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2013 March - April

2013 March - April issue of Clearinghouse Review

State Safe Harbor Laws and Recommendations for Future Legislation

By Aradhana Tiwari, Stephanie Kay Richard & Jill P. Rawal

Although federal law and many state laws recognize that sex-trafficked children are victims and should be treated as such, many state safe harbor laws do not decriminalize child prostitution. Moreover, state child welfare systems do not provide adequate services for child sex-trafficking victims. State legislatures and child welfare agencies need to keep the unique problems of child sex-trafficking victims in mind when designing and implementing laws and programs that affect these children, and all future safe harbor laws must, at a minimum, decriminalize child prostitution.

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Keeping Families Together

Preserving the Rights of Parents with Psychiatric Disabilities

By Jennifer Mathis

Parents with psychiatric disabilities lose their children through child welfare proceedings at an alarmingly high rate. Negative stereotypes of people with psychiatric disabilities are still prevalent in the child welfare system. Under many state laws, mental illness is a ground for removing custody from a parent or terminating parental rights. Federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act provide some protections, but parents are often unaware of their rights. Advocates who understand the legal framework can make a real difference.

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Funding Legal Services Programs with Attorney Fee Awards

By Jennifer S. Wagner

The financial crisis has been extremely damaging for programs funded by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) and their clients. There has been one bright hope for legal services lawyers, however: Congress’ 2010 decision to allow their programs to resume collecting attorney fees. But in pursuing fees for their clients, legal services programs must still comply with LSC regulations. Learning about these regulations can help legal services lawyers achieve justice for individual clients and improve legal services programs across the country.

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The Indian Child Welfare Act

Intersections with Disability and the Americans with Disabilities Act

By Ella Callow

To Native American families and tribes the Indian Child Welfare Act offers procedural protections such as heightened evidentiary standards for removal of a child and termination of parental rights and a priority for placing Native American children with extended family members. Since more than one-fourth of Native Americans have a disability, advocates who work on cases under the Act must be vigilant in ensuring that disability discrimination does not result in a end-run around the Act’s protections.

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The Affordable Care Act

An Effective Asset-Building Policy

By Alexander I. Hoffman & Karen K. Harris

When people think about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, they initially think about health care. They do not consider the Act’s huge impact on people’s financial security. By providing more people with access to health insurance, incentivizing participation in preventive health care, and requiring essential services from all health plans, the Act will change individual and institutional behavior in ways that will help all Americans accumulate assets.

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Strategies for Defending Foreclosures of FHA-Insured Mortgages

By Steven Sharpe

Since the collapse of the housing market, mortgage loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) constitute a much greater share of the market than they did during the housing bubble. These loans perform poorly compared to conventional loans, and loss mitigation options are more limited. However, FHA-insured loans are governed by a well-defined statutory and regulatory structure that is incorporated explicitly into loan contracts and enabled advocates to make strong arguments on behalf of homeowners facing foreclosure.

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Black Lung Benefits for Disabled Coal Miners and Their Families

By Stephen A. Sanders

The federal black lung benefits program supports coal miners when they are totally disabled by black lung disease. It allows a deceased miner’s survivors to collect benefits when the miner died of black lung diseases. The legal process governing black lung benefits is complicated by varying sets of regulations for claims filed at different times, a unique administrative appeal structure, and complex standards for medical evidence. Because miners and their survivors live across the country, advocates nationwide need to be aware of this potential source of income for disabled miners and their families.

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About This Issue

By Ilze Sprudzs Hirsh

The March-April 2013 Clearinghouse Review offers readers a variety of "the new" and "the old" in article topics and presents inspiring developments in advocacy around the country.

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