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Ways and Means Approves Bill to Improve Child Welfare Programs

June 15, 2016

Today, Members of the Ways and Means Committee unanimously approved the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016 (H.R. 5456) introduced by Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Vern Buchanan (R-FL). The bipartisan, bicameral legislation strengthens families to keep more children safely at home and out of foster care 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foster children wait to be adopted or placed with relatives across state lines by encouraging states to replace their outdated child placement systems with a more efficient electronic system.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.

As Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said at the start of today’s markup:

“Under current law, most federal funding for child welfare is directed toward reimbursing states after they place children into foster care. This is the least desirable outcome. Chairman Buchanan’s bipartisan legislation turns this around by putting resources toward preventative services to keep children safely with their parents or relatives. Most importantly, this bill will help ensure that more children grow up in a safe home, surrounded by a stable family.”

In support of his proposal, Subcommittee Chairman Buchanan said:

“The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016 will address issues associated with the opioid and heroin crisis by supporting early, evidence-based, cost-effective interventions to keep children safely at home. This will increase the likelihood of positive short and long-term outcomes for both children and parents. … Strong families make for strong communities.”

CLICK HERE to read what national and state organizations are saying about the bipartisan solutions in the Family First Prevention Services Act.

CLICK HERE to read more about the legislation.