Funding opportunity: Kinship Navigator Program

The Children’s Bureau released the application for states, U.S. territories and eligible tribes to apply for 2019 Kinship Navigator funds. Applications are due by March 15th. View the guidance and application here.

 

Food insecurity among college students

In January 2019, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report about food insecurity among college students.  The report examined 31 studies on the topics and focused on:

  1. food insecurity among college students,
  2. how selected colleges are addressing the problem,
  3. the use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) among students, and
  4. the extent to which federal programs can assist students experiencing food insecurity.

The GAO report revealed that having low income is the most common risk factor for food insecurity among college students. Among low-income students, most have at least one additional risk factor, such as being a first-generation student or a single parent, associated with food insecurity.

The report noted that many students from low-income families in elementary and secondary schools receive federally subsidized free or reduced price lunch, however, no comparable program exists for college students, despite a similar level of need. Furthermore, many college students are prohibited from receiving federal SNAP benefits due to student eligibility restrictions. Approximately two million at-risk students eligible for SNAP did not receive benefits.

Researchers and state higher education officials also noted that eligibility restrictions were instituted at a time when college students generally enrolled from higher-income households, whereas today many college students are from middle and low-income households.

The GAO recommends that the Administrator of Food and Nutrition Services make information more easily digestible regarding student SNAP eligibility requirements. Regional offices are encouraged to collect and review information about flexibilities within SNAP. In addition, regional offices are encouraged to provide examples of approaches and share with other state agencies examples that state SNAP agencies are taking to assist eligible college students.

The full GAO report is here.

 

Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) Clearinghouse

A letter was sent to state child welfare directors in January 2019 that highlights and clarifies requirements state title IV-E agencies must meet related to the prevention program: ACYF-CB-PI-18-09 program instruction.

The letter also discusses establishing the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse by the Children's Bureau and Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE).

Additional information, including a more detailed description of the revised initial criteria, procedures for systematic review and re-review, and definitions of key terminology in the forthcoming Prevention Services Clearinghouse Handbook of Standards and Procedures, which will be issued in early April 2019.

The following FFPSA and Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse timeline was also provided:

Event

Estimated Date

Description

Enactment of FFPSA

February 2, 2018

The President signed the Bipartisan Budget Act

of 2018, including FFPSA.

Publication of FRN

June 22, 2018

The CB published a FRN soliciting comments on

the initial criteria and potential programs and

services for review and inclusion in the Clearinghouse.

Close of FRN Comment Period

July 22, 2018

The CB received and reviewed over 360 unique comments on the FRN.

Award of Clearinghouse Contract

September 2018

The CB awarded the Clearinghouse contract to Abt Associates.

Title IV-E Prevention Services Program Instruction

November 30, 2018

The CB published program instructions on the title IV-E prevention program for states and title IV-E tribal agencies. The CB concurrently published program instructions on the kinship navigator program and the revised title IV-E financial reporting form.

Prevention Services Clearinghouse Handbook of Standards and Procedures

Early April 2019

Release of the Prevention Services Clearinghouse Handbook of Standards and Procedures, which will include (1) procedures for identifying programs and services and associated research studies for review or re- review, (2) standards for assessing the design, execution, and findings of research studies and rating programs and services, and (3) definitions of key terms.

Webinar Addressing Clearinghouse Standards and Procedures

Mid-April 2019

The Clearinghouse project team will provide an overview of the standards and procedures and answer questions about elements of review processes.

Program and Service Ratings

Beginning May 2019

The Clearinghouse project team will provide an overview of the standards and procedures and answer questions about elements of review processes.

Next Programs and Services to be Reviewed

Late Spring-Summer 2019

Release of additional programs and services selected for systematic review.

 

National Model Foster Family Home Licensing Standards updated

            In February, the Administration for Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) released an Information Memorandum that details the new law regarding National Model Foster Family Home Licensing Standards.  Below please find a summary:

Subject Standards

Standards and Summary

Summary – Foster

Family Home

Eligibility –

Threshold

Requirements

The foster family home eligibility standards provide threshold

requirements for licensing a foster family home to assess the

applicant's:

  1. age,
  2. financial stability,
  3. ability to communicate with the child, the title IV-E agency, and providers; and
  4. functional literacy.

 

The minimum age for applicants is 18. Applicants must be

financially stable to meet their family's needs prior to placing a foster

child in the home. The communication standards are flexible in that

applicants must be able to communicate with the title IV-E agency,

service providers, and a child in foster care. At least one applicant in

the home must have functional literacy to ensure at least one

applicant reads and writes at the level necessary to participate

effectively in the community in which they live.

