This week Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced legislation creating a grant program to encourage innovation and interagency collaboration and provide incentives for the improvement of child well-being. The Promoting Accountability and Excellence in Child Welfare Act of 2011, as the bill is known, would devote $160 million over the next decade for the grant program, while also establishing a rigorous set of implementation standards to ensure accountability. In addition, the bill would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue a report to Congress on their recommendations for how eligibility for Title IV-E can be most effectively de-linked from the outdated Aid to Families with Dependent Children income standards.
In the introduction, Wyden pointed out that the federal government currently spends 10 times as much on foster care as it does preventative services, suggesting his legislation might provide new and flexible resources for states and localities to increase their early intervention, reunification and adoption, and support service activities. He also pointed to the federal government’s history of scaling up innovative reforms originally implemented at the state level, citing the case of subsidized guardianship. His bill would provide financial assistance so that similar innovations can be developed that will improve the lives of children in the child welfare system.
The bill, S. 1509, has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, of which Wyden is a member. CWLA has indicated its support of the bill.