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At congressional hearing, APHSA calls for state flexibility, prevention funding to aid at-risk youth.

APHSA called on Congress to support effective programs that prevent the unnecessary separation of children from their birth families, improve the quality of care and services for children and families, and ensure permanency for children. In testimony before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources, APHSA Executive Director Tracy Wareing credited the Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) program for funding efforts that work to reduce out-of-home placement of children.

"PSSF has played a critical role in helping states alleviate situations that might otherwise lead to children being placed in foster care due to abuse or neglect," said Wareing. Over the past five years, states have successfully reduced the number of children in foster care by more than 20 percent. In that same time period, the national repeat maltreatment rate also declined." PSSF is designed to help children and families resolve crises, connect with necessary and appropriate services, and remain safely together in their own homes whenever possible. In her testimony, Wareing cited examples from several states where PSSF funds are supporting effective programs. These included a New York program to help children at risk for abuse and neglect by providing intensive home visitation services, and a family support program in Washington State that targets families that need services, but there is no finding of abuse or neglect.

PSSF funding can be used for four types of services: family preservation, adoption services, family reunification, and family support. Currently, at least 20 percent of the money must be spent on each of the four categories of programs. Wareing recommended that these PSSF spending restrictions be amended, saying that states should have the ability to use funds to target areas for improvement, which may not equate to the same allocation across the four service categories.

Also testifying on behalf of more flexible use of PSSF funding was Patricia Wilson, the commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services. In addition, Wilson addressed her state's needs under Child Welfare Services legislation for caseworker visit funding and regulation, appropriate medical treatment for children in foster care, and improving outcomes for children affected by their parent/caretaker's substance abuse, particularly methamphetamines. Wilson represents the Southeast Region on the Executive Committee of the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators (NAPCWA), an APHSA affiliate organization. The full testimony and video of the hear-ing are available at http://waysand-means.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=245728/.
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Title Annotation:first things first; American Public Human Services Association
Publication:Policy & Practice
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2011
Words:402
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