Need Assessment and Policy Design
The original social problem that requires a solution is families at risk of entering the child welfare system. Various reasons lead to family problems, including parent’s substance use disorders. Children in these families experience parental neglect or abuse and are more likely to have a low socioeconomic status in the future (Lipari, R.N., & Van Horn, 2017). This new federal legislation aims to reduce trauma for children and prevent them from entering the foster care system. For example, the law provides funds to relative caregivers through kinship navigator programs (Opportunities & Challenges, 2018). The core benefits created by the bill are an opportunity for the state to invest in prevention measures and provide evidence-based data for related services. Besides, the new law emphasizes the need to reduce congregate and group care for children.
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The Family First act is part of the more significant reform for achieving better children’s welfare. The main advantage at the implementation level is the limited use of congregate care. There will not be federal reimbursements for children placed in a group setting for more than two weeks (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2020). However, professional organizations might have difficulties switching to evidence-based treatment in a constraint time frame. Therefore, state authorities should assist them in collecting and monitoring the data.
Outcomes and Efficiency
To my mind, it is yet premature to judge about the elimination of the social issue tackled by the policy. The goal of the act is to keep families together while eliminating unnecessary foster care removals (Kelly & Moore, 2018). The specific approach to fund allocation will accomplish it. The FFPSA authorized new optional title IV-E funding for time-limited (one year) prevention services for mental health/substance abuse and in-home parent skill-based programs. It targets 1) a child who is a candidate for foster care; 2) pregnant/parenting foster youth, and 3) the parents/kin caregivers of those children and youth (Torres & Mathur, 2018). It means that children will have more chances to stay home with their family or relatives in a safe environment.
Aim of the Social Policy, Its strengths, and Weaknesses
The intended aim of the policy is to provide universal access to prevention services for families regardless of their income level. The FFPSA highlights the involvement of families in programs of the residential treatment to safeguard its high quality. The policy targets families at risk, parenting foster youth as well as caregivers. The strengths of the policy are the availability of new financing mechanisms for preventive services and prioritized family-based care. However, the weakness is that professional care providers lack expertise in gathering evidence-based data to meet the threshold requirements.
Position on the Policy and Opposing Views
I support the financial element of the legislative act, encouraging measures for kinship caregivers, and the abolition of group homes. There is still opposition from experts to the claims stated above. First of all, according to the act, the financial resources are available only when severe abuse or neglect have already happened (Getz, n.d.). Moreover, the bill cuts funding for other essential programs like Increasing Adoptions Act (Hughes, 2016). The author stresses out that new forms of residential treatment “with much higher program standards” will be created (Hughes, 2016, para.15). There is no counterargument for the first claim, as more explicit definitions should indeed be implemented. Redistributed financial flows will reach more families in need through targeted support. Finally, residential treatment programs promote a strictly medical approach due to their limited functions.
Possibilities to Amend the Policy
It is crucial to understand that more steps are required to improve the prevention services framework. First of all, vital definitions such as “foster care candidate” should be clarified to avoid misunderstanding. Children’s welfare is challenged when there are gaps between definitions and meanings. Secondly, the timeline of one year might not be enough for preventive care in some instances. Consequently, states should come up with program designs to protect a child’s interests.
Kelly, J., & Moore, J. (2018). A complete guide to the Family First Prevention Services act. Web.
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National Conference of State Legislatures (2020). Family First Prevention Services Act. Web.
Getz, L. (n.d.). A closer look at family first — the pros and cons of recent foster care legislation. Social Work Today. Web.
Hughes, S. (2016). The Family First Prevention Services act: A mixed bag of reform. The Chronicle of Social Change. Web.
Lipari, R.N., & Van Horn, S.L. (2017). Children living with parents who have a substance use disorder. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Web.
Torres, K., & Mathur, R. (2018). Fact sheet: Family First Prevention Services Act. Web.