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 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

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.
ShaaleenAP's picture

ShaaleenAP said:

I think that is case by case
BNC@1331's picture

BNC@1331 said:

It really depend on the case, I believe age can play a big role in the decision.
RavenShadows75's picture

RavenShadows75 said:

All cases are unique. There is no one real way to answer this question because what are they in imminent risk of? Was it a dirty house? Did the parents have mental or health issues that could be dealt with as the child remains in the home? In my opinion those would warrant a more drastic approach where the child be removed and special precautions made to keep the child safe. There are other times when the parents are "repeat offenders" losing multiple children over the course of years each for the same thing, where I feel as though the courts should not keep giving them chances to get their acts together and protect the child by giving them a life that is safe and loving with a family that can care for them appropriately.'s picture

fisherseth@hotm... said:

I think every case would vary on whether they stay or go you have to look at the issues with either choice and make a decision on what's best for the children.
rhiannon's picture

rhiannon said:

Children at risk of placement into foster care should not be able to stay with birth families until the parents get into and have been in a program / support / treatment for at least a couple of months.
kylestone's picture

kylestone said:

I would depend on the situation of course but usually it would be the best for children to stay with their parents/primary caregivers unless they're provably in immediate danger. It would be great, in theory, for the child to see the work the parents/primary caregiver is putting in to make better choices.
krboswell's picture

krboswell said:

I think the best course of action is for children to stay with their parents/primary caregivers unless they're provably in danger, in general.
anna9886's picture

anna9886 said:

I think this would vary case by case, depending on the severity of the issues and risk to the children.
apriljackson11's picture

apriljackson11 said:

I think that it is safe to find and family member that is stable and is welling to do right by keeping and taking care of the child and the most thing that that parent have to really have is and good stable home from the child to live in because and child needs and good stable home to live in because every child that is in need of and home needs and good place to stay but I do not think that the children should stay in the home of the parents are getting prevention services.