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May 17, 2006

Focus:Family
Action Request:Read
Location:United States
 

ADVISORY

FROM THE COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS

SUBCOMMITTEE ON HUMAN RESOURCES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 12, 2006
HR-9
CONTACT: (202) 225-1025

Herger Announces Hearing to Review Proposals to Improve Child Protective Services

Congressman Wally Herger (R-CA), Chairman, Subcommittee on Human Resources of the Committee on Ways and Means, today announced that the Subcommittee will hold a hearing to review proposals to improve child protective services.  The hearing will take place on Tuesday, May 23, 2006, in room B‑318 Rayburn House Office Building, beginning at 2:00 p.m.


Oral testimony at this hearing will be from both invited and public witnesses.  Invited witnesses will include a representative from the U.S. Government Accountability Office and other experts in how States use Federal funds for child protective services.  Any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Subcommittee and for possible inclusion in the printed record of the hearing.


BACKGROUND
:

The Child Welfare Services (CW program and the Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) program (both authorized under Title IV-B of the Social Security Act) provide approximately $700 million in annual Federal funds to support services to ensure children are raised in safe, loving families.  Combined, this is the largest source of Federal funds provided to States to assist at-risk families, further protect children from abuse and neglect, and prevent the unnecessary separation of children from their parents.  Since the program’s inception in the 1930s, States have had considerable flexibility in the use of CWS funds.  However, concern that few States were spending CWS funds for targeted services to help at-risk families resulted in Congress creating the PSSF program in 1993 (P.L. 103-66).  Funds from the PSSF program must be spent for family support services, family preservation services, time-limited reunification services, or post-adoption services.  While the CWS program is indefinitely authorized, the authorization of the PSSF program expires at the end of fiscal year 2006, requiring Congressional action this year to extend or otherwise improve the PSSF program.   


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently completed initial Child and Family Service Reviews (CFSRs) in each State.  The CFSRs are designed to assess each State’s child protection program to ensure the program promotes the safety, permanency, and well-being of children, such as through services supported by CWS and PSSF funds.  Significantly, as established in a May 13, 2004 Subcommittee hearing, no State was in full compliance with all measures of the CFSRs.  The CFSRs revealed States need to work to prevent repeat abuse and neglect of children; improve services provided to families to reduce the risk of future harm, including better monitoring of families’ participation in services; strengthen upfront services provided to families to prevent unnecessary family break-up and protect children who remain at home; improve ways States assess the needs of family members and provide services; and better engage parents and children when developing case plans outlining necessary services to assist families. 

           
In light of these findings, there is considerable interest in ensuring States utilize CWS and PSSF funds to improve child protection programs and ensure at-risk families receive appropriate services.  In the course of considering potential PSSF reauthorization legislation, the Committee is interested in learning about: (1) services provided to families that have been evaluated and shown to achieve improved child outcomes; (2) how families have been assisted by these programs; and (3) what additional steps Congress should take to ensure Federal funds support local services that allow children to safely remain in their own communities.  The Committee is especially interested in hearing from families or former foster youth who have direct experience with such services.

In announcing the hearing, Chairman Herger stated, “It is important that we do all we can to help families receive services to prevent child abuse and neglect.  I look forward to learning about how Federal funds have been used to provide services to protect children, whether those services are effective, and what else we can do to improve how we protect vulnerable children from harm.  Based on the record to date, much more work needs to be done.”


FOCUS OF THE HEARING
:


The focus of this hearing will be to review proposals to improve child protective services. 


DETAILS FOR SUBMISSIONS OF REQUESTS TO BE HEARD
:


Requests to be heard at the hearing must be made by telephone to Matthew Turkstra or Cooper Smith at (202) 225-1721 no later than the close of business, Wednesday, May 17, 2006.  The telephone request should be followed by a formal written request faxed to Allison Giles, Chief of Staff, Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives, 1102 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515, at (202) 225-2610.  The staff of the Committee will notify by telephone those scheduled to appear as soon as possible after the filing deadline.  Any questions concerning a scheduled appearance should be directed to the Committee staff at (202) 225‑1721.


