Family First Prevention Services Act

October 7, 2021


The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) was introduced in 2016 and passed in early 2018. The focus of FFPSA is to prevent children from entering foster care by bolstering programs and services for children and families (e.g., mental health services/treatment and parent programs). FFPSA was primarily created to increase the amount of resources the government could spend on services with the goal of preventing foster care placement. FFPSA touched on other aspects of child welfare as well, such as placing limitations on congregate care funding and creating a clearinghouse of approved evidence-based programs and services.


A key organizational partner in this work includes the Child Maltreatment Solutions Network

Congregate Care

  • One component of FFPSA was reducing states’ use of congregate care, which includes placements where children live in institutional settings (e.g., structured environments under the care of staff). In light of this, Congressional offices sought to better understand this type of placement. The RPC contacted researchers to compile information on this matter.
  • Congregate care programs are often more expensive and associated with poorer child outcomes than other types of placement. For instance, placement in just one group home increases the risk of delinquency by 2.5 times.
  • Although placement in congregate care should not be the first option, it is sometimes necessary for the well-being and safety of children. Congregate care arrangements that closely mirror a family-like environment may be better for children than typical institutional settings.
  • For more detailed information about congregate care, refer to this webpage by the Casey Family Programs.


 Request for public comment on evidence standards from the Administration for Children and Families

  • Staff working in the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees have been instrumental in supporting the roll out of FFPSA. The RPC was encouraged by staff to engage researchers in commenting on the guidelines set forth about evidence standards for determining program eligibility under FFPSA.
  • The standards in FFPSA were intended to reinforce the use of programs that have rigorous evidence demonstrating efficacy. Researchers’ comments were intended to offer guidance on the parameters that determine which intervention studies would qualify for review.
  • We gathered input from researchers and research organizations on evidence-based practices and prevention services.
    • 24 researchers across several professional organizations signed on to a written response to the Administration for Children and Families, with even more contributing to the development of the response. In addition, 12 organizations also signed on.
  • The response included suggestions for the Administration to consider and addressed questions the Administration had about Clearinghouse inclusion criteria for programs and services.

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