Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016:
HR 5456/ S 3065

UPDATE (10/16)

Congress recessed in September until after the November 8th elections. When they return the first order of business will be the federal budget. Rumors abound concerning FFPSA: it might be heard, a substitute bill might be filed, it (or at least portions) may be addressed in the new Congress. The fact is that everyone on the Hill is tight-lipped….and totally consumed with the election. Check back here later for a December update!

UPDATE (07/2016)

Congress has adjourned until September 7th without moving forward on the Family First Prevention Services Act. This does allow time to gather concerns from certain states as Senator Wyden details in his press release. Allies are working to reassure the few states' authorities who are in doubt about what implementation really impacts, and CMS and others are working to address those concerns. FFTA Public Policy Committee will keep its members updated over the recess.

View Press Release
Today (June 21, 2016) the House will vote on HR 5456. At the time of this writing, the Senate is expected to hear S 3065 tomorrow in the Senate Finance Committee, and if passed in committee, to move quickly to full Senate following. Each bill mirrors the other.

These are not perfect bills! Yet they are good bills with major changes in funding options for child welfare and vulnerable families.

There are two major parts of the Act that are new. The purpose of Title I of the bill is to prevent foster care placements through the provision of mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment services, in-home parent skill-based programs, and kinship navigator services. Title II encourages the placement of children in foster care in the least restrictive most family-like settings appropriate to their needs with special attention to those needing specialized treatment, addresses the special needs of pregnant and parenting teens, and providing settings to support youth transitioning to adulthood.

Title I will provide new monies from IV-E to support families (or kin if a child is already living within a kinship placement) with the goal of preventing entry into out of home care or foster care. Title I is optional for states to adopt. Any state wishing to do so must amend their 5-year state plan to outline services to be provided and workforce standards. Reimbursable services will be limited to evidence-based early intervention programs across the categories of promising, supported and well-supported. This new option is available to begin October 1, 2019.

Title II is not optional and will be required of all states who choose to draw down Medicaid for congregate care. Congregate care will be limited to: a qualified residential treatment program (QRTP) which is defined in the law, a residential setting for pregnant and or parenting youth, or a supervised independent living facility serving youth ages 18 or older. Specific requirements for assessment of each youth to determine if congregate setting or family-focused setting is appropriate are required, as is judicial approval of a congregate care placement. Readers may want to see the power point on the FFTA website provided in December, 2015, on the requirements pertaining to QRPTs. Those details remain in HR 5456/S 3065

This legislation also includes an important reauthorization of the Title IV-B programs:
• Extension of the adoption-kinship incentive fund
• Extension of the Regional Partnership Grants of $20 million with adjustments including mandated participation by state substance abuse agencies and new funding allocations
• Continuation of the $20 million caseworker visit-workforce funds,
• Expanded Title IV-E eligibility for evidence-based Kinship Navigator programs
• Increased eligibility for the Chaffee Independent Living program to age 23
• Increased eligibility for Chaffee student voucher eligibility to age 26
• Elimination of the 15-month time-limit on the use of PSSF funds for reunification services
• A set aside for a grant to spread the use of the NEICE Interstate Compact expansion initiative
• Requirements to include evidence of being in foster care as part of the document package for youth that age out (to assist young people eligible for Medicaid to age 26 if they were in foster care)
• Continues the Court funding which required an offset in funding
• A new $8 million to create competitive grants that will address foster parent recruitment