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Bipartisan Bill to Support Transformation of Child Welfare Systems Introduced in House and Senate

Washington Ways and Means Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Danny K. Davis, and Ranking Member Jackie Walorskitoday introduced the Family First Transition Act (HR4980) to help states transform their child welfare systems and keep more children safely at home, instead of placing them in foster care. This legislation will provide states with the tools to successfully implement the Family First Prevention Services Act which became law last year.

“The new Family First Prevention Services Act has the potential to transform lives by reaching out to address the reasons families are struggling and strengthen them, rather than separating them. The Family First Transition Act will make sure states, including my home state of Illinois, are fully able to do this hard but important work” said Ways and Means Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Danny K. Davis. “I am pleased to continue working with my bipartisan, bicameral partners and our leadership to advance this bill and make Family First a success for families in my congressional district.”

“As we work to keep children safe and families together, it makes sense to provide states with the support they need to implement the Family First Prevention Services Act,” said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA). “Strengthening state-level child welfare programs will reduce the need for foster care and improve outcomes for kids and their parents. I’m grateful to Chairman Davis for his leadership on this matter, and I’m pleased that the Family First Transition Act received such strong bipartisan support from Ways and Means Committee members.”

“The bipartisan Family First law will transform the child welfare system into one that prioritizes the needs of children and families so fewer kids need to enter foster care,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “The next step is the Family First Transition Act, which will give states the time and resources they need to implement evidence-based solutions that help at-risk children and keep families together. I’m grateful that Chairman Davis and I have further strengthened our partnership with visits to each other’s communities, and I look forward to continuing our work together to help families thrive.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), have also introduced The Family First Transition Act in the Senate.

“We’ve seen incredible momentum in states across the country as they prepare to implement last year’s Family First law. Unfortunately, some want to preserve the status quo. So we’re introducing the Family First Transition Act to give states like Iowa the help they need to transform their systems, which is more effective and less expensive than delaying these changes. This will directly help kids at risk of abuse and neglect, and I’ll work closely with my colleagues to find the resources needed to move this forward,” Grassley said.

“Family First ushered in a new era for our nation’s child welfare system aimed at keeping children with their families whenever safely possible,” Wyden said. “Our new legislation gives states the resources they need to make sure that goal becomes a reality. Now let’s get the job done for these children and families.”

The Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First), signed into law last February, will help keep more children safely with their families and out of foster care. Family First supports states in providing evidence-based services to prevent children from entering foster care, encourages states to place children with foster families instead of in group homes and reduces bureaucracy for—and provides help to—relatives so more children can live with extended family if they must be removed from their homes. Grassley and Wyden were original sponsors of the Senate bill in June of 2016.

The Family First Transition Act will build on the previous law by:

·                     Providing insurance to states with child welfare demonstration projects that ended on October 1, 2019, guaranteeing they will not face a large financial shortfall as they transition to the new law;

·                     Providing one-time funding to all states to help implement Family First; and

·                     Phasing in the Family First requirement that 50 percent of spending on foster care prevention be on programs meeting the highest level of evidence (“well supported”), allowing states to receive reimbursement for a broader range of evidence-based services in early years while the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services works to expand its list of qualifying programs.

 

Full text of the bill can be found HERE.

A summary of the bill can be found HERE.

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