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Letters to the 107th Congress

September 19, 2001

The Honorable Wally Herger
Chair
Subcommittee on Human Resources
Ways and Means Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
B-317 Rayburn Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Herger:

We understand that your Subcommittee may soon consider H.R. 2873, the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments of 2001. I am writing on behalf of the American Bar Association to express our appreciation for your strong leadership and that of the Bush Administration in introducing this important legislation on September 10, 2001. We urge the Subcommittee to promptly approve H.R. 2873 so that it may soon be considered by the full House of Representatives.

H.R. 2873 would extend and amend the Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) program under Title IV-B, subpart 2 of the Social Security Act. This program provides federal support for state efforts to protect children and to strengthen families through community-based family support programs and family preservation services. The ABA has long supported the public purposes embodied in PSSF: to prevent child maltreatment and assure children's safety within the home and preserve intact families effectively; to address the problems of families with children in foster care so that reunification can occur in a safe and stable manner; and to support adoptive families by providing support services that help them to achieve a lifetime commitment to their children.

The ABA has focused much effort in support of the Court Improvement Program, a key element of PSSF that would be reauthorized and amended by H.R. 2873. The Court Improvement Program (CIP) was established through the Family Preservation Act of 1993 and reauthorized under the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. As part of PSSF, CIP provides federal funds to state courts to improve their handling of child abuse and neglect cases and move children into permanent and safe homes as quickly as possible.

Local courts handling child abuse and neglect, foster care and adoption matters play a critically important role in meeting the goals of PSSF, a role that has become more important since the enactment of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA). Without well-functioning courts that make timely findings and sound decisions about children's lives and well-being, the intent and promise of ASFA can never be fully realized. The ABA applauds the extension and amendment of CIP as part of H.R. 2873. We have offered suggested language to Subcommittee staff for two technical amendments to the CIP provisions in H.R. 2873, to strengthen the "purposes" of the CIP program and also to address an apparent discrepancy in proposed changes to the state set-aside formula, which we believe will be accepted.

The ABA also strongly supports adoption of an amendment to H.R. 2873 expected to be offered by Subcommittee Member Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), the Indian and Alaska Native Foster Care and Adoption Services Amendments of 2001, which he introduced in June as H.R. 2335. Rep. Camp's proposal would amend Title IV-E of the Social Security Act to allow tribes, like states, to submit plans to HHS in order to receive Title IV-E payments directly and extend Title IV-E entitlement programs to tribal placements in foster and adoptive homes. We believe this amendment is an important and necessary reform that would provide equitable access for foster care and adoption services for Indian children in tribal areas. We urge that it be approved.

In closing, the ABA again commends you for your strong leadership on this issue and urges the Subcommittee to promptly approve H.R. 2873.

Sincerely,

Robert D. Evans
Director, Governmental Affairs Office

cc: Members of the Subcommittee

107th Congress Letters Home

AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION
Governmental Affairs Office
740 Fifteenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
ph: 202-662-1760
fx: 202-662-1762

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