On Tuesday Capitol Hill was also the setting for a briefing on the reintroduction of the Family-based Foster Care Services Act of 2015. The legislation, S 429 and HR 835, would clarify in Medicaid policy the definition of therapeutic foster care that is consistent and could be applied through all the states.
TFC is an evidence-based clinical intervention delivered through intensive in-home services by licensed mental health professionals and specially trained foster parents. It is now used in an expanding number of settings including kinship and relative care. The intervention is used in the most serious mental and emotional disturbances including post-traumatic stress disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and major clinical depression.
The briefing sponsored by the Foster Family-based Treatment Association focused on the re-introduction of the legislation. S 429 is sponsored by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WS), Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). The House version HR 835 is , sponsored by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK), Congresswoman Karen Bass and Congressman George Butterfield (D-NC).
The presentations included examples of how TFC is being used in different family settings: Steve Buck from Oklahoma discussed his experiences as a foster and adoptive father of TFC youth, Dr. Sue Miklos, Executive Director of The Bair Foundation discussed TFC application in kinship care settings, Phyllis Stephenson, CEO from Rapid Resource for Families discussed the use of TFC as a step-down level of care and its use with non-custody youth, and Dr. Gerald Nebeker, President of Rise Services discussed TFC and its potential impact in reducing the over reliance on the use psychotropic medications. Perhaps the most moving and effective presentations resulted when two teen brothers from Washington DC, Marcus and Marquise discussed their experiences and the positive effect of TFC in their kinship placement.
It is estimated that approximately 40,000 foster children across the country are receiving services under the TFC model. The current challenge within the law is that there is not a standard definition under Medicaid and as a result some interpretations and some applications across the 50 states can be different. The lack of a clear understanding of Medicaid policy can and has discouraged some state policy makers from implementing the important practice.