The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) Quick Facts
CHS has a bold direction: To end the need for foster care as we know it
Federal legislation is now aligning with the efforts we’ve long believed in
What does it mean to “end the need for foster care as we know it”?
It means we’re delivering solutions that keep more families safe, strong and together. CHS is focused on prevention: preventing more entries into foster care and, for children who do enter foster care, preventing lengthy stays in foster care.
Why is this important?
Nearly 75% of children who become known to the child welfare system are involved because of neglect, not abuse. Multiple challenges – poverty, unemployment, lack of access to health care, mental health challenges, substance abuse and more – can lead to child neglect and entry into the foster care system.
CHS has been moving in this direction for years. We want to meet parents where they’re at – before the government gets involved, before child safety and well-being are threatened.
We can make a greater impact on the lives of children by investing more effort in the front-end, both through primary and secondary prevention (the focus of the Family First Prevention Services Act), with a focus on keeping more families safe, strong and together. Currently, more than 43% of families being served within Florida’s child welfare system are being served in their own homes – together.
How does the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) factor in to all of this?
The Family First Prevention Services Act reinforces CHS’ direction with changes in both legislation and funding, which will allow us to strengthen and expand our efforts to keep more children safe at home.
This bill significantly changes how the federal government will cost share in child welfare services, which impacts how we serve children in Florida. The federal government will direct more dollars toward services that can keep children safe at home, specifically:
- Mental health and substance abuse treatment provided by a qualified clinician;
- Trauma-informed, evidence-based in-home parent education and skill-building services; and
- Services and support for relative caregivers.
This move at the federal level is sending a clear signal – children belong with families. Even more importantly – children do best when their parents are supported and can safely care for them.
What does the research show?
Removing a child from home immediately increases risk factors for poor outcomes related to school readiness, depression, anxiety, anti-social behaviors, health and more. The trauma of removal affects a child’s brain development, and studies have consistently shown that children who can remain in their homes – with proper services – experience better outcomes than those who are removed.
An MIT study that tracked 15,000+ youth in in “at-risk” families in Illinois found:
- 44% of youth who went into foster care were arrested, compared to 14% of youth who remained with their families
- 56% of girls who went into foster care became teen mothers, compared to 33% who remained with their families
- 20% of youth who entered foster care held a job for at least three months, compared with 33% who remained with their families
At CHS, we have always been on the forefront of change in child welfare – and we have long believed that children can best succeed when they’re able to remain with their families. It’s encouraging to see the federal government focus on such a key issue now, too: keeping more families safe, strong and together.