On Wednesday, May 17, Mathematica, a policy research think tank, hosted a National Foster Care Month briefing, Welfare Through Prevention: An Evidence-Based Perspective. The presentation including remarks by Kimberly Boller, Mathematica, Matthew Stagner, Mathematica, Becky Shipp, (Senator Orrin Hatch, R-UT), and Laura Berntsen, (Senator Ron Wyden, D-OR).

Much of the discussion focused on the draft legislation the Families First Act with both Ms. Shipp and Ms. Berntsen emphasizing how the proposed draft would open up services through Title IV-E funding for mental health and substance abuse services. As has been the case so often over the past several months, the focus once again was on the increase use of heroin and opioids and its impact and increasing the number of children in foster care.

Panelists were asked what actions they would like to see take place over the next five years. Laura Berntsen responded by talking about finance reform but mainly around the prevention and intervention services as included in the original Wyden legislation. Becky Shipp discussed not funding group homes and reducing the reliance on services or placements that don’t work and by funding more desirable services and goals such as front end services.