In view of the limited time available to hear witnesses, the Committee may not be able to accommodate all requests to be heard.
  Those persons and organizations not scheduled for an oral appearance are encouraged to submit written statements for the record of the hearing in lieu of a personal appearance.  All persons requesting to be heard, whether they are scheduled for oral testimony or not, will be notified as soon as possible after the filing deadline.


Witnesses scheduled to present oral testimony are required to summarize briefly their written statements in no more than five minutes.  THE FIVE-MINUTE RULE WILL BE STRICTLY ENFORCED.   The full written statement of each witness will be included in the printed record, in accordance with House Rules.


In order to assure the most productive use of the limited amount of time available to question witnesses, all witnesses scheduled to appear before the Committee are required to submit 100 copies, along with an IBM compatible 3.5-inch diskette in WordPerfect or MS Word format, of their prepared statement for review by Members prior to the hearing.  Testimony should arrive at the Subcommittee office, B-318 Rayburn House Office Building, no later than close of business on Friday, May 19, 2006.  The 100 copies can be delivered to the Subcommittee staff in one of two ways:  (1) Government agency employees can deliver their copies to B-318 Rayburn House Office Building in an open and searchable box, but must carry with them their respective government issued identification to show the U.S. Capitol Police, or (2) for non-government officials, the copies must be sent to the new Congressional Courier Acceptance Site at the location of 2nd and D Streets, N.E., at least 48 hours prior to the hearing date.  Please ensure that you have the address of the Subcommittee, B-318 Rayburn House Office Building, on your package, and contact the staff of the Subcommittee at (202) 225‑1025 of its impending arrival.  Due to new House mailing procedures, please avoid using mail couriers such as the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, and FedEx.  When a couriered item arrives at this facility, it will be opened, screened, and then delivered to the Committee office, within one of the following two time frames:  (1) expected or confirmed deliveries will be delivered in approximately 2 to 3 hours, and (2) unexpected items, or items not approved by the Committee office, will be delivered the morning of the next business day.  The U.S. Capitol Police will refuse all non-governmental courier deliveries to all House Office Buildings.  


WRITTEN STATEMENTS IN LIEU OF PERSONAL APPEARANCE
:


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 “109th Congress” from the menu entitled, “Hearing Archives” (http://waysandmeans.house.gov/Hearings.asp?congress=17).  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 Tuesday, June 6, 2006.  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.  Those filing written statements who wish to have their statements distributed to the press and interested public at the hearing can follow the same procedure listed above for those who are testifying and making an oral presentation.  For questions, or if you encounter technical problems, please call (202) 225-1721.


FORMATTING REQUIREMENTS
:

           
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.


Symbol to Show Committee Seeks to Assist Persons with Disabilities at the Committee's facilities.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.
http://waysandmeans.house.gov/hearings.asp?formmode=view&id=4947


  House Committee on Ways and Means

Statement of William Tower, President and Chief Executive Officer, American Family Rights Association, Fair Oaks, California

Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Human Resources
of the House Committee on Ways and Means

 

May 23, 2006


Honorable Lawmakers, Guardians of the United States Constitution,


The overwhelming majority of children and families needing the services of the child welfare system enter through child protection services (CP.

The current system of child protection services is seriously flawed:

  • An army of individuals, primarily from the psychiatric professions.
  • Two out of three reports are “unfounded” raising the possibility that it might be inappropriate to investigate them in the first place.
  • Forty percent of the indicated reports are closed the same day they are indicated, without families receiving services to resolve their problems beyond the investigation itself.
A comprehensive, integrated system of child welfare services that emphasizes prevention and early Intervention requires a different approach to child protection. As presently constructed, The Child protection system cannot support the values and principles described in the administration of child and family services Framework. This is due in part that they are not family- centered.

Fortunately, the Congress has rightfully gone on record in favor of reform and is currently examining the option of receiving information about the system which gives CPS agencies the flexibility to respond to less serious cases of child neglect with

“The Waiver program” that Los Angeles, California and several other states have begun to request and have been granted in order to make an assessment of family needs and the provision of services, while continuing to respond to cases of child abuse, and with this it provides in home services to the family, services that were not available under the guidelines and federal funding as set forth in title 4-E of the Social Security Act.

