By Theresa Covington and Ilana Levinson, August 15, 2019
The Family First and Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), which passed into law as part of the 2018 budget resolution, is one of the largest overhauls of our nation’s child welfare system in the last decade. The law aims to realign resources toward prevention and intervention before a child reaches the critical point of being placed into the foster care system.
Most of the attention on the new law is focused on new ways to use Title IV-E funding, which previously could only be used for a child already in foster care or who had been placed into an adoption or guardianship. The Family First Act now allows funding to states for approved evidence-based and trauma-informed prevention services for families of children at risk of entering foster care. Mental health and substance abuse services and in-home parenting support for these families will now be reimbursable.
Receiving lesser attention are the provisions in the law addressing child abuse and neglect fatalities (Section 50732 of the law). These require states to document how they quantify complete and accurate information on child maltreatment deaths and how they plan to develop and implement a comprehensive statewide plan to prevent them.