June 16,2016

Finance Senators Introduce Family First Prevention Services Act

Senators Applaud House Action on Bipartisan, Bicameral Solution for Evidence-Based Foster Care Prevention Services

WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Committee members Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) today introduced the Family First Prevention Services Act, a bill to combat the opioid addiction crisis, keep more children safely in their homes and reduce overreliance on group foster care homes.  The bill is the Senate companion to legislation reported by the House Ways and Means Committee on June 15, 2016.

“I’m proud to introduce the Senate version of this critical piece of bipartisan, bicameral legislation that will make a real difference for vulnerable children and families suffering from opioid addition across the country,” Hatch said. “I applaud the work of my colleagues in the House for moving the bill forward and will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to further advance this initiative and have it enacted into law.”

“The Family First Prevention Services Act offers parents the help they need to prevent the unnecessary trauma that occurs when children are ripped from their homes and it raises the bar for foster care providers to keep children who are in the system safe,” Wyden said. “I commend my House colleagues for passing the bill out of committee and I am committed to getting it across the finish line.”

“This bill moves the ball in the right direction for years to come,” Grassley said “The focus on prevention, kinship care, and supporting those with substance abuse challenges will help keep families together when possible.  The bill provides states the flexibility to use locally developed solutions in addition to encouraging the use of programs that have worked elsewhere.  This bill helps pave the way to help parents who suffer from mental or substance abuse and helps reduce the trauma borne by young people who are taken out of the home because of those challenges.   Foster youth have said they want help for their parents, and this bill delivers.”

“We have a responsibility to every single kid in Colorado and throughout the country to help ensure they grow up in a supportive and loving environment,” Bennet said. “While there is more to do, this bill takes a step forward to promote proven prevention services to keep children safe with their families so they don’t enter the foster care system in the first place. It addresses the urgent need to quickly and safely find children already in the system a loving family.”

The bill introduction follows an announcement from bipartisan Senate and House leaders that an agreement had been made on the legislation.  Additional information on the bill can found here.

Text of the bill can be found here.

The Family First Prevention Services Act has garnered strong, bipartisan support from a variety of groups including the Conference of Chief Justices, the Conference of State Court Administrators and the American Psychological Association. For a full list of supporters click here.

The Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over child welfare policy has held a number of hearings to examine the impact of evidence based solutions, reduce the need for foster care and reduce the reliance on group homes.