On May 1, 2019, AAP chapters and pediatrician advocates are encouraged to participate in a day of action on Family First. This will be an opportunity to weigh in with state legislators during National Foster Care Month about why the law matters for children’s health, and how the state can take up the opportunity to use federal funds in this new and innovative way to better meet the needs of families in crisis.
The Family First Advocacy Toolkit includes a template email for state legislators, sample social media messages, and key messages to help chapters and pediatrician advocates engage in a day of action.
Background: Last year, the Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First), became law. AAP fought hard for this bipartisan legislation, which transforms federal child welfare policy in two significant ways:
- States can now use federal funds previously limited to paying for foster care to also prevent the need to place a child in foster care in the first place, so they can remain safely with their family.
- New federal requirements ensure that children who do need foster care are with a family unless their needs require specialized care beyond what is available in a family setting.
Now that Family First is federal law, the AAP is focused on its success for children. That’s where you come in.
Using this toolkit, AAP members and chapters can be an effective voice for vulnerable children in the child welfare system. To maximize your collective impact, this toolkit will also provide you with everything you need to participate in the Family First Day of Action on Wednesday, May 1.
*Please customize the highlighted portion of these comments
Dear State Rep./State Sen. XX:
As a indicate your practice specialty and practice type pediatrician practicing in city, state, I write to ask you to support the implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act (P.L. 115-123), a landmark federal child welfare reform law that offers State Name a significant opportunity to better meet the needs of vulnerable children and families.
In 2017, there were a total of 7,699 children in foster care in Wisconsin. 32% of the approximately 5,124 Wisconsin children who entered foster care that year did so in part as a result of parental substance abuse. A new federal law offers funding and flexibility to our state to update its approach as we address this crisis. This approach would benefit my patients, including XX (include a patient story about a family who would benefit from the services Family First will fund).
In 2018, the U.S. Congress enacted the Family First Prevention Services Act, a landmark bipartisan child welfare reform law that will support interventions to keep families in crisis safely together. Starting in October of this year, the law will allow states to use federal funds previously limited to foster care placements for evidence-based services for children and their caregivers that can prevent the need for foster care, including mental health, substance use disorder treatment, and parenting skills training.
Wisconsin legislators must affirmatively elect to begin using federal foster care funds for prevention services under Family First to realize these benefits. Our state will need to appropriate matching funds now to draw down these critical federal resources. As a Wisconsin pediatrician, I urge you to implement and fund a prevention services program under Family First to support vulnerable children and families in crisis.
Thank you for your consideration.