Posted Tuesday, October 1, 2019 by Team Northwoods

Family First Prevention Services Act: 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 has now officially gone into effect (despite most states delaying implementation), we’re continuously updating 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.”

- Bobby 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.

(Need a refresher? 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 continue to 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:

  • Applying the Research and Evaluation Provisions of the FFPSA [ChildTrends]—Outlines research and evaluation requirements and highlights next steps for state agencies, legislators, and researchers to achieve the Family First Act’s goals.
  • How Kentucky Brought the Community in on Family First Act [The Chronicle of Social Change]—A look at how Kentucky hosted regional convenings to share information about anticipated changes in Kentucky over the coming months and years, and reflections from stakeholders directly affected by those changes.
  • Putting Families First in DC [DC Child and Family Services Agency]—An executive summary outlining the key aspects of DC's proposed prevention plan, which was the first to be submitted to and approved by the Children's Bureau.
  • 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.
  • 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.