Family Support Services:

The existing system has the same services that the Department has recommended typically every parent. They are all sent for psychiatric evaluations, counseling, Parenting classes and anger management classes; this is the routine set of services that the parents and children receive.  Frequently, one adult family member, designated as a potential abuser, is forced out of the home as part of the service plan.

What needs to be done is that appropriate and meaningful services need to be put in place. Not the same standard can be used in all cases due to differing issues with each family. I.e.: (if the children were removed due to unstable housing than counseling, psychiatric evaluations, parenting classes and anger management classes are not appropriate.) Help with the rent would be a more appropriate approach and maybe funding for some education. In this manner, the parents would be able to make a better living and get back on their feet again. However there is no funding in the budgets for this. There is funding for counseling, psychiatric evaluations, parenting classes and anger management classes after removal of the children, nothing in the budget exists for family preservation. Even with this there is no real funding for family services, the funding is earmarked for children services not family services. Once again there is a fault in the funding scheme. 

The solution to Family Support Services is the Waiver program:

  • With the waiver the funds can be used prior to removal and hence preservation of the family unit.
  • As demonstrated by other states this will require close Congressional oversight. This would prevent the funding from being abused and funding streams have a check and balance system 

Brief history of Reasonable Efforts

In 1980, Congress passed the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act.  The Adoption Assistance Act requires, in part, that states receiving federal monies under the Act make "reasonable efforts" to prevent the removal of children from their homes and, whenever possible, to reunify children placed in foster care with their families. 

In 1997, Congress passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), which modifies the reasonable efforts requirement by allowing exceptions to the requirement in certain situations and by using the same term - reasonable effort. "Reasonable efforts" has been one of the most hotly debated and confusing issues in the field of child welfare over the past three decades.

When Reasonable Efforts Are Required

Federal law requires State agencies to demonstrate that reasonable efforts have been made to provide assistance and services to prevent the unnecessary removal of a child from his or her home, and make it possible for a child who has been placed in out-of-home care to be reunified with his or her family.

Under the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA), while reasonable efforts to preserve and reunify families are still required, the child's health, safety and the Childs best interest, constitute the paramount concern in determining reasonable efforts to be made.

However, Reasonable Efforts has been reduced to a boilerplate statement on the court orders that are typed by the very agency required to perform these services. This was the check and balance that Congress intended the Court to use in certifying that the agency had performed there duties. However this has failed in that there are no protections to the families and no consequences’ or minimal consequences’, for the agency’s failure to fulfill this requirement

Part of the problem is that, The Adoption Assistance Act contains no detailed definition of "reasonable efforts." The Act makes clear, however, that reasonable efforts to prevent placement or to reunify a family must be made in each case, for every child receiving federally funded foster care maintenance payments under Title IV-E of the Social Security act.

The question for this Committee

The question that needs to be asked – and answered, is what are the incentive issues and focus that drives the foster care system and best serves our Nation’s children.

The Federal Government gives incentives for the states to get children out of foster care by adoption to others ($6000 each) without any penalty or setoff for the number of new children entering the system.

"What incentive does the Federal Government give the states to reunify the families?”Or for that matter prevent them from coming into the foster care system in the first place?

If the Federal Government gave incentives to the states for every child that went home more children would go home instead of to adoption wouldn't they??

The states consistently say "we don't get money for services from the Federal Government unless the children are in custody” so little effort to prevent removal is made -unless it's free, or inexpensive.  Also I've noticed an incredible number of parents are "cured" as soon as the Federal Money runs out.

If the states had X number of dollars per child or "unlimited cash" for 12 months but then the states had to foot the bill (or a large part of the bill) for the time after 12 months until adoption is completed, the states would be less eager to let children "hang out"/”languish” in long term foster care.

The Federal Government does not pay money for children (families) receiving services until a court establishes “jeopardy/jurisdiction”.  What incentive do the states have to offer (pay for) services prior to jeopardy?

