PL 113-183 Includes Many of Our Recommendations

With the passage of PL 113-183, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, Congress has enacted several of the policy recommendations in the Advocates for Families First agenda. We applaud Congress for these significant improvements and look forward to hearing from our partners as they move these issues forward on the state level.

In the chart below, we have identified those recommendations in the Advocates for Families First policy agenda that have been addressed by H.R. 4980.

For a complete text of our policy agenda, please go to here or contact Kim Stevens at kimstevens@nacac.org or 508-254-2200. Advocates for Families First may be able to help your organization as you advocate for effective implementation of the law at the local level.

 

Empowering Youth and Family Voices: Ensure children and youth have opportunities to be full participants in their case plans and caregivers have rights to make decisions for children and youth in their care.
Goal Federal Recommendations Provisions of H.R.4980
Children and youth are partners in their permanency planning process. Federal law provides that youth age 12 and older are actively engaged in the development of their permanent plan and have a chance to choose other members of the permanency planning team. Empowers youth aged 14 and older in the development of their case plans.  Youth in foster care are allowed to help develop their own case plan – and any revision to the plan – and are able to select up to two individuals who are not a foster parent or caseworker to be a part of their case planning team.
All children and youth in out-of- home care have the opportunity to participate in age-appropriate activities, and their caregivers have the right to make decisions about children’s and youth’s participation, with respect for each child and youth’s cultural and religious heritage. Federal law provides a reasonable and prudent parent standard — developed with input of caregivers, children, and youth — that enables foster and kinship caregivers to grant permission for children and youth to participate in age-appropriate activities. Enables foster parents and other caregivers to allow children and youth to participate in normal activities.  Requires states to implement a “reasonable and prudent parent standard” for decisions made by a foster parent or a designated official for a childcare institution. The standard would allow caregivers to make parental decisions that maintain the health, safety, and best interest of the child and decisions about the child’s participation in extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities.Ensures youth have necessary documentation including birth certificate, Social Security card, health records, driver’s license or identification card.
Supporting Families: Children, youth, and families have the support and services they need to be stable and successful. 
All children and youth who are, or have been, in foster care are cared for and thrive in foster, adoptive, guardianship, relative, and birth families that have access to ongoing support services. The federal government designates specific funds for ongoing support services for foster, adoptive, guardianship, relative, and birth families, with specific funding available for each type of caregiver. Requires states to reinvest 30% of savings from de-linking Title IV-E adoption assistance in post-adoption services, post-guardianship services, and services to support and sustain positive permanent outcomes for children; two-thirds of these monies must be used for post-adoption and post-guardianship services.  The provision requires states to calculate and report on the savings resulting from the Title IV-E adoption assistance de-link and to report on how the savings were used under Title IV-B. The reports will be made available to the public.
Extended family members who care for children and youth who were diverted from the child welfare system or who did not come to the attention of the child welfare system have access to information, supports, and services they need to ensure the children and youth thrive. The federal government makes funds available to states and tribes to provide successful programs to keep children and youth out of foster care and safe within their birth or extended families. Extends Family Connections Grants through fiscal year 2014 at the current authorization of $15 million. 
Foster families and families who adopt or take guardianship of children and youth from foster care have adequate financial support to meet the children’s and youth’s needs. The federal government requires states and tribes to provide the same level of support and access to the same types of services to a child or youth who has moved on to permanency as the child or youth would have received in a similar level of foster care. Preserves eligibility for kinship guardianship assistance payments with a successor guardian.   This provision would ensure that children can continue to be cared for by another legal guardian who is named in the kinship guardianship assistance agreement if their relative guardian dies or is otherwise unable to care for the child.
Achieving Permanency: Children and youth achieve permanent families.
The use of Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA) is reduced or eliminated. Federal law eliminates the use of APPLA as a permanency goal and requires that every child and youth have a permanency goal that includes a permanent legal connection to a family.Federal funding includes new and periodic opportunities for services that find families for children and youth. Eliminates APPLA as a permanency goal for youth under age 16. Provides for additional case plan and case reviews in cases where APPLA is the goal.   At each permanency hearing, the state agency must:

  • Document the intensive, ongoing and unsuccessful efforts for family placement;
  • Ask the child about the child’s desired permanency outcome;
  • Make a judicial determination explaining why APPLA is still the best permanency plan; and
  • Specify the steps the agency is taking to ensure the reasonable and prudent parent standard is being followed, and that the child has regular, ongoing opportunities to engage in age or developmental appropriate activities.
Incentives are increased for permanency outcomes for children and youth. The federal adoption incentive program becomes a permanency incentive program that rewards states and tribes for adoptions, permanent guardianships, and reunifications, with safeguards in place to avoid the unintended consequence of moving children or youth out of care too quickly, taking children or youth into care unnecessarily, or placing children or youth in unsafe or unstable families. Improves the structure and awards for permanency outcomes. Renames the program “Adoption and Legal Guardianship Incentives.”  This provision changes adds an incentive for guardianship and changes the incentive payment so it is based on improvements in the rates (rather than number) of adoptions and guardianships. This section also changes the current incentive categories, increasing incentives for older youth adoptions.

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