In recent weeks, the Children’s Bureau finally released the first round of services reviewed under the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) Clearinghouse, which determines the prevention programs that will be allowable for reimbursement under Title IV-E. That list included seven models that were considered “well-supported” by research, one model that is considered “supported,” one considered “promising,” three considered “still under review,” and three considered to not meet the criteria of FFPSA. This list is limited and creates some challenges for states and community-based organizations as they work to implement FFPSA. For example, neither of the two kinship navigator programs submitted to the clearinghouse met the criteria, so currently there are no approved navigator programs. Earlier this month, the Children’s Bureau notified child welfare leaders of some flexibility and workarounds, given delays in the clearinghouse. A letter from Associate Commissioner Jerry Milner announced that the Children’s Bureau plans to issue some guidance to allow states to claim transitional payments for services under Title IV-E until the clearinghouse can review and rate the program/service if the state submits documentation. This guidance is expected in the next couple of weeks and will allow for transitional payments. Eventually, the clearinghouse, when it’s up and running, will make determinations about whether a service is considered promising, supported, or well-supported. The Alliance continues to monitor the situation closely.

The Public Consulting Group (PCG) works with the public sector and health, education, and human services organizations to bolster their performance. It has partnered with several states in assisting them with the implementation of FFPSA and has compiled valuable resources on the subject available to the Alliance network. The Alliance partnered with PCG to create an all-inclusive summary of the provisions on FFPSA, which covers the wide array of activities, supports, and payments necessary for full utilization of FFPSA by your organization. PCG also has a comprehensive set of resources, including:

Alliance Webinar: Preparing for Successful FFPSA Implementation

July 11 from 1-2 p.m. CT
Register online for this free webinar to learn about an assessment and planning framework, as well as a suite of tools to help you effectively prepare for FFPSA. Presenters will also share strategies for partnering with public child welfare agencies and across systems.

Congress Passes $4.59 Billion Border Supplemental Funding Bill

After lack of consensus on supplemental funding for the border, the House of Representatives compromised and passed the Senate version of the Border Supplemental Bill last week. The bill offers additional funds to alleviate pressure on the U.S.-Mexico border brought on by the recent surge of immigrants. The funding includes:

  • $793 million for migrant care and processing facilities
  • $112 million for medical care and items such as clothing, baby formula, and hygiene products
  • $35 million to transport migrants
  • $30 million for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reimburse state and local governments and nonprofit groups to care for homeless migrants released from Department of Homeland Security custody
  • $866 million to provide care in licensed shelters and expand supply of shelters while a state license is obtained
  • At least $100 million for post-release services, child advocates, and legal support

As part of the compromise, the House of Representatives passed the bill based on assurances by Vice President Pence that he would make administrative changes to the operation of migrant shelters including ensuring unaccompanied children do not spend more than 90 days in an unlicensed facility and notifying Congress within 24 hours of a child’s death. The measure was signed into law by President Trump July 1.

Deportation Raids to Begin After July 4

On Monday, President Trump announced that immigration raids will start after July 4 as part of an effort to round up undocumented immigrants around the country. The action, which was introduced two weeks ago and then subsequently delayed with hopes that lawmakers from both parties could reach an agreement on U.S. asylum policies, is set to round up about 2,000 people in 10 cities around the country including Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Baltimore. 
Source: Bloomberg Government

Supreme Court Ruling on Census Citizenship Question

The Supreme Court delivered the long-awaited decision on the inclusion of the citizenship question in the 2020 census, ruling that the argument made for inclusion was not strong enough. The ruling comes after a lengthy debate over adding the question, with advocacy groups asserting that if included it would scare away potential participants and lead to negative consequences for data collection over the next decade. However, the fate of the citizenship question is still uncertain. In response to the ruling, President Trump threated to delay the census, pushing the finalization of forms from July 1 to Oct. 31. This left many asking whether the census can be delayed. If the Trump administration moves to delay, it will be the first time in U.S. history. Judge George Hazel of Maryland has given the administration until July 1 (since passed without action) to share their plans, claiming that if given no response he will proceed with reconsidering the discrimination claim made against the administration. 

TANF Extension Passed through Sept. 30

Both the House of Representatives and Senate have passed a bipartisan bill extending the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program funding through Sept. 30, 2019. No changes to the program are proposed in the bill. The bill was presented to the president June 28 and awaits his approval. It is unclear what the path forward may be for a full reauthorization of TANF.
Source: American Public Human Services Association

BETTER Act Introduced to Improve Quality, Access for Medicare Beneficiaries

Last week, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-Texas) introduced the Beneficiary Education Tools Telehealth Extender Reauthorization (BETTER) Act of 2019 aimed toward improving quality of and access to services for Medicare beneficiaries. “By expanding telehealth benefits, the legislation addresses Medicare beneficiaries’ need for more accessible mental health services,” said Neal. “These sorts of advancements are possible when members of Congress work in a bipartisan way.” Two major components of the legislation include increased funding for counselors who help Medicare beneficiaries with enrollment questions and Medicare plan choices and expansion of Medicare telehealth benefits to improve access to mental health services for Medicare beneficiaries.

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