Child Welfare

Senators Brown, Stabenow and Bennett and Representative Bass introduce legislation to help states transition to Family First

May 1, 2019 | National

In less than six months, child welfare agencies across the country will have the opportunity to implement the most sweeping reforms made to the child welfare system in almost four decades. After years of advocacy pushing the federal government to provide more investments in services that can help children remain safely with their families and out of foster care, last year the Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First) was signed into law and provides for the first time major federal funding for critical prevention services.

The new federal funding for these prevention services becomes available October 1, 2019, and while excitement for these reforms continues to grow around the country, child welfare agencies need additional help to prepare and update their systems to be ready to successfully implement the major new reforms.

To help all states and tribes implement Family First, Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Michael Bennett (D-CO) and Representative Karen Bass (D-CA) introduced today the Family First Transition and Support Act, which provides flexible funding to assist with the transition to the new law. Its funding opportunities are aimed at helping child welfare agencies beef-up their existing infrastructures to support the goals of Family First, including increasing prevention services for families, supporting relatives raising children, and enhancing the recruitment and retention of quality foster parents.

The bill also eliminates a 23-year-old income eligibility requirement for federal funding for children in foster care, specifically for children in foster family care settings, to further incentivize child welfare agencies to place more children with families instead of settings like group care or institutions. This change in eligibility will free up state dollars that can then be used towards other improvements related to Family First implementation.

The provisions in the bill provide all states and tribes with the extra boost they need to make the historic improvements in Family First a reality for children and families – and this help is needed now! Learn more about the bill and encourage your Senators to support and co-sponsor this important legislation.