 And because adoption and reunification can occur at the same time the states tend to use the "before jeopardy" time to locate an adoptive placement (they get paid for this).  In cases where a child is placed in a pre-adoptive foster care home, lauded as concurrent placement, it creates an environment where foster homes have a very specific interest in doing everything they can to make sure the child stays with them as opposed to reunifying with their biological families.  Another result is that it allows the foster home to “try out” the family situation to see if the child “fits in” as though a child is some kind of pet to be adopted or rejected. 

If the States put as much effort into families the first 120 days as they do adoption assistance, there would likely be many families that would be "cured" within 120 days and jeopardy findings would not be necessary.   

If the Federal Government gave "incentives" for family placements equal or similar to adoptive placements perhaps the states would be more inclined to place with relatives.  States will argue they do just that but the numbers just don’t bear it out. 

In short the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS RESPONSIBLE, the "incentives" are all directed toward "jeopardy" and adoption. 

What we need are "incentives" for reunification efforts

If the Federal Government paid, as example, 100% (or even 110%) of family service costs prior to a jeopardy finding, and only 80% after the finding the states would be a little slower about bringing petitions to the court before working with the families to resolve the state's concerns.

It is paramount that the Office of Inspector General conducts its own independent investigation, as child protection issues are too complex and politically sensitive to be done locally.  Even our Washington delegation has been ineffective over the years in realistically addressing numerous child protective and foster care agency complaints received from their constituents, leaving the public vulnerable to civil rights abuses by the State.

Congress had mandated a new pilot review program to be developed as a result of the Administration for Children and Families flagrant failure to prevent the states from ignoring their responsibilities.  Their lack of properly policing child protective and foster care agencies has resulted in an unnecessary increase in the number of children in foster care while placing only a small number in relative care.  This is also contrary to Congressional mandates to decrease the number of children in foster care by 10%/annum. 

An independent investigation of the states child protective and foster care agencies should uncover the bureaucratic failures and violations of law that has led up to the large volume of complaints by families.  For example, caseworkers break laws, rules and regulations because their supervisors wrongfully guide their actions.  Program Administrators take orders from the Director of child protection services, who in turn answers to a Commissioner appointed by our Governor’s.  Often Judges grant almost anything social services and child protective workers may request of the court.  Especially at the initial hearing. This unfortunately all takes place under the laws of Confidentiality.   

This bureaucracy is forever in a high state of flux.  Caseworkers, Assistant Attorney Generals, District Attorneys, Commissioners, Governors and all employees in between, are forever flowing through the system faster than they can adequately move up an effective learning curve.  This learning curve, which has proven to be longer than the average turnover time of most positions, results in incompetence that leads to violations of well-founded law. The organizational culture takes on a course of its own, contrary to the intent of our Federal and State lawmakers.  The majority of human and financial resources are eaten up with actives that have nothing to do with reasonable efforts or Family perseveration, but more to do with the daily task of managing chaos and cover-ups within a highly dysfunctional organization.

Among the recommendations:

  • Require a Citizen Commission be set up to investigate the issues and hear the complaints of the families and citizens of the States.
  • Require that said committee be comprised of knowledgeable citizens and not staffed with members of the agencies who are perpetuating the wrongs being brought to congress’ attention.
  • Pass along the findings of this commission to Congress as to inform Congress members of the findings and problems found within the system.
  • Increase the use the waiver program with strict Congressional oversight. 
  • Enact enforcement of the Reasonable Efforts requirement of Pl 96-272.
  • Separate the Ombudsman’s position from the Health and Human Services control and give it the autonomy and teeth necessary to properly investigate and rectify abuses from the child protective system, including lifting the confidentiality blanket that allows the system to run rampant over the rights of the very families the system is supposed to be helping.
I would like to challenge this Congress to set aside the time required to hear from the parents that would be able to make it to Washington, and hear from your constituent’s , what the system is really like and how it performs. To see how this system impacts the families it touches and how the funding, under this bill works,  from the families point of view in order to get a true measure of what is going on here. 



