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House Approves Child Abuse Prevention Program

On November 13, the House approved, by voice vote, legislation (H.R. 2873) that would renew for four years the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program. Designed to assist states in providing services for abused and neglected children, the program expired on September 30, the end of the fiscal year.

The bill would authorize $305 million annually in mandatory funding and an additional $200 million in discretionary spending for the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program in FY2002 through FY2006. The program would be expanded to include an initiative to strengthen parental relationships and promote healthy marriages. Also included is a safe haven provision, based on legislation (H.R. 2018) by Rep. Melissa Hart (R-PA), that would allow states to use funds to encourage mothers who do not want to keep their babies to leave them in a safe place such as a hospital or a police station.

Additionally, H.R. 2873 would authorize $60 million a year through 2006 for education and training vouchers for youths aging out of foster care and $67 million in FY 2002 and FY2003 for a mentoring program for the children of prisoners.

On the House floor, Rep. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) expressed his disappointment that the legislation “does not include the full request by President Bush” for an “additional $200 million a year for the next 5 years for the Safe and Stable Families Program.” He explained that “we authorize, but we do not include it under the basic guarantee to our states,” and added, “That is not adequate.”

Rep. Wally Herger (R-CA) countered, “The appropriators have already appropriated an additional $70 million for this year; that is an increase that is larger than the last 4 years put together.” He added, “So, I do believe we are putting the dollars forward to ensure that these very important programs are funded.”

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