Tucked into President Obama’s FY2012 budget that was released last week was a proposal for funding over 10 years to improve the child welfare system in this country. Outcomes such as more services for families and youth, shorter times in out-of-home care, increasing permanency through reunification, adoption, and guardianship, and lower rates of re-entry into foster care are stated goals. Additionally, the President recognized the need to remove unnecessary administrative requirements that impede progress toward these goals for public and private sector providers of services.
Many have been hard at work through various national coalitions of professional child advocate organizations on these goals for some time. It is exciting and encouraging to the President Obama listening, supporting, and leading with us!
I, too, worry about the national debt and the legacy our grandchildren will face if we do not reverse our fiscal course. Yet, I cannot be comfortable with the proposed cuts announced yesterday from the House GOP: WIC cut of $378M, Community Services Block Grants $405M, Maternal and Child Health Block Grants $210M, Community Health Centers $1.3B.
I’m sure others have their own cuts that bring intense heartburn.
It is a tough, tough situation. WWJD?
It is reported that Governor Mary Fallin will announce in her State-of-the-State address Monday a 3-5% budget reduction for all state agencies. Education, health, and human services are slated for a 3% cut.
While relieved that those agencies will receive the ‘smaller’ cuts, we must remain mindful that those cuts mean services….and therefore lives and quality of life.
There are no easy answers.
I applaud the Governor on recognizing the vulnerability of children and families through the lower reduction. I pray for some realization of additional funding as this Session moves forward.
It will be another tough year where Oklahomans must pull together for the well-being of all and further proof of the “Oklahoma standard”.
It is important that all foster parents and providers service foster youth know that a key provision of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-296), enacted on 12/13/10, amends a critical provision of the National School Lunch Act (42 USC 1758) to make any foster child eligible, without the necessity of an application, for free school meals. All that a local educational agency need receive is documentation from an appropriate state or local child welfare agency indicating that a child is a foster child under state responsibility or has been placed in a caretaker household by a court. These provisions were effective as of 10/1/10.
In addition to all foster children placed by a child welfare agency being eligible, a child placed by a court into a kinship home or other “caretaker” household would also be eligible.
These provisions are to be implemented now. If you know someone to whom this applies, be sure they are aware of this support.