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Grassley aims for permanent, loving homes for kids facing the foster-care system

September 25, 2011
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald
WASHINGTON -- Legislation authored by Senator Chuck Grassley today won unanimous approval of the Finance Committee as part of a larger proposal to extend federal child and family services programs.

Grassley’s initiative involves regional partnership grants which are competitively distributed by the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The grants are used to improve the safety, permanency and well-being of children who are not in their homes or are likely to be removed from their homes because of substance abuse by their parents. The proposal advanced today by the Finance Committee reauthorizes the grant program for five years along with Grassley’s provision that would allow current grant recipients to pursue a two-year grant extension. He said this would help to prevent any lapse where the program is making a positive difference.

“In the many years that I’ve been working on child welfare issues, especially for children in the foster care system, so many young people have told me what they want most of all is a mom and dad and a permanent, loving home,” Grassley said. “These grants help to keep families together, when possible, so that children are not subjected to the many difficulties that they face in the foster care system.”

Since the regional partnership grant program was last reauthorized in 2007, 53 grants have been awarded to partnerships covering 29 states and six tribes. More than 8,000 adults and 12,000 children have been served by the grants. The grants support family treatment drug courts, better system-wide collaboration, family-centered treatment, evidence-based practice approaches, parent advocates, and drug treatment monitoring.

The Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families has said that the grants help to discharge children from the foster care system at a faster rate because families are more likely to be reunified within 12 months and are more likely to stay that way after 12 months.

Grassley said his legislation this year also includes a five percent cap on administrative expenses for the grants.

“These grants have helped to bring back together families torn apart by substance abuse,” Grassley said. “Substance abuse is one of the leading reasons why children are forced into the foster care system. Long term, those kids benefit tremendously if foster care can be avoided or, at the very least, be a short-term detour, with family reunification and, when necessary, adoption.”

The legislation included in the overall package passed in the Finance Committee today was part of a bill that Grassley introduced in June, the Partners for Stable Families and Foster Youth Affected by Methamphetamine or Other Substance Abuse Act (S.1234). The regional partnership grants were created by legislation Grassley authored and moved through the Finance Committee as Chairman in 2006, the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Act.

“Passage of the law in 2006 was a big step forward in efforts to help the young people in the foster care system,” Grassley said.

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