Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Child Welfare Bill to be Signed

This bill is supported by NASW. Our National NASW lobbyist, Nancy McFall Jean reports that we are in full support.

For those who have not yet learned about the new federal law

15 Highlights of HR 6893

This could be law within a week... (it is on its way to President Bush, who will sign it).

HR6893 is:

"The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act"

Full text at:

Gives states option to draw down IV-E $ for foster kids 18-20

Adds to those a state child welfare agency can claim IV-E reimbursement for training: Current or prospective relative guardians (provided they receive federal guardianship or adoption assistance), staff of state-approved private agency service providers, and members of the staff of abuse and neglect courts, agency attorneys, attorneys representing children or parents, GAL, or CASA. Phased in over several years (55% in 2009, 60% in 2010, 65% in 2011, 70% in 2012, and then 75%)

Extends & expands the Adoption Incentive Program (more $ for adoptions of older foster youth)

De-links Adoption Subsidy eligibility from AFDC (family of origin) or SSI (child's disability) eligibility

Creates a Permanent Relative Guardianship subsidy & national Kinship Navigator program (also authorizes Children's Bureau to spend $ for Family-Finding and Family Group Decision-Making)

Makes Indian tribes Title IV-E eligible (and creates a new grant program with authorized $ for state-tribal collaborations)

Authorizes waiver of licensing standards for relative caregivers but in non-safety areas only

Allows Independent Living/Education & Training Vouchers for youth, even after they've exited care (but only if the exited after age 16 for adoption or relative guardianship)

Requires agency due diligence to identify relatives within 30 days of removal and notice (including to current relative caregivers) on right to participate in child's care/placement (including option of a subsidized relative guardianship)

If placement goal is relative guardianship, case plans must show efforts to accomplish this

Requires reasonable efforts to place siblings together & provide for frequent visitation if not

Gives access to the Federal Parent Locator Service for IVB/IVE purposes (aid in quickly locating parents and relatives)

During 90 days before a youth emancipates from care, agency must engage the youth to develop Personal Transition Plan (it must be as detailed as the youth wants) & addressing housing, health, insurance, education, mentoring, support services, workforce support & employment aid

Requires all foster children to be enrolled in their school of origin (with language about agency reimbursement for transportation costs to and from there) and agency must coordinate with school system to assure immediate enrollment in a new school (with all records) if that new school placement is in the child's best interests

Requires state IV-E plans to show interagency coordination with Medicaid and physicians in planning for foster children's health care

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