More Comments Needed! Now on Title IV-E/Families First Developments

Here. DUE JULY 22.

This one is arguably a little more complicated than usual, but also not inherently nefarious. Here’s a very quick overview (with thanks to Jack Trope for his recent presentation up at Grand Traverse Band for all the info).

In somewhat of a surprise development, Congress passed an overhaul to Title IV-E a few months ago. Title IV-E is the reimbursement program for foster care funding. Until this change, called Families First, the funding was triggered both by the removal of the child, and by the family’s income qualification.

Families First does two things–it releases funding for children who are “candidates” for foster care and removes the income qualification for services for those children and families. Allowable pre-removal services include “evidence-based”:

1. Mental health prevention and treatment services
2. Substance abuse prevention and treatment
3. In-home parenting-skill based programs

“Evidence based” Services and programs must be “trauma-informed” and “promising”, “supported”, or “well-supported” practices. HHS is to release practice criteria and pre-approved programs. There are long definitions in the quotes above, but basically:

Promising: one study with a control group
Supported: one study with random control or quasi-experimental
Well-supported: is at least two studies that used a random control or quasi-experimental trial

Finally, HHS must allow programs and services adapted to culture and context of a tribal community. No one really knows how this provision will interact with the evidence based provision above. This call for comments “solicits comments by July 22, 2018 on initial criteria and potential candidate programs and services for review in a Clearinghouse of evidence-based practices in accordance with the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018.”

The HHS approved list of programs (“Clearinghouse”) will be automatically eligible for the funding. So! If you are provider who knows about such evidence-based practices for tribal youth and families, TELL HHS! Alternatively, if you work for a tribe, you might ask about how tribal consultation will fit into this process.

This may also be a partial game changer for tribes on the fence about doing direct IV-E funding with the federal government. The planning grant for that process should pop up again in the spring.