Recent Legislative Changes Are Having an Impact on Youth and Families


Beginning January 2020 there are changes to PINS legislation that will go into effect and bring significant changes in the ways that we as a community and as a county system can address and support youth and families in Monroe County.  Family First Pervention Services Act changes are on the horizon and Counties are expected to be ready to go live when the law goes into effect September 2021. Counties are expected to make incremental steps towards the final requirements.

Monroe County’s Family Access and Connection Team (FACT) is one program feeling the impact.  CCSI met with Heather Starks, Program Director for Monroe County FACT, to learn more about these recent legislative changes and how they will affect programs, youth and families.

What is Family Access and Connection Team (FACT)?
FACT is Monroe County’s integrated entry point to care for our community’s high risk / high need youth and families. By engaging families, we explore their needs, connect them to interventions, support family empowerment, and promote healthy positive changes within our community.  Youth referred to FACT are under 18 years of age and experience challenges that include:

Behaving in a way that is dangerous or out of control: violence in the home/destruction of property, verbally and/or physically aggressive, including injury to others or pets/animals, self-harming behavior

  • Stealing, theft from family/residence
  • Substance use disorder
  • Leaving home without permission/curfew violations
  • Truancy - missing full days of school/illegal absences
  • At risk of congregate care placement
  • Behavioral health challenges
  • Families experiencing acute stress

 The FACT team has an Educational Liaison and expertise in working with youth and families in navigating school related matters.

What are the recent legislative changes impacting your program?   
The PINS reform legislation was crafted specifically with Family First requirements in mind, and will limit reasons for and lengths of stay in out of home and/or congregate care.  PINS legislation includes the termination of the use of non- secure detention.

The Family First law permits states to use funds for evidence-based prevention services for families at risk of entering the child welfare system. 

In addition, there are new federal funding opportunities for kinship navigator programs, which are initiatives that provide information, referral and follow-up services to grandparents and other relatives raising children, linking them to benefits and services that they or the children need.  

Family First also seeks to reduce the use of congregate or group care for children and instead places a new emphasis on family foster homes. With limited exceptions, the federal government will not reimburse states for children placed in group care settings for more than two weeks.

How will these legislative changes impact FACT and the families seeking your support?
We are working to ensure that we are well-positioned to manage these regulatory and reimbursement changes.  Family First encourages the establishment of Family Support Services and because reimbursement for congregate or group care placement for children will be severely limited, it is more critical that we enhance our ability to connect youth and families with services and supports that allow them to remain safely in the community.  We have enhanced our current intake / assessment process to allow for more engagement and relationship building, as well as more comprehensive understanding of youth and family needs and strengths. 
It is also vital that we engage with service partners who can deliver much needed services to our families.  We will now use a "multidisciplinary team" (MDT) approach to connect with service providers who are essential to meeting the needs of FACT youth and families under a clear shared vision, set of goals, intended outcomes, and mutually beneficial standards of service. 

We will also bring together multiple funding sources (State, Grant and Medicaid) to support service development and delivery in the most effective and sustainable way. 

Finally, we are working to expand capacity to support behavioral health issues, enhance support for families, and integrate the skills and talents of the System of Care (SOC) resource team.

Why is this important?
Research shows that congregate care placements create a loss of connection to family, increased likelihood of stalled permanency, loss of educational continuity, loss of connection to natural support and loss of hope. 
We believe that building a community response that reflects values of being youth guided, family driven, trauma informed, culturally and linguistically competent, community based and best practice oriented will support the legislative changes and promote better outcomes for youth and families.

How can I get more information?
For More information, please feel free to contact Heather directly at heatherstarks@monroecounty.gov or (585)753-2631.