Family First Prevention Services Act
What is the Family First Prevention Services Act?
On February 9, 2018, the landmark bipartisan Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) was signed into law. The FFPSA includes reforms that support keeping children and youth, where possible, safely with their families, and helps ensure they are placed in the least restrictive, most family-like setting appropriate to their special needs when foster care is needed.
The FFPSA creates an expanded 50% reimbursement stream of federal funds to provide specific evidence-based models for in-home parenting, mental health and substance use disorder services to keep children and youth safely with their families without regards to income.
In addition, FFPSA increased the requirements for specific congregate care settings when youth with emotional and behavioral disturbance requiring special treatment and are unable to be cared for safely in a family-like setting.
With the Family First Prevention Services Act, the state has an opportunity to continue modernizing the child welfare system and enhance prevention services to strengthen families and prevent abuse and neglect. All children deserve the opportunity to grow up in safe, stable and nurturing families. The Family First Prevention Services Act represents meaningful steps towards better aligning federal child welfare policy with this critical vision for Montana’s children and families.
The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) provides an opportunity to improve resources and processes within Montana’s Child & Family Services Division, specifically efforts to address the critical needs of families who have children who are at risk of system involvement.
- The law is the first major modernization of the child welfare system in three decades
- Proper implementation of all elements will take time and continually guide the system to improve outcomes for families
- Montana is developing a detailed Prevention Plan that will be used to support activities aimed at avoiding the entrance of children into the foster care system
- Federally Approved Evidence-Based Prevention services when utilized with an individual family’s Prevention Plan can be reimbursed by 50% under Title IV-E funding
- The approved prevention services are for in-home, skills-based training for parents; mental health therapy; and substance use disorder and treatment programs
- Eligible services must be approved by the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse
The Family First Prevention Services Act provides a focus on family foster care, with major reforms to certain levels of congregate care.
- It imposes additional limits on congregate care beyond those recently implemented by Continuum of Care Reform. Title IV-E dollars may only be used to fund a congregate care placement for two weeks, unless: the youth is in a prenatal, postpartum, or parenting home to support teens; a supervised setting for a child 18 years of age or older; a high-quality residential facility for youth who have been victims of human trafficking; or a qualified residential treatment program (QRTP).
- Children placed in a QRTP setting must be assessed within 30 days by a qualified individual to determine whether the needs of the child may be met in a lower level of care and a case-planning team meeting must be convened.
- The Department of Public Health and Human Services has identified Therapeutic Group Homes as the appropriate level of care to meet the QRTP standard.
- The FFPSA enacts a new court hearing for youth in a Therapeutic Group Home that requires the court, within 60 days of placement in a Therapeutic Group Home, to consider a qualified expert’s assessment to determine whether the child’s needs can be met in a foster family, and if not, determine whether the Therapeutic Group Home is the most appropriate level of care in the least restrictive environment.
- Further, at every status review hearing the case plan must include evidence that the child’s continued placement is appropriate and meets the child’s needs in the least restrictive placement.
Montana is developing a detailed Title IV-E Prevention Plan, that will be used to support activities aimed at avoiding the entrance of children into the foster care system. Federally reimbursed services are meant to support and strengthen families, so children do not enter care. The plan is on target to be submitted to ACF in November 2020.
Eligible services must meet one of the following three thresholds:
- Promising Practice: Created from an independently reviewed study that uses a control group and shows statistically significant results.
- Supported Practice: Uses a random-controlled trial or rigorous quasi-experimental design. Must have sustained success for at least six months after the end of treatment.
- Well-Supported Treatment: Shows success beyond a year after treatment
Current Federally Approved Evidence-Based Models requested in Montana’s Title IV-E Prevention Plan.
Parents as Teachers
Nurse Family Partnership
Health Families America
Parent Child Interaction Therapy
There is a lot of information available about the Family First Prevention Services Act. Below are some resources we think will help!
If you have additional questions please contact Robert Cacace at Robert.Cacace@mt.gov.
To report a possible case of child abuse or neglect, call toll-free
1 (866) 820-5437.
Programs and Services
- Adoption in Montana
- Becoming a Foster Parent
- Facilities and School Forms
- Foster Parent Training
- Child Protective Service Background Checks
- Foster Care Independence Program
- Services to Native American Children and Families
- State Licensed, Private Adoption Agencies
- Child Welfare Prevention and Support Services Contract Information
- Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program- State Plan
- Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)