What is the Family First Act (FFA)?
- A bi-partisan law that was supported by FosterClub's lived experience leaders
- Passed in 2018, FFA included historic reforms that focus on keeping children safely with their families, when possible
- FFA achieved the following1
- Funding prevention services
- Providing support for kinship (relative) caregivers
- Establishing requirements for placement in residential treatment programs (congregate care) and improving quality and oversight of services
- Improving services to older youth
How does the FFA help decrease congregate care placements for LGBTQIA2S+ youth in foster care?
Queer youth in foster care are at an increased risk of being placed in congregate care2. FFA includes the following about congregate care placements3:
- Promotes limited use of congregate care as a placement
- Promotes congregate care use primarily to support "complex clinical needs of children and youth"4 who have significant trauma exposure
- Congregate care must be the least restrictive treatment intervention possible
- Child's clinical needs must be met by the given facility's specific treatment model
- If the assessment says a child's needs can be met in a less restrictive place, they must be moved to a less restrictive placement
By implementing the Family First Act, states help ensure that LGBTQIA2S+ youth in foster care are not placed in congregate care due to a lack of affirming foster families being available. Rather, the Family First Act will ensure that if an LGBQIA2S+ youth in foster care is placed in congregate care, it is truly what is best for the youth. This will decrease the number of LGBTQIA2S+ youth in foster care who are unnecessarily placed in congregate care.
What can you do?
- Caseworkers + advocates + professionals: Make sure to follow FFA guidelines when placing LGBTQIA2S+ youth in congregate care
- Kinship Caregivers + foster/resource families: Help educate LGBTQIA2S+ youth in your care on FFA guidelines for being placed in congregate care, so they can advocate for themselves if they are ever placed there
- Everyone: Contact your representative and senators and tell them how important these services are for LGBTQIA2S+ youth in care! Encourage them to put more funding towards supporting LGBTQIA2S+ youth in care and ensuring they receive the resources they need
Want to learn more about the Family First Act and Congregate Care? Check out these resources!
- Congregate Care in the Age of Family First
- Safely Reducing the Use of Congregate Care: Considerations in the Age of Family First (archived webinar)
What lived experience voices are saying
- Reducing Reliance on Congregate Care: Our Priorities
- A Historic Opportunity to Reform the Child Welfare System: Youth & Alumni Prioritites on Special Populations
- A Historic Opportunity to Reform the Child Welfare System: Youth & Alumni Priorities on Quality Residential Services
- Share Your Perspective: Keeping Youth in Families Not Facilities