Update (11/30/16): The Families First provisions have been unexpectedly dropped from the bill. SIRC’s original story follows below.
Legislation that would fund evidence-based preventive mental health, substance abuse, or in-home parenting programs for children at risk of entering the child welfare system appears likely to be enacted over the next two weeks, according to the Child Welfare League of America.
An updated version of the Families First Act, which includes the evidence-based provisions, is slated to be attached to a larger bill covering the National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration.
The legislation is currently awaiting approval on Tuesday by the House Rules Committee before passage in the full House later this week. The Senate is expected to pass the bill soon afterward, probably by December 9, before sending it to President Obama to be signed into law.
If enacted as expected, the legislation would authorize states to use federal child welfare entitlement (Title IV-E) funds to cover the cost of up to 12 months of the designated preventive services. States would cover half of the costs starting October 1, 2019. The match reverts to existing rates starting in 2025. (See Title XIX, p. 840 for the full bill text.)
The legislation establishes three evidence tiers for eligible services — promising, supported, and well-supported practices.
The Department of Health and Human Services is directed to issue a pre-approved list of services that satisfy the bill’s requirements by October 1, 2018 and to update the list as often as it deems necessary. The legislation also authorizes the creation of a clearinghouse for evaluating research on these services.
Starting October 1, 2019, at least half of the federal share of funding for such services would need to meet the highest (well-supported) evidence standard.
- Foster Care Innovation Initiative Charts a Different Path to Evidence (December 6, 2014)
- Building Performance Systems in Child Welfare (February 8, 2016)
- Pay for Success in Child Welfare: A Case Study (February 12, 2015)