Landmark legislation: The Family First Prevention Services Act
The Family First Prevention Services Act (H.R. 5456/S. 3065) is a landmark bill with broad, bipartisan support that would fundamentally shift how states are able to intervene with vulnerable children and families and improve their life outcomes by funding evidence-based services that help prevent child abuse and neglect.
The act would help transform the nation’s child welfare system by giving states powerful new opportunities to provide services that help strengthen families and decrease the need for foster care. This legislation provides a critical opportunity to help children at risk of child abuse and neglect.
Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved the act. It is now under consideration by the U.S. Senate.
The Family First Prevention Services Act would provide federal funding to safely reduce the number of children entering foster care by supporting preventive services to assist families before children are removed from their homes. It also would fund family services to keep children safe at home and prioritize kinship and family placements.
These evidence-based services for substance abuse, mental health and in-home parenting programs are critical supports that can help stabilize and strengthen vulnerable families and prevent the trauma of removing children from their homes.
The bill would extend federal funding for prevention services to biological parents, adoptive parents and kinship care providers for the first time. It would place strong emphasis on keeping children in a family setting and include rules that ensure that, if group care is necessary, federal funding would support appropriate placement in a group home that meets a child’s clinical needs.
We know parental substance use and addiction is a leading reason why children enter foster care. The opioid epidemic is ripping families apart, and children are the innocent victims who deserve better. Nationwide, at least 31 percent of the entries into foster care are due to parental substance abuse, and some states report higher rates. The Family First Prevention Services Act would, for the first time, allow Title IV-E child welfare funds to go toward substance use treatment for parents, adoptive parents and kinship caregivers, as well as children and youth.
Learn more about the Family First Prevention Services Act: