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

November 5, 2019
Press Release
WASHINGTON – Congressmember Karen Bass (D-Calif.) joined Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Ways and Means Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Danny K. Davis, and Ranking Member Jackie Walorski today in introducing the Family First Transition Act 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 bill drew on the Family First Transition and Support Act of 2019, which was introduced by the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth in May.

“Far too often, Congress passes landmark legislation without supplemental funding to ensure effective implementation,” said Congressmember Bass. “Without this piece of legislation that we introduced today, the benefits expected from the bipartisan Family First Prevention Services Act will either not be fully realized or not realized in a timely way. I urge my colleagues to act with the same alacrity we did to get Family First passed so that we as a body can ensure that we are doing our best for those in our child welfare system.”

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.

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

  • Providing assurance 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.