Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016

The bipartisan, Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016 passed the House on June 21 and awaits a vote in the Senate. This bill would address a critical flaw in our current child welfare financing system, as federal funding is only available for out-of-home placements and foster care when a child is taken from a home, but not for community services that could allow children to remain with their families.

The new bill, when enacted, will help:
• Reduce unnecessary foster care placements by allowing states to use federal dollars to pay for up to a year of family services to prevent children from needing to enter foster care.
• Confirm more foster children are placed with families by ending federal reimbursement when states unsuitably place children in non-family settings, such as group homes.
• Strengthen family relationships by allowing states to receive an incomplete match for evidence-based Kinship Navigator programs to allow children to remain with family members.
• Reduce the amount of time foster children wait to be adopted or placed with foster parents by including reforms in the bipartisan House-passed, which encourage states to use electronic systems when placing children across state lines.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the initial cost of the prevention services to strengthen families would be offset by the reduction in unsuitable group home placements and the delay in providing additional funding to states for adoption assistance to allow the GAO review to be completed.

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