Family First Prevention Service Act (FFPSA)

The Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF) received approval from the Administration for Children & Families (ACF) to begin implementing the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) through a five-year Family First Title IV-E Prevention Services Plan (FFY2022-FFY2026). This plan was developed over the last two years with support and contributions from families, youth, foster parents, community members, and other key stakeholders.

Rhode Island’s Family First Prevention Services Plan builds upon the prevention infrastructure that DCYF established in 2009 with the formation of the Family Community Care Partnerships. DCYF will continue to strengthen the capabilities of parents and caregivers to safely care for their children at home and reduce the need for foster care placement when possible. FFPSA allows states to use federal funding to cover the cost of services that help support families and prevent children from coming into foster care.

DCYF will leverage FFPSA funding to support its prevention service system of care and continue to drive forward the goal of eliminating disproportionality and disparity in our child welfare system, creating equitable access to services and programming and ensuring culturally appropriate options are available to families.

The five-year, Family First Prevention Services Plan will help DCYF continue to:

  • Strengthen the capabilities and expand the capacity of parents and caregivers to care for their children effectively and safely at home.
  • Reduce the need for foster care by partnering with families and communities to raise safe and healthy children and youth in a caring environment.
  • Keep children and youth safe in their neighborhoods while building on community resources.
  • Enhance reunification efforts by wrapping supports around children and their families.
  • Expand the home-based service array that supports future procurements.

What is the Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First or FFPSA)?

FFPSA was enacted by Congress on February 9, 2018, as part of Public Law (P.L.) 115-123. The FFPSA is landmark federal legislation that offers a major opportunity for states to strengthen prevention services by allowing Title IV-E funding reimbursement for mental health services, substance use treatment, and in-home parent skill-based programs for children or youth who are at risk of entering foster care, pregnant or parenting youth in foster care, and the parents or relative caregivers of those children and youth. FFPSA

  • Represents the most significant child welfare law to pass in 20 years.
  • Dramatically alters the federal financing structure for child welfare programming (Title IV-E)
  • Provides the legislative foundation for states to:
  • Reorient their child welfare systems around prevention
  • Increase family-based placements for children and youth who enter foster care
  • Reduce the need for congregate care

How does FFPSA fit into DCYF’s mission and guiding principles?

FFPSA is based on several core principles shared by our agency and reflected in our vision, mission, and guiding principles. We believe that the family, community, and government share responsibility for children’s safety, protection, and well-being through a family- and child-centered wraparound system of care. Systems should work to keep families together whenever possible by providing access to prevention services so children and teens can grow up in their own home and caregivers who need access to treatments and support can improve their ability to care safely for their kids.

Why is the Family First Act Needed in Rhode Island?

Family First will give DCYF the ability to enhance its efforts with respect to prevention and early intervention services to keep children safe, strengthen families, and reduce the need for foster care whenever it is safe to do so. This five-year plan will give the state the option to use federal Title IV-E funding for evidence-based prevention services and programs (EBPs). In Rhode Island, Family First will help:

  • Continue shifting the focus from out-of-home care to prevention and increased family stability and well-being.
  • Expand evidence-based interventions that are available to families and children.
  • Apply a trauma-responsive lens to the continuum of prevention services.
  • Partner across systems (mental health, substance use disorder, juvenile justice, early childhood, health, etc.) to align prevention efforts.
  • Expand the evidence base in child welfare and spread innovative practices.

Family First Builds on DCYF Ongoing Efforts

DCYF is well positioned to put Family First into action thanks to the implementation of the Public Health Framework in 2009. Through this framework, which introduced a strong shift toward primary and secondary prevention, the Department developed a network of prevention-directed providers statewide known as the Family Community Care Partnerships (FCCPs). FCCPs provide high-fidelity, wraparound services and link children and families to home- and community-based services. Together DCYF and FCCPs deploy both primary and secondary prevention strategies. The Department’s primary prevention efforts are achieved through the FCCPs and collaboration with the Rhode Island Department of Health.

Additionally, in 2019 DCYF began working with a foundational practice model known as S.A.F.E. (Safety Assessment Through Family Engagement), which provides a central voice to youth, families, and communities, shifting Child Protective Services work from a solely incident-based investigative approach to a more comprehensive assessment of families’ strengths, behaviors, and functioning. This model has empowered caseworkers to partner with parents to co-create plans that address behavioral changes to maintain child safety, permanency, and well-being.

Executive Summary RI Family First Title IV-E Prevention Plan

RI DCYF Family First Prevention Plan