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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Youth Transitioning from Foster Care: Issues for Congress

Adrienne L. Fernandes-Alcantara
Specialist in Social Policy

Recent research has demonstrated that compared to their peers, current and former foster youth are more likely to experience negative outcomes in adulthood. This research, along with the efforts of policymakers and child welfare advocates, has brought greater attention to the challenges facing youth transitioning from foster care. In response, Congress has sought to improve existing services and provide additional supports for this population. Most recently, the 110th Congress passed, and President George W. Bush enacted, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-351), which is arguably one of the most significant laws passed in recent history that expands services and supports for older youth in care. This reports presents issues around implementation of P.L. 110-351. It also describes other issues affecting older youth as they transition from foster care into adulthood.

As enacted, the new law extends eligibility, beginning in FY2011, for federal foster care assistance to youth who remain in care after age 18 (at state option until 19, 20, or 21). P.L. 110- 351 additionally authorizes this assistance on behalf of older youth eligible for federal foster care if they reside in an independent living setting (as well as foster family homes or other eligible settings). The law requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to define independent living settings in regulation.

P.L. 110-351 also expands the purposes of the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP). The CFCIP was established in 1999 (P.L. 106-169) to provide supports and services to current and former foster youth who are likely to be emancipated from care. Changes made by P.L. 110-351 explicitly permit states to provide CFCIP services to youth who leave care at age 16 or older through kinship guardianship or adoption. Funding for the CFCIP was not increased, and whether states will expand their independent living programs to include this population remains to be seen. In addition, the new law requires child welfare agencies to assist youth who are leaving foster care in developing a transition plan so that they have specific options on housing, employment, education, and mentoring. In July 2010, HHS issued program instructions that provide guidance to states on the implementation of P.L. 110-351.

One possible challenge in implementing the law is that even with assistance from the federal government, states (and tribes, pursuant to P.L. 110-351) may be hesitant to extend care to older youth because of the cost. Child welfare agencies may also face difficulties in retaining youth in care, even if remaining in care would be beneficial. Further, despite the passage of the new law and issuance of accompanying guidance, policymakers and advocates remain concerned that older foster youth and those who have aged out will continue to experience challenges during the transition to adulthood. Emancipated youth face particular obstacles in fostering permanent connections with caring adults, securing health insurance and housing, and staying connected to work and school. Further, little is known about youth as they transition from foster care, although a new national database will likely provide some insight into their outcomes across a number of areas, such as education, employment, and contact with social service and criminal justice systems.

This report will be updated as programmatic and regulatory activity occurs. For background information about older foster youth and the current federal policies and programs for this population, see CRS Report RL34499, Youth Transitioning from Foster Care: Background and Federal Programs, by Adrienne L. Fernandes-Alcantara

Date of Report: September 8, 2010
Number of Pages: 45
Order Number: R40218
Price: $29.95

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Community Development Block Grant Funds in Disaster Relief and Recovery

Eugene Boyd
Analyst in Federalism and Economic Development Policy

In the aftermath of presidentially declared disasters, Congress has used a variety of programs to help states and local governments finance recovery efforts, among them the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Over the years, Congress has appropriated supplemental CDBG funds to assist states and communities recover from such natural disasters as hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes. In addition, CDBG funds supported recovery efforts in New York City following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; in Oklahoma City following the bombing of the Alfred Murrah Building in 1995; and in the city and county of Los Angeles following the riots of 1992. In response to those calamities, CDBG funds were made available for short-term relief efforts, mitigation actions, and long-term recovery, and to provide housing and business assistance, infrastructure reconstruction, and public services.

The Gulf Coast hurricanes of 2005 (Katrina, Rita, and Wilma) resulted in the largest appropriation of CDBG funds for disaster relief and recovery in the program’s history. Since December 2005, Congress has provided $19.85 billion in CDBG disaster-related assistance to the five states (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas) affected by the Gulf Coast hurricanes of 2005. This included $11.5 billion in CDBG assistance appropriated in the Defense Appropriations Act for FY2006, P.L. 109-148; $5.2 billion in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Hurricane Recovery Act of 2006, P.L. 109-234; and $3 billion (exclusively for Louisiana’s Road Home Program) appropriated in the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for FY2008, P.L. 110-116.

