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Posted Tuesday, June 11, 2019 by Mark Washington

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

The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) supports something child welfare agencies have wanted for years: IV-E funding flexibility to support and expand their preventative services. FFPSA also has guidelines and restrictions that are making states pause and evaluate the negative impact to current IV-E waiver-supported programs. We know you have questions, 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.

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.

Governing’s analysis, “The Federal Government Is Overhauling Foster Care. States Aren't Ready.,” explores why over half of states are seeking to delay implementation, despite FFPSA’s positive potential:

“It’s hard to find anyone who would argue against the basic tenets of Family First—focusing on prevention, keeping children with their parents when at all possible, limiting the time kids spend in group facilities and prioritizing evidence-based programs that work.

But many child welfare advocates and state officials nonetheless have serious concerns about how the new policy will play out. The timeline for implementing the new approach is unrealistic, they say, and the law ignores many of the frontline realities of the current state of child services. They contend that it’s a patchy and haphazard approach, and one that in many cases is redundant to what states are already doing.”

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:

  • 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: any additional resources from the Clearinghouse will be added here as they become available.)
  • Family First Act Webinar Series [The Chronicle of Social Change]—An upcoming series of deep-dive webinars on the approved services under FFPSA, plus an exploration of how it intersects with other key federal child welfare policy changes. (Note: You’ll have to pay for each webinar or be a paid subscriber to access the series for free.)
  • 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.

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