Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) Program
Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments of 2001
On January 17, 2002, President Bush signed into law the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments of 2001 (P.L. 107-133). The new law extends the Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) program through 2006. The law also creates a new state grant program to provide educational and training vouchers for youth that age out of foster care, as well as a mentoring program for children with incarcerated program.
Promoting Safe and Stable Families
P.L. 107-133 extends the PSSF program through 2006 and creates two separate categories of funding. For FY 2003 - 2006, states will receive $305 million in mandatory (guaranteed) funds. This is the FY 2001 funding level for the program.
From this annual allotment of $305 million in mandatory funds, $6 million will continue to be provided for research, evaluation and technical assistance to identify and build on programs that work. New research and evaluation priorities include reunification and post adoption services models, programs that address parental substance abuse, approaches that target specific needs and/or age groups, and outcomes of adoptions finalized after the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA).
Ten million dollars per year will continue to be provided for the State Court Improvement Program. The law emphasizes the importance of using court improvements to promote the ASFA goals of safety, permanence, and well-being.
One percent of total mandatory funding will continue to be reserved for Indian tribes.
In addition to the annual mandatory funding, Congress may also approve up to $200 million in discretionary funding for the PSSF program. Congress needs to approve these discretionary increases on an annual basis. In FY 2002, Congress approved a $70 million increase for the program, bringing total FY 2002 funding to $375 million.
Of any discretionary funds provided each year, 3.3% are dedicated to research, training and evaluation; 3.3% are made available for state court improvement programs; and 2% are reserved for Indian tribes. The law now allows any unspent state allotments to be redistributed to the remaining states.
The law amends the definitions of eligible activities to include infant safe haven programs under family preservation services and programs to strengthen parental relationships and promote healthy marriages under family support services.
Report to Congress
The law requires a biennial report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to Congress. The first report is due to Congress on April 1, 2003, and every two years thereafter. The report is to include the funding level, status of on-going evaluations, findings to date, and technical assistance provided to states.
Educational and Training Vouchers for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care
P.L. 107-133 adds a new voucher program to the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program for education and training for youth aging out of foster care and youth adopted from foster care at age 16 or older.
The law authorizes $60 million a year for the program, subject to an annual appropriation. No funds were appropriated for the new program for FY 2002.
Youth participating in the program at the age of 21 may continue to participate until they reach the age of 23 as long as they are enrolled in a qualifying program.
The voucher, as much as $5,000 per year, is applied to an institution of Higher Education as defined by the Higher Education Act of 1965. The voucher may be disregarded in determining eligibility for other federally supported education assistance, except that the total assistance may not exceed the total cost of attendance and benefits may not be duplicated.
Funds are awarded to states based on the state's share of the nation's foster care population. States are required to provide a 20% match of federal funds.
Changes to the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program
In addition to the new voucher program, the law makes two improvements to the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program. States now have a third year in which to spend their FY 2000 funds. The law also now provides that program funds not used by a state in a fiscal year can be reallocated to one or more states on the basis of their relative need.
National Grant Program for Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents
P.L. 107-133 creates a new competitive discretionary grant program to support the expansion and operation of mentoring and mentoring services for children with incarcerated parents in federal, state, or local correctional facilities.
The law states that:
The law asserts that parental arrests and confinement can result in stress, trauma, stigmatization, and other problems for these children. Furthermore, it states that mentoring that involves one-on-one relationships that provide young people with caring role models have profound and life-changing potential.
- Between 1991 and 1999, the number of children with a parent incarcerated in a federal or state correctional facility increased by more than 100%.
- Prior to incarceration in state prison, 64% of women and 44% of men lived with their children.
- Nearly 90% of children with incarcerated fathers live with their mothers.
- 79% of children with incarcerated mothers live with their grandparent or relative.
The program was authorized for $67 million in FY 2002 - 2003 and such sums as necessary in the fiscal years through 2006. Of the funds appropriated, 2.5% are set aside for research, evaluation, and technical assistance. Funding, however, is subject to an annual appropriation. In FY 2002, no funds were provided.
If funded, HHS may award grants of up to $5 million to state, local, tribal, tribal consortia, and faith- and community-based organizations that have significant populations of children with incarcerated parents. The grant programs must use networks of public and private community entities to provide mentoring services.
Mentoring is defined as a structured, managed program in which children are matched with screened and trained adult volunteers for one-on-one relationships, meetings, and activities on a regular basis. Services may also include screening of eligible children, training, and outreach to children and other local organizations.
In awarding grants, HHS will take into consideration four factors: the capacity and qualifications of the applicant; the severity of need in the area covered; evidence of consultation; and other factors that HHS deems significant. Grantees will be required to provide a 25% match for each of the first two years of the grant and a 50% match in subsequent years. The non-federal share can be in cash or in-kind as determined by HHS.
Application requirements include a description of the local public and private organizations that are participating; the name, description, and qualifications of the coordinating entity; the number of mentor-child matches; and other information HHS may require to determine recruitment, screening, and oversight in and of the program. Applicants are required to consult with public and private community entities, including religious organizations, Indian tribal organizations, urban tribal organizations, and family members of potential recipients. Coordination is required with other local, state, and federal programs that serve children and youth and consultation is required with appropriate local, state, and federal corrections, workforce development, mental health, and substance abuse agencies.
HHS is required to conduct an evaluation of the programs and submit it to Congress by April 15, 2005.
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