Credit hours:

Course Summary

The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 (aka Family First) transforms federal child welfare financing streams to allow funding for services to families whose children may be at risk of entering foster care. It includes the most significant changes to federal child welfare finance structures since the establishment of the Title IV-E entitlement in 1980. The law aims to prevent unnecessary removal of children from their families by allowing federal funding for mental health services, substance use treatment, and in-home parenting skills training. Further, the law attempts to improve the well-being of children in foster care by discontinuing federal reimbursement when a child's placement in a congregate care setting is unnecessary. The law also provides for increased support for young people as they transition from foster care to adulthood. This two part training explains key provisions within the Family First Act in order to provide a broader understanding of Family First and how it impacts both the child welfare and foster care systems. While Module 1 provides a more general overview, Module 2 places special emphasis on “prevention.”

In this course, you can expect to learn:

Learning Objectives - In this course you will:

  • Develop a broader understanding of The Family First Prevention Services Act 

  • Become more familiar with the provisions and changes of the Family First Act, and how they impact children and families

  • Better understand how the Family First Act helps reform the current Child Welfare System

Step 1 (25 min)

Family First Prevention Services Act Summary (aka Family First) - 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. Read these high-level summaries from the Children Need Amazing Parents Campaign (CHAMPS) and FosterClub, as well as core messaging from

** (Optional)  For more technical and detailed information about key Family First Act provisions read this high-level summary courtesy of Casey Family Programs.

Step 2 (Video - 3:01 min)

Family First Act - Our Children Deserve Better - Watch this brief video to hear how the Family First Act will help reform current child welfare policy, and place greater emphasis on prevention. Testimonials provided by foster care alumni, birth parents, group home administrators, and child welfare reform advocates.

Step 3 (10 min)

Family First Act, Part One: Services to Prevent Foster Care - Read the Chronicle of Social Change’s CliffsNotes on Family First’s provisions on prevention services.

Step 4 (10 min)

Family First Act, Part Two: Limiting Support for Congregate Foster Care - Read the Chronicle of Social Change’s CliffsNotes on Family First’s provisions on limiting congregate care.

Step 5 (10 min)

Family First Act, Part Three: Adoption, Foster Home Recruitment, Reunification and More - Read the Chronicle of Social Change’s CliffsNotes on other key Family First child welfare reform provisions.

Step 6 (10 min)

The Family Reunification Deadline Sheds Light On Another Broken System: Foster Care - Read a foster alumni’s account of how the child welfare system not only hastily removed him from his birth family, but how it also failed to reunify them. In addition to providing much needed prevention services, the Family First Act removes the reunification services deadline, thus providing more support for families to reunite.

Step 7 (5 min)

  • Join the Discussion in the comments below to answer the following question:

The Family First Act allows states for the first time to utilize federal dollars previously restricted to paying for foster care to also provide prevention services for families with children at risk. Why is prevention (when possible) preferred over other caregiver options (i.e. adoption, congregate care, foster care)?

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Course Discussion

shortyd1107's picture

shortyd1107 said:

It is far less traumatizing for the child to remain with a parent if they are safe.
jonathan_harrell's picture

jonathan_harrell said:

Prevention is just that- preventing trauma, abuse, neglect. It is clearly better for everyone involved to be proactive rather than reactive!
ShaaleenAP's picture

ShaaleenAP said:

Its the least intrusive option .
Sludgate12's picture

Sludgate12 said:

Prevention is preferred over the other caregiver options because children need to be with their families whenever possible. Removing them from their home and placing them anywhere else is traumatizing and only contributes to mental health, which in turn adds to the funding requirements for these children.
RavenShadows75's picture

RavenShadows75 said:

Prevention allows the children to remain in their home with the family and not create trauma by removing them and placing them with other families.
Debbie Lynn Johnson's picture

Debbie Lynn Johnson said:

Prevention should always be the best way
rhiannon's picture

rhiannon said:

Prevention is preferred over other caregiver options because it helps reduce the chance of childhood trauma of going into foster care and should be the last resort.
krboswell's picture

krboswell said:

It's very traumatizing for children to be removed from parental/primary caregiver homes and should be a last resort.
anna9886's picture

anna9886 said:

While sometimes foster care is necessary for the safety and well being of the child in question, I think it should be a last resort. There is always some level of trauma involved in separating a child from their family and, with more support for families that are trying to improve and grow together, it could become unnecessary.
Tiffanyh87's picture

Tiffanyh87 said:

We want to prevent children experiencing the trauma of separation if at all possible.