
On Jan. 26, the White House issued a memorandum that recognized the federal government’s history of housing discrimination and called upon the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to study the effects of those policies and means of redress. The memorandum outlines the history of redlining and other discriminatory practices that systematically locked people of color out of the housing market and left a stubborn legacy of inequality in its wake. The anti-discrimination provisions of the Fair Housing Act, says the White House, require not just refraining from discrimination but also taking action to undo the lasting effects of historical segregation and oppression. As the first step, the memorandum asks the Secretary to repeal recent regulatory changes that undermine fairness in housing.
Biden Signs New Executive Orders
In recent weeks, President Joe Biden signed several executive orders on a number of different issues. He reversed Former President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military, ended the federal government’s use of private prisons, and created a “COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force”. He also created a special enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act marketplace from Feb. 15 through May 15, which will allow families and individuals who have lost coverage to access premium tax credits to pay for subsidized insurance. Biden also called on states to reexamine policies that make it harder to enroll in Medicaid. Regarding immigration, the administration took steps to begin reversing the “public charge” rule that imposed an income and wealth requirement on some immigrants. Biden also created a special task force to help reunite migrant families separated at the border. An estimated 628 families are still divided, which has caused grave physical and psychological damage to the children.
Congressional Committee Leadership Takes Shape
Congressional committees are taking shape in the Senate and House of Representatives, with committee chairs being announced on a rolling basis. In the House, Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) will chair the Committee on Appropriations, which oversees the federal budget process. Bobby Scott (D-VA) will continue as chair of the Education and Labor Committee and Maxine Waters (D-CA) will stay on as head of financial services. David Scott (D-GA) will be the first Black chair of the Committee on Agriculture in chamber history. The Committee on Ways and Means, which oversees taxes and revenue, will be headed by Richard Neal (D-MA). In the Senate, Patty Murray (D-WA) will chair the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which will play an important role in the current health and economic crisis. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) will chair the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont will oversee the Appropriations Committee, the Senate counterpart on the federal budget. Finally, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) will chair the Finance Committee. Please see tables below with relevant House and Senate Committees, Chairs, and Ranking Members for the 117th Congress.