Pass legislation to help foster kids in need of therapeutic services

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My father grew up in the foster system, and he was never able to shake the harshness he endured throughout his childhood. He eventually turned to alcohol as a coping mechanism, drinking away the prime years of his life. Luckily, strides have been made in foster care since my father was in the system, but we still hear too many stories of kids slipping through the cracks. Too many children go without the mental and emotional support they need to have a chance at healthy adulthood. There is finally a bill that will help address this problem: the Family-Based Foster Care Services Act will secure therapy for foster children with behavioral health needs.

The bill will clarify Medicaid’s policy on a model that already exists: Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC) gives foster parents special training to address the needs of kids with major mental health challenges, and simultaneously provides foster children with intensive in-home therapy services to address their specific needs. The model works to keep particularly vulnerable youth out of costly and often ineffective institutional care. It also provides them clinical therapy in lieu of overmedication.

Roughly 40,000 foster children across the country already benefit from TFC, but often the lack of a federal standard impairs quality and access to it on a case-by-case basis. 

The bipartisan Family-Based Foster Care Services Act would promote accountability, identify financing options, and drive personnel training and standards for TFC. We must urge the Senate to pass this bill now. I know that my dad would have benefitted from such a program, and so will the thousands of foster children who are currently suffering without emotional support.

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