Family First’s Opponents Will Have Much to Answer For

When the goal of providing social services is helping children and their families, accountability for results seems like a very good idea.

Let’s take a look at the results so far in the recent efforts in Congress to pass the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFA) approved by the House in July, but now pending in the Senate. And let’s make sure we know who’s accountable for those results.

The purpose of the Family First Act is clear: keep children out of foster care and keep families together whenever possible. Foster care is expensive, it splits up families, and some kids are affected for the rest of their life by spending so much time in inadequate care in someone else’s home or in institutions.

More than 400,000 children and youth — kids who count in someone’s life — are sitting in foster care today, too many of them as a result of the increasing crisis from the nation’s opioid epidemic.

So who’s against the Family First Act?  Sadly, state and county child welfare agencies and providers mobilized against this bill and Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) ultimately “held” the bill, preventing its final passage. Many of the group home operators who fear losing the resources they get from foster care funding led this opposition.

Some of the opponents of the legislation have actually said they don’t need the resources that Family First Act would provide children and their families. They claim they are meeting all those needs today, in states and counties where millions of children go without adequate treatment for the effects of abuse and neglect, and parents who want treatment for a substance use disorder are stuck for weeks on waiting lists.

These opponents face hundreds of public and private child welfare and treatment agencies that have supported the legislation based on their sincere efforts to, as stated last week by the Commissioner of the Connecticut agency, “recognize the role of families as part of the solution rather than the problem.”

These other states and agencies who support FFA know that children and families need a more flexible federal funding system, instead of the system we have today that pays agencies much more for keeping kids in foster care than it does to prevent them from having to leave their own homes. That just makes no sense at all.

The opponents of the bill have a lot to answer for. Our country had a real opportunity to reduce unnecessary foster care entries, help parents get the drug and mental health treatment they need, assist grandparents and other kin providers to take on the unexpected role of caring for vulnerable kids, and give real hope to parents who are trying as hard as they can to be better parents and keep their kids safe.

The opponents of Family First Act are accountable as they stood in the way of this progress and protected the woefully inadequate status quo. And while the future of the Family First Act is uncertain, what’s clear is that California’s agencies and the other opponents of the Family First Act will be remembered for standing in the way of the most significant positive reform of the federal child welfare system in decades.

Sid Gardner is the President of Children and Family Futures in Lake Forest, California.

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1 Comment

  1. Oh my God, I’m trying to figure out what planet that you live on.
    First off 85%, of the children that are in out-of-home care are there for neglect, what is it called “at risk”, which means no abuse has happened, it just “might happen”,so it’s a future crime.

    That’s 85% of the children that don’t even belong in foster care as it is. The biggest problem that you have though is all of the fraud that takes place by CPS, in all the different states.
    I will at least tell you that I know for sure that perjury, fabrication of evidence, tampering with evidence, tampering with the court records and public records, all are part of what CPS does to gain control of the children.

    The problem is with the adoption and safe families Act of 1997, which Hillary Clinton penned, that gives adoption bonuses incentives to the states from $5,000 to $10,000 per child, but only if they adopt more children out than they did the year before.
    That’s the problem. Not opioids.

    There is no way that anybody, except one who has experienced it, can say what the problem is, because all the records are closed.
    They’re confidential, which makes them Secret.
    Secrecy does not help children, secrecy harms children. Public awareness saves lives.
    What needs to happen, is those records need to be opened in all 50 states so that the whole public can look at what’s going on, then maybe we can see how to deal with the problem.
    But unless you’ve been through it, like myself, or you are standing right there when it happened, you might not know that it’s the fraud and the outright disgusting systemic violation of parents rights that permeates every moment of these cases.

    Why would anybody take a child out of a home because something “might happen”, and put them into foster care, where they are more likely to be murdered raped torture disappear at the rate 08 to ten times as high as in the general population?

    By the way, the Family First Act renews the adoption incentives to the states till 2021 and that is unacceptable. Now this statement that was just made by me, is made by somebody who has had their children kidnapped by CPS, and adopted out to strangers. And I am against this family first that because it gives bonuses the states for adopting more children.

    By the way CPS does not follow the law, and neither do these Juvenile Courts,
    So with all the CPS workers needing to be jailed and be imprisoned, you would still turn around and hand them this money?
    You’re going to hand the same people that are committing these crimes against family more money, and just tell him to spend it a different way, and to obey the law.?

    It’s foolish. It’s Fool’s game. I’d rather give the money to Charlie Manson I let him see what he can do with it

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