New bipartisan child welfare legislation known as the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act was introduced Monday. The bills reauthorize Title IV-B of the Social Security Act, including the Promoting Safe and Stable Families and Child Welfare Services programs, while also reinstating the authority of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to authorize states to implement innovative demonstration programs through Title IV-E waivers. The House version of the bill was introduced by the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources, Geoff Davis (R-KY) and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX). In the Senate, the bill was introduced by the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Finance Committee, Max Baucus (D-MT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
The House and Senate had previously drafted competing bills to reinstate IV-E waiver authority. In fact, the House actually passed their version back in May. This most recent legislation aims to bridge the differences between the two chambers’ approaches . It cedes to the House on some points including the duration of the demonstration projects the bill authorizes, while yielding to the Senate by including language requiring states to undertake specific efforts to improve permanency and outcomes and prevent abuse and neglect in order to be eligible for a waiver. Introduction of the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act by this bipartisan, bicameral group of leaders is a positive indication that the Congress could be passing helpful child welfare reforms soon. The bill will be marked up in the House Ways and Means Committee this week and could be on the House Floor as soon as next week.