Federal foster care funding and state services offered for the care of children in need is ever-changing. Because of a new funding change signed in by President Donald Trump earlier this year, there is a new way of thinking that will allow more resources and services for the system. It is a dramatic change in how social services and family services can be funded in the near future. The money from The Title IV-E entitlement, which was solely for foster care or adoption assistance expenses can now be used toward services for families prior to the child being placed in foster care.
President Trump recently signed in The Family First Prevention Services Act; however, monies available will depend on the state providing funds for drug abuse, mental health, and family services.
The focus of this decision relates back to what the best choice is for a child and the family. Is the choice of keeping them the child in the home, even with some risks? Is the child being removed from the home and placed in foster care?
Under this new act, states will now have access to their federal funding prior to a child entering foster care. This will to enable the states to focus on supporting and initiating mental health and family support services prior to removal of the children.
This new bill introduced, encouraged, and focused on kinship strategies. This includes information on when the children would stay with relatives, who would receive funding assistance in those situations, and when the parents are pronounced unable to take care of them.
The goal is for fewer children to be in foster care and more children to receive needed services in their homes. Proponents are resting on the safeguards in place that ensure a child that remains in their home will stay safe. Minna Castillo Cohen, director of Colorado’s Office of Children, Youth and Families, stated, “A kid always wants to be in their home. So if there’s any way to provide services for the child in the home, it’s less traumatizing.”
But others are concerned that this act will leave children in their home when it is not necessarily safe. Elizabeth Bartholet, director of the Child Advocacy Program at Harvard, stated, “It’s really about prevention of foster care, not prevention of abuse or neglect. I think we do want children removed to foster care when they’re facing serious abuse and neglect.”
Ultimately, it is about the safety and needs of the child and the family as a whole. If it is a safe environment, working with the family unit together will bring the ultimate success.