Policy & Practice | Spring 2023


eligible programs are delivered to families within the context of the INFPS, however, the state is submitting the INFPS model to the Title IV-E Clearinghouse for approval. Similar to

Indiana is another state leveraging the opportunities within Family First to expand the types of support families receive and to reach more families before they are in crisis. For child welfare–involved families, Indiana utilizes an intensive service model called Indiana Family Preservation Service Standard (INFPS). The INFPS providers conduct a holistic assessment and identify services and concrete supports, such as housing or transportation, that support families and ensure they can remain together. Providers are paid on a per diem basis and held accountable for family outcomes, incentivizing them to choose services that fit the family best, and to address their underlying needs and challenges. Currently, Indiana’s Family First–

New York, Indiana also expanded Family First prevention eligibility to families outside of child welfare through their Healthy Families Indiana (HFI) program. The HFI is available statewide and by creating this eligibility category, it provides an additional funding source for community-based providers to support families at high-risk “preemptively rather than reactively” and helps prevent any involvement with child welfare.

Limitations of Family First Family First represents a crucial shift within the child welfare system and how it functions, but it limits the prevention strategies that Title IV-E agencies can use to address the systemic conditions that largely con tribute to child abuse and neglect. As currently designed, interventions used under Family First primarily focus on individual behaviors and manage the impact of existing hard ships, only intervening after a family is in crisis. Data from the 2020 Child Maltreatment Report shows that the majority of child welfare system involvement is driven by conditions related to poverty, which the current system often conflates with willful

a comprehensive prevention infra structure that is human centered and includes community organizations.

neglect. None of the narrowly defined programs under Family First, and approved by the Clearinghouse, addresses the lack of concrete or economic resources that families face, leaving agencies unable to use Title IV-E funding to directly address the root causes of family instability. Additionally, Family First requires states to create a child-specific preven tion plan and collect data to track the child’s progress, even after prevention services have concluded. This level of case management and tracking perpetu ates the over-surveillance of families experiencing poverty, disproportionately affecting communities of color. Instead, fostering the conditions that allow all families to thrive requires jurisdictions to create a comprehensive prevention infrastructure that allows families to easily access supportive services whenever they need them. This com prehensive approach to child welfare

Prioritizing Prevention Family First offers an important tool for states, territories, and tribes to rethink how services are delivered and how organizations can partner to rei magine the range of supports available to keep families safely together and prevent children from entering foster care. Family First provides the legisla tive foundation for states to reorient their child welfare systems around pre vention and supporting families. It also has the potential to leverage additional federal funding to strengthen preven tion services in our country and create a system that is better equipped to support families and reduce the need for children to ever experience foster care. Through Family First, states can begin to demonstrate their com mitment to a coordinated continuum of services that reduces the need for foster care. However, there is more work that needs to be done to allow jurisdictions to create a prevention-led and equitable public services system. Reference Notes 1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Status of submitted title IV-E prevention program five-year plans. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/data/status submitted-title-iv-e-prevention-program five-year-plans 2. https://www.healthyfamiliesamerica.org/

The American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) and its affinity group, the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators (NAPCWA), have partnered with Prevent Child Abuse America to host a series of webinars in 2023 that will center on the Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First) and how human services has been advancing the use of prevention services to create a proactive system, centered on child and family well-being. The following article provides key background information, current implementation status, and opportunities to improve and maximize Family First in advancing the use of prevention services.

system prevention requires part nership with other supportive

services and community based organizations that

interact with and hold trust for families. The system would be co-designed and driven by those with lived expertise with the child welfare system and other public services. States, like those highlighted above, are great examples of how

Family First can be lev eraged to begin building


Spring 2023 Policy & Practice

Made with FlippingBook Online newsletter creator