Bipartisan House, Senate Leaders Announce Proposed Child Welfare Legislation

June 10, 2016 — Press Releases   

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) joined Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) in releasing a proposal to keep more children safely at home and out of foster care. In the coming days, the Family First Prevention Services Act will be introduced in the House by Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and in the Senate by Hatch and Wyden. The legislation will redirect federal funding to support evidence-based, upfront prevention services.

“At a time when an opioid epidemic is tearing families across the country apart, Congress is fighting to keep families together ” said Chairman Brady. “The Family First Prevention Services Act does exactly what the title suggests — it puts families first. The bill focuses on addressing problems in the home by delivering parents much-needed support, rather than sending a child straight into foster care. Most of all, it helps ensure our children grow up in strong communities and stable homes. I am grateful for Chairman Buchanan’s leadership on this important legislation.”

“This draft proposal is focused on a vitally important goal – protecting vulnerable children from abuse and neglect by expanding critical prevention services that would keep kids safe and at home. I look forward to receiving any further inputs as we work to protect children and ensure that families stay together by providing substance abuse treatment for parents, supporting improved parenting skills, and expanding access to mental health care,” said Ranking Member Levin.

“By focusing on the root of the problem and directing resources to preventive services, the Family First Prevention Services Act provides bipartisan solutions for families and children affected by the opioid addiction crisis,” Chairman Hatch said. “The bill also aims to reduce the reliance on group homes for children by providing services that will keep families together. Strong bipartisan, bicameral leadership makes bills like this possible, and I am pleased we were able to build off the long history of foster care work in both committees to produce this important piece of legislation.”

“This bill has the potential to improve the lives of millions of children, parents and kin caregivers. While key provisions were not included that I will continue to push for, 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.”

The Family First Prevention Services Act strengthens families and reduces inappropriate foster care placements by:

  • Giving states flexibility to use federal foster care dollars to provide upfront, evidence-based prevention services — such as parent training and individual and family therapy — to prevent inappropriate foster care placements and improve outcomes for children and parents.
  • Ensuring more foster children are placed with families by ending federal reimbursement when states inappropriately place children in non-family settings.
  • Keeping children safe by reauthorizing the Regional Partnership Grant program that provides funding to state and local evidence-based services aimed at preventing child abuse and child neglect due to parental substance abuse.
  • Reducing the amount of time foster children wait to be adopted or placed with relatives across state lines by encouraging states to replace their outdated child placement systems with a more efficient electronic system.
  • Supporting family members who unexpectedly assume responsibility for a child by providing important caregiver resources and eliminating unnecessary paperwork.

For a summary of the bill, click here.
For draft bill text, click here.

SUBCOMMITTEE: Human Resources