Family First Prevention Services Act

Implications for Grandfamilies

                                               

 

The Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First) became federal law on February 9, 2018, as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.  Family First is a landmark child welfare law that aligns with the principle that children do best in families.

 

Although Family First addresses an array of services and programs, this brief summary focuses solely on the several provisions specifically important for grandfamilies.  These provisions take effect on October 1, 2019 with some exceptions as noted below in this summary. 

 

Allows for federal reimbursement for prevention services and programs

For the first time, this Act will allow federal child welfare dollars to be used for up to 12 months of services and programs to prevent children from entering foster care by supporting the triad of generations in grandfamilies - children, kinship caregivers and parents. The children can get services if they are “candidates” for foster care who are at imminent risk of entering care and can safely remain at home with parents or with kinship caregivers.  This includes children whose adoption or guardianship is at risk of disruption or dissolution. Kinship caregivers or parents of the children can also get services if they are needed to prevent the children’s entry into care. Children and families can receive these services more than once if the child is again identified as a candidate for foster care.

 

The prevention services and programs include:

  1. mental health treatment
  2. substance abuse prevention and treatment
  3. in-home parent skill-based supports

Provides federal support for kinship navigator programs

States can receive federal reimbursement for up to 50% of their expenditures to provide kinship navigator programs that meet certain evidence-based requirements. This federal support is available regardless of whether the children for whom the services are being accessed meet certain income eligibility requirements for Title IV-E foster care funding.

 

Seeks to improve licensing standards for relative foster family homes

The Secretary of HHS must identify a model of family foster home licensing standards by October 1, 2018 (Model Family Foster Home Standards developed by NARA, Generations United and the American Bar Association are available at www.grandfamilies.org).  By April 1, 2019, each state must report to HHS on the following: 

 

  1. are the state standards in accord with the model and if not, why not?
  2. does the state waive non-safety licensing standards for relatives, as allowed by federal law?
  3. which standards does the state most commonly waive?
  4. if the state does not waive, why not?
  5. how are caseworkers trained to use the waiver authority?
  6. does the state have a process or tools to assist caseworkers in waiving non-safety standards so they can place quickly with relatives?
  7. what steps are the state taking to improve caseworker training or the process?

Works to ensure that each child in foster care gets a family

If children need to come into the custody of the child welfare system, the law encourages the placement

of children in foster care in the least restrictive, most family-like settings appropriate to their needs by not allowing the use of federal funds for inappropriate group placements as of October 1, 2019, although a state may request a delay for up to two years.  Federal funds may only be used for a few specific types of group placements, including a qualified residential treatment program (QRTP). 

 

An important component of the appropriate use of QRTPs is the need to maintain family connections. To be considered such a program, the program must facilitate outreach to the child’s family members, including siblings and close family friends known as ”fictive kin”; and the child’s family must be a part of the child’s treatment, including family-based support for at least six months post-discharge.  As part of the assessment to determine if a QRTP placement is necessary, the placement preferences of the family must be considered, and children must be placed with their siblings unless it is not in their best interest.  If the placement preferences of the family are not followed, the reasons must be documented as part of that assessment process.

 

Improves Interstate Placements

The Act expedites interstate placement of children in foster care, adoption or guardianship by requiring states to use an electronic interstate case-processing system by no later than October 2027 for exchanging related data and documents.

 

Extends child and family services programs

The Act extends funding for five years (fiscal years 2017-2021) for two critical service programs for children and families in the child welfare system-- The Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services Program and The Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program.

 

Improves the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program

The Act extends to age 23 the financial, housing, counseling, employment, education, and other appropriate supports and services to former foster care youth. It further extends eligibility to age 26 for Education and Training Vouchers.

 

Reauthorizes the Adoption and Legal Guardianship Incentive Program

The Act reauthorizes for five years the Adoption and Legal Guardianship Incentive Payment program, which allows states to receive incentive payments based on improvements in increasing exits from foster care to adoption or kinship guardianship.  

 

 

This summary was originally adapted from the Children’s Defense Fund’s detailed summary of the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018, available at www.childrensedefense.org, and the Generations United detailed summary of the Act’s grandfamilies’ provisions, available at www.gu.org.

