Washington – A letter sent today by 160 leading children’s advocacy organizations urges Congress to support President Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2016 proposed investments in child welfare. The letter was coordinated by First Focus Campaign for Children, Children’s Defense Fund, Child Welfare League of America, Foster Family-based Treatment Association, Generations United, National Foster Care Coalition, and Voice for Adoption.

“The federal budget reflects our nation’s priorities,” said Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus Campaign for Children. “Congress can make our most vulnerable children and families a priority by supporting President Obama’s child welfare proposals.”

The letter is addressed to the leadership of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance and the Human Resources Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means, which have jurisdiction over a number of child welfare programs. In additional to the coordinating groups, signatories of the letter include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, and the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities.

Federal investments in child welfare have historically been targeted at supporting foster care rather than prevention, interventions, and treatments that keep children out of foster care. President Obama’s proposed FY 2016 budget would:

  • Increase investments in evidence-based prevention and post-permanency supports for children at risk of entering foster care;
  • Encourage family-based care, including relative care, rather than group homes for children and youth; and
  • Reduce overprescribing of psychotropic medications for children and youth in foster care.

“When Congress invests in prevention and early intervention, families stay together and children never come to the attention of child welfare in the first place,” said Lesley.

Title IV-E of the Social Security Act is the major federal source of funding for child welfare services. Beginning in 2012, states were given the authority through waivers to use Title IV-E to test innovation and learn about what works best.

President Obama’s budget builds on lessons from the waivers and reinforces the importance of increased federal support for a range of prevention and early intervention services. Title IV-E waivers, meant to be temporary and informative, will end in FY 2019, increasing the urgency that Congress invest now in services for children, youth, and families involved in child welfare.

Federal investments in child welfare have decreased about 3 percent since FY 2011, adjusted for inflation. President Obama’s proposed budget would reverse that trend, and increase investments in child abuse and neglect by 6.3 percent from FY 2015.

“We hope and expect that policymakers who are serious about reducing child abuse and neglect will support the administration’s child welfare budget,” said Lesley. “Congress needs to make greater long-term federal investments to keep children safe and in permanent families.”

Download the letter.

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The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.ffcampaignforchildren.org.