The National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) was in its infancy when it became one of the chief advocates for passage of the federal Family Preservation and Support Services Act of 1993. The purpose of this legislation was to “develop and establish, or expand, and to operate a program of family preservation services and community-based family support services.” Initial funding of $60 million was allotted to states based on the number of children receiving food stamps. States were required to contribute 25% in matching funds.
In 1997 Congress reauthorized funding through the Adoption and Safe Families Act but changed the name from Family Preservation and Support Services to the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program. States could also now spend funds on two additional service categories: time-limited reunification (within 15 months from date of removal of a child) and adoption promotion and support. Congress authorized mandatory funding to increase annually, rising to $305 million by FY 2001.
The PSSF program was reauthorized in 2001 with $200 million in discretionary funds added to the $305 million in mandatory funds. The discretionary portion of the funding included set-asides for tribal services, court improvement, and research/training/technical assistance.
In the 2006 reauthorization of PSSF, mandatory funding was increased to $345 million for one fiscal year. New funding of $40 million was allocated to support monthly caseworker visits and to improve outcomes for children affected by parental abuse of meth or other substances. PSSF was most recently reauthorized in 2011.
States are required to report how funds are spent. Currently, states spend about 30% of funds on family preservation, 29% on family support, 21% for reunification, and 20% for adoption promotion and support. States vary in the degree to which they use PSSF funds to pay for Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS), ranging from using no PSSF funds for IFPS to using all their PSSF allocation to pay for IFPS. Total mandatory and discretionary funding for PSSF has averaged $382 million in each of the past four fiscal years (FY 2013-FY 2016) with both types of funding reduced over the years due to budget cuts.
In 2016 reauthorization for PSSF was included in the Family First Prevention Services Act. This legislation was not passed by Congress so PSSF operates under a continuing resolution. The Family First Prevention Services Act was reintroduced this year in the House as H.R. 253 and the bill includes extending funding authority for the PSSF program. There could also be other bills introduced to extend authorization.
NFPN gratefully acknowledges reports on PSSF by Emilie Stoltzfus, Congressional Research Service, in preparing this history of federal funding of family preservation.
Posted by Priscilla Martens
NFPN Executive Director