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Posted Tuesday, October 1, 2019 by Mark Washington

Family First Prevention Services Act: Anticipating and Navigating the Road Ahead

We know many states and agencies still have lingering questions and concerns surrounding the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), so we’ve rounded up several recent articles and resources to help you assess your options, plan for the best way to move forward, and navigate the impending change.

Editor’s note: we originally published this post on June 11, 2019. Since FFPSA officially goes into effect today (despite most states delaying implementation), we’ve updated it to include new resources.

Full summary:

“Without question, we all support our collective goal to keep children safe from abuse and neglect, to prevent unnecessary trauma, and to help strengthen families.”

- Bobbly Cagle, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, in a column for The Chronicle of Social Change

FFPSA provides IV-E funding flexibility to empower child welfare agencies to focus on prevention. It also creates some uncertainty as states evaluate the negative impact to their current programs and work to understand the best way to move forward.

(If you need a refresher on what’s been happening, Governing’s analysis, “The Federal Government Is Overhauling Foster Care. States Aren't Ready.,” summarizes why most states opted to delay implementation despite FFPSA’s positive potential.)

As a partner in your prevention efforts, we’ve had candid conversations with many state leaders, county agencies, consulting partners, industry organizations, providers, and other key stakeholders to understand the full spectrum of how FFPSA will impact the child welfare system.

We know you have questions (we do too!), so we’ve been sorting through and vetting the best resources that can provide answers. Here are a few that have been a big help to us, and will be a big help to you as well as you navigate the changing waters:

    • New Bill Offers Sweetener to Waiver States on Family First Act [The Chronicle of Social Change]—The bill, which has support from several states and large counties, is aimed at enticing states to move faster on FFPSA will include three major provisions: 1) payments to make up for any losses a state can demonstrate when their current funding waivers expire; 2) a one-time flex fund distributed proportionally to all states to support implementation; and 3) delaying a rule requiring states to spend half of their Family First foster care prevention funds on programs with the highest, hardest-to-achieve rating of effectiveness.
    • FFPSA Planning and Implementation Consulting [Public Consulting Group (PCG)]—Strategies, resources, and tools to help your agency manage both immediate and long-term change in the wake of FFPSA.
    • Handbook of Standards and Procedures [Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse]—Details the process to determine whether a model or service will be placed on the clearinghouse list, meaning it meets evidence-based requirements to receive federal funding. (Note: The Clearinghouse is requesting recommendations for mental health, substance abuse, in-home parent skill-based, and kinship navigator programs and services to be considered for review. You can submit candidates for consideration through October 31.)
    • Family First Act Webinar Series [The Chronicle of Social Change]—A series of deep-dive webinars on the approved services under FFPSA, plus an exploration of how it intersects with other key federal programs (e.g., Medicaid) and policy changes. (Note: You’ll have to pay for each webinar or be a paid subscriber to access the series for free.)
    • Advice on Family First from HSITAG Members [CompTIA Blog]—Members of the Human Services Information Technology Advisory Group (HSITAG) offer advice to help agencies evaluate what types of technology can make the biggest impact under FFPSA. HSITAG has also written about some of the key issues states are grappling with in a related post, “FFPSA Takes a Proactive Approach to Child Welfare.”
    • Modernizing the Citizen Experience in Child Welfare [PCG’s Carole Hussey on LinkedIn]—Explores how the convergence of FFPSA and the Comprehensive Child Welfare Information Systems (CCWIS) can present new opportunities to create a more positive and engaging experience for those served by the child welfare system.
    • Supporting All Families: Financing Streams to Support Prevention Programs [Center for the Study of Social Policy]—Fact sheet and infographic to visualize how to integrate services supported by FFPSA into a broader prevention continuum that meets the diverse and unique needs of each child and family.

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