Office of Inspector General (OIG) releases audits on multiple states

Congress requested the OIG conduct audits regarding the proper reporting, investigation, and resolution of allegations or referrals of abuse and neglect of children in the foster care system. In recent months, the OIG of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released audits completed on aspects of child welfare agency requirements in California, New York, and Texas. When a child welfare agency is fully operational and claims Title IV-E, a federal requirement for the agency is to ensure that all allegations and referrals of child abuse and neglect are properly reported, investigated, and resolved. This requirement refers to both allegations of the child’s original home as well as of a foster home or placement following removal; however, children in foster care were the focus of these OIG audits in California, New York, and Texas. [More]

Foster care payments now required for approved temporary kinship placements in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee

On October 10, 2017, the Supreme Court denied a petition to hear a child welfare case about kinship placements decided in January 2017 in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Circuit Court ruled on January 27, 2017, that kinship foster families are entitled to the same foster care maintenance payments as unrelated foster parents. D.O., et al. v. Glisson, No. 16-5461 (6th Cir. Jan. 27, 2017). The court’s ruling primarily rests on provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 (42 U.S.C. § 1983), the Adoption and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (also known as the Child Welfare Act, CWA or Title IV-E of the Social Security Act codified in 42 U.S.C. § 672), and Supreme Court cases that have collectively interpreted these two statutes to confer a private right to foster care maintenance payments that is enforceable by foster parents regardless of whether the foster parents are related or unrelated to the child(ren). [More]

Family First Act - A Closer Look

PCG Human Services has partnered with the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities to create a detailed summary of the Family First Prevention Services Act, which is under consideration by the US House and Senate. This bill would expand Title IV-E funding for certain services to children and families that aim to prevent a child’s placement into foster care. The bill also changes how Title IV-E reimburses states for costs associated with children who are placed in child caring institutions and reauthorizes several existing child welfare federal grants. [More]

Research centers examine national congregate care trends

Two research centers, Chapin Hall and the Chadwick Center, recently collaborated to examine nationwide patterns of congregated care placements (i.e., group homes, residential treatment facilities, psychiatric care institutions and emergency shelters). The research findings, which were published in a policy brief titled Using Evidence to Accelerate the Safe and Effective Reduction of Congregate Care for Youth Involved with Child Welfare, are quite timely since the Senate Finance Committee’s legislation addressing congregate care is still in-development. [More]

Supreme Court rules mandatory life sentences for juveniles unconstitutional

Last week, advocates for youth involved with state juvenile justice systems celebrated when the United States Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional for people to serve mandatory life sentences in prison for crimes of murder committed as children. The high court made retroactive a 2012 ruling that banned mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles. Justice Anthony Kennedy stressed that “the decision to impose life without parole should never be invoked.” Youth should be able to contemplate the possibility of a life on the outside again. The issue was brought forth by the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia. [More]

Senate Finance Committee releases draft legislation

Earlier this year, in August 2015, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced “The Family Stability and Kinship Care Act of 2015” which marked the first legislative effort to address child welfare finance reform. While the legislation received significant bipartisan support among the Senate, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) never offered support instead stating that he would introduce additional legislation prior to the end of the year and this week, the Senate Finance Committee staff shared a draft version of child welfare finance reform. The proposed legislation, not yet introduced, is titled “The Family First Act.” The language of the legislation is consistent with Sen. Wyden’s bill on several points, however, additional aspects were added. Examples of the proposed changes include (but are not limited to) amendments to “Subtitle A: Investing in Prevention and Family Services” and “Subtitle B: Ensuring the Necessity of Placement that is not a foster family home.” [More]

GAO releases report on efforts to keep children in family-based care

On November 9, 2015, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released an in-depth report addressing the use of congregate care for children in the foster care system. Defined differently in most states, congregate care, in its simplest form (when referring to the foster care system), is care that is not family-based (e.g. group homes, residential treatment facilities, etc.). [More]

Congress addresses child welfare Issues

This week has been a busy for the Senate Finance Committee as two important issues have been addressed. On August 4, Senator Orin Hatch (R-Utah) held a finance hearing on foster care group homes. The hearing examined alternatives that can reduce the reliance of a child welfare agency’s use of group care for foster children and an in-home program “Homeworks” that supports children remaining in their own homes. [More]

Senate Finance Committee Holds Hearing On Reducing Congregate Care

On May 19, 2015 the Senate Finance Committee Chair, Orin Hatch (R-UT) held a hearing to address concerns about the number of children living and growing up in congregate care. Sen. Hatch has demonstrated interest in recent years in the need for children to live with families and not in group or congregate settings. He previously introduced legislation (S.B. 1518) that called for the elimination of Title IV-E reimbursement for foster children in congregate care settings. [More]