CLM tracks federal legislation and budget items that affect the well-being of children and families and the providers that serve them.

CAPTA – The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) provides funding to states for state child protective services, including investigation, protection and any treatment services. It requires states to meet certain provisions such as mandated reporting. Title II of CAPTA is referred to as the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention program, or CB-CAP. It supports community-based efforts to develop, operate, expand, and coordinate programs and activities to prevent child abuse and neglect.

On June 11, 2021, the Senate HELP Committee approved the bipartisan Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment (CAPTA) Reauthorization Act of 2021. This proposal would make important changes to CAPTA, including significantly increasing the share of funding for the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) program, putting greater emphasis on prevention; and adding measures meant to confront racism in the child welfare system.


“Chafee” – John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program

The Chafee program provides funds to states to assist them in offering supportive services for youth who experience foster care at age 14 or older, including former foster youth up to a certain age. The program seeks to address poor education, employment, and other outcomes experienced by many such foster youth as they transition to adulthood. This includes the Educational and Training Vouchers Program (ETV) for Youths Aging out of Foster Care.

Current MA DCF regulations related to transition-aged youth


Child Care

Families need an early learning and care system that provides high-quality, affordable child care and access to quality preschool programs. Child care should be affordable, programs should be high-quality, workers should be adequately compensated, and the system should be designed to support working families. Without consistent access to child care, children lose out on valuable opportunities to learn and grow, while countless parents—and in particular, mothers—are forced to leave their jobs.

There are multiple federal initiatives to improve access to affordable, high quality child care. Some that we are following are led or supported by members of the Massachusetts delegation.


Child Tax Credit

One of our best strategies for preventing child abuse, decreasing foster care placements, and limiting other forms of child welfare is to reduce child poverty. The Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University estimates that the Child Tax Credit expansion could cut child poverty overall by almost 45 percent and reduce racial disparities in child poverty. The Center also calculates that converting the current Child Tax Credit to a child allowance—by making it fully refundable, increasing its value to $3,600 per child ages 0-5, $3,000 per child ages 6-17, and distributing it monthly—would cost about $100 billion but would generate about $800 billion in benefits to society.

Read more about the permanent Child Tax Credit and how it could reduce child poverty (CWLA)

Additional information about the benefits of a permanent Child Tax Credit (CAP)

In March 2021, Congress passed and President Biden signed into law a one-year expansion of the Child Tax Credit as a COVID-19 pandemic relief measure for the lowest income families. Visit ChildTaxCredit.gov for information on the temporary expansion of CTC and the Biden Administration efforts to make this permanent.

Direct families to GetCTC.org for information on current child tax credit eligibility and how to claim the credit (available in English and Spanish.)

Massachusetts House Representative Richard Neal (MA-01) is a champion of the permanent Child Tax Credit.


Family First Prevention Services Act

“Family First” was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act on February 9, 2018, as Public Law 115-123. Family First amended Title IV-E and Title IV-B of the Social Security Act to child welfare programs and policy.

Some of the highlights of Family First are:

  • Prevent children from entering foster care through new optional prevention services and programs
  • Restrict placement options for children being placed in care to mainly family foster homes with limited use of congregate care settings
  • Improvement of the electronic interstate processing system
  • Establish model licensing standards for family foster homes
  • Recruitment and retention of high-quality foster families
  • Extension of the John H. Chafee foster care independence programs to age 23
  • Reauthorizes the Adoption Incentives program
  • Provides 50% match funding for kinship navigator programs
  • Allows room and board payments for children in care placed with their parent in family-based substance use residential treatment

See more details about Family First

Family First created a federal category of residential settings called qualified residential treatment programs (QRTPs). These programs were designed to provide care for children in foster care with assessed emotional or behavioral needs in a residential setting. The health care needs of children in foster care are covered by Medicaid. Today, however, QRTPs may not receive Medicaid financing because of the Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) exclusion, a law that prohibits Medicaid payments to a hospital, nursing facility, or other institution with more than 16 beds that primarily provides care for people with mental health conditions. CLM is supporting the The Ensuring Medicaid Continuity for Children in Foster Care Act of 2021(S. 2689) which would provide a narrow exemption from the IMD exclusion to ensure children in foster care receiving care in QRTPs can continue to receive care provided in these settings without losing their federal Medicaid coverage.

