Foster Care Reform Update – June, 2016

IN THIS ISSUE

  • Policy Spotlight: Family First Prevention Services Act
  • Court Opinions: In re Interest of Mitoria R. and Cortez T.
  • Legislative Actions: 2016 Interim Studies
  • Announcements: Appleseed Blog

POLICY SPOTLIGHT

The Family First Prevention Services Act

After much anticipation in the child welfare community, the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016 (HR 5456) was introduced as a bipartisan partnership with the House Ways and Means and the Senate Finance Committees earlier in June. The Family First Prevention Services Act (“FFPSA”), the legislation was passed in the House on June 22, 2016 and is waiting to be voted on in the Senate. The FFPSA makes changes to the federal funding of foster care to disincentivize unnecessary “non-family” placements for children in the foster care system and to increase the availability of funding to prevent families from entering the foster care system.

The FFPSA gives states the flexibility to use federal Title IV-E funds to improve prevention through upfront, evidence-based services in areas of mental health, substance abuse prevention and other in-home programs to help struggling parents with the skills needed to prevent their children from having to enter foster care. Without a waiver from the federal government like Nebraska currently has to utilize this funding for a portion of families through the Alternative Response program, this funding is generally only available once a child is already placed in the foster care system. The FFPSA would also allow for funding for specific short-term services to kinship placements. In addition, the FFPSA would allow foster care maintenance payments to go to parents residing in residential treatment settings when their children are living with them.

The FFPSA also requires more strict oversight of when foster care maintenance payments can be made to congregate care facilities. For example, assessments must be completed to ensure youth are not inappropriately placed in congregate care for extended periods of time, and there are requirements that congregate care facilities have medical personnel on their staff. This bill also comes with federal oversight protections that aim to ensure that states do not shift children from congregate care to the juvenile justice system. Lastly, the bill requires states to utilize updated electronic interstate case-processing systems to share data across state lines, with the intent of reducing wait times for foster children who could be adopted or placed with relatives.

Stay tuned for more updates on the progression of the Family First Prevention Services Act and join the First Focus Campaign for Children by contacting your Member of Congress to take action and support the FFPSA.

COURT OPINIONS

In re Interest of Mitoria R. & Cortez T., No. A-15-1049
Decided February 18, 2014
(not designated for permanent publication)

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed an order of the juvenile court which terminated the parental rights of a mother. In a memorandum opinion, the Court of Appeals concluded that the juvenile court did not err in terminating the mother’s rights because the children had been in an out-of-home placement for 15 or more of the most recent 22 months and that termination of her parental rights was in the best interests of the child. The Court of Appeals first determined that the State had shown by clear and convincing evidence that the child had been in an out-of-home placement for 15 of the most recent 22 months and thus did not analyze the mother’s allegations of error pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-292(2), (5), and (6). The Court of Appeals then concluded that termination of the mother’s parental rights was in the child’s best interest because the mother had explosive behaviors, was overly focused on others sexually abusing her children, was unwilling to work with caseworkers to complete her case plan, refused to engage in services, appeared to “have serious psychiatric problems” that could not be identified because of her unwillingness to disclose her psychiatric history, she was mentally deficient, and she had made minimal progress in her parenting skills or therapy. Finally, the Court of Appeals did not address the mother’s allegations of error related to the juvenile court’s denial of her motion to change placement because the matter had no bearing on the decision to terminate her parental rights. Read the full opinion.

LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS

Click here to see a chart of final actions on all child welfare and juvenile justice bills tracked this session by Nebraska Appleseed and our friends at Voices for Children in Nebraska.

INTERIM STUDIES

LR 513 (Sen. Howard) – Interim study to examine workforce issues within the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

  • Last action – Referred to Health and Human Services Committee

 

LR 514 (Sen. Bolz) – Interim study to examine the availability of transition services for youth who will leave or have left the juvenile justice system while in an out-of-home placement.

  • Last action – Referred to Health and Human Services Committee

 

LR 523 (Sen. Howard) – Interim study to examine Nebraska law regarding the protection of children who have reached eighteen years of age but have not yet reached the age of majority.

  • Last action – Referred to Health and Human Services Committee

 

LR 529 (Sen. Howard) – Interim study to examine the ongoing implementation of the federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014 and related state law and policy.

  • Last action – Referred to Health and Human Services Committee

 

LR 544 (Sen. Crawford) – Interim study to examine the alternative response demonstration projects created in LB 853, 2014.

  • Last action – Referred to Health and Human Services Committee

 

LR 545 (Sen. Campbell) – Interim study to examine medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, with an emphasis on children that are eligible but unenrolled in these programs.

  • Last action – Referred to Health and Human Services Committee

 

LR 551 (Sen. Krist) – Interim study to explore and assess the use of congregate care in Nebraska for youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

  • Last action – Referred to Health and Human Services Committee

 

LR 561 (Sen. Krist) – Interim study to examine the effectiveness, economic stability, and long-term viability of the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Kearney and the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Geneva

  • Last action – Referred to Judiciary Committee

 

LR 576 (Sen. Pansing Brooks) – Interim study to examine children’s access to legal counsel in juvenile proceedings across the state of Nebraska.

  • Last action – Referred to Judiciary Committee

 

Click here to see a chart of the introduced child welfare and juvenile justice interim studies.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Appleseed Blog

Appleseed maintains a blog where you can read daily updates about our work to positively impact low-income families, immigrants, children in foster care, and access to health care.  Stop by and check it out!  Read, comment, and share your own stories with us at: http://www.neappleseed.org/blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *