June 10, 2016

Bipartisan House, Senate Leaders Announce Proposed Child Welfare Legislation

Proposed Bill Would Keep More Children Safely at Home and Out of Unnecessary Foster Care

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., along with Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, and Ranking Member Sander Levin, D-Mich., released a proposal to keep more children safely at home and out of unnecessary 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.

"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,” 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.”

“We strongly support Senator Wyden’s Family First Prevention Services Act.  Evidence-based practices such as home visiting, along with mental health and substance abuse treatment, strengthen and support families, reducing child abuse and the possibility of children being removed from their homes,” said Tonia Hunt, Executive Director of Children First for Oregon. “The Family First Prevention Services Act is an important step towards keeping children safe and families together while increasing standards for placements in non-family foster care settings.  Considering recent challenges in Oregon’s child welfare system, this federal legislation is needed now more than ever.” 

The Family First Prevention Services Act strengthens families and reduces unnecessary 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.

For a summary of the bill, click here.

For draft bill text, click here