COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Beginning October 1st, the Family First Prevention Services Act goes into effect. Foster care agencies have been preparing for the piece of legislation for more than a year. The act is designed to provide services to the foster care system that allow children to stay close to their families.
"We want to bring those children back to their communities," says Ben Schoch, Director of Foster Care at Kids Crossing says.
The FFPSA helps keep children safe with their families and avoid the experience of entering foster care, emphasizing the importance of children growing up in their families. The act also helps ensure children are placed in the least restrictive, most family-like setting appropriate to their special needs when foster care is needed.
Enacted in 2018, the Family First Prevention Services Act significantly reformed the child welfare system in the U.S. and allowed states to use funds to reduce out-of-home placements for children and youth.
When those placements are necessary, though, the FFPSA authorizes specific types of congregate settings, including qualified residential treatment programs.
Foster care agencies like Kids Crossing in Colorado Springs say, like any law, there are pros and cons to the FFPSA.
Ben Schoch, Director of Foster Care at Kids Crossing says while the goals of this legislation are good -- the resources to achieve them are lacking.
Schoch says there is already a shortage of foster care families, not just here in Colorado, but nationwide. In the Pikes Peak region, Schoch says there just aren't enough homes willing to help keep foster care children.
“We’re going to have to recruit and we’re going to have to find families that are willing to facilitate to keep [children] in their communities," he explains.
Schoch says although the mission is to keep children with their biological families when that can't happen, keeping them in an area they know is the next best thing.
“They’re already the kids going to school with your kids, they’re already the kids that are going to be on your kid’s soccer teams, football teams, basketball teams, at the YMCA," Schoch says. "We don’t have to label them as anything other than children that just need some help right now.”
Schoch says families interested in fostering should know they will be guided every step of the way. Foster families will be provided with resources and 24 hours, seven-day-a-week assistance when needed.
He also wants to send a special "thank you" to anyone already caring for children in the foster care system.
"We might not need to be the parents for them for the rest of their lives, but we want to help prepare a family to help be the parents they need for this moment, to help them be with their family and have the life they deserve," Schoch says.
To learn more about Kids Crossing, click here.