The Foster Family-based Treatment Association (FFTA) is an association of 423 Treatment Foster Care (TFC) agencies that provides research, program standards, networking support, an annual conference and public policy advocacy. I have had the privilege of serving on the board of directors for the past 4 years, with obligations that include participation on the membership and public policy committee and chair of the cultural diversity committee.
During this time of limited resources it has been critical to stay abreast of national trends and maintain an active voice in D.C. so that we protect the integrity of treatment foster care as an effective and cost-efficient treatment option for kids in out of home care. Our relationships at the national level remains strong with Substance Abuse & Mental Health Association (SAMHSA), Association for Children, Youth & Families (ACYF), Center for Medicaid Services (CMS) as well as with legislators that helps us protect critical services for our most vulnerable children, youth and families. We are also working together with other national associations to bring a unified voice to our advocacy efforts.
Finance reform for Medicaid and Child Welfare at a federal level as well as the passing of Congressional Acts has a direct impact on our delivery of services at home. Besides our work to have a TFC definition adopted in Medicaid regulations, FFTA has many other priorities this year. Focus areas include working with youth that have been victims of domestic minor sex trafficking, developing guidelines for kinship TFC care and addressing the overuse of psychotropic medication of youth in foster care.
Challenges and opportunities remain an ever changing field that we must continually navigate and respond to in a strategic yet nimble manner. Some of the trends I see are rising costs of providing services with flat reimbursement rates, push toward community-based and in-home treatment, collaboration with primary care in the health home concept, service continuums with capitated daily rates, a juggle between child welfare and behavioral health for funding streams, privatization in child welfare and increased tension between private providers and state departments.
Despite the backdrop of behavioral health system uncertainty I remain in awe of our staff and TFC parents that get up every day to instill hope in the lives of the youth and families we serve. I am also appreciative of the strong leadership and financial security of our agency that ensures our position as a leader in behavioral health care in Alaska for years to come.