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Public Policy Update - August Congressional Recess

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.

National CASA Board of Trustees Recognizes Senator Mary Landrieu

National CASA joined with Louisiana CASA and 17 local programs to recognize Senator Mary Landrieu on Monday, August 11 in New Orleans for her extraordinary support of the CASA mission. At the event, which was hosted by CASA New Orleans, National CASA CEO Michael Piraino presented Senator Landrieu with the Board of Trustees President's Award.

Senator Landrieu has long supported the work of court-appointed special advocates as part of her efforts to ensure that every child has the opportunity to be part of a loving and stable family.  She has used her senior role on the Senate Appropriations Committee and as the co-chair of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth to support CASA and lead efforts, working on a strong, bipartisan-basis, to strengthen policies that help our most vulnerable children. 

Read the announcement from Senator Landrieu's office.  Also, follow our coverage on Storify and Twitter.  Photos are available here, courtesy of our partner, CASA New Orleans.

Last year, 17 Louisiana CASA programs in 53 parishes served 3,191 of the approximately 4,000 abused and neglected children in foster care.  1,635 highly trained and deeply dedicated advocates served these children through service hours valued at $1.91 million.

Share your appreciation for Senator Landrieu's work here or on social media.

Appropriations, Adoption Incentives Legislation Still Pending Before Congress

Congress is adjourned for the August recess through the second week of September.  When both chambers return for the two week September legislative period, they will need to consider 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 currently lacks an agreement for how to move forward with consideration of amendments to appropriations bills.  The most likely scenario for FY 2015 funding is a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to provide funding through the beginning of the 114th Congress 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.

 

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