Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act Passes Congress

Late last week, the Senate passed the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (H.R. 2883). As reported, over recent weeks identical bi-partisan bills have been traveling through both sides of Congress as a result of bicameral efforts to reauthorize IV-B of the Social Security Act and take steps towards comprehensive child welfare financing reform. The Senate Finance Committee passed S. 1542 early last week, followed by the full House passage. Once H.R. 2883 was brought before the Senate, the measure passed by unanimous consent. In addition to reauthorizing IV-B through 2016, the bill incorporates a handful of reforms into IV-B and IV-E, covering a variety of topics including:

  • state Child Welfare Services (CWS, Part 1 of IV-B) plans for identifying and responding to the health and mental health care needs, including emotional trauma and psychotropic medications, of children in care;  and for addressing the developmental needs of young children in care
  • state reporting of sources for child deaths due to maltreatment; and of monthly caseworker visits and associated funding goals and penalties
  • state Promoting Safe and Stable Family (PSSF, Part 2 of IV-B) plans for identifying and serving populations at greatest risk of maltreatment
  • Mentoring Children of Prisoners Program is ended, but mentoring is added as way to enhance child development under PSSF’s definition of “family support services;” PSSF’s “time-limited family reunification” definition is also amended to include peer-to-peer mentoring, support groups, and visitation services
  • state reporting of PSSF spending and Child Welfare Services (CWS) planned spending and public posting of these reports
  • GAO report on federal funding sources for IV-B and the needs of families served and access to services
  • emphasis of caseworker decision-making and needed resources within the monthly caseworker grants
  • updated regional substance abuse grants giving equal weight to programs, regardless of the substance abuse being addressed, as well as some modifications around grant duration and funding
  • HHS report on the regional substance abuse grants
  • updated court improvement program, adding concurrent planning and family engagement  provisions, making modifications on the grant application, funding allocations, and making tribes eligible for funds
  • data and reporting standardization
  • in IV-E, amended education stability provisions, monitoring of identity theft for older youth in care, required documentation of adoption assistance delink savings, and reinstatement of waiver authority

For a more detailed description of these reforms, see CWLA’s Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act summary. Various provisions of the bill can be found in an early House bill to reauthorize IV-B, as well as bills from this Congress (H.R. 1194, S. 1013,) and the last (H.R. 6156) to reinstate waiver authority. Moving forward, the legislators leading the effort to pass this bill point to it as interim step in the process of reforming the way the federal government funds the child welfare system. The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act, likely the most significant child welfare legislation passed during the 112th Congress, now awaits the President’s signature.

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One response to “Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act Passes Congress

  1. Pingback: Completion of Adoption Incentives Reauthorization Hoped for Spring | The Children's Monitor

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