Grassley Introduces Grant Program Aimed at Keeping Families Together
WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, along with Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, introduced the bipartisan Building Capacity for Family Focused Residential Treatment Act, a grant program to help child welfare agencies, treatment centers or non-profit organizations establish evidence-based, family-focused residential treatment programs.
As longtime advocate for foster youth in Iowa and nationwide, Grassley supported Family First, a bipartisan child welfare reform bill that passed as part of the recent budget agreement. Family First authorizes federal child welfare money to be spent on services for families at risk of losing their children to foster care in an effort to prevent kids from being placed in foster care at all, and keep more families together. As more and more children are being placed in foster care due to the opioid crisis, it is important to identify ways to treat parental substance abuse while ensuring the safety of their children.
Family-focused residential treatment is one option identified by Family First as a way to prevent children from being placed in foster care. This type of treatment helps keep families together by allowing children to go with their parents suffering from substance abuse issues to a residential rehab program rather than being placed in foster care. This provides stability and safety to children and helps parents stay motivated to finish rehabilitation programs successfully. Additionally, these programs teach valuable parenting skills so that once parents leave, they are better equipped to take care of their children.
Family First requires programs to meet certain evidence standards to be authorized, and the Building Capacity for Family Focused Residential Treatment Act would help more programs meet those standards.
“Allowing children to stay with their biological parents should always be the first option unless there are circumstances that prevent it, such as safety concerns,” Grassley said. “Thousands of kids are currently in Iowa’s foster care system. Efforts that prioritize keeping families together whenever possible, such as this bill, are in the best interest of children and communities.”
Grassley is the co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth and has been working to improve the lives of foster children and families for more than two decades. In 2008, Grassley introduced the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, which provided additional federal incentives for states to move children from foster care to adoptive homes. That legislation also made it easier for foster children to be permanently cared for by their own relatives, and to stay in their home communities.
In 2011, Grassley worked to reauthorize grants that support families who struggle with substance abuse, and that improve the well-being of children who are not in their homes or are likely to be removed because of parental substance abuse.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which passed late last year, preserved the Adoption Tax Credit, making it easier for families who want to adopt children in foster care to do so. Also last year, Grassley introduced the Strong Families Act of 2017, legislation to prevent child abuse and improve maternal and child health.