Marking five years of the Family First Prevention Services Act

Five years ago, the landmark Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 (Family First) was enacted to enhance support services for families to help children remain at home safely, reduce the unnecessary use of congregate care and build the capacity of communities to support children and families.

Since then, Casey Family Programs has worked to support states and tribes in their conceptualization, development and implementation of Family First plans. As of January 6, 2023, Family First plans in 39 jurisdictions across the country have been approved, and another 11 have been submitted.

The signing of Family First on February 9, 2018, marked a large step toward meaningful progress for children and families by expanding pathways to and providing more support for critical services — such as mental health and substance abuse treatment, in-home parenting training and family therapy — for children, pregnant and parenting foster youth, and families/kin that can help prevent the need for foster care in the first place. Family First helps ensure that children grow up safely with their families, and that, if foster care is deemed necessary, they are placed in the least restrictive, most family-like setting. The law also advances national model licensing standards for foster family homes, expands services for youth aging out, and supports funding for kinship navigator programs.

“Over the past five years, Family First has opened new pathways to hope for so many of our nation’s children at risk of entering foster care and their families,” said Casey Family Programs President and CEO Dr. William C. Bell. “The implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act is allowing communities across America to employ the tools and strategies children and families need to help them secure their well-being, to increase their capacity to thrive, and to move closer to achieving their full potential, regardless of their ZIP code or the community they live in.”

Casey has created a range of Family First resources and supported a collaborative resource database compiled by partner organizations: We invite you to explore these resources.