Massachusetts is in the planning stages of Family First implementation. CLM is supporting priority legislation that would create a statewide Family First Stakeholder Committee.


Federal Budget

CLM generally supports the federal budget priorities of the Child Welfare League of America.

See the CLWA comprehensive chart of federal line items for child welfare

October 2021 update: The House has passed their appropriations bills, with the Labor-HHS increases recommended by the House Appropriations Committee. Without agreement on appropriations in the Senate, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution to fund the government at current levels through December 3, 2021 while negotiations continue.

July 2021 update: The House Appropriations Committee passed the $253 billion appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS). This bill includes:

  • CAPTA funded at $125 million (a $35 million increase over FY2021)
  • CB-CAP funded at $90 million (a $30 million increase over FY2021)
  • Discretionary child welfare funding at $42 million (a $7 million increase over FY2021)
  • Family First Act Clearinghouse funded at $9 million (a $7 million increase over FY2021)
  • $30 million for formula grants to states and tribal agencies to develop, enhance, or evaluate Kinship Navigator programs.
  • Support for many of the additional Biden priorities listed below.

June 2021 update: Within child welfare, the Biden Administration proposed budget includes some significant increases for child welfare including:

  • Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment (CAPTA) law and Title II, Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CB-CAP) state grants ($49 million)
  • a new $100 million through Child Welfare Services to address racial inequity in child welfare
  • a significant increase of $9 million for the Family First Act Clearinghouse (up from $2 million)
  • $2 million through the Adoption Opportunities Act with the additional $2 million for efforts in Diligent Recruitment Plans (see below).
  • Other items in the FY 2022 budget that would indirectly affect child welfare, such as child  care, maternal and child health, and domestic violence prevention.

A new proposal by the Administration would provide $100 million a year in new grants that would help eligible state, local, and tribal child welfare agencies to partner with other government and community stakeholders across the education, health, human services, and early childhood sectors to advance comprehensive policy and practice reforms. These reforms would focus on advancing racial equity and safely reducing the number of children entering foster care, particularly in communities over-represented in the child welfare system. $100 million would flow through the Title IV-B Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services (CWS) block grant that also funds some other targeted research.

Read CWLA’s summary of the Biden Administration proposed budget for child welfare


Fostering Postsecondary Success for Foster and Homeless Youth Act of 2021

Bill Number: H.R. 2028

This bill establishes a program to recognize eligible institutions that offer outstanding support services and other programs tailored to the needs of foster care youth and homeless youth. It also creates the Center for Fostering Postsecondary Success for Foster and Homeless Youth to provide training and technical assistance.

Read the bill text here


John Lewis Every Child Deserves a Family Act

Bill Number: H.R. 3488/S.1848

This bill bans discrimination in the placement of children and youth and discrimination in the recruitment of parents who want to adopt or provide foster care, with a particular emphasis on ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Read more about the aims of this legislation


Pandemic Relief and Recovery

See our Budget Priorities page for details on how CLM is advocating for use of discretionary federal relief funds to support children, families, and the human services workforce in Massachusetts.

There is an effort in the Congress to extend the federal pandemic-related support for Transition Age Youth for an additional year. Currently these supports will expire on Oct. 1, 2021.

This new House bill would provide the following:

  • Extend these supports for one year
  • Double the federal appropriation for the Chafee program from $400k to $800K
  • Double the federal appropriation for TAY vouchers from $50 million to $100 million

Qualified Residential Treatment Programs

The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 (FFPSA) created a federal category of residential settings called Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTPs) that provide care for children in foster care with assessed emotional or behavioral needs in a residential setting. The health care needs of children in foster care are covered by Medicaid. However, certain QRTP’s may not receive Medicaid financing because of the Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) exclusion, a law that prohibits Medicaid payments to an institution with more than 16 beds that primarily provides care for people with mental health conditions.

The Ensuring Medicaid Continuity for Children in Foster Care Act of 2021 (S.2689) would provide a narrow exemption from the IMD exclusion to ensure children in foster care receiving care in QRTPs can continue to receive care in these settings without losing their federal Medicaid coverage. Over 600 local, state, and national organizations have joined the advocacy effort so far.