NCSL's Child Welfare News You Can Use | March 2020


New Resources to Help Legislators Address the Needs of Older Youth in Foster Care

In 2018, approximately a quarter of youth in foster care were age 14 or older. These youth often encounter unique challenges entering adulthood, and many states are enacting legislation to help them make the transition.

NCSL’s Older Youth in Foster Care Data Map is your source for statutes in eight policy areas: driver’s license and auto insurance, diligent search requirements to identify relatives, extending foster care beyond age 18, health oversight for youth in foster care, increasing placement stability, normalcy in foster care and tuition waivers for youth in foster care.

The interactive map contains data profiles for older youth in each state and statutes related to the eight policy topics. It also contains additional analysis of the older youth policy landscape for Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. The sortable database allows users to easily compare statutes and dig deeper into subcategories.

NCSL’s Older Youth Housing, Financial Literacy and Other Supports page is a companion to the data map. It provides additional statistics on older youth in foster care, an overview of federal legislation affecting state policy, an introduction to state housing and financial literacy, and ideas for how legislators can engage older youth.

NCSL Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources for States

NCSL is developing an array of resources to help legislators address the impact of the coronavirus. Resources include webinars, podcasts, blog posts, resource guides, issue summaries and more — all addressing the range of policies issues now or soon to be in front of legislatures. Check back soon for resources focused on child welfare, child support and family law, early care and education, economic security, and housing and homelessness.

Child Welfare Enacted Legislation Database

In 2019, state legislators enacted nearly 700 bills related to child welfare. Child protection was the most popular topic with 267 bills enacted. Not surprisingly, states are focusing on the Family First Prevention Services Act. In 2019, 31 states introduced 87 bills related to Family First. Of those, 46 were enacted or adopted. Explore these trends with NCSL’s Child Welfare Enacted Legislation database and our Family First Updates and New Legislation page. NCSL will continue to track new 2020 enacted child welfare legislation.

Additional Federal Guidance for Family First Transition Act

The Children’s Bureau released guidance on how states, territories and tribes may apply for a Family First Prevention Services Act Transition Grant. Congress appropriated $500 million for a one-time transition fund states can use for programs, services and operational costs associated with implementing Family First. Applications must be submitted to the Children’s Bureau no later than April 30, 2020.

Exploring Options for Stakeholder Engagement

Legislators are using a variety of methods to engage with their constituents and other stakeholders to ensure they inform implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act and other child welfare topics. Work groups are one-way legislators are bringing together experts, advocates and other constituents to shape state policy. In 2018, the Oregon Senate established the Family First Implementation and Policy Work Group, and invited the public to attend. Drawing from a diverse set of perspectives, the work group shaped legislation including Oregon SB 171.

Legislative Children’s Caucuses are another way for legislators to collaborate with stakeholders and build bipartisan support for issues affecting children. An NCSL LegisBrief summarizes the national landscape of children’s caucuses as of 2018. Hawaii’s children’s caucus focuses on influencing policy and legislation, while Maine’s focuses primarily on educating legislators about issues affecting children. Both models engage stakeholders from outside the legislature and offer a place for legislators to consider important issues like Family First.

NCSL’s State Legislatures Magazine article, Town Hall Overhaul, describes other innovative ways legislators can engage constituents, including youth and alumni of foster care, birth parents, foster parents and adoptive parents. Some legislators participate in legislative roundtables where they hear directly from youth voices. “Youth days” at the Capitol are opportunities for youth to experience the legislative process firsthand and express their concerns and priorities. How are you engaging with your constituents? Let us know.