WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy, announced that the Supporting Family-to-Family Health Information Centers Act passed in the House of Representatives today and is heading to the President’s desk for his signature. The legislation, which Sen. Menendez introduced in May, ensures funding for family health centers through 2024.
“Passing this bipartisan legislation was a priority for me because we need to make sure families with special needs children can continue to benefit from the resources the SPAN Parent Advocacy Network provides across New Jersey,” Sen. Menendez said. “Parents helping other parents build the understanding and skills they need to support their children is invaluable – and I’m grateful we can continue making that happen for the next five years.”
Administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration, this program supports family-staffed organizations in each state to assist families of children with disabilities or special health care needs. Last year, Congress provided additional funding to support the development of centers in the territories and at least one center for Indian tribes.
“The passage of the 5-year funding authorization for Family to Family Health Information Centers will provide welcome relief to us and to other F2Fs,” said Diana Autin, Co-Director of the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN), New Jersey’s one-stop for families of children with special needs. “For years we have faced the possibility of having to close our F2F doors to families. We have struggled with developing partnerships with state agencies, service providers, and community-based organizations because of the short funding span for F2Fs. Too many times I have had to tell F2F staff – all parents of children with special healthcare needs – that there was a real risk of them not having a job come June 1st. Now families, our partners, and staff can have confidence that F2F services and supports will be available to them for the next five years! SPAN thanks Senator Menendez for his longstanding and ongoing support of the F2F network, and his leadership in making this happen.”
Founded in 1987, SPAN provides information, resources and support to families with children with disabilities or special health care needs. SPAN’s programs help ensure New Jersey families have the necessary tools to ensure their children are prepared and ready to become contributing members in their communities.
“This is tremendous news for Family-to-Family Health Information Centers. This five-year funding extension will sustain vital support to families of children and youth with special health care needs,” said Janis Guerney, Director of Public Policy of Family Voices, the national organization connecting the state family-to-family organizations. “We are very grateful to Senator Menendez for his long-standing commitment to Family-to-Family Health Information Centers and the children and families they serve throughout the states, tribes and territories.”
The Family-to-Family Information Center program was established in 2006. Funding for this program supports family-staffed and family-run centers that provide information, education, technical assistance and peer support to families of children with special health care needs and health professionals who serve such families. In addition, the centers help ensure that families and health professionals are partners in decision making at all levels of care and service delivery.