Credit hours:

Course Summary

**This is part 2 of a 2 part series. Please complete "Improving the Child Welfare System: Part 1" prior to this course.** 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 Part 1 provides a more general overview, Part 2 places special emphasis on “prevention.”

In this course, you can expect to learn:

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

Step 1

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:

Step 2 

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 is critical for leaders to consider the perspectives of individuals who have first-hand experience with the child welfare system. Read the following perspective papers from Family Voices United and see how people with lived experience in the child welfare system responded to the following questions: 

  1. “Would mental health services have helped your family stay together, or shortened time in the child welfare system?” - paper here (2019)
  2. “Sometimes a parent's mental or behavioral health (including addiction) leads to a child entering foster care. What specific type of supportive services could be provided to families to better help them remain together?”-- paper here (2021)

*(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 

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

Step 4 

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

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)?

Step 6

Finished the module? If you are logged in as a subscribed user, take the quiz to earn your Continuing Education Credit hours and certificate!

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Course Discussion

rBolick's picture

rBolick said:

I believe that children should stay with their parents while they get the services they need. As long as it is done in a safe manner and the children are safe.
mattbaxter's picture

mattbaxter said:

If it can be done in a safe, supported manner.
Djj0233's picture

Djj0233 said:

I have been a foster parent for 20+ years. Some of these children go through so much. They start at very young ages. They have a bad start from the beginning.
H.Collins's picture

H.Collins said:

it depends on the severity of the problem. If the child is unsafe and could be harmed in any way, they should be removed. However, if the child is not at risk of harm and the parent can be monitored closely, there could be precedent for not removing them immediately.
Beto14's picture

Beto14 said:

children should be allowed to stay with their loved ones. it will lessen their fears and trauma.
Erniee23's picture

Erniee23 said:

I personally believe that if a child/children are at immediate risk for being placed in foster care, they should be allowed to go with a family who is willing to care for the child while the parents/caregiver/guardian gets the help they need for the child/children to be able to return home. I also believe placing the child/children in a complete strangers home can do more damage to the child/children. By placeing the child/children in a complete strangers home you are scaring them even more then what they are already are, you are taking them away from the only people they know and placing them with complete strangers so that "said" person is able to get their child/children back. I also know removing children from their home is NOT what anyone wants to do but if the means are necessary I know the worker is only doing their job to protect the children from continued harm. I would just prefer the children be able to go with family members who have never been in any kind of run ins with the law besides minor traffic violations etc, also not having to jump through so many hoops to be able to have the removed children in your home if they are family. We all can agree to disagree, we all are entitled to have our own opinions.
Epowell69's picture

Epowell69 said:

I believe if the environment is safe and the parent is able the kid(s) should be able to stay home. If things change then other action should be ready to be put in action when need be.
juls3434's picture

juls3434 said:

If it can be done in a safe, supported manner.
George Jackson's picture

George Jackson said:

This is very informative. As a foster parent who has adopted. Sometimes you don't recognize the things that the children go through being in the system.
markmcnair's picture

markmcnair said:

This should probably be taken on a case by case basis in my opinion.