Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (R-OR) along with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) joined forces to release a bipartisan proposal to prevent children from entering the foster care system. The Family First Prevention Services Act will redirect federal funding to support evidence-based prevention services for families with the goal of reducing foster care placements.
From the Press Release:
"...I am proud to have worked with my bipartisan colleagues on this proposal to provide help for families before they get to a point where they have to be ripped apart,” Ranking Member Wyden said. “The Family First Prevention Services Act takes a pro-family, pro-child and evidence-based preventative approach to help give children what they deserve – the best chance at living in a safe and nurturing home.”
So what exactly does the legislation propose?
Allow states to use federal foster care dollars to pay for family services (such as mental health services, substance abuse services and in-home parent "skill-based" programs) to prevent children from needing to enter foster care
End federal reimbursement when states inappropriately place children in non-family settings, such as group homes or congregate care facilities
Reauthorize the Regional Partnership Grant program that provides funding to states seeking to provide evidence-based services to prevent child abuse and neglect related to substance abuse
Update the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program to allow states the option of continuing to assist older former foster youth up to age 23
Encourage states to use electronic systems when placing children across state lines
Support family members who unexpectedly assume responsibility for a child
Five year extension of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families and Child Welfare Services programs (jointly title IV-B of the Social Security Act) as well as the Adoption and Legal Guardianship Incentive Payments, which are set to expire at the end of the fiscal year.
More to come!
For a summary of the bill, click here
For draft bill text, click here.