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Medical and Public Health Organizations Applaud Child Welfare Legislation Advanced by House Ways and Means Committee

6/15/2017

Washington, DC—Today, the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee announced the advancement of five pieces of bipartisan legislation focused on child welfare reform directly to the full House. The following organizations join the statement below: the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, March of Dimes and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.

"Today, our organizations join together to commend the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee for taking a meaningful step forward to advance comprehensive child welfare reform. The five bipartisan bills that Committee leadership announced will go directly to the House floor today lay a strong foundation for updating the child welfare system to better meet the needs of the children and families it serves.

"In particular, our organizations applaud the impact today's legislation will have on the maternal and child health effects of the opioid epidemic and its contribution to rising placement in foster care. The legislation includes needed reforms to keep parents and children together during inpatient substance use disorder treatment and supports innovative multidisciplinary approaches to address these issues, which are important policies drawn from the bipartisan Family First Prevention Services Act. We urge lawmakers to advance comprehensive child welfare reform without delay.

"As health professionals and public health advocates, we recognize that the United States is in the midst of a major public health crisis: the ongoing opioid epidemic. Opioids were involved in more than 33,000 deaths in 2015, a number that has quadrupled since 1999. These statistics shed light on a devastating trend that is impacting millions of American families, including those who have had to turn to the child welfare system.

"The number of children being removed from their families and entering foster care continues to rise, and parental substance use is a factor for the child's removal in nearly one-third of all cases. Unfortunately, our current child welfare system is too often a punitive one that leaves pregnant and parenting women less likely to seek treatment. Instead of incentivizing the separation of families, we should be using evidence-based policies, like those included in this legislation, to help families stay together and access the treatment and services they need to heal.

"Our organizations thank leaders in the House Ways and Means Committee for their ongoing commitment to better serving families in need, and look forward to continuing to work with Congress on comprehensive child welfare reform efforts."

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American Academy of Pediatrics

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds.

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation's leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 58,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women's health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization. www.acog.org

March of Dimes

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs.

For the latest resources and health information, visit our websites marchofdimes.org and nacersano.org. To participate in our annual signature fundraising event, visit marchforbabies.org. If you have been affected by prematurity or birth defects, visit our shareyourstory.org community to find comfort and support. For detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit peristats.org. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners

The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) is the nation's only professional association for pediatric nurse practitioners (PNPs) and their fellow pediatric-focused advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who are dedicated to improving the quality of health care for infants, children, adolescents and young adults. Representing more than 8,500 healthcare practitioners with 19 special interest groups and 50 chapters, NAPNAP has been advocating for children's health since 1973 and was the first NP society in the U.S. Our mission is to empower pediatric-focused PNPs and their interprofessional partners to enhance child and family health through leadership, advocacy, professional practice, education and research.  NAPNAP.org