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Plan of Safe Care Legislation Would Provide New Funding to Support Vulnerable Infants

Washington, D.C. – Each day, as the opioid crisis continues to ravage our communities, more and more infants are born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, or are otherwise affected by substance abuse. In an effort to help these children, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) has introduced the Supporting Infant Plans of Safe Care Implementation Act of 2018. This legislation will provide much needed resources to states for implementation of the 2016 law, plus additional guidance and technical assistance from the federal government to help states meet the requirements of the law.

“While we’ve seen some progress in the fight to protect our children from the opioid epidemic, there’s still much more to be done,” said Senator Casey. “This bill builds upon a framework already in place and gives states the funding they need to protect infants affected as a result of the epidemic. We’ve already worked in a bipartisan way to advance legislation on the issue. I urge my colleagues to come together once again so we can protect our nation’s most vulnerable infants.”

This legislation builds upon Casey’s Infant Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act, which was enacted as a part of the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act. The Infant Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act strengthened the plan of safe care policy and increased states’ accountability and compliance, in order to save the lives of vulnerable infants whose mothers used opioids during pregnancy. Unfortunately, many states are still struggling to find the resources to serve all of the children impacted by the opioid epidemic.

The “Supporting Infant Plans of Safe Care Implementation Act” would help States to implement the plan of safe care requirement by:

  • Providing $60 million in competitive grants to States, territories, and Indian tribes to:
    • Improve the development and implementation of plans of safe care;
    • Train health professionals, child welfare workers, substance use disorder treatment agencies, and other related professionals such as law enforcement;
    • Establish partnerships between the various agencies and professionals that are required to care for infants affected by opioids; and
    • Develop and update information technology systems for improved data collection and monitoring of infants.
  • Asking states to report on the number of infants who experienced removal and reunification or substantiated reports of child abuse or neglect due to parental substance use concerns.
  • Requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to:
    • provide in-depth technical assistance to States, territories, and Indian tribes;
    • support States in developing information technology systems to manage plans of safe care;
    • issue updated guidance in collaboration with multiple agencies regarding these requirements and best practices related to Plans of Safe Care; and
    • report to Congress annually on the recommendations or observations on the challenges, successes, and lessons from the grant program.