February 2018, United States Congress passed the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) with the goal being to prevent children from entering foster care by allowing federal reimbursement for mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and in-home parenting skill training. It will also seek to improve the well-being of children currently in Foster Care by incentivizing states to reduce placement of children in congregate care.
With approximately 30,000 children in Foster Care in the state of Texas at any given time, the FFPSA’s plan to shift the focus from treatment, to prevention, has created a buzz of conversation across Dallas and Fort Worth’s non-profit community.
Dr. Wayne Carson, CEO of ACH Child and Family Services, gave his insight, stating “The intent of the FFPSA is good. It is designed to improve the quality of care provided to abused and neglected children and to promote children being with families. However, the timeline for adaptation is very short and will create a significant shortage of options for youth with more challenging behavioral needs in Texas. It will be a difficult start if Texas chooses to comply.”
Additionally, FWD501c was able to speak to Dr. Todd Landry, CEO of Lena Pope, on the changes he is hopeful to see in North Texas. Dr. Landry noted “While there are legitimate concerns with how quickly states will have to comply, I have to say I was in favor of Family First. I believe it is extremely important to begin providing the necessary funds to prevention and early intervention efforts. It is tremendous to now see that funding going into the community to prevent child abuse and neglect.”
Despite being in its early stages, Texas’ Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is reporting that with the FFPSA, states will be given the option of amending their state plan in order to claim IV-E dollars (without regard to child’s IV-E eligibility) for enhanced front-end services for mental health, substance abuse, and in-home skills based parenting programs for up to 12 months for Foster Care candidates, pregnant and parenting foster youth, as well as parents and kin caregivers of such candidates or foster youth. Services must meet both general and practice requirements, including the requirement to be a promising, supported, or well-supported practice, and to be trauma-informed.
Although the state will not see the FFPSA implemented until October 1, DFPS states that they are taking measures now to ensure the effects of this law are properly analyzed and that the current quality of safety and care is maintained for the 99,000 children and families that receive services annually. You can read more from DFPS here.
You can read the Family First Prevention Services Act directly here.
You can find additional resource for FFPSA information here.
*The reporter contacted Buckner, Jonathan’s Place, and TexProtects for comment, but staff were unavailable. Vogel Alcove staff declined to comment.