Governor signs Bizon’s foster care reforms

LANSING, Mich. — The governor has signed legislation sponsored by Sen. John Bizon, M.D. to help support children in foster care or those who are entering foster care.

The new law focuses 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.

“The best thing we can do for kids is keep them in strong families,” said Bizon, R-Battle Creek. “This legislation will encourage the state to support healthy, loving family relationships and high-quality foster facilities that truly care for children.”

On Feb. 9, 2018, President Trump signed into law the landmark, bipartisan Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA). The law includes 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.

The FFPSA restricts states’ 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 are at risk of becoming sex trafficking victims.

Bizon sponsored Public Acts 6, 8 and 10 of 2020. Under the new law, the placement of children in the child welfare system now complies with the FFPSA. The law also enables the state to qualify for increased federal prevention funding, updates background check requirements for all employees of child-caring institutions consistent with the provisions of the FFPSA, and requires the Michigan State Police to notify child-caring organizations when a previously fingerprinted employee experiences a new criminal arrest.