December 06,2023

Wyden, Crapo, LaHood, Davis Call on HHS to Guarantee Timely and Transparent Approval for Evidence-Based Services that Help Prevent Foster Care Placements

Committee leaders say Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse could operate more efficiently, as Congress intended

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Ranking Member Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Worker and Family Support Chairman Darin LaHood, R-Ill., and Ranking Member Danny Davis, D-Ill., today called on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure the Title IV-E Prevent Services Clearinghouse approves evidence-based programs and services in a more transparent, timely and efficient manner, consistent with the intent of Congress when it passed the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA).

Title IV-E reimbursement for evidence-based interventions and programs – such as mental health and substance use disorder treatment, parenting skills and kinship navigator services – are essential to meeting a principal goal of FFPSA, which is to prevent foster care placements. In their letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, the members express their concern that states currently have a difficult time offering services that meet the needs of the children and families they serve because of the lack of Clearinghouse-approved interventions.

“Congress did not intend for the Clearinghouse to be an academic review process. Instead, Congress envisioned an entity that proactively reviewed the latest research and provided a wide variety of evidence-based intervention options that ensure states can invest in programs that are proven to support children and families, and best fit local needs. Despite this, a relatively small number of interventions have been reviewed, an even smaller number have been given a “supported” or “well-supported” designation, and outside stakeholders have reported that the process has been slow and opaque,” the members wrote. “Although the final decision on which interventions qualify for federal funding should be made by the Clearinghouse, we encourage [the Administration for Children and Families] to consider how the federal review process could be expedited for interventions that have received rigorous review by non-Federal clearinghouses. We also urge the Clearinghouse to proactively review interventions, similar to the HHS Home Visiting Evidence of Effectiveness (‘HomVEE’) clearinghouse.”

The members also urged better communication and collaboration between the Clearinghouse and developers and researchers, citing concern that the Clearinghouse often rejects interventions without proper consultation with these experts. 

“We have received feedback that the Clearinghouse frequently makes decisions without giving study authors and developers the opportunity to gather relevant information in the decision-making process. In some cases, interventions have been rejected by the Clearinghouse because of the way the results were calculated, not because the results themselves failed to provide evidence of effectiveness,” the members wrote.

The text of the letter is here.