WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a news conference call as he introduces the Family First Transition and Support Act, which would increase investment and support for child welfare as Ohio counties struggle to make sure children are cared for, especially in light of the addiction crisis. Brown’s bill builds on legislation passed by Congress last year that transforms the way government funds child welfare services.     

“As a society, we simply leave too many children behind. Child welfare agencies are overwhelmed by the number of kids entering the system, and the addiction crisis is only making it worse. For one third of all the children entering the system in Ohio, parents’ substance abuse is listed as one of the causes. We have to do better,” said Brown. 

Brown was joined on the call by Jeffery Felton, Director of Medina County Department of Jobs and Family Services and Ms. Melodye James, a family caregiver and a kinship navigator for Richland County. 

“Generally, 30% of the children in custody of Medina County are placed in kinship homes.  The cost of child care is the most significant barrier to being able to place children in these settings.  Expanded funding specifically for kinship homes, notably legal services, will enable us to improve permanency and well-being outcomes for our children,” said Jeffery Felton. 

“This bill reflects the understanding that healthy families are the foundation of a healthy society.  We cannot ignore the layered effect that strained, stressed, toxic family situations have on every level of our society.  And it is wisdom that legislators such as Senator Brown recognizes this and acts to bring about both an awareness and policies that will undergird the most important unit of society,” said Ms. James. 

Brown’s bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) has introduced companion legislation in the House. The bill has the support of over 100 organizations, including The Public Children Services Association of Ohio, Ohio Children’s Alliance, Child Welfare League of America, Family Focused Treatment Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Children’s Defense Fund, Generations United, Boys Town, Within Our Reach, Children’s Advocacy Institute, Children and Family Futures, National Children’s Alliance, Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, Children’s Home Society of America, and the National Organization of State Associations for Children, Foster America. 

“The Family First Prevention Services Act is a landmark child reform law, and pediatricians have been working tirelessly to ensure vulnerable families can start benefitting from its policies without delay. The Family First Transition and Support Act would further bolster these efforts and help support the law’s success on the ground. Pediatricians are committed to shifting the focus of the child welfare system to prevention, and this bill would help build on the important progress made by Family First. The American Academy of Pediatrics thanks Senator Sherrod Brown, Senator Debbie Stabenow, and Senator Michael Bennet for their work to champion this legislation and is urging Congress to advance the bill without delay.” said American Academy of Pediatrics President Kyle Yasuda, MD, FAAP.

Brown’s Family First Transition and Support Act would:    

  • Create a new kinship placement program fund to expand funding for kinship support services, which help family members raising children pay for essential needs and services, such as childcare, and transportation. This is especially important with the rise of family members raising children due to the addiction crisis. 
  • Invest in child welfare caseworker training and development. 
  • Work to enhance the child welfare Court Improvement Program and provide new resources to help recruit and retain foster parents.

Read more about the bill HERE.