Virginia has been working to implement significant changes to federal support for child welfare since passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) in February 2018. This law made sweeping changes to federal financing of the foster care system by allowing federal Title IV-E funds (which typically reimburse state funds at a 50 percent match rate) to be used for prevention services for the families of children who would otherwise be at risk of entering foster care. These services, which include mental health and substance use treatment programs, could be funded for up to 12 months and must meet certain standards of effectiveness. FFPSA also made major changes to the traditional use of Title IV-E funding for maintenance (typically room and board for children who must be removed from their homes) by limiting the duration of federal maintenance support for certain congregate care placements, with the exception of facilities that are designated as “Qualified Residential Treatment Providers” by meeting certain standards. FFPSA allowed states to participate in this new funding structure beginning October 1, 2019, but states may delay participation for two years.
Virginia has been working through a “Three Branch” structure, including representatives of the legislature, executive branch, and judiciary, as well as many advocates and stakeholders, to implement the legislation, and had been planning to transition to the new funding model in summer 2020. Last week the Three Branch leadership announced that implementation would be delayed until January 30, 2021. The additional implementation time is needed to enable existing providers of congregate care to become approved Qualified Residential Treatment Providers, a critical component in enabling Virginia to continue to receive federal support for children in these placements – without the IV-E maintenance payments, these costs would be shifted to other funding streams, including the Children’s Services Act. State leaders are also continuing to work with providers of prevention services to offer training and other support to build up the offerings of evidence-based services that can qualify for federal funding.
Additional information on FFPSA implementation in Virginia may be found on the Three Branch team’s website. VACo held a breakout session at the 2019 annual conference on child welfare issues, including a presentation on the state’s implementation of FFPSA; a recording of the session is available at this link.
VACo Contact: Katie Boyle