Last week, the Family First Prevention Services Act (H.R. 5456) advanced from the House Ways and Means Committee unanimously and its Senate companion bill (S. 3065) was introduced days later. The bipartisan and bicameral proposal would reform federal child welfare funding mechanisms to support prevention efforts and to reduce congregate placements for children in care.
The legislation would mark a significant moment for children in foster care and those at risk of entering foster care by ensuring that federal dollars are spent towards prevention services, keeping children in family-like placements when possible and appropriate, and strengthening relative placements, among other changes. These changes would continue the promising progress that Nebraska’s child welfare system has seen in recent years, namely the implementation of its Alternative Response pilot project, its marked increase in kinship and relative placements, and overall reduction of congregate placements.
While there is much work to be done for Nebraska’s most vulnerable children, we applaud the effort of our leaders in Congress. Major provisions of the bill include:
- Opening two major sources of federal funding, Title IV-E and Title IV-B, to be invested in preventing entry to our expensive foster care system and enhancing supports for relative foster homes and aftercare.
- Strengthened requirements for group homes to ensure that children in congregate placements are receiving behavioral and physical health services that adequately meet their needs.
- Increases supports for older youth transitioning from foster care to adulthood.
Join us in voicing your support for strengthening children and families in Nebraska by urging your member of Congress to support the Family First Act here.