On September 30, President Obama president signed into law the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act that reauthorizes two important child welfare programs – Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) and the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services (STJCWS) for 5 years. The law also renews waiver authority so states can test various approaches to serving children at risk of abuse or neglect and establishes child welfare data standards so states can better communicate between social service programs.
The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (S 1542/HR 2883) was sponsored in the Senate by Max Baucus (D-MT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and in the House by Geoff Davis (R-KY) and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX). Representative Doggett supported the bill in remarks on the floor. It passed the Senate by voice vote on September 23 after a vote in the House on September 21, approving the bill by a vote of 395-25.
NASW worked for many years to secure key provisions that focus on the child welfare workforce, recognizing the unique challenges of this field of practice. In fact, NASW submitted testimony to Congress on July 2 as they began the process to reauthorize PSSF and the STJCWS, urging them to retain the provisions for caseworker visits and appropriate caseload sizes. The full testimony can be view on the NASW advocacy page.
We are pleased that the law will require that states continue to assure that at least 90 percent of children in the child welfare system are visited on a monthly basis. Also, the law sharpens the focus on child abuse with a new requirement that directs states to include a description of the sources used to compile information on child maltreatment deaths. NASW strongly advocated for enhanced tracking of child deaths nationwide through our partnership with Every Child Matters.