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July 31, 2017

House passes series of bills to reform child welfare systems

The House passed a series of bills June 20 that highlight important provisions that were part of the Family First Prevention Services Act, bipartisan legislation that was unanimously passed by the House during the 114th Congress but failed to garner final approval.

The five bills, which are cost-neutral and bipartisan, include language identical or similar to portions of the Family First legislation, including provisions to reduce wait times for foster care placements, reauthorize grants to aid families affected by parental substance abuse, address inappropriate barriers to licensing relatives as foster parents, and improve services to older youth in foster care.

The bills, passed by voice vote, are:

●H.R. 2742, the Modernizing the Interstate Placement of Children in Foster Care Act;

●H.R. 2857, the Supporting Families in Substance Abuse Treatment Act;

●H.R. 2834, the Partnership Grants to Strengthen Families Affected by Parental Substance Abuse Act;

●H.R. 2847, the Improving Services for Older Youth in Foster Care Act; and

●H.R. 2866, the Reducing Barriers for Relative Foster Parents Act.

The ABA has consistently advocated for policies that address key services and support for families involved in the child welfare system and strongly supported the Family First legislation, which would have taken crucial steps toward reforming the federal child welfare financing structure to support keeping children safely with their families.

The Family First legislation was expected to be enacted last Congress as part of a major medical research and mental health bill entitled the 21st Century Cures Act. The Family First provisions were dropped from the Cures bill after a group of senators blocked consideration of the legislation in response to concerns from group homes in North Carolina about the child welfare provisions.

During consideration of the Family First legislation, ABA President Linda A. Klein said the provisions “would improve the lives of many children” by ending fiscal incentives to place children in foster care rather than providing services that could preserve families.


Back to the July 2017 Washington Letter