As reported in the May 29 Update, bipartisan bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate to extend F2F funding for five more years at the current level of $6 million per year. Without such legislation, funding for the program will expire at the end of the current federal fiscal year (FY 2019).
The House bill, the Family-to-Family Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 2822), was introduced by Representatives Mikie (Michelle) Sherrill (D-NJ) and Fred Upton (R-MI), and was referred to the Health Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce (E&C).
On June 4, 2019, the Health Subcommittee held a hearing on a number of health bills, including the F2F bill. Diana Autin, Executive Co-Director of the New Jersey F2F (the SPAN Parent Advocacy Center) testified on behalf of Family Voices.
You can read Diana’s oral testimony, as prepared for presentation to the subcommittee, and the written testimony of Family Voices and SPAN that was submitted for the hearing record. You can watch a video of Diana’s 5-minute testimony before the subcommittee at hour:minute:second 00:40:40 of the video. You can also watch Rep. Pallone pose a question about the NJ F2F and Diana’s answer, at 1:11:46, and a question posed by Rep. Upton and Diana’s answer, at 1:13:55. The latter question and answer were about the importance of extending the program for five years (longer than it has been extended in the past). The answer provided: a longer extension makes it easier to plan, develop partnerships with other agencies and organizations, retain valuable employees, and secure funding from other sources.
In other news, 37 national organizations expressed their support for the House bill in a June 3, 2019, letter to Representatives Sherrill and Upton.
House bill (H.R. 2822):
- Press release from Rep. Sherrill’s office
- Letter of support for H.R. 2822 from national organizations
Senate bill (S. 1647):
- Press release from Sen. Grassley’s office
- Press release from Sen. Menendez’s office
Information from House Hearing, June 4, 2019:
- Family Voices/SPAN written testimony (15 pp.)
- Oral testimony as prepared for presentation (4 pp.)
- Video of hearing (begins at hour:minute:second 00:40:40. Q&A about the NJ F2F at 1:11:46; Q&A about importance of 5-year funding extension at 1:13:55.
- Hearing webpage
Family-to-Family Health Information Centers (F2Fs) are family-led centers providing support to families of children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) and helping them to navigate the health care system so their children can get the care they need. The federal F2F grant program was created on a bipartisan basis in 2006 to provide funding for F2Fs. Since 2009, when the program was fully phased in, there has been one F2F in each state and the District of Columbia. Thanks to a 2018 amendment to the program, now there are also F2Fs in American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, plus three F2Fs dedicated to serving American Indian and Alaska Native families. The federal grant for each F2F is $96,750 per year. Without enactment of an extension law, funding will expire on September 30, 2019.
Each F2F is staffed by highly-skilled, knowledgeable family members who have first-hand experience and understand the challenges faced by families of CYSHCN. These uniquely qualified staff provide critical support to families caring for CYSHCN, particularly families of children with complex needs and those from diverse communities. F2Fs also assist providers, state and federal agencies, legislators, and other stakeholders to better understand the needs of, and serve, CYSHCN and their families.
The F2F grant program was funded at $5 million annually from 2009-2017. In 2018 and 2019, funding was expanded to $6 million to provide for the eight new F2Fs to serving families in territories and tribal communities. More information on CYSHCN and F2Fs can be found in the 2018 F2F Data brief.