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Federal Legislation

Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016

The Family First Prevention Services Act is a bipartisan bill that reforms many of the federal child welfare financing mechanisms to help better support families. The bill aims to prevent their children from entering foster care by allowing federal reimbursement for services to families and children. H.R. 5456/S. 3065 also seeks to improve the well-being of children already in foster by incentivizing states to reduce placement of children in group care. Read a summary of key provisions here. Updates on the bill can be found here.

Protect Our Kids Act

The Protect Our Kids Act, HR 6655,  creates a national commission to examine child fatalities, which the findings state are both preventable and significantly underreported, while the states lack a national standard for reporting. In previous hearings, members of Congress heard testimony about the significant gaps in reporting that prevent effective policies and practices from being implemented. Read more here.

Uninterrupted Scholars Act

The Uninterrupted Scholars Act, S. 3472, which amends the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to make it easier for caseworkers to gain access to the educational records of foster children. Read more here.

GAO Report: CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH, Concerns Remain about Appropriate Services for Children in Medicaid and Foster Care

Citing continuous concern regarding the services and treatment provided to children in foster care with mental health conditions, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently examined  the use of psychotropic medications and other mental health services for children in Medicaid, information on the use of psychotropic medications and other mental health services for children in foster care (as provided by the Department of Health and Human Services), and the amount HHS has invested in research on children’s mental health.  The report, requested by Members of Congress, provides in-depth information on mental health services for children in the Medicaid program. Read more here.

Adoption Tax Credit

An extension of the adoption tax credit was approved as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (H.R. 8). Had Congress not acted the credit would have expired. The credit was extended permanently, without a sunset provision.  The bill retains the provision that allows the adoption tax credit to be “flat” for special needs, meaning special needs adoptions are excluded from needing to document qualified adoption expenses, and it includes a permanent cost of living adjustment so that it will be indexed for inflation. While it is good news that the adoption tax credit is permanent and it includes these other provisions, unfortunately the credit is not refundable.  Not including the refundability provision means that many families will not benefit. Read FAQs.

Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, H.R. 6893, signed into law 

President Bush signed the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-351) into law on October 7, 2008. Generally, the law amends the Social Security Act:

  • to extend and expand adoption incentives through FY2013; 
  • create an option to provide kinship guardianship assistance payments; 
  • create an option to extend eligibility for title IV-E foster care, adoption assistance and kinship guardianship payments to age 21; 
  • de-link adoption assistance from Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) eligibility; and, 
  • provide federally-recognized Indian Tribes or consortia with the option to operate a title IV-E program, among many other provisions

For more information, including a summary of the bill, click here. 

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