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Walorski Sends Gov. Holcomb Update on Family First Law to Transform Child Welfare Systems

January 15, 2020
By

WalorskiU.S. Representative Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) this week sent a letter to Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb providing an update on the Family First Transition Act, which was recently signed into law.

The bipartisan law co-authored by Walorski will provide resources and flexibility to help states like Indiana transform their child welfare systems. Indiana is projected to receive $11.6 million to support implementation of evidence-based reforms to keep more children safely with their families and out of foster care.

“I write to provide an update on changes Congress has made to bring our child welfare system into the 21st century,” Congresswoman Walorski wrote. “As Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Worker and Family Support, I am proud to have played a role in shaping these changes and look forward to finding ways to partner together to ensure these reforms can help keep more vulnerable Indiana families together and offer a brighter future for our communities.”

BACKGROUND

Walorski serves as the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Worker and Family Support Subcommittee. In November 2019, she hosted subcommittee Chairman Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) in Indiana’s 2nd District for discussions on child welfare and workforce development issues. During the visit, they announced the bipartisan Family First Transition Act to help states implement the Family First Prevention Services Act, which was signed into law in February 2018.

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 ensures more children can live with extended family if they must be removed from their homes.

The Family First Transition Act, which was signed into law in December 2019 as part of the government funding package, will help states successfully implement Family First 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.

A signed copy of the letter is available here. The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Governor Holcomb:

I write to provide an update on changes Congress has made to bring our child welfare system into the 21st century. As Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Worker and Family Support, I am proud to have played a role in shaping these changes and look forward to finding ways to partner together to ensure these reforms can help keep more vulnerable Indiana families together and offer a brighter future for our communities.

As you know, 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 are required to be removed from their homes.

Congress established an aggressive timeline to transform our nation’s child welfare systems, and many states, including Indiana, requested additional time and resources to ensure the successful implementation of Family First.  I was happy to work on a bipartisan basis with Subcommittee Chairman Danny Davis on legislation to address these legitimate concerns. President Trump recently signed the Family First Transition Act (Transition Act) into law so that states like Indiana will have the tools necessary to shift to more evidence-based services and keep families together as intended by the Family First Act.

The Transition Act includes roughly an additional $11.6 million in funding to help the State of Indiana’s transition under Family First and provides insurance to states like Indiana that operated 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.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Indiana Department of Child Services Director Terry Stigdon last year to learn more about Indiana’s plans and priorities for Family First. Now that the Transition Act is law, I am happy to act as a resource for both you and Director Stigdon as the state moves forward with its transition.  I look forward to continuing our work together.

Sincerely,

Jackie Walorski
Member of Congress
Indiana Second District

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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