State & Federal Legislative Highlights

State & Federal Legislative Highlights

March 17, 2021. The Title IV-E Prevention Program The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), enacted as part of Public Law (P.L.) 115—123, authorized new optional title IV-E funding for time-limited prevention services for mental health, substance abuse, and in-home parent skill-based programs for children or youth who are candidates for foster care, pregnant or parenting youth in foster care, and the parents or kin caregivers of those children and youth.

This provision allows states to use Title IV-E funds to reduce out-of-home placements for children and youth. When out-of-home placements are necessary, the FFPSA authorized specific types of allowable out-of-home settings, including qualified residential treatment programs (“QRTP’s”) among others. Rather than creating a QRTP, Pennsylvania will submit a plan that will meet the goals of limiting out-of-home placements by certifying such out-of-home care programs as specialized settings that will meet the requirements for Title IV-E funding.

January 16, 2021. Update to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for 4-year college students. Under regular SNAP rules, students enrolled at least half-time in an institution of higher education are ineligible for SNAP unless they meet one of the exemptions. However, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, temporarily expands SNAP eligibility to allow students who either:

  • Are eligible to participate in State or Federally financed work study during the regular academic year, as determined by the institution of higher education, or
  • Have an expected family contribution (EFC) of 0 in the current academic year.

Students who meet one of the two criteria outlined above may receive SNAP if they meet all other financial and non-financial SNAP eligibility criteria.

This is especially important given that unemployment rates are high, especially in the restaurant and entertainment sectors, and that many students are learning remotely and are no longer near available campus jobs.

The new, temporary exemptions will be in effect until 30 days after the COVID-19 public health emergency is lifted.


August 7, 2020. The Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act was introduced in the House of Representatives with a goal to include the provisions of this Bill in the next COVID relief package. This bill addresses the urgent needs of children, youth and families involved with the child welfare system during COVID-19. It includes key provisions that will provide immediate assistance to older youth in foster care during the COVID-19 crises. This bill will help older youth in foster care by:

  • Placing a moratorium on aging out of care so young people remain connected to services
  • Allowing re-entry into foster care
  • Increasing Chafee funds by $400 million to meet the immediate needs of young people
  • Expanding Chafee eligibility through age 26
  • Removing the 30% Chafee housing cap
  • Increasing Education & Training Vouchers from$5,000 to $12,000 per person per year.

July 1, 2020. Dept. of Human Services Extends Eligibility for Aftercare Services for Former Foster Youth to Age 23 Under previous policy, youth exiting foster care after age 14 were eligible for services to support them in transition to adulthood up to age 21.

March 27, 2020. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed which includes a $15.8 billion appropriation for SNAP and $8.8 billion for child nutrition programs.

March 18, 2020. The Families first Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) authorized $199 billion in relief, includes explicit provisions for nutrition assistance. The legislation allows states to request waivers for providing temporary emergency benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to households already enrolled in the program with children who would normally receive free or reduced-price meals, up to the maximum monthly allotment of $646 for a family of four.

December 20, 2019. Building upon the 2018 Family First Prevention Services Act, the Family First Transition Act provides one-time, flexible funding for states and tribes to help implement Family First, as well as short-term funding guarantees for states with expiring Title IV-E waivers. This will allow states to move forward with preventative programs without a financial shortfall during their transition.

July 31, 2019. Governor Wolf signed an executive order for the Protection of Vulnerable Populations. This establishes an Office of Advocacy and Reform, maintained by the governor’s office with an executive director that includes a new Child Advocate position. MAGIC Charities will follow this appointment and work to advocate through this office in support of children’s well-being.  Click here to learn more…

July 30, 2019.  HUD established the Foster Youth to Independence initiative in which public housing agencies partnering with public child welfare agencies may request Housing Choice Vouchers in the form of Tenant Protection Vouchers to assist eligible youth (aged 18 to 24 who have left or are leaving foster care or are at risk for homelessness) for a period of 36 months. Click here to learn more…

June 28, 2019. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law the Fostering Independence through Education Act. This Act waives tuition for young adults who have been in foster care since the age of 16 or older. They are allowed five (5) years to complete education. The Act requires a sole contact person to help these students with financial aid. It does not include funds for room and board. Students must have completed a GED or high school diploma. Click here to learn more…

February 9, 2018. The Family First Prevention Services Act, a Federal level act is being rolled out at the state level. It focuses on prevention of children entering foster services and emphasizes keeping them with family first. It has created more barriers to going into foster care.  Local agencies have implied it means a more complex approval process for entering foster care. Click here to learn more…

Major Federal Legislation concerned with Child Protection, Child Welfare, and Adoption 

The primary responsibility for child welfare services rests with the States. Each State has its own legal and administrative structures and programs that address the needs of children and families. However, States must comply with specific Federal requirements and guidelines in order to be eligible for Federal funding under certain programs.

For more information regarding U.S. Federal Legislation about child protection, visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway Factsheet.