Bizon foster care reforms moving forward in Lansing

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Families, Seniors and Veterans Committee Chairman Sen. John Bizon, M.D., along with Sen. Marshall Bullock (left) and representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services, testified before the committee Wednesday on legislation to help support children in foster care or those who are entering foster care.

The measures focus on the placement of foster children with families in the community. Recent changes to federal law will restrict the state’s access to federal funds unless certain new guidelines are followed.

“Strong families and loving support networks are the foundation of strong societies, and we must help ensure children are part of such healthy relationships,” said Bizon, R-Battle Creek. “These bills will discourage the state from placing children in facilities unless they are designed to truly foster care.”

Bizon sponsored Senate Bills 466 and 468. The bills would update state law regarding the placements of children in the child welfare system to comply with the federal Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) and enable the state to qualify for increased federal prevention funding.

The FFPSA will restrict the state’s ability to claim federal funds for a child placed in a residential facility unless the facility is one of the following:
• A Qualified Residential Treatment Program as defined by the act;
• A setting specializing in providing prenatal, postpartum, or parenting supports for youth;
• In the case of a child 18 years old or older, a supervised setting in which the child is living independently; or
• A setting providing high quality residential care and supportive services to children and youth who have been victims of sex trafficking or at risk of becoming sex trafficking victims.

Bullock introduced SBs 467 and 469. SB 467 would expand the ability of a local foster care review board to grant a variance to licensing rules for foster family and foster family group homes.

SB 469 would add an appropriate reference to the Probate Code for hearings that include the review and determination of a Qualified Residential Treatment Program placement.

Earlier this year, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey appointed Bizon to the National Conference of State Legislatures Family First Policy Forum. The organization met in August to discuss the FFPSA and share implementation strategies.

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