SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 33
(By Senators Unger, Lindsay, Beach, Plymale, Stollings, Baldwin, Jeffries, and Sypolt)
[Introduced February 13, 2019]
Requesting the Joint Committee on Government and Finance study the foster care system and its compliance with federal law.
Whereas, Approximately 2.6 million children are currently being raised in grand families, and experts say this number is rising as the opioid epidemic continues to devastate families and communities across the country; and
Whereas, On February 9, 2018, President Donald Trump signed into law the landmark bipartisan Family First Prevention Services Act, as part of Division E in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (HR 1892). Family First includes long-overdue historic reforms to help keep children safely with their families and avoid the traumatic experience of entering foster care, emphasizes the importance of children growing up in families, and helps ensure children are placed in the least restrictive, most family-like setting appropriate to their special needs when foster care is needed. Family First builds on the original version of the bill passed in the House of Representatives in June 2016 (HR 5456); and
Whereas, Beginning October 1, 2019, states will have the option to use Title IV-E funds for preventative services for eligible children at risk of foster care. This means they are identified in a prevention plan as being at imminent risk of entering foster care. They may safely remain at home or in a kinship placement, if services are provided that prevent entry into foster care. The Family First Prevention Services Act redirects federal funds to provide services to keep children safely with their families and out of foster care. When foster care is needed, federal reimbursement can provide for care in a family based setting or certain residential treatment programs for children with emotional and behavioral disturbance requiring special treatment; and
Whereas, Placement with relatives, also known as grand families, including grandparents, aunts, and uncles, help to reduce the trauma and separation that accompany children’s removal from their parents by preserving the children’s important connections to their siblings. Research shows that sibling relationships play a major role in how children develop and learn to interact with other people through sibling bonds, just like parent-child bonds, and influence children’s developing sense of attachment; and
Whereas, With the passage of P L 115-123 (Short Title - The Family First Prevention Services Act), historic reforms to the child welfare system will improve outcomes for vulnerable children. The act provides struggling and overburdened child welfare agencies with the tools needed to help children and families in crisis, including families impacted by the opioid epidemic; and
Whereas, The West Virginia Legislature has great influence and concern over West Virginia’s children and families and acts in the best interest of its constituents, therefore it is imperative to encourage laws that would enable West Virginia to collect the federal benefits offered for the improvement in West Virginia children’s lives; therefore, be It
Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance is requested to study the foster care system and its compliance with federal law; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance enlist the assistance of other state agencies and departments as necessary in conducting the study; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance report its findings, conclusions, and recommendations to the regular session of the Legislature in 2020, together with drafts of any legislation necessary to effectuate its recommendations; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the expenses necessary to conduct this study, to prepare a report, and to draft necessary legislation be paid from legislative appropriations to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.