New York Foundation Invests in Family First Act Rollout

Redlich Horwitz Foundation of New York invests in Family First
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

The Redlich Horwitz Foundation is staffing up a new support center devoted to helping New York transform its child welfare system.

New York formally opposed the landmark reform that is encouraging the transformation – the Family First Prevention Services Act, signed by President Trump last year – but it will now be one of the first states with an organization devoted to helping local child welfare agencies meet the new strings attached to federal funds.

Among the requirements in the law, states face new strictures on receiving reimbursement for housing foster youth in congregate care (the industry term for what are often called group homes). States will also have more leeway to receive funds for so-called preventive services for families at imminent risk of having their children placed in foster care by the state.

Accordingly, Redlich Horwitz’s new Family First Support Center staff will help the state’s counties “to prioritize approved relative homes and shift family and child-support serves to be community and home-based.”

The foundation plans to establish FamilyFirstNY.org as the online hub for this work. It is currently looking to hire a senior program manager for the support center.

Across New York counties remain heavily reliant on congregate care facilities. Outside of New York City, counties place an average of 26 percent of youth in residential care, according to recent federal data. At the same time, the state also already oversees an uncapped grant program to support services other than foster care in child welfare cases, similar to the front-end federal funding unlocked by Family First.

On November 7th, New York’s state child welfare agency, the Office of Children and Families Services, submitted a request to the federal government to delay implementing Family First – states are permitted to do so for up to two years, which is the delay length OCFS sought.* According to an OCFS spokesperson, the agency has yet to receive an answer from the feds. In a recent interview with The Chronicle of Social Change, OCFS Commissioner Sheila Poole revealed that she’s been speaking with the federal Children’s Bureau Commissioner Jerry Milner every week, as her agency continues to seek changes to the law’s implementation via the rule-making process.

[Update, Wednesday January 30th: OCFS reached out after the publication of this article to clarify that they have submitted a request for a delay.]

[The Redlich Horwitz Foundation is a financial supporter of The Chronicle of Social Change. The foundation played no role in our decision to publish this article, per our editorial independence policy.]

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Michael Fitzgerald
About Michael Fitzgerald 74 Articles
Northeast Editor for The Chronicle of Social Change. Follow me on Twitter: @mchlftzgrld