Family First Prevention Services Act

What do you need to know about the Family First Prevention Services Act if you are a foster parent or are considering fostering? Host Dawn Davenport, Executive Director of Creating a Family, the national infertility, adoption & foster care education and support nonprofit, interviews John Kelly, Editor-in-Chief at The Chronicle of Social Change about the Family First Act.

Hit the Highlights

The Family First Prevention Services Act was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act on February 9, 2018.

  1. This act reforms the federal child welfare financing streams, Title IV-E and Title IV-B of the Social Security Act, to provide services to families who are at risk of entering the child welfare system, with the aim to prevent children from entering foster care by allowing federal reimbursement for mental health services, substance use treatment, and in-home parenting skill training.
  2. It also seeks to reduce the placement of children in congregate care/group homes.

In the past Title IV-E funds previously could be used only to help pay for the cost of kids in foster care (admin cost, training cost, etc.) and adoption incentive. Now, Title IV-E funds can be used for prevention services that would allow “candidates for foster care” to stay with their parents or relatives.

  • What type of prevention services can be paid for now out of Title IV money? The Family First Act provides up to 12 months of mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and in-home parenting training to families at risk of entry of the child welfare system
  • What is the difference between Title IV-E and Title IV-B and is this an important distinction?
  • How is a family determined to be “at risk of entry into the child welfare system”?
  • Does the child remain in the home while the parents or caregiver is receiving services?
  • The act further clarifies that children and youth under the guardianship of a kin caregiver are also eligible for these funds. Will this result in more funding going to kinship providers who do not want to become licensed foster parents?
  • Can the Family First Prevention Services Act apply to adoptive parents who are struggling with parenting their children adopted at an older age and are at risk of dissolving the adoption?
  • The Family First Prevention Services Act can provide services for up to 12 months. Can this time frame be restarted if the parent has a relapse?
  • What does it mean that the Act “eliminates time limit for family reunification services”?
  • The Act reauthorizes Regional Partnership Grants through FY 2021. What are Regional Partnership Grants?
  • What are “model licensing standards for placement in a relative foster family home”?
  • What is the concern that the Act is trying to address by limiting funding for placements in group homes?
  • Title IV-E reimbursement for group homes will only be available for two weeks unless the child is in a qualified residential treatment program (QRTP), a setting that specializes in prenatal or parenting support, or supervised independent living for youth over 18.
  • What do we mean by “group home” or “congregate care”?
  • How many kids can be in a home before it is considered a group home?
  • Approved settings, known as qualified residential treatment programs (QRTP), must use a trauma-informed treatment model and employ registered or licensed nursing staff and other licensed clinical staff. The child must be formally assessed within 30 days of placement to determine if his or her needs can be met by family members, in a family foster home or another approved setting.
  • Legislation allowing “cottage homes”?
  • What percentage of group home placements qualify as a qualified residential treatment program (QRTP)?
  • What is the history of this act?
  • What is the status of the regulations that will provide more information on the impact of this act?
  • 8 million dollars to be appropriated for competitive grants to support recruitment and retention of high quality foster families
  • Reauthorizes Adoption and Legal Guardianship Incentive Payment Program
  • What do you see as some of the most important benefits of Family First Prevention Services Act?
  • What do you see as areas of concern or unintended consequences of the Family First Prevention Services Act?

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Image credit: Woody Hibbard