This week, Florida Republican Congressman Vern Buchanan led a bipartisan effort to reform foster services.
Buchanan, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee, unveiled the “Family First Prevention Services Act" on Monday.
The proposal gives states more options to spend federal money to ensure foster care placements are safe, cutting off federal money to the states when foster children are placed in bad situations,
keeping the Regional Partnership Grant program to help stop child abuse and sending foster children to drug addicts, reforming data systems to cut down on wait time and streamlining the process and paperwork for family members who unexpectedly end up as foster parents.
Buchanan has some key Senate sponsors on board as Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, the president pro tempore of that chamber and the chairman of the Finance Committee, and Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee, are sponsoring the bill.
The Florida Republican pointed to the nation's struggles with heroin and other drugs as to why the bill was needed.
"We know that strong families make for strong communities,” Buchanan said. “That's why the Family First Prevention Services Act is so important given the current opioid and heroin crisis. This bill is a departure from an outdated system that focuses on caring for children only after they enter into foster care, and instead invests in proven prevention services, including substance abuse treatment, that will keep families together. This legislation offers the types of support that parents need to provide the safe and stable home every child deserves."
Texas Republican Kevin Brady, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee on which Buchanan sits, said he backed the bill.
“The Family First Prevention Services Act will help more children grow up in a safe home, surrounded by a stable family,” Brady insisted. “I applaud Chairman Buchanan and Senators Hatch and Wyden for introducing this important legislation. I look forward to advancing this legislation so we can strengthen America's families and deliver positive outcomes for children.”
Other backers in the House include Republicans Diane Black of Tennessee, Robert Dold of Illinois and Tom Reed of New York and Democrats Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, John Larson of Connecticut and Linda Sanchez of California.