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Family First Prevention Services Act is now Law

On February 9, the Family First Prevention Services Act was signed into law as part of the bipartisan government spending bill. The new law builds on H.R. 5456 originally passed by the House in June 2016 with a number of accommodations to address some of the concerns voiced throughout this process.
For more information, members can view FFTA's Four Part FFPSA Webinar Series as well as additional policy webinars.
What are major inclusions and highlights?
• For the first time, States would be given the option of using some of their federal IV-E funding provided for foster care services on activities directly related to preventing the need for children to enter foster care or for their safety, permanency, or well-being.
• States would be required to have a plan for preventing child abuse and neglect fatalities.
• Federal financial participation would be limited for placements that aren't into foster family homes.
• Family reunification services would be available no matter how long a child has been in foster care, and no longer time-limited upon reunification or adoption.
• Adoption and legal guardianship incentive programs would be reauthorized for five years; however, there is imposed a 2-yr delay on delinking 1996 FLP.
Especially important improvements for kinship care:
• Kinship Navigator Programs: It provides partial government funding to help states that elect to offer kinship navigator programs.
• Licensing Relatives: It helps address barriers to licensing relatives as foster parents to help more children and caregivers in kinship families get the full range of supports and services that traditional unrelated foster parents and children receive. States will be required to submit information regarding their licensing standards for kin and how licensing waivers for kin are implemented.

Opioid and SUD treatment:
• FFPSA also offers new supports for preventing and treating families struggling with substance use disorders. In addition to increased support for grandparents and other relatives who have reached out to care for children, the legislation reauthorizes regional partnerships to bring systems together to benefit children in families struggling with substance use, and provides funding to help children placed in treatment programs with their parents.

More "wins" for families and children:
• A five year extension of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program at $400 million (current level)
• A further extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for the next ten years
• An extension of various health "extenders" including Community Health Centers

As with any major systems change...and FFPSA is exactly that..... there are still improvements to be made in future Congresses.

Direct impact on TFC providers and agencies:
It is important to note that the TFC definition bills (S1357/HR2290) are separate from the signed CR and FFPSA.

Review: Family First Act focuses on two main areas: 1- use of IV-E money for prevention, stabilization, and reunification...and support of kinship families; 2- requirement that youth be served in family-settings unless assessment determines congregate care is needed. It also requires various new measures for congregate care agencies to quality for participation in Medicaid reimbursements...beginning in 2 years.

Now is the best, and most important, opportunity we have had to pass the TFC legislation!

The obvious next step is to prepare and support TFC providers who will be serving this high-needs population in the community in kinship placements and non-relative TFC care. S1357/HR2290 do exactly this for family settings. This legislation establishes TFC specifically as a Medicaid reimbursable service and it requires national accreditation of provider agencies,within 3 years of passage, using the exact language in FFPSA requiring accreditation of congregate care agencies.

Moving forward: We want some improvements above and beyond FFPSA in the future, but must begin to address what is now law.
FFTA members must demand the same supports and protections for TFC family-based services that Congress provided for MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment) last Congress.

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