For Emily Griffey, policy director of Voices for Virginia’s Children, some small print in the bipartisan budget act passed by Congress last February was cause for celebration.
The legislation, known as the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), was the first significant reform of child welfare financing in a generation. And unlike previous federal funding, which helped maintain the foster care system through subsidies for room, board and other services, the new law pays for prevention.
The funds, which come with a 50/50 match of state dollars, will provide reimbursement for up to twelve months of mental health services, substance use treatment and in-home parenting skills training—in short, the family-strengthening ballast that can keep children out of the foster care system in the first place.
“If we invest in prevention, if we make parents the strongest possible parents they can be, they can help buffer any stresses their kids do encounter, and give children the most solid foundation for any trauma they encounter in their lives,” Griffey says. “[The legislation] gives us some resources we don’t always get to unlock for parents.”
What’s more, the FFPSA notes that all services must be trauma-informed.