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Public Policy Update - September 2014

In addition to supporting a network of 951 CASA/GAL programs throughout the country, the National CASA Association advocates for abused and neglected children on the national level by working with elected officials and government agencies, and by partnering with other child welfare organizations. 

Included below are highlights of issues that are of interest to the CASA/GAL network.  Contact Ashley Lantz, director of public policy, for more information.

Appropriations, Adoption Incentives Legislation Still Pending Before Congress

Congress returns this week following the August recess. One of the top priorities in both chambers is consideration of appropriations legislation before the end of the current fiscal year on September 30th

To date, the House has passed seven of the 12 appropriations bills that fund the federal government, including the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations measure that funds the Department of Justice's court-appointed special advocate program. The appropriations process has been held up in the Senate, which has lacked an agreement for how to move forward with consideration of amendments to appropriations bills. Congress will need to consider a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to provide funding through the beginning of the 114th Congress, which convenes in January 2015.

Also pending before Congress is the adoption incentives and trafficking package that was agreed upon by the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committees in late July.  H.R. 4980, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, would reauthorize the Adoption Incentives Program for three years through FY 2016, extend Family Connections Grants for one year at $15 million, and provide screening and other initiatives to prevent children from becoming victims of sex trafficking.  Further, the measure would eliminate another planned permanent living arrangement (APPLA) as a permanency goal for youth under age 16 and require, under a provision championed by Congressman Lloyd Doggett, that youth aging out of care leave with certain documents including a state-issued ID, birth certificate, and social security card.

Without swift enactment of H.R. 4980 before October 1st, Family Connection Grants and Adoption Incentives could cease in the upcoming fiscal year.

The US Department of Justice has supported CASA advocacy since 1985 through its Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
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