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

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.
markmcnair's picture

markmcnair said:

No they should not.
Chenson's picture

Chenson said:

If they are in danger of neglect or injury then they need to be removed, Also it cannot be healthy for children to witness drug use , or violence.'s picture

Joshketelsen@ya... said:

Depending on risk of each case
TheJLedQ35's picture

TheJLedQ35 said:

I think every case is unique: Are the children in immediate danger/ forseeable dangerous situations? Could some shared parenting happen during a trial time as bio parent(s) get help?
tlharris's picture

tlharris said:

I believe it is a case by case situation. It is always best to put the child in the safest situation possible with providing the support needed reunification
Rawebb00's picture

Rawebb00 said:

I think it would depend on the level of risk in each case.
Jd farless's picture

Jd farless said:

This is going to be a case by case basis, in the event that the parent had a child removed from a their home, I would say I disagree with placing the child back with the birth parents.