A Wednesday vote on a series of child welfare bills was cancelled last week after the Congressional baseball practice shooting. Instead the House Ways and Means Committee discharged the bills with the intent they will be taken up on the House floor. That floor date and vote has been set for Tuesday, June 20.
The five bills were all bipartisan and all taken from last year’s Families First legislation that had been adopted by the House last summer. All five bills are scored by the CBO as not having a cost and are consensus bills that had not raised controversy when that legislation was crafted last year. They are not expected to pass the Senate as standalone bills in part because some would need adjustments that would require costs if they are not part of a bigger bill. The five bills include:
HR 2742: Modernizing the Interstate Placement of Children in Foster Care Act, sponsored by Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN) and Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL), (companion is S, 1257, Senator Todd Young (R-IN). It was passed as part of the Family Services Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) in section 122. Sometimes described as the NEICE bill it sets aside $5 million in Child Welfare Services funding to expand the use of web-based technology in the placement of children across state lines. The initiative has been tested and demonstrated to speed up of such placements.
HR 2857: Supporting Families in Substance Abuse Treatment Act, sponsored by Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) was part of the FFPSA in section 112. It extends foster care maintenance payments for a child in foster care while that child resides with his or her parent while in an approved family-based residential treatment program. This bill was adjusted to cap costs since it is not part of the bigger Families First bill that opened services funding.
HR 2834: Partnership Grants to Strengthen Families Affected by Parental Substance Abuse Act, sponsored by Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL) and Kristi Noem (R-SD), passed as part of FFPSA in section 123. It makes some small changes to the regional partnership grants which expire this year. It would allow for smaller competitive grants to spread their reach and require that state substance abuse agencies be a required partnership for the grants. It does not however extend the grants by five years.
HR 2866: Reducing Barriers for Relative Foster Parents Act, sponsored by Congressman Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) and Terri Sewell (D-AL), passed as part of FFPSA in section 131. It directs HHS to identify model standards in the licensing of relative foster care and requires states to report on their standards and any waiver of those standards. This has been moved to the IV-B plan since that would have less of an enforcement effect and a lower cost.
HR 2847: Improving Services for Older Youth in Foster Care Act, sponsored by Congressman John Faso (R-NY), and Congressperson Karen Bass (D-CA), it passed as part of FFPSA in section 303.The bills will go to the Senate where they are not likely (and in some cases, should not) pass individually but as part of a larger package of legislation. That legislation could be a revised Families First Act or a reauthorization of the two Title IV-B programs, Child Welfare Services and Promoting Safe and Stable Families. The intent is to send a positive signal on last year’s bill and to have a bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives.
CWLA has endorsed each of the five bills but will monitor any final adjustments if they should move forward before giving final support.
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