Only today thanks to a piece in the most recent Time Magazine, I discovered that one of the reforms I often advocate here became law in October 2018. The bipartisan legislation allows states to use federal funding to help struggling parents before resorting to putting children in foster care. Congress recognized that too many children are unnecessarily separated from parents who could provide safe and loving care if given access to needed mental health services, substance abuse treatment or improved parenting skills.
“If we can get more children being raised in a family-like setting, either with their parents or extended family, it bodes well for what happens in this country in the long run.”
~ William C Bell, Casey Family Programs
Nearly half a million children are currently in foster care. After years of decline in numbers of children in foster care, the number has risen steadily since 2012, with anecdotal evidence and expert opinion linking this increase to the parallel rise in opioid addiction and overdoses. Family First provides struggling and overburdened child welfare agencies with the tools needed to help children and families in crisis, including families struggling with the opioid epidemic.
Young people involved in the child welfare system do best in families, in a safe and stable environment that supports their long-term well-being, according to research. The passage of Family First took a large step toward this vision by restructuring how the federal government spends money on child welfare to ensure that more children in foster care are placed with families. The law also provides more support for critical services, such as mental health and substance abuse treatment, in-home training and family therapy that can help prevent the need for foster care in the first place.
The law gives states and tribes the ability to target their existing federal resources into an array of prevention and early intervention services to keep children safe, strengthen families and reduce the need for foster care whenever it is safe to do so. It also provides federal funds for evidence-based Kinship Navigator programs that link relative caregivers to a broad range of services and supports to help children remain safely with them, and requiring states to document how their foster care licensing standards accommodate relative caregivers.
There will no longer be a time limit on reunification services for a child in foster care preparing to return home, and a child returning home will now have access to 15-months of family reunification services beginning on the date the child returns home. It’s a start.
2 thoughts on “Historic Reforms Keeping Children With Family”
This is great! Every child deserves a family. No child should be separated from their family due to financial difficulties.
Thank you. Yes, discovering this today made my heart very happy. Progress !!
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