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Public Policy Update – Week of April 7, 2014

In addition to supporting a network of 933 CASA 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 national child welfare organizations.

Included below are highlights of legislative issues that are of interest to the CASA/GAL network, including links to other sources of information. Contact Ashley Lantz with questions or to receive additional background.

VOCA Funding Letter

Senators Leahy (VT) and Crapo (ID) are circulating a bipartisan letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee in support of raising the VOCA cap and opposing Administration efforts to use VOCA funds for other, broader purposes. The deadline for senators to sign this letter is April 9th. Contact your senator about the Leahy/Crapo VOCA letter.

FY 2015 Appropriations

National CASA’s CEO Michael Piraino recently submitted testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies urging full funding of the Department of Justice’s Court Appointed Special Advocate program at $12 million in FY 2015.

House and Senate Appropriations will continue to hold budget hearings throughout April.  The House Appropriations Committee has commenced its markup schedule for the 12 individual bills that fund the federal government. The full committee will hold its first FY 2015 markup of the Legislative Branch and Military Construction - Veterans Affairs bills on Wednesday, April 9.

Youth PROMISE Act

The National CASA Association recently endorsed S. 1307, the Youth PROMISE Act, a bipartisan measure introduced by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) that would target at-risk youth through mentoring programs and other evidence-based approaches. If enacted, the Youth PROMISE Act would provide Department of Justice Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Grants for the implementation and evaluation of evidence-based, locally controlled youth and gang violence prevention and intervention practices. Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced the House version, H.R. 1318.  Both bills have the support of over 300 law enforcement and advocacy organizations.

Home Visiting Program Short-Term Reauthorization

Congress approved a six-month extension of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program as part of Medicare “Doc Fix” legislation signed into law by the President on April 1, 2014. The MIECHV program aims to improve health and development outcomes for at-risk children through evidence-based home visiting programs. Originally authorized at $1.5 billion over five years through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the program has already demonstrated effectiveness in a number of areas according to recent research by Pew and other entities.

Ryan Budget Targets SSBG

Last week, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan released his FY 2015 budget resolution, which was adopted by the Budget Committee and is expected to be taken up by the full House. The Senate will not consider a budget resolution this year after both chambers passed a two-year budget deal in December 2013. Among other proposals, the Ryan budget would eliminate the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), which is a flexible source of funds that allows states to provide an array of services to children, youth, and families, including foster care and adoption services.

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