Child Welfare Finance Reform

Aligning federal child welfare funding to improve outcomes for vulnerable children

The Children’s Defense Fund has long been working to better align federal child welfare financing with positive outcomes for vulnerable children and families. Most recently, we have joined with other child and family advocates and providers to develop a consensus vision for child welfare finance reform that will truly help enhance prevention, specialized treatment, permanency and post-permanency services, workforce improvements and increased accountability for child outcomes.   

Pending Legislation – The Family First Prevention Services Act!

The House and Senate have introduced the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016 (H.R. 5456, S. 3065). The bill makes significant changes to the child welfare system by allowing federal dollars to be used on certain prevention services and programs to help keep more children safely with their families and out of foster care. This is a major change from current federal law, which funds foster care and adoption and guardianship assistance for children leaving care. By investing more in prevention services we better align federal child welfare funding with the improved outcomes and goals we want for the children and families that come to the attention of the child welfare system. For children who require foster care, the bill encourages their placement in family foster care homes or, if they have emotional, behavioral or other special needs requiring clinical care, in qualified residential treatment centers. Federal dollars will no longer be available for other group care settings. Provisions throughout the bill also recognize and increase support for grandparents and other relatives who have stepped in to care for children when their parent cannot. The Children’s Defense Fund is supporting the legislation and encourages individuals to contact your Representatives and Senators to support the Family First Prevention Services Act and move it to final passage!

House and Senate Action:

H.R. 5456 was introduced in the House on June 13 by Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resource Chairman Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Ways and Means Ranking Member Sandy Levin (D-MI), and the bill passed out of Committee in a markup on June 15th. On June 21, the House passed the bill by voice vote under suspension of the rules, which moves it to the Senate for further action.

The Senate companion bill, S. 3065, was introduced on June 17 by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Michael Bennet. Please check back for more updates on this historic legislation! 

 For more information on the Family First Prevention Services Act: