Earlier this month, The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships (WHOFBNP) hosted a conference call with the Domestic Policy Council and the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to discuss the President’s budget proposals for child welfare and foster care, and it also touched on a recent change regarding nutrition assistance for children. The call featured Joshua DuBois, Director of WHOFBNP; Martha Coven, Special Assistant to the President for Mobility and Opportunity; Bryan Samuels, Commissioner for ACYF; Max Finberg, Director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and Mara Vanderslice, Acting Director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at HHS.
The first topic of the call was an important announcement from USDA that all children placed into the foster care system will now be eligible to receive free meals in all USDA child nutrition programs. This change was made possible by the Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act of 2010 which President Obama signed into law late last year. David Hansell, HHS Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, described why this announcement is so powerful:
“Ensuring foster children have access to healthy, balanced and nutritious meals without the burden of unnecessary eligibility paperwork shows our commitment in providing the best quality of life for many deserving children and their families.”
The President and this Administration take our responsibility to our children, including our children in foster care, seriously. So while the President is proposing major cuts in the federal budget so that we are living within our means, our budget also makes critical investments in the child welfare system. As Bryan Samuels described on the call, the President’s budget calls for an investment of $250 million in 2012 as part of $2.5 billion over the next 10 years to incentivize states to take the next steps to improve outcomes for children. This holistic approach is a clear statement that this Administration believes that every child deserves a family by emphasizing permanence through family reunification, kinship care and adoption. For those youth who cannot be placed in a safe, loving and permanent family, this proposal will support their transition to adulthood. Importantly, this proposal will provide a transparent dashboard of the progress states are making and encourage the use of the best science available to better serve our children. Should Congress move forward with funding this budget request, these investments will positively impact outcomes for thousands of children in foster care and the communities in which they live.
We here at the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships are proud of the President’s strong commitment to improving foster care and the lives of children, and we look forward to continuing to support that work.
We want to hear from you about this topic. Please send us your comments and feedback to whpartnerships (at) who.eop.gov.
Michael Wear serves as Executive Assistant to the Executive Director of The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships