This New Federal Law Will Change Foster Care As We Know It.
By Teresa Wiltz
A new federal law, propelled by the belief that children in difficult homes nearly always fare best with their parents, effectively blows up the nation’s troubled foster care system.
Few outside child welfare circles paid any mind to the law, which was tucked inside a massive spending bill President Donald Trump signed in February. But it will force states to overhaul their foster care systems by changing the rules for how they can spend their annual $8 billion in federal funds for child abuse prevention.
The law, called the Family First Prevention Services Act, prioritizes keeping families together and puts more money toward at-home parenting classes, mental health counselling and substance abuse treatment — and puts limits on placing children in institutional settings such as group homes. It’s the most extensive overhaul of foster care in nearly four decades.
“It’s a really significant reform for families,” said Hope Cooper, founding partner of True North Group, a Washington, D.C.-based public policy consultancy that advised child welfare agencies on the new law. “The emphasis is really on helping kids stay safe with families, and helping vulnerable families get help earlier.” Continue reading →