Americas foster system got its biggest overhaul in 40 years. Here’s what’s changed.

The foster care system in the U.S. is complex, and until recently, it was largely still acting under the original statute — passed in 1974.

Over 400, 000 infants are placed in foster care each year in the United States, and the tales they each have to tell can be staggering. Articles online can detail child abuse and neglect, and there are stories after stories of people who have been through the organizations of the system on both sides.

The issues of child abuse and neglect are complicated problems with no simple solutions. Maintaining children safe is the first priority, and sometimes removing them from households and placing them in promote care is necessary. However, that’s not always the ideal technique. There are many awesome foster care families, but the organizations of the system can be traumatic for children who go through it — and just like any household, some foster families have their own issues.

While there is an ongoing debate over what is best for children in abusive or neglectful households, much of the available research presents that children who remain with their families, even dysfunctional ones, tend to have better outcomes than kids placed in foster care.

But what if we could do more to assistance at-risk families create a safe and healthy home surrounding and funnel fewer children through the foster care system?

Congress has passed a statute that could change everything for the next generation of potential promote children .

Tucked quietly into a massive spending bill passed by Congress and signed by the president in February, the Family First Prevention Services Act is the biggest overhaul of the foster system in four decades. It changes the route that states can expend their federal monies in specific areas. The biggest change? Funneling funds toward preventative programs to keep kids from having to enter the foster system in the first place .

Making households safer for at-risk children isn’t a new idea. The 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act( ASFA) necessitated agencies to make reasonable efforts to help parents redres safety concerns as a first step. However, only a small percent of federal funding went toward prevention programs, so the majority of support resulted after small children had already been removed from the home.

With this new law, priority is given to providing parenting classes, mental health services, substance abuse recovery, and other prevention programs aimed at creating a healthier home environment. It’s the first time that evidence-based prevention services will be funded as an entitlement, like Medicaid.