The 110
th Congress appropriated $6.8 billion in CDBG funds to be used to respond to presidentially declared disasters occurring in 2008. This included $300 million appropriated under the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, P.L. 110-252, and $6.5 billion included in the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009, P.L. 110-329.

In general, CDBG disaster relief acts passed since 2005 have included provisions that limit the amount a state could use for administrative expenses to 5%; allow a state to seek waivers of program requirements, except those related to fair housing, nondiscrimination, labor standards, and environmental review; prohibit the use of funds for activities that were reimbursable by or made available by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or the Army Corp of Engineers; and require each state to develop and HUD to approve state recovery plans

As a condition for the receipt of CDBG disaster recovery assistance, states are required to submit quarterly reports to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees on all awards and use of funds. The acts do not prescribe the form these quarterly reports are to take nor the content they are to include, except for identifying and rationalizing the use of sole source contracts.

The 111
th Congress approved a supplemental appropriations act for 2010, H.R. 4899, which was signed by the President on July 29, 2010, as P.L. 111-212. The act provided an additional $100 million in CDBG funds to help states and communities undertake disaster recovery activities in presidentially declared disaster areas affected by severe storms and flooding during the period from March 2010 through May 2010. The act limited distribution of these funds to states where the entire state was declared a disaster area (Rhode Island) and to states where at least 20 counties within the state were declared disaster areas (Tennessee, Kentucky, and Nebraska).

Date of Report: September 1, 2010
Number of Pages: 15
Order Number: RL33330
Price: $29.95

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2011 Budget and Appropriations

Marian Leonardo Lawson
Analyst in Foreign Assistance

Susan B. Epstein
Specialist in Foreign Policy

Kennon H. Nakamura
Analyst in Foreign Affairs

The annual State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies appropriations bill has been the primary legislative vehicle through which Congress reviews the U.S. international affairs budget and influences executive branch foreign policy making in recent years, as Congress has not regularly considered these issues through a complete authorization process for State Department diplomatic activities since 2003 and for foreign aid programs since 1985. Funding for Foreign Operations and State Department/Broadcasting programs has been steadily rising since FY2002, after a period of decline in the 1980s and 1990s. Ongoing assistance to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as large new global health programs and rapidly increasing assistance to Pakistan, has kept the international affairs budget at historically high levels in recent years. The change of Administration in 2009 did not disrupt this trend. However, increasing concern about the federal budget deficit and accountability for funds already provided may check this growth in FY2011. 

On February 1, 2010, President Obama submitted a budget proposal for FY2011 that requests $58.68 billion for the international affairs budget, a 3% increase over the enacted FY2010 funding level, including supplementals. If $1.8 billion in "forward funding" of FY2010 priorities appropriated in FY2009 supplemental legislation is counted toward FY2010 rather than FY2009 totals, as it has been by the Administration, and the enacted FY2010 supplemental is factored in, the FY2011 request would represent a slight decrease from FY2010-enacted levels. 

This report focuses only on the $56.82 billion requested for programs and activities funded through the State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill, which excludes some portions of the International Affairs request and includes funding for certain commissions requested as part of other budget functions. The Administration requested significant increases for Global Health and Child Survival, Development Assistance, technical assistance and debt restructuring through the Treasury Department, Foreign Military Financing, and various multilateral environmental accounts. Programs for which the Administration recommended significantly reduced funding, compared with enacted FY2010 levels, are contributions to international organizations, commissions and foundations, and peacekeeping operations. 

In the absence of a FY2011 budget resolution, both the House and Senate have begun work on FY2011 funding legislation using committee-approved discretionary budget allocations. The State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee was allocated $53.9 billion in the House and $54.0 billion in the Senate. The House State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee approved a draft FY2011 bill on June 30, which totaled $52.81 billion. On the Senate side, the full Appropriations Committee marked up and approved its FY2011 State-Foreign Operations bill, S. 3676, on July 27, totaling $54.22 billion. 

This report analyzes the FY2011 request, recent-year funding trends, and congressional action related to FY2011 State-Foreign Operations legislation. The report will be updated to reflect changes in legislative status

Date of Report: August 19, 2010
Number of Pages: 34
Order Number: R41228
Price: $29.95

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