Statement From Shay Bilchik: Keeping a Promise to America's Abused and Neglected Children

Child Welfare League of America
Thursday, 1 November 2001

Washington, DC - Now is the time for President Bush and Congress to keep a promise to increase funding for America's most vulnerable children, youth, and families. Congress will soon vote on the Promoting Safe and Stable Families program, an important source of federal funds to help states prevent abuse and neglect, keep families together, and find permanent homes for children in foster care. This crucial funding for at-risk children is now in jeopardy.

President Bush requested an additional $200 million for the program in his FY 2002 budget, identifying it as "a valuable safety net program, designed to strengthen families at risk and ensure the safety and permanency of placements of vulnerable children." Some in Congress, however, are questioning if we as a country can now afford this additional financial commitment. Unexpected expenditures for anti-terrorism efforts have given some federal lawmakers an excuse to abandon our neediest children.

However, in a recent economic stimulus package, the House found the money to provide more than a dozen major corporations with huge tax rebates. If we can find the money for America's corporations and to fund a nearly $200 billion tax package for the wealthiest, surely the President and Congress can find less than one-tenth of one percent of that total to help abused and neglected children. For the safety of our children, this promise must be kept.

The Promoting Safe and Stable Families program is the only opportunity the Congress will have this year to substantially impact the lives of vulnerable children. In recent months, America has experienced tragedy and economic recession. This is not a time to shortchange our nation's children and families. Washington must keep its promise to the millions of children who are abused and neglected every year in this country.

Nationwide, nearly three million children were reported as victims of child abuse and neglect in 1999, and 1,100 children died from abuse and neglect. Currently there are more than 580,000 in foster care. These are the children who will be served and the lives that may be saved through the fulfillment of this promise. There can be no more important investment.

Established in 1920, the Child Welfare League of America is the nation's oldest and largest membership-based child welfare organization. Headquartered in Washington, DC, CWLA strives to advance sound public policy in behalf the three million abused, neglected, and vulnerable children served by its more than 1,160 public and private member agencies.

For more information, or to contact Child Welfare League of America, see their website at: www.cwla.org

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