WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has joined his colleagues in introducing the Family First Transition Act, which includes a number of key provisions Brown secured from his Family First Transition and Support Act, legislation to 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 worked closely with the Senate Finance Committee to ensure his provisions were included in the bipartisan bill.

The Family First Transition Act would build on the Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First) that was signed into law last year, by: 

  • Giving states more time and resources to build a wider range of evidenced-based foster care prevention programs to keep families safe at home. Such programs include substance use treatment and prevention, in-home parent training, and family mental health services.
  • Providing states with flexible funding to transition to Family First, allowing states to use the funds to address the needs of their communities, including foster parent recruitment, training for child welfare workers, support for parents and kinship caregivers, including $18 million for Ohio programs. 
  • Providing additional funds for states like Ohio, that were operating under a federal child welfare demonstration program that ended in September. These funds would guarantee that Ohio service providers are able to continue to serve children and families without a gap in funding.

“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.

The Family First Transition Act is led by leaders of the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR). Chairman Danny Davis (D-IL) and Ranking Member Jackie Walorski (R-IN) of the Ways and Means Worker and Family Support Subcommittee also led the bill in the House of Representatives.

“Senator Brown has shown immense leadership fighting for children and families in Ohio and across the country, and I’m proud to have worked with him to develop this important proposal,” said Wyden. “This bill will ensure that states have the support they need to implement Family First and build a better child welfare system that provides children what they deserve – the best chance at living in a safe and nurturing home.”

In May, Brown introduced the Family First Transition and Support Act, which 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.

The Family First Transition and Support Act is co-sponsored by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Kamala Harris (D-CA)   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, National Organization of State Associations for Children, and Foster America.