Summary - Foster

Family Home

Eligibility - Physical

and Mental Health

The physical and mental health standards ensure each applicant is physically, mentally, and emotionally capable of caring for an additional child or children through a required physical exam from a licensed healthcare professional conducted within the prior 12 months.

 

Household members must provide health history, including any history of drug or alcohol abuse or treatment, and must disclose any current mental health or substance abuse issues.

 

The model also includes language clarifying that the title IV-E agency may require additional documentation or evaluation in this area to determine whether the home is suitable (as may be necessary to fully understand whether the mental or physical health of an applicant or household member would be relevant to licensing).

 

Physical and mental health standards also include immunization requirements to prevent exposing children in foster care to potentially-life threatening communicable diseases. These requirements apply unless the immunization is contrary to the individual’s health as documented by a licensed healthcare professional. For children who are household members, the model requires that they be up to date on immunizations consistent with the recommendations of the AAP, the ACIP, and the AAFP.

 

Consistent with the recommendations of the ACIP, all household members who will be caregivers of infants must have an up-to-date pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine and annual influenza vaccine, and all household members who will be caregivers of children with special medical needs must have an up-to-date annual influenza vaccine.

Summary – Foster

Family Home

Eligibility -

Background Checks

The background check standards mirror the requirements under section 471(a)(20)(A) and (B)(i) of the Act which requires title IV-E agencies to perform criminal record checks (fingerprint-based checks of national crime information databases (as defined in section 534(f)(3)(A) of title 28, United States Code) for any prospective foster parent to check any child abuse and neglect registry maintained by a state or tribe for information on any applicant and on any other adult living in the prospective foster family home to request a check of any other child abuse or neglect registry in a state or tribe in which any such applicant or other household adult has resided in the preceding five years.

 

In accordance with section 471(a)(20)(A)(i) and (ii) of the Act, the title IV-E agency must not grant final approval to the applicant if a criminal record check reveals a felony conviction for:

  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Spousal abuse
  • A crime against children (including child pornography)
  • A crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, or homicide, but not including other physical assault or battery
  • Physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense within the last five years.

Summary - Foster Home Eligibility - Home Study

Broad home study standards require the title IV-E agency to conduct in-person and on-site interviews and obtain references for all applicants were proposed.

An applicant must have completed an agency home study, including at least one scheduled on-site visit to the home, at least one scheduled in home interview for each household member, multiple applicant references (including at least one from a relative and one from a non-relative).

 

The model standards specify that the title IV-E agency has discretion on whether to interview or observe each household member based on his or her age and development. For example, if a title IV-E agency were to adopt this model standards as written, this would give the title IV-E agency flexibility to observe rather than interview an infant or severely developmentally disabled child.

Summary – Foster

Family Home Health

and Safety – Living

Space & Condition of the Home

These standards apply to the foster family home itself, which includes the grounds and all structures found on the grounds.

 

These standards are written broadly to address the large amount of variance in home hazards across jurisdictions and to prevent potential biases against rural or urban families.  The standards are divided into two sections: Living Space and Condition of the Home.

 

Living Space

The living space standards are flexible in order to determine that the applicant’s dwelling (house, mobile home, housing unit, or apartment) includes basic essentials such as:

  • adequate safe drinking water (which may include water from a municipal drinking source, a private well, or other source),
  • properly operating kitchen facilities,
  • a properly operating toilet, sink, and tub or shower,
  • heating and/or cooling, and
  • a working phone (or access to a working phone in walking distance).

 

Condition of the Home

The condition of the home standards address the overall condition and safety of the home to ensure it is safe and in a reasonable state of repair considering the community where the home is located.

  • Housing must be safe and clean
  • The interior and exterior must be free from dangerous objects and conditions, and from hazardous materials (meaning that any danger presented by these objects, conditions or materials must be mitigated)
  • The home must have adequate lighting, ventilation, proper water temperature, and proper trash and recycling disposal (if recycling is available where the home is located)
  • The home must be free from rodents and insect infestations, and pets must be vaccinated in accordance with state, tribal and local law.
  • The standards include specific safety requirements for weapons, pools, hot tubs and spas as these pose a particular preventable danger to children.
  • Weapons and ammunition must be (separately) stored, locked, unloaded, and inaccessible to children.
  • Swimming pools, hot tubs, and spas must meet the listed requirements to ensure they are safe and hazard free (and additionally must meet all state, tribal and/or local safety requirements).

