Congressman Panetta Cosponsors Legislation to Help Improve the Child Welfare System

November 6, 2019
Press Release

SALINAS, CA – Today, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) cosponsored the Family First Transition Act to help states transform their child welfare systems and keep more children safely at home, instead of placing them in foster care. This legislation will provide states with the tools to successfully implement the Family First Prevention Services Act which became law last year.

"Family First was a tremendous first step in transforming our foster care system and safely keeping children with their families," said Congressman Panetta. "When fully implemented, the Family First Prevention Services Act will strengthen communities and provide evidence-based approaches to improve outcomes for kids and their parents.  Our bill gives states the necessary time and resources to improve their child welfare programs to the standards of the Family First law."

The Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First), signed into law last February, will help keep more children safely with their families and out of foster care. Family First supports states in providing evidence-based services to prevent children from entering foster care, encourages states to place children with foster families instead of in group homes and reduces bureaucracy for—and provides help to—relatives so more children can live with extended family if they must be removed from their homes.

The Family First Transition Act will build on the previous law by:

  • Providing insurance to states with child welfare demonstration projects that ended on October 1, 2019, guaranteeing they will not face a large financial shortfall as they transition to the new law;
  • Providing one-time funding to all states to help implement Family First; and
  • Phasing in the Family First requirement that 50 percent of spending on foster care prevention be on programs meeting the highest level of evidence (“well supported”), allowing states to receive reimbursement for a broader range of evidence-based services in early years while the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services works to expand its list of qualifying programs.

Full text of the bill can be found here.

A summary of the bill can be found here.