Advocacy Coalition Promotes Therapeutic Family Care on Capitol Hill
Last week, a coalition of family and foster care organizations hosted a congressional staff briefing advocating for the inclusion of Therapeutic Family Care (TFC) as a reimbursable service through Medicaid nationwide. TFC provides standardized care in a community-based setting for children who would instead be treated in group homes or institutionalized care settings. TFC is currently only reimbursable as a distinct Medicaid service via a demonstration program in Utah, though many states offer access to TFC via the rehabilitation option in Medicaid.
THERAPEUTIC FAMILY CARE
According to the coalition, foster and group homes are often unprepared or underprepared to oversee and offer treatment for children with serious mental illness. Therapeutic Family Care (TFC) offers specialized treatment services and supports for children and families. The briefing panelists highlighted the need for TFC on a national scale to regulate and standardize treatment services and to ensure stability and support for this vulnerable population.
The Family-Based Care Services Act (H.R. 2290/S. 1357) would institute TFC nationwide by creating a new service category in Medicaid allowing for the reimbursement TFC services. Without the needed Medicaid reimbursement, TFC programs are often difficult to finance and regulate. The bill introduces guidelines and accreditation requirements for TFC providers and programs as well as research-based training criterion to ensure the effectiveness of the service.
TFC IMPLEMENTED IN UTAH, CALIFORNIA
Utah was awarded a federal demonstration grant to reimburse TFC services via Medicaid. So far, mental health professionals participating in the demonstration have praised the program. Similarly, California enacted a statewide standard TFC policy that has shown an increase in families served and decrease of interventions by the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) or emergency resources.
The briefing panel included Dr. Laura Boyd, Director of Public Policy at Family Focused Treatment Association; Jim Roberts, Founder and CEO of Family Care Network, Inc. (CA); Jennifer Larson, Director of Our-of-Home Services & Practice Improvement, State of Utah, Department of Human Services, Division of Child and Family Services; and Schylar Baber, Executive Director at Voice for Adoption and former youth in foster care.