 

Title IV- E Prevention Services Clearinghouse

Title IV- E Prevention Services Clearinghouse was established by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in accordance with the Family First Prevention Services Act to rate programs and services as well-supported, supported, promising, or does not currently meet criteria. The goal of the Clearinghouse is to conduct an objective and transparent review of research on programs and services intended to provide enhanced support to children and families and prevent foster care placements.

 

ACYF-CB-PI-19-06: Transitional Payments for the Title IV-E Prevention and Family Services and Programs

Program instructions issued 7/18/19 with instructions and checklist on how a state may submit a request for transitional payments for a title IV-E prevention program or service which has not yet been rated by the Clearinghouse. The state must submit this checklist as part of the five-year plan, or as an amendment to an approved five-year plan by October 1, 2021.

Letter to Child Welfare Leaders on Title IV-E Prevention Transitional Payments under Family First 

The Children’s Bureau letter released June 2019 to child welfare leaders providing an update on the new Title IV-E Prevention Program, created under the Family First Prevention Services Act, specifically as it relates to how states can claim transitional payments for prevention services not yet reviewed and rated in the Clearinghouse if the state submits sufficient documentation that demonstrates how the service meets the evidence-based criteria outlined in Family First. The Children’s Bureau will be issuing further guidance on these transitional payments. 

 

Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse Handbook of Standards and Procedures

The Handbook describes the Prevention Services Clearinghouse’s:

  • procedures for identifying programs and services and associated research studies for review or re-review;
  • standards for assessing the design, execution, and findings of research studies and for rating programs and services; and
  • definitions of key terms.

ACYF-CB-IM-19-01: the National Model Foster Family Home Licensing Standards

On February 4, 2019, the Children’s Bureau released final National Model Family Foster Home Licensing Standards (National Model), as required by the Family First Prevention Services Act.  The Children’s Bureau used the NARA Model Family Foster Home Licensing Standards (NARA Model) as the “main source” for its proposed National Model, and then accorded it “considerable deference” in deciding whether to modify the proposed National Model.  See Generations United's FAQ on the National Model, the NARA Model and the Family First Reporting Requirements (2019).

 

ACYF-CB-PI-18-12: CB-496 Update

This Program Instruction provides state, territorial, and tribal title IV-E agencies with the revised form and instructions approved by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget for reporting quarterly financial information on the title IV-E Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, and Guardianship Assistance, Kinship Navigator and Prevention Services Programs. This PI also provides continuing guidance for the submission of the Annual Adoption Savings Calculation and Accounting Report.

ACYF-CB-PI-18-11: Requirements for Participating in the Title IV-E Kinship Navigator Program

On November 30, 2018, the Children’s Bureau issued a program instruction on how title IV-E agencies may participate in this new title IV-E program:

ACYF-CB-PI-18-10: Tribal Title IV-E Agency Requirements for Electing Title IV-E Prevention and Family Services and Programs

This PI provides instructions on the requirements tribal title IV-E agencies must meet when electing to provide title IV-E prevention and family services and programs. 

•     Attachment A: Regional Program Managers

•     Attachment B: Tribal title IV-E prevention program five-year plan pre-print

•     Attachment I: Tribal Title IV-E Prevention Program Reporting Assurance

•     Attachment II: Tribal Title IV-E Agency Request for Waiver of Evaluation Requirement

•     Attachment III: Tribal Title IV-E Agency Assurance of Trauma-Informed Service-Delivery

 

ACYF-CB-PI-18-09: State Requirements for Electing the Title IV-E Prevention and Family Services and Programs

This Program Instruction (PI) provides instructions on the requirements state title IV-E agencies must meet when electing the title IV-E prevention program

ACYF-CB-PI-18-07 - Implementation of Title IV-E Plan Requirements under Public Law 115-123, the Family First Prevention Services Act 

Program Instruction (PI) to provide instructions for agencies to: 1) amend the Title IV-E Plan Pre-Print (Pre-Print) to meet certain FFPSA title IV-E plan provisions that are effective January 1, 2018 and later, and 2) request a delay of effective dates for certain title IV-B and IV-E plan requirements where permitted by law. 

ACYF-CB-IM-18-04 - NEICE 2018 funding

To notify states that the Children’s Bureau is disbursing funding provided under section 437(g) of the Act as an increase in the title IV-B subpart 2 Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program allocation to support an electronic interstate case-processing system to expedite interstate placements of children in foster, guardianship or adoptive homes, and to provide an example of such an electronic interstate system.

