The Time is Now for Senate to Pass Family First Prevention Services Act

By: Bob Bruder-Mattson, President and CEO of FaithBridge Foster Care

FaithBridge Foster Care is supporting the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) and we need your help!

According to Casey Family Programs, nationwide, at least 31 percent of the children who enter foster care are admitted due to parental substance abuse. Some states report even higher rates. The Family First Prevention Services Act would, for the first time, allow Title IV-E child welfare funds to go toward substance use treatment for parents, adoptive parents and kinship caregivers, as well as children and youth.

The Family First Prevention Services Act would provide federal funding to reduce the number of children entering foster care by supporting preventive services to assist families before children are removed from their homes. It also would fund family services to keep children safe at home, prioritize kinship and family placements and decrease the need for foster care.  This bill provides a critical opportunity to help children at risk of child abuse and neglect.

Additional benefits of the FFPSA include:

  • It becoming more accessible for individuals and families to adopt children from foster care across state lines.
  • Beginning to move the focus of our child welfare efforts from not just caring for foster children, but towards a cure to preventing child abuse and neglect.
  • Aligning the “state of the practice” with the “state of the science” in child welfare by requiring the use of evidenced-based programs in daily practice with foster children and their biological families.
  • Helping transform the nation’s child welfare system by giving states powerful new opportunities to provide services that help strengthen families and decrease the need for foster care.
  • Allowing a more realistic time period for youth aging out of foster care to transition into adulthood while providing much need financial assistance for education/training.

Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved the act and it is now under consideration by the U.S. Senate. The bill must move before Congress leaves for fall recess this Friday, September 23, 2016. If it doesn’t, $400 million is lost from the financing package as of October 1, which would effectively kill the bill so we need your help!

How can you help? We invite you to join FaithBridge in three major efforts to further support FFPSA.

  1. Use the hashtag #FamilyFirstAct on social media.
  2. Forward the information about FFPSA to everyone in your network– friends, family and neighbors and ask them to support it as well.
  3. Email or send a letter to Senator Johnny Isakson and Senator David Perdue to urge their support and vote for the Family First Prevention Services Act (H.R. 5456/S. 3065) – Contact them HERE.  For a sample letter, click HERE.

We know parental substance use and addiction is a leading reason why children enter foster care. This epidemic is ripping families apart and children are the innocent victims who deserve better.

Please support the FFPSA as we in turn support evidence-based services for substance abuse, mental health and in-home parenting programs that are critical in stabilizing and strengthening vulnerable families while preventing the trauma of removing children from their homes.