 

The home must have conditions which prevent the child’s access to all medications, poisonous materials, cleaning supplies, other hazardous materials, and alcoholic beverages as appropriate for his or her age and development.

Summary - Foster

Family Home

Capacity

The foster family home capacity standards mirror the requirements at section 472(c)(1)(A)(ii)(III) of the Act that the total number of children in foster care in a foster family home, must not exceed six, unless an exception outlined in section 472(c)(1)(B) of the Act applies.

Summary - Foster

Family Home

Sleeping

Arrangements

Applicants must provide a safe sleeping space including sleeping supplies, such as a mattress and linens, for each individual child, as appropriate for the child’s needs and age and similar to other household members. Foster parents must not co-sleep or bed-share with infants.

Summary - Emergency Preparedness, Fire Safety, and Evacuation Plans

The standards help protect children and household members from harm in the event of an emergency, a fire, or a need to evacuate.

 

The applicant’s home must have at least one smoke detector and one carbon monoxide detector on each level of occupancy of the home and at least one of each near all sleeping areas, an operable fire extinguisher, free of obvious fire hazards, have first aid supplies, a written evacuation plan in a prominent place in the home (e.g., on a refrigerator or family bulletin board), and review it with the child.

Safety procedures and emergency plans, and the communication thereof, increase the probability of safety and injury prevention for household members. Emergency readiness information provided by the Department of Homeland Security is available at http://www.ready.gov

Summary-

Transportation

The transportation standards focus broadly on the applicant having a reliable, legal, and safe mode of transportation for a child in foster care to attend appointments, visitation, and meetings. The standards allow for safe transportation arrangements with family friends, and teen household members as appropriate.

Summary - Training

The training standards include both pre-licensing and ongoing training and include mandatory pre-licensing training topics.

 

The purpose of the pre-licensing training standards is to provide information to applicants so they can make an informed decision about their commitment to foster a child. In addition, the pre-service training is to prepare the applicant to be licensed as a foster parent.

 

The ongoing training is to ensure the foster parents receive ongoing instruction to support their parental roles and remain up to date on policies, requirements, and services.

Summary - Foster Parent Assurances

There are four foster parent assurances broadly written to apply across title IV-E jurisdictions which cover corporal punishment, alcohol and drug use, the reasonable and prudent parent standard and smoking.

 

  1. Applicants will not use corporal or degrading punishment.
  2. Applicants will not use any illegal substances, abuse alcohol by consuming it in excess amounts, or abuse legal prescription and/or nonprescription drugs by consuming them in excess amounts or using them contrary to as indicated.
  3. Applicants and their guests will not smoke in the foster family home, in any vehicle used to transport the child, or in the presence of the child in foster care.
  4. Applicants will adhere to the title IV-E agency’s reasonable and prudent parent standard per section 472(c)(1)(A)(ii)(I) of the Act.

Title IV-E agencies may wish to develop additional assurances as appropriate to their jurisdiction.

 

 

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) amended in January

The Victims of Child Abuse Act Reauthorization Act of 2018 was enacted in January 2019. The law amends the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.  CAPTA was created in 1974 and is the only piece of federal legislation that targets prevention, assessment, identification and treatment of child abuse and neglect. CAPTA provides states with grants for primary prevention and capacity building related to child abuse and neglect.

Among other themes, the reauthorization of CAPTA includes amendments and stipulations about grants for states and provisions for immunity for people who report, in good faith, about child abuse/neglect. The law amends the provision to provide immunity from civil and criminal liability (it previously provided immunity from only prosecution) for people report of child abuse/neglect or who provide information/assistance, including medical evaluations or consultations, in connection with a report, investigation, or legal intervention.   Previous iterations of CAPTA already provide immunity from federal law for the same people/circumstances.

Another amendment allows the court to award attorney’s costs incurred by the defendant if the defendant wins in a federal civil action. The law is effective upon enactment.

An updated version of CAPTA can be found here.

A technical change to the Child Welfare Policy Manual at Section 2.1, Question 1 per the new law has been made.  The amended Q/A can be found here: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cwpm/public_html/programs/cb/laws_policies/laws/cwpm/policy_dsp.jsp?citID=64

New Resources

Adoption and Guardianship for Children in Kinship Foster Care

Generations United has released a new issue brief and comparison chart designed to help kinship foster parents understand and compare adoption and guardianship. View, download and share the issue brief and comparison chart.

Action Steps to Implement Kinship Provisions of Family First

The American Bar Association, Children’s Defense Fund and Generations United have released a new resource: New Opportunities for Kinship Families: Action Steps to Implement the Family First Prevention Services Act in Your Community.