Family First Prevention Services Act Update
After a significant decline in foster care caseloads over two decades, child maltreatment rates and foster care caseloads began to rise in 2017. Data indicates that the increase is largely due to substance abuse as a result of the opioid crises, with 36% of children entering foster care in 2017 because of parental substance abuse. In response, Congress enacted the Family First Prevention Services Act in 2018 (H.R. 5456, P.L. 1115-123). “Family First” provides states with the unprecedented opportunity to transform state child welfare systems by providing substance abuse, mental health and other prevention and treatment services to prevent children’s entry into foster care. This law also seeks to reduce state’s reliance on group and residential treatment homes and prioritize family-based care.