December 08,2016

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Sam Offerdahl or Taylor Harvey (202) 224-4515

Wyden Asks Congress to Pass Historic Bipartisan, Bicameral Child Welfare Reform Bill

Wyden Votes Against 21st Century Cures Act After Republican Leaders Ripped the Provision out of Final Package

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today voted against the 21st Century Cures Act because Republican leaders stripped bipartisan, bicameral child welfare legislation out of the final bill.

Wyden then asked for unanimous consent that the Senate pass the Family First Prevention Services Act, which has the support of almost 500 child welfare organizations across the country, including the Children’s Defense Fund, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Catholic Bishops.

The Family First Prevention Services Act would help combat the opioid addiction crisis, keep more children safely in their homes and reduce overreliance on foster care group homes. Wyden and Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, along with Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., and House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin, D-Mich., introduced the Family First Prevention Services Act in June. The bill passed the House of Representatives unanimously on June 21.

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., objected to Wyden’s request to pass the bill on the Senate floor.

“Today the Senate squandered an opportunity to pass legislation that would have offered new hope for hundreds of thousands of America’s most vulnerable children and families. For close to three years, senators and Congress members have worked on bipartisan efforts to produce the Family First Prevention Services Act, so more kids can stay safely at home with their families and relatives. Nearly 500 health and public interest groups support this legislation. The House passed the Family First Prevention Services Act unanimously in June.

The Family First Prevention Services Act would implement the most significant improvements to the child welfare system in decades and provide real funding to fight the opioid and other drug epidemics. I am infuriated and heartbroken that Republican leaders struck this bipartisan provision to help the most vulnerable among us from the 21st Century Cures Act that passed today.”

The bill’s progress stalled last week after a small group of Republican senators voiced concern and Republican leaders struck the bill out of the final version of the 21st Century Cures Act before it was sent to the House floor for a vote.

On Monday, a group of former foster youth from across the country called on Congress to pass the bill at a press conference on Capitol Hill. The group was organized by FosterClub, the Children’s Defense Fund, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Generations United, Voice for Adoption and the National Alliance of Children’s Trust & Prevention Funds.