Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) is still seeking input on his draft legislation. On Monday, May 5, Senator Wyden, the Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee released a “discussion draft” of legislation that would invest new money into child welfare services through Title IV-E of the Social Security Act. The discussion draft would build on the Administration’s FY 2016 budget request that seeks to expand the use of the foster care “candidacy” category as a methodology to provide home and community based services for children who have not yet been placed into foster care. The proposal and legislation would also use this tool to provide services to those children and families that have been reunified. Senator Wyden is circulating the draft to solicit input before it is introduced as legislation.
As the Senator describes it, the “Wyden proposal would expand the federal foster care entitlement to do more than just pay a daily rate to keep children housed in foster care homes. Instead, States and Tribes would be able to use foster care funds to provide families in crisis with the supports, services, and evidence-based interventions needed to keep their children safely at home and out of foster care.” “This proposal is meant to address the lopsided structure of federal child welfare financing in which the vast majority of dollars are reserved for payments only when children are removed from their home,” Wyden said.
The discussion draft is a not final and is being circulated to interest groups, members of Congress, federal officials and others for review and comment. The responses will be reviewed and, if appropriate, be incorporated into legislation that Wyden plans to introduce in the coming months. Please email comments on the proposal to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 12, 2015.
Key input is being sought on:
How to define the expanded services that would now be allowed under Title IV-E foster care,
- How to evaluate these services
- How to measure and categorize evidence based, evidence informed, etc.
- How to establish accountability on states that draw the expanded funding for services to prevent foster care placement and services to support children once they are placed or reunited with a family.
In addition to the expansion of Title IV-E funding the bill would increasing mandatory funding under the Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) (Title IV-B part 2) program, from the current $345 million in mandatory funding to $1 billion (meaning it does not require an annual appropriations). It would also lift the requirement that states spend at least 20 percent on each of the four services under PSSF and it would take off the current restrictions that limits family reunification spending to no more than 15 months from the date a child enters foster care.
The bill would also restore the Family Connections Grants which expired in FY 2014.
The discussion draft is a not final and is being circulated to interest groups, members of Congress, federal officials and others for review and comment. The responses will be reviewed and, if appropriate, be incorporated into legislation that Wyden plans to introduce in the coming months.
Again, you can email comments on the proposal to email@example.com by June 12, 2015.
A one-page summary of the legislative concept can be found here