Credit hours:
2.50

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 the Family First Act 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.” Estimated completion time: 2.5 hours

In this course, you can expect to learn:

Learning Objectives - In this course, you will:

  • Develop a broader understanding of prevention services as they relate to The Family First Prevention Services Act 

  • Learn how prevention services and more comprehensive reunification services provide a higher probability of keeping families intact

  • Better understand the important supporting role mental health services play in keeping families safe, stable, and permanent

Step 1 (Webinar and Text 70 min)

Preventing Unnecessary Removal of Children From Their Families - Watch this webinar on prevention hosted by The National Foster Care Youth and Alumni Policy Council (NFCYAPC). Hear first-hand from young people who experienced foster care, and learn ways to improve child welfare practice and policy. This webinar includes recommendations on implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act, as well as moving our Child Welfare System into the 21st Century. View the statement and detailed recommendations in PDF format here.

*The National Foster Care Youth & Alumni Policy Council convenes to provide federal stakeholders with relevant and timely information regarding policies and procedures that impact children and families throughout the country. The Council represents a collective viewpoint of youth and alumni who have personal/lived experience in the foster care system. The Council advises by:

  • Using their experiences in foster care to identify and inform priorities, and offer ideas to improve child welfare policy

  • Educating policymakers and other stakeholders about their varied experiences in foster care

  • Analyzing effectiveness of programs and policies based on the experiences of youth in foster care

Step 2 (5 min)

The Family First Act and Mental Health Services - The passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 now provides states, tribes, and territories with the option to use federal child welfare funds for prevention activities, including mental health services. These services can be provided to children at imminent risk of placement into foster care, pregnant or parenting youth in foster care, and parents and/or relative caregivers of children at imminent risk. As mental health services are being implemented across the country, it’s critical for leaders to consider the perspectives of individuals who have first-hand experience with the child welfare system. Read this perspective paper from Family Voices United and see how people with lived experience in the child welfare system responded to the following question: “Would mental health services have helped your family stay together, or shortened time in the child welfare system?” 


*(Optional) The Family Voices United (FVU) campaign brings together the voices of young people, birth parents, and relative caregivers with lived experience in the child welfare system to drive change in foster care. Learn more about FVU here.

Step 3 (5 min)

The Need for Prevention Services - Read Isaiah’s (foster alumni from idaho) firsthand account of how prevention services could have prevented the breakup of his family, and his entry into foster care (PDF).

Step 4 (30 min)

Mental Health Supports - Listen to this podcast as Family Voices United members share their experiences on how mental health support can make a difference for families. Learn how constituents are taking action, getting involved, and building the movement!

Step 5 (5 min)

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


Should children at imminent risk of placement into foster care be allowed to stay with birth families/parent(s) while the parent(s) receive prevention services (e.g. mental health and substance use support/treatment)?

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Course Discussion

shortyd1107's picture

shortyd1107 said:

It is always better for children to not separate kids from their parents unless it is absolutely necessary for the child's safety.
bighamdaniel18's picture

bighamdaniel18 said:

Children should always remain with a parent if they can do so safely while a parent receives the assistance they need.
BigDaddyDan's picture

BigDaddyDan said:

It would be beneficial to families to have programs to help them rather than just rip the kids from them.
BigDaddyDan's picture

BigDaddyDan said:

It would be beneficial to families to have programs to help them rather than just rip the kids from them.
BigDaddyDan's picture

BigDaddyDan said:

It would be beneficial to families to have programs to help them rather than just rip the kids from them.
BigDaddyDan's picture

BigDaddyDan said:

It would be beneficial to families to have programs to help them rather than just rip the kids from them.
JoMorris's picture

JoMorris said:

I've always thought that there should be a better system and more options for families before removals.
cmorris50's picture

cmorris50 said:

It is hard to understand why there are no services for people that are in crisis.
Ruthandrickhall's picture

Ruthandrickhall said:

I believe that it is imperative that the safety of the child be the only deciding factor as to whether of not child(ren) should be removed. I have seen too many cases over the years where the case workers are striving to keep the families together but due to an err in judgement children have gone home only to be seriously hurt or even killed. I believe in tough love when it comes to parents of children, comply or take the consequences. A person who is serious about wanting to be a good parent will comply.
Ruthandrickhall's picture

Ruthandrickhall said:

I believe that it is imperative that the safety of the child be the only deciding factor as to whether of not child(ren) should be removed. I have seen too many cases over the years where the case workers are striving to keep the families together but due to an err in judgement children have gone home only to be seriously hurt or even killed. I believe in tough love when it comes to parents of children, comply or take the consequences. A person who is serious about wanting to be a good parent will comply.