 

ACYF-CB-IM-18-02

Information Memorandum (IM) from the Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau  summarizing the Family First Prevention Services Act.  

 

Text of the Family First Prevention Services Act

The Family First Prevention Services Act was passed and signed into law (P.L. 115-123) as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act on February 9, 2018. 

 

Casey Family Programs Summary of the Family First Prevention Services Act

 

Children's Bureau Prevention Webinar 

On March 9, 2020, the Children’s Bureau hosted a webinar to provide an update on the implementation of the title IV-E prevention program and to assist title IV-E agencies and their partners developing prevention plans in their jurisdictions. The webinar and presentation slides may be accessed through the links below.

 

Children's Defense Fund - Brief Summary of the Family First Prevention Services Act 

 

Children’s Defense Fund - Detailed Summary of the Family First Prevention Services Act 

 

Children’s Defense Fund - Family First Prevention Services Act Implementation timeline 

 

Congressional Research Service (CRS) summary of the Family First Prevention Services Act 

 

Directory of Family-Based Residential Substance Use Disorder Treatment Programs for Parents with Children

National directory of Residential Substance Use Disorder Treatment Programs for Parents with Children created by Volunteers of America and Wilder Research, with the support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. This tool will  help public and private child welfare agencies, substance use providers, physicians, churches, courts, schools, and communities find programs for families in need of treatment  near them.

 

Family First Messaging Toolkit

This toolkit from the Annie E. Casey Foundation is designed to help child welfare leaders and advocates talk about how the Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First) can improve outcomes for children and families. The toolkit offers talking points on the benefits of the Family First law and tips for media interviews. 

 

The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018: A Guide for the Legal Community

This new ABA Center on Children and the Law resource helps child welfare professionals understand the key provisions, how to use the Act in legal advocacy and judicial decision making and implementation strategies to better servie children and families. 

 

Family First Act: The Tailwind Needed to Increase Family-Based Care in NY

Perspectives from the Redlich Horwitz Foundation which outlines initial thoughts and recommendations for what NY counties can do now to prepare for implementation (2018).

 

Family First Prevention Services Act: Final Enacted Provisions Compared to Earlier House-Approved Language & Prior Law

This side by side analysis drafted by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) compares the earlier bill with the final enacted version. 

 

Implementing the Family First Prevention Services Act Guide

Tool created by Children's Defense Fund in partnership with ChildFocus, American Academy of Pediatrics, Generations United, FosterClub, Juvenile Law Center, and National Indian Child Welfare Association to help ensure full and prompt implementation of the opportunities created by Family First. The guide is a question-and-answer-style resource containing commonly asked questions about the many important provisions in Family First. 

 

Legal Professional Roles: Implementing the Family First Prevention Services Act

American Bar Association summary of key responsibilities and opportunities for legal professionals to help implement Family First.

 

National Center for State Courts Issue Brief

Brief overview of law and court-related Provisions

 

New York Family First  Clearinghouse

Website which contains tools and strategies to assist  NYS local districts as they prepare for the implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act.  Powered by the Redlich Horwitz Foundation.  Contains a series of videos  including the first video - NY Leaders Are Putting Families First  which highlights why key leaders in the state are increasing kinship care and rightsizing congregate care.

 

Responsibly Defining Candidacy within the Context of FFPSA: Five Principles to Consider

The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) brief which highlights the key considerations for states to think about to ensure their definition allows them to serve children and families without creating unintended consequences – including increasing disproportionalities and disparities and negative primary prevention budgetary consequences.

 

NEW: March 1, 2021 Webinar: Family First Kinship Checklist 

This webinar provides an overview of the Family First Prevention Services Act: Implementing the Provisions that Support Kinship Families Checklist that lays out the necessary steps for effective implementation of the kinship provisions of the Family First Act, including kinship navigator programs. 

Power Point Slides

Recording

 

Family First Prevention Services Act: Implementing the Provisions that Support Kinship Families Checklist.

This checklist, created in a partnership between the ABA Center on Children and the Law, Casey Family Programs, Children’s Defense Fund and Generations United, is designed to describe the necessary steps for effective implementation of the federal requirements of the kinship provisions of the Family First Act (January 2021).

 

December 11, 2019 Webinar:  Leveraging the Family First Prevention Services Act to Improve the Use of Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program

publication release webinar highlighting historic reforms to the child welfare system to better support children, families and relative caregivers as a result of the Family First Prevention Services Act (passed into law February 2018).

