Family First Prevention Services Act FFSPA

Family First Prevention Services Act FFSPA

Over the past few weeks, you may have heard of the Family First Prevention Services
Act (FFSPA). What is the FFSPA and how will it change child welfare practice in the
The United States?


Normalcy in Foster Care And Beyond

Since 2016, child welfare professionals and advocates have been discussing how the Family First Act could introduce big changes to the current funding structures in child welfare and the implications that funding changes would have for children, youth, and families. Major focus areas of the legislation sought to address prevention services, family support and reunification services, adoption and guardianship, and congregate care replacements.

On February 9th, 2018, the Family First Prevention Services Act was passed and signed into law (FFSPA)(P.L. 115-123). Below are some of the key provisions of the law:


  • To broaden access to prevention services, states can use Title IV-E funds to
    provide prevention services and programs for up to 12 months for children at risk
    of entering foster care. This includes services for any parenting or pregnant youth
    in foster care, parents (biological or adopted), and kinship caregivers. Tribes that
    use Title IV-E funds would also have this option. Prevention services and
    programs that are eligible include evidence-based mental health and substance
    abuse prevention and treatment services, and in-home parent skill-based services.
    To support families where a caregiver is accessing services in a treatment facility,
    states can use Title IV-E foster care maintenance payments to support a child in
    foster care placed with a parent in a licensed residential family-based treatment
    facility for up to 12 months.


Reunification and Family Support

  • To increase support to families that have been reunified, the reunification
    services can be provided to a family for a 15-month period that begins on the date
    that the child returns home (is reunified).
  • To expedite the interstate placement of children, which is often with extended
    family members, states, territories, and tribes operating a Title IV-E program must
    use an electronic interstate case processing system to expedite the interstate
    placement of children in foster care by 2027.


Ensuring Necessity of Placements

  • To promote placement in foster family home settings, the conditions for what
    placements will be eligible for foster care payments for children placed in settings
    other than family homes known as Qualified Residential Treatment Programs
    (QRTP). Additionally, it will be required that all adults working in child care
    institutions and other group care settings have criminal records checks and checks
    of any child abuse and neglect, registries will be completed.


Support for Transition Age Youth

  •  Expands the opportunity for states to use Chafee pr
  • ogram funds to provide
    services to youth who have aged out of foster care up to age 23, and allowing 5
    years of eligibility for Education and Training Vouchers up to age 26.


Adoption Assistance

  • The Title IV-E adoption assistance that was enacted as part of the Fostering
    Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 will be delayed.
  • The Adoption and Legal Guardianship Incentive Programs is funded and
    reauthorized at $43 million per year through 2022.


Other Provisions

  • By October 1, 2018, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is required to identify model licensing standards for relative foster family homes and allocates $8 million in 2018 for grants to states and tribes to support the recruitment and retention foster families.
  • States will be required to document steps taken to track and prevent child maltreatment deaths.

Now that FFSPA has been signed into law, the next phase is implementation. Foster Care
Alumni of America is committed to contributing to efforts to ensure that the voices of
those who have lived experience in foster care will be included in implementation and is
partnering with other child welfare advocacy organizations to provide feedback on
implementation of the FFSPA. Please reach out to our Policy and Advocacy Committee,
Co-Chairs, Linda Coon ( and Crys O’Grady
( to share your comments, concerns, or questions.

Planning for FFSPA implementation starts now! Here are 3 actions FCAA members and chapters can take today:

  • Call your federal and state legislators and share your story about how
    prevention services impacted or would have impacted, your experience in
    foster care
  •  Advocate for yourself! If you are under 26, ask about how you can use
    education and training vouchers
  • Educate youth and families about the increased opportunities for prevention
    services under the FFSPA
    If you would like to learn more about Foster Care Alumni of America, please visit out
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