CLM tracks federal legislation and budget items that affect the well-being of children and families and the providers that serve them.
H.R. 1041/S. 441 proposed by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D‑MA) and Sen. Cory Booker (D‑NJ)
A national “baby bonds” program, as included in the American Opportunity Accounts Act, would authorize federally funded and managed savings accounts (American Opportunity Accounts) for children under the age of 18. The goal being to build a foundation for economic opportunity for all Americans, while breaking the generational cycles of poverty for underserved communities in the process, combatting the racial wealth gap.
The government would automatically deposit into managed savings accounts (American Opportunity Accounts) $1,000 for each child when they're born (annually adjusted for inflation). Funds would sit in the interest-bearing accounts and each year, a child could receive additional deposits from the government depending on family income. The investments would be excluded from asset limits for other government benefits. A child can access the funds at 18 for allowable uses such as educational expenses or buying a home.
Connecticut was the first state to establish a baby bonds program, followed by the District of Columbia and more recently
California. We urge Congress to pass a national baby bonds program informed by the lessons learned at the state and local level.
Our nation spends billions annually to address a host of health, educational, and social challenges that families who are at risk face, including poor birth outcomes, child abuse and neglect, childhood cognitive disabilities, and poor school readiness and academic achievement. These conditions, however, can be reduced or prevented at a fraction of the cost with voluntary evidence-based home visiting programs. Scientific research demonstrates that evidence-based home visiting improves prenatal care and birth outcomes, early child health and development, school readiness, and parenting practices; reduces child maltreatment; and helps families become more self-sufficient.
- Continue to increase funding so more counties and communities have access to quality home visiting programs
- Protect the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program from current budget cuts through sequestration
Congress needs to:
- Prioritize a robust Title IV-B Reauthorization that makes improvements to current law, such as:
- Increase funding for child welfare workforce development from $20 million to $40 million
- Strengthen and expand the Court Improvement Program through the Strengthening Courts for Kids and Families Act
- Create a mandate for Education Points of Contact at local child welfare agencies to promote collaboration and partnership with local school districts
- Expand the funding for the Regional Partnership Grants to cover more states
- Increase support for Tribal Foster Care programs through the Strengthening Tribal Families Act and Tribal Family Fairness Act
- Include support for youth in out-of-home care who are older through new programs, such as the Foster Youth and Driving Act
- Define and standardize diligent recruitment requirements to expand the diversity of available families who are willing to foster and adopt
- Strengthen the FFPSA Clearinghouse and increase the number of eligible programs by providing research funds
The Purpose of Title IV-B:
Subpart 1 - Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services Program: promote State flexibility in the development and expansion of a coordinated child and family services program that utilizes community-based agencies and ensures all children are raised in safe, loving families to do the following:
- protect/promote the welfare of all children,
- prevent neglect, abuse, or exploitation, support at-risk families, such as through services which allow children, where
appropriate, to remain safely with their families or return to their families in a timely manner, |
- promote the safety, permanence, and well-being of children in foster care and adoptive families; and
- provide training, professional development and support to ensure a well-qualified child welfare workforce.
Subpart 2 - MaryLee Allen Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program: establish, expand, and operate coordinated programs of community-based family support services, family preservation services, family reunification services, and adoption promotion and support services to prevent child maltreatment, assure children’s safety, preserve intact families when possible, address problems so that reunification can occur in a safe an stable manner (in accordance with the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997), and provide support services to adoptive families.
The John Lewis Every Child Deserves a Family Act (ECDFA) would prohibit any child welfare agency receiving federal financial assistance from discriminating against any potential foster or adoptive family on the basis of religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. In addition, ECDFA would prevent discrimination against any foster youth because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
With issues such as rising costs of living, Congress needs to ensure that young people in foster care have access to adequate support and services as they transition to adulthood and independence.
- Increase funding for the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood and fully fund Education
and Training Vouchers
The Chafee Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood 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 Youth Aging out of Foster Care.
- Extend foster care to at least age 21 nationally
- Provide greater and simpler access to student loans and on-campus services
- Support youth who experience foster care in obtaining driver’s licenses through the Foster Youth and Driving Act (S.699 /
- Provide greater targeted housing assistance
- Ensure that youth placed in Quality Residential Treatment Programs retain Medicaid eligibility through the Ensuring Medicaid Continuity Act
- Strengthen the FFPSA Clearinghouse and increase the number of eligible programs by providing research funds in the Title IV-B of the Social Security Act Reauthorization
The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) was signed into law in 2018, expanding entitlement funding, focused on preventing children and their families from becoming involved in the child welfare system by providing evidence-based services to children who are considered “candidates for foster care." It amended Title IV-E (Foster Care) and Title IV-B of the Social Security Act (Child and Family Services) to child welfare programs and policy. Highlights include as follows:
Massachusetts mostly uses Family First to fund programming through Family Support and Stabilization, where applicable.
The Expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC), passed as part of the American Rescue Plan Act to provide relief for families during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been hailed as the most successful anti-child poverty policy option available. The credit expansion lifted more than 3.5 million children out of poverty and research shows that most families spent their monthly CTC payments on necessities such as food, clothing, and housing. The expansion of the CTC had no negative effect on employment.
- Expand the Child Tax Credit by:
Child care and early childhood education are critical to the future well-being of all children and to building
a stronger foundation for all families. Too many families are unable to access child care, either because it’s too expensive
or because there aren’t enough quality providers where they live. Too many child care and early education professionals
earn poverty-level wages and struggle to make ends meet. This reality is untenable, and Congress must expand the child care
and early learning infrastructure and invest in our future.
- Increase appropriations for the Child Care and Development Block Grant
- Fund workforce development initiatives
- Address child care deserts by providing funding for providers in rural areas
Important legislation includes the following:
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.
- Reauthorize CAPTA with a higher authorized funding level and with additional attention to child fatalities, children born exposed
to substances, and enhanced legal representation for children and families
- Reject all efforts to narrow and politicize the broad federal definition of child maltreatment
- Reauthorize the Adoption Opportunities Act with greater research on adoption disruption and dissolution and more support for
The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 (FFPSA) created a federal category of residential settings called qualified residential treatment programs (QRTPs) that provide short-term 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 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 2023 (H.R.4056) 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. The bill would lift the Exclusion in a manner consistent with guardrails from the Families First Prevention Services Act, which include screenings to place children appropriately in and out of care and requirements to discharge children from facilities expeditiously so that they can return to their families as quickly as possible.
Numerous local, state, and national organizations have joined in advocating for this reform to ensure Congress understands the issue and the need to support access to trauma-responsive, youth-driven, family-focused QRTPs nationwide (see IMD Federal Policy Brief from the National Association of Medicaid Directors). Please join us in asking Senators Warren and Markey to support H.R. 4056 to ensure services for children in QRTPs are fully funded by Medicaid.