LIST OF WITNESSES APPEAR BEFORE
COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON HUMAN RESOURCES
ON Hearing to Review Proposals to Improve Child Protective Services

TUESDAY, MAY 23, 2006 - BEGINNING AT 2:00 PM  
B-318 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING

Witnesses
Panel:
  Cornelia Ashby, Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security, U.S. Government Accountability Office
  The Honorable Constance Cohen, Associate Juvenile Judge, Fifth Judicial District of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa, on behalf of Zero to Three
  Linda Spears, Vice President, Corporate Communications and Development, Child Welfare League of America
  Terry Cross, Director, National Indian Child Welfare Association, Portland, Oregon
  Kent Hymel, M.D., Falls Church, Virginia, on behalf of American Academy of Pediatrics
  Thomas Atwood, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Council for Adoption, Alexandria, Virginia

Panel:
  The Honorable Cari DeSantis, Secretary, Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families, Wilmington, Delaware, on behalf of the American Public Human Services Association
  Daniel Hatcher, Assistant Professor of Law, University of Baltimore School of Law, Baltimore, Maryland
  William Bell, President and Chief Executive Officer, Casey Family Programs, Seattle, Washington
  Richard Wexler, Executive Director, National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, Alexandria, Virginia
  Ikeita Cantu Hinojosa, Associate Counsel, Legislative Affairs, National Association of Social Workers
  William Tower, President and Chief Executive Officer, American Family Rights Association, Fair Oaks, California
  Heidi Goldsmith, Executive Director, Coalition for Residential Education, Silver Spring, Maryland
Visibility: Everyone
Posted: Wednesday May 17, 2006, 1:11 pm
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Janice G. (428)
Wednesday May 17, 2006, 1:35 pm
Thankyou for this information.

Past Member (0)
Thursday May 18, 2006, 2:15 pm
You are welcome Janice. Hugs, Kansas

Carol Drais (13)
Monday February 19, 2007, 3:19 am
Thanks for info check out some more at thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/454463224 god bless ct

Victorian Loop (650)
Sunday June 17, 2007, 2:12 pm
This event happens mostly every year or so often, and the only thing that ever gets accomplished is the fact that they have figured out how to better word their request to receive greater federal funding, easier access to our children, more laws that enable them to do as they please, write what they want without proving what they are writing about, larger incentives for the state for each child that is taken, and making the laws so that they can take our children out of the state. They seal the records, they use children who are truly abused, as media sheilds and a front for the children they keep that are well cared for who are more adoptable.
This is all happening becuase no one beleives that it is really going on until it happens to them, and becuase the media is a sheild for the curruption, helping the curruption by keeping it a secret for the states so that no family can ever have any awareness of its destruction.

Past Member (0)
Wednesday August 15, 2007, 6:59 am
My statement is that if we do NOT restore accountability in government, we loose everything. It is about holding their feet to the Constitutional Fire. Please Vote for the only honest Runner in the Race '08. http://www.voteronpaul.com/index.html I am flat out sick of telling people it is so corrupt that as long as they call you CPS you can rape, kidnap and use kids for drug testing and then put them into mass graves and not tell the parents because someone TPR'd them without being allowed a jury Trial! www.onsecondthought.tv/brian.htm

Victoria Y. (422)
Thursday August 13, 2009, 10:15 pm
I am here now. I am sorry for what you had been through. I tell you this. If you love your child to children don't give up. and keep try. when you keep try then someone will go along with you.

and tell you truth, working with CPS is best.

It sounds crazy but that is best way to working with them and be honest with them and follow what they wanted to get your child back.

If your children had been injured and physically ill through then figure that out that how you can make stop it.

Now days many american women and men they are having problem with domestic violence.

Pray each a day ask God to help you to be a good person to good mother and father then God and holly ghost will be there support your wishes.

even dogs pets fight for their freedom so just wear of that. children they will wanted to what they wanted to do and be challenge as be in good guardian but not forced to do what you want them to grow.

We are there for as guardian but not be in evil's forcing take it away kid's choice.

Patient and loving heart that is what you need it.

I love you alll. I am here back again.

thank you,


Victoria

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