Currently, 36 states, the District of Columbia and 11 tribes operate Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP). States and tribes operating a federal Title IV-E GAP can use recent reforms to further strengthen their existing programs to support families. On this webinar you will learn how states and tribes that have not yet taken advantage of the federal Title IV-E Guardian Assistance Program option might favorably consider new opportunities to improve the array of supports to children and their families.

Leveraging the Family First Prevention Services Act to Improve Use of Title IV-E GAP 

This second brief in the series developed by the ABA Center on Children and the Law, Casey Family Programs, Children's Defense Fund and Generations United contains an analysis on the impact of this new law on GAP and provides action steps to promote its use for children in relative care. (November 2019).

 

New Opportunities for Kinship Families: Action Steps to Implement the Family First Prevention Services Act in Your Community

Family First brief  developed by ABA Center on Children and the Law, Children's Defense Fund and Generations United that highlights provisions that help kinship families, along with steps caregivers, advocates, and other leaders can take to help implement the Family First Act. Includes a chart comparing services and supports for kin before and after the Family First Act.  (December 2018).

 

February 28, 2019 Generations United Webinar - Improving State and Tribal Foster Family Home Licensing Standards: 

Complying with the Family First Prevention Services Act’s Licensing Requirements

Webinar on how and why to comply with mandatory March 31st Family First Act licensing requirements, and the important role grandfamilies’ advocates play in that process.  The webinar explores the new national model foster family home licensing standards released by the Children’s Bureau on February 4th, the National Association for Regulatory Administration (NARA) model family foster home licensing standards on which the Children Bureau “relied heavily,” and the specific reporting requirements for states and tribes.

This is our collective chance to eliminate unnecessary licensing barriers so more relatives caring for children in foster care can become licensed and receive ongoing monthly financial assistance, supports, and pathways to exit the system with monthly assistance.  These model standards address all foster family homes, so addressing unnecessary obstacles will facilitate the licensing of more non-relative foster family homes as well.  Cultural considerations for tribes are explored on the webinar, as well as specialized standards for family-based treatment foster care.

 

National Model Family Foster Home Licensing Standards, ACYF-CB-IM-19-01

On February 4, 2019, the Children’s Bureau released final National Model Family Foster Home Licensing Standards (National Model), as required by the Family First Prevention Services Act.  The Children’s Bureau used the NARA Model Family Foster Home Licensing Standards (NARA Model) as the “main source” for its proposed National Model, and then accorded it “considerable deference” in deciding whether to modify the proposed National Model. 

 

FAQ on the National Model Foster Family Home Licensing Standards

Generations United prepared 10 questions and answers concerning this new Model, the NARA Model on which it "relied heavily" and Family First Act reporting requirements (2019). 

 

Considerations for Federal Register Comments on proposed Model National Family Foster Home Licensing Standards

The proposed Model National Family Foster Home Licensing Standards are a requirement of the Family First Prevention Services Act. This resource was developed jointly by National Association for Regulatory Administration (NARA), Generations United & American Bar Association (ABA) Center on Children and the Law to assist those who wish to comment on these proposed standards (September 2018).

 

Family First Prevention Services Act Brief Summary: Implications for Grandfamilies

Detailed summary of the kinship provisions of the Family First Prevention Services Act  developed by Generations United adapted from the Children’s Defense Fund’s detailed summary below. 

 

Kin First:  Policies to Support Children in Families and Prepare to Meet the Requirements of Family First Prevention Services Act

Kin First  document  developed by CHAMPS New York to help promote better outcomes for children in foster care and support  NY counties in preparing to meet the requirements of FFPSA.

 

Generations United - March 20, 2018 Webinar on The Family First Prevention Services Act: Implications for Grandfamilies

Recording and Power Point Slides

PowerPoint Slides Only

 

Using New Federal Funding Opportunities to Develop Effective Kinship Navigator Programs Webinars

Regional webinars delivered on accessing new federal funding available under the Family First Prevention Services Act for states, tribes and U.S. territories and developing high quality, evidence-based programs.  This webinar featured presentations from national experts, local programs, and kinship caregivers. It also includes information about how to develop programs to meet evidence-based standards and highlight opportunities for further technical assistance. Hosted by Generations United as part of a regional webinar series supported by Casey Family Programs.