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 Part 1 provides a more general overview, Part 2 places special emphasis on “prevention.”

In this course, you can expect to learn:

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

Step 1

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 additional resource: For more technical and detailed information about key Family First Act provisions read this high-level summary courtesy of Casey Family Programs.

Step 2 

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

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 

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

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 

The Family Reunification Deadline Sheds Light On Another Broken System: Foster Care - Read an account account from an author with firsthand experience 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 

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 and keeping families together whenever safely possible preferred over other caregiver options (i.e. adoption, congregate care, foster care)?

Step 8

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Course Discussion

Saintiche1's picture

Saintiche1 said:

Prevention should always be first priority. Way easier on child.
rBolick's picture

rBolick said:

Prevention and keeping families together are important because research shows that children experience trauma and it can result in a lifetime of psychological and emotional problems.
Bohannon.T's picture

Bohannon.T said:

Prevention is less traumatic for the child. It should always be attempted before more drastic steps are taken.
Shakarmia's picture

Shakarmia said:

Prevention is always best for keep a family strong, reducing mental trauma for everyone involved, less expensive on the system, and gives families the possibility to correct the problem before splitting up a family.
mattbaxter's picture

mattbaxter said:

When a child is taken from their home there is trauma involved no matter who the child is. This causes children to always have a void of, why did my parents not want me, for the rest of their lives. Any adopted child/adult, or child who aged out of foster care that I have talked with has said this is one of the hardest things they have to deal with in their life. I believe this is a major reason why reunification is key to any child who is in foster care and the ability to help parents get their lives put together for their children's sake.
H.Collins's picture

H.Collins said:

It is almost always better for children to stay with their families unless it compromises the child's safety. Our biological families are important to our development because they shape our culture and upbringing in special ways. While foster care is beneficial as a temporary solution, it is always best to give families the dignity of working toward reunification.
benov's picture

benov said:

Prevention and keeping families together when it is possible/safe to do so is best for the child, particularly in relation to their development and long term mental health.
afarley's picture

afarley said:

If there is a way to help at risk families get the resources needed to be a successful home, that would be the best for the child. However sometimes with even the best of resources kinship, guardianship or even adoption still needs to be avenues for these at risk children.
Beto14's picture

Beto14 said:

Prevention allows children to remain with their parents in the homes with them.
Erniee23's picture

Erniee23 said:

Prevention allows the children to remain in the home with their family and loved ones. It also prevents the child from further trauma.