family-first-2-300x300Kids win when elected leaders stand up for them and their families. That’s just what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul have been doing for Kentucky kids in Washington, DC. Thanks to Majority Leader McConnell’s leadership and Senator Paul’s support for the Protecting Our Infants Act of 2015, our nation will be better able to care for infants born exposed to substances.

We also appreciate Senator McConnell’s work in partnership with First Lady Glenna Bevin to raise the profile of the need to build stronger families and protect children impacted by parental substance abuse.

And now, we ask Majority Leader McConnell and Senator Paul to again stand up for kids through the Family First Prevention Services Act. This act has broad bipartisan support and needs action before the Senate recess; we ask Majority Leader McConnell to call it for a vote this week. This bill is good for kids, good for families, and good for Kentucky.

The Family First Prevention Services Act (H.R. 5456) would significantly impact how our system cares for vulnerable children and their families. It allows states more flexibility to use funds for prevention and family support services to strengthen and keep families together. It provides access to treatment for children who have experienced trauma and resources for mental health and substance abuse issues. This is especially important given the current opioid crisis, which has dramatically increased child welfare caseloads. The bill also focuses on increasing the quality of foster care group homes and better equipping them to care for children who have been through trauma with the professional and clinical help they need.

Right now, there are nearly 8,000 youth in out-of-home care in Kentucky, which does not include the thousands of children diverted from the foster care system and placed with their grandparents or other relatives. The number of Kentucky children in out-of-home care due to abuse or neglect grew by 19 percent from 2010 to 2014, making it more important than ever to use placements that provide youth with a trusted, committed adult in a family setting.

The Family First Prevention Services Act will allow for the flexibility of funding that Kentucky needs in order to better serve vulnerable children and families by increasing family preservation and reunification services, providing needed support for kinship families, increasing the number of quality foster care homes, and reserving residential treatment facilities for youth with intense clinical needs.

The Family First Prevention Services Act recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives with overwhelming support. Children’s advocates, medical professionals, foster youth, child welfare professionals, and the legislative sponsors of the bill have all worked together to craft this landmark piece of legislation.

With just a few days left before the Senate recess, now is the time for a Senate vote. We ask for Senator McConnell to put kids first and call the Families First Prevention Services Act to the Senate Floor for a vote.

Take action by urging Senator McConnell to call the bill for a vote. The time to pass the Family First Act is now.