The Department for Community Based Services (DCBS), part of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, will hold nine regional forums this summer to give the public, providers and other partners an overview of how a new federal law will help keep at-risk families together and prevent youth from entering the foster care system.
The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), signed into law in 2018, implements widespread child welfare reform that specifically focuses on safely keeping families together to prevent children from entering the foster care system, and encouraging kinship or family foster home placements when they do have to be removed from their parents.
States can choose either to delay implementation until October 2021, or roll out the law’s provisions as early as this October. Kentucky intends to be an early implementer of the law.
“We are proud to be at the forefront of this legislation and to have the opportunity to improve outcomes for children sooner rather than later,” said Eric Clark, DCBS Commissioner. “Instead of being reactionary, Family First allows child welfare systems to be proactive and put funding and resources at the front end of the system. Family First aims to prevent children from entering foster care by supporting families, identifying risks, and removing safety concerns.”
The FFPSA does not provide any new funding, but it dramatically shifts how states’ child welfare programs can use federal dollars. It expands the use of funds designated for child welfare programming – sometimes referred to as Title IV-E funding – for quality, evidence-based preventive services for children, parents and/or kin/relative caregivers that could prevent a child’s entry into out-of-home care. Under the FFPSA, prevention services could include in-home, skill-based parenting programs, substance use disorder treatment and prevention provided by a clinician, and mental health treatment provided by a clinician.
Clark said that of the approximately 9,700 Kentucky children in out-of-home care, the majority are removed from their home because of neglect, with the kinds of risk factors that could be addressed through preventative services.
Implementation of FFPSA also is a part of the state’s Child Welfare Transformation, with goals to safely reduce the number of children entering out-of-home care, improve timeliness for children to have appropriate permanency, and reduce caseloads for frontline staff.
Clark said that he and his staff have welcomed providers and the public to come alongside DCBS in the effort.
“DCBS is the state’s child welfare agency, but we are not the child welfare system,” he said. “We cannot do this alone. At these Family First forums, we are engaging anyone who is already or who wants to be a part of the solution. Child welfare belongs to all of us.”
The FFPSA also sets limits on how children are placed in group settings. States will only be able to draw funds for time-limited, clinically necessary placements at qualifying treatment programs. There are exceptions for special populations and judicial review requirements.
Clark said anyone interested in child welfare should attend the forum in their region. Each meeting will feature general information about the FFPSA and how it impacts Kentucky, plus region-specific information like statistics on out-of-home care, family preservation resources, and local provider supports.
The list of forums and the counties covered by each region are included below. Registration is required and is available at the link posted for each event.
To learn more about how the Family First law affects Kentucky or DCBS’ programs and assistance go to the Cabinet’s website: http://chfs.ky.gov and type “DCBS” in the “What can we help you find?” search tool.
Family First Prevention Services Act Regional Forum Schedule
All meetings are scheduled to be from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. local time.
Northeastern Service Region (Bath, Bracken, Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Fleming, Greenup, Lawrence, Lewis, Mason, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan, Robertson and Rowan counties)
Date: July 12
Location: Rowan County Arts Center, 205 E. Main St, Morehead, KY 40351
Partner Lead: Sunrise Children’s Services
Registration Link: http://familyfirstnortheastern.eventbrite.com
(provided by Commonwealth of Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services)