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VFA Policy Intern Blog Post: Family First Prevention Act of 2018 and Family First Prevention Transition and Support Act

Recently, the child welfare system had a huge and necessary win. On February 9, 2018, The Family First Prevention Services Act was signed into law, as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. This act reforms the child welfare system by providing services to families and children who are at risk of entering the foster care system. This act aims to keep children with their families, as long as they are in safe conditions, to prioritize keeping children with their family and out of foster care. This act allows these at risk families to access federal funds under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, making reimbursements for mental health services, substance use prevention and treatment services, and in-home parenting skill training. These services are available for a maximum of 12 months to those who meet the qualifications. These qualifications include children who are at immediate risk of entering the foster care system and their parents/kinship caregivers, as well as foster youth who are pregnant or parenting a child of their own and their parents/kinship caregivers.  This act also aims to help youth who are already in foster care, by incentivizing states to reduce and limit the use of congregate care as placement. This act was formulated with evidence-based research and standards, many coming from the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse For Child Welfare. Their standards outline the guidelines that practices must to meet in order to be funded by the FFPSA. Now, more states have begun implementing the Clearinghouse standards. The FFPSA also establishes licensing standards for family foster homes, improves the interstate processing system, provides $5 million in grants to states to help implement this process, and $8 million for grants to support recruiting and maintaining access to high quality foster families. Voice For Adoption and Child Welfare League of America were two key advocacy organizations that worked towards the passage of FFPSA. Voice for Adoption supports FFPSA because we view the prevention services as post-adoption services that will help keep our children in adoptive homes from having to re-enter the system as the signs of trauma from their past need to be dealt with. 

 

Now that this act has been passed, we head into the transitional phase of implementation. The Family First Prevention Transition and Support Act was introduced on May 14, 2019. This act would help strengthen the implementation and execution of the already approved Family First Prevention Services Act. FFPTSA would provide resources and flexibility in funding for state, territory, and tribal welfare systems to assist families who are struggling and at risk of entering the foster care system. One of the most significant parts of this act is the elimination of the Title IV-E foster care eligibility standards for care by de-linking the 1996 Aid to Families with Dependent Children law. As of now, federal funding only covers foster care placements if the home of removal was eligible under the AFDC law. The FFTSA hopes to expand funding by $200 million under Title IV-B Part 2, Promoting Safe and Stable Families. This funding will be eligible to both families and kin caregivers, and can be used for child care, transportation, legal services, emergency assistance, and other services. 

 

The need for child welfare reform continues to grow, but the percentage of the children’s budget appropriation continues to shrink. Cuts in child and family programs still continue. Although the Family First Prevention Act of 2018 has passed, the fight for the Family First Prevention Transition and Support Act must continue in order to properly and effectively implement these policies and services. This act was introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown and Senator Debbie Stabenow but is still in need of support and sponsors from other members of congress.

 

By Reagan Henry 

9/17/19

 

“Comparison of the CEBC Scientific Rating Criteria with the FFPSA Evidence.” https://www.cebc4cw.org/files/CEBC_FFPSA_comparison.pdf.

“Family First Transition and Support Act of 2019: Senators Sherrod Brown & Debbie Stabenow.” Children's Defense , www.childrensdefense.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Family-First-Transit....

“Members of Congress Introduce Bipartisan Legislation To Assist With Transition In Child Welfare Funding.” Congresswoman Karen Bass, 14 May 2019, bass.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/members-congress-introduce-bipartisan-legislation-assist-transition.

Sciamanna, John. “Family First Transition and Support Act.” CWLA, CWLA, www.cwla.org/family-first-transition-and-support-act/.

“Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse, 2018 - 2023.” ACF, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation , 26 Apr. 2019, www.acf.hhs.gov/opre/research/project/title-iv-e-prevention-services-cle....

 

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