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

In this course, you can expect to learn:

Learning Objectives - In this course you will:

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

  • Become more familiar with the provisions and changes of the Family First Act, and how they impact children and families

  • Better understand how the Family First Act helps reform the current Child Welfare System

Step 1 (25 min)

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

Step 2 (Video - 3:01 min)

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 (10 min)

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 (10 min)

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 (10 min)

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 (10 min)

The Family Reunification Deadline Sheds Light On Another Broken System: Foster Care - Read a foster alumni’s account 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 (5 min)

  • 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 (when possible) preferred over other caregiver options (i.e. adoption, congregate care, foster care)?

Subscribe now!

Just $24.95 for 1 year subscription per parent (unlimited access to courses for one year).

Subscribe Now

Log in to your account

Already subscribed? Log in to your FosterClub account now to take a course!

Log in

Course Discussion

kmccullough77's picture

kmccullough77 said:

If we can help the family keep the children and prevent the child from being removed it sets the family up for success.
khone1's picture

khone1 said:

Resources directed to the biological family/kin are crucial in lessening the number of kids that get lost in the system. Healing trauma, working through substance abuse, educating families on parenting is the next step.
kgrobart's picture

kgrobart said:

Prevention is better to avoid further trauma for the child at the time of service involvement
TrentDHall's picture

TrentDHall said:

Prevention is better for the children (they do not experience the trauma of removal), the parents (helps them become better caregivers and also prevents trauma), and everyone else involved (saves time, resources, etc. for other issues).'s picture

sarahhmiller197... said:

As long as the child is safe - it is in his / her best interests to prevent being removed as much as possible - with the goal of a permanent and supportive solution for the family being created and supported.'s picture said:

As long as the "system" is funded by removals - it will not be seeking "the best interest" of the child (at least in my opinion) - but rather it encourages those in the system to continue and extend for "job security". Again - just my opinion. If the FFPSA can help provide more permanence and safety for the children that need it the most - I am all for it.
MsPorter's picture

MsPorter said:

Prevention allows children to remain with their parents in the homes with them. Providing services to assist instead to harm which is what has happened for so very long.
jusMEjackie10's picture

jusMEjackie10 said:

Allowing a child to remain with their biological parents is one of the best chances we can give a child as they advance in this society. In order for us to do this we first have to have opportunities that offer the parents who are at risk of loosing the child/children a chance to rehabilitate their-selves so that a fair judgement can be made when and if the issue of removing a child is at hand. I strongly suggest that if we give a better outreach program to our parents in need before the more serious abuse/neglect takes place then we can hopefully change the states custodial ratios by a much larger margin. Suggestion: We could possibly start at childbearing stages. Just like we introduce expecting parents into parenthood via classes and videos, I believe it may be effective to also at the beginning teach them proper and helpful steps to take when they need to reach out for help.
Boxman88's picture

Boxman88 said:

Prevention is the most overall effective means of improving the lives of our youth as they get to have continuity with family in most scenarios and have sufficient care in the event of no kin available for care
lanne's picture

lanne said:

lower the incidence of trauma for children