The Family First Act and Texas: An Introduction to Opportunities, Challenges, and Upcoming Decisions


updated July 10, 2018

The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), approved on a bipartisan basis by Congress in February 2018, represents a major reform in how the federal government structures federal financing of child welfare and is accompanied by a new infusion of federal funds. The FFPSA, often referred to as the Family First Act, includes many components, but the main goals behind the law are helping families in crisis safely stay together and reducing the foster care population by:

  1. Focusing on prevention of entry into foster care, and 
  2. Increasing the number of children successfully exiting foster care by reducing reliance on congregate care, which evidence suggests may reduce a child’s future ability to find a stable, family-based placement. 

These are worthy, child- and family-centered goals for our nation’s child welfare system although Texas has some implementation challenges ahead. Based on new federal guidance, it appears that by November 6, 2018, state leaders will have to make at least one big decision related to implementation of the FFPSA that will affect the amount of federal dollars we receive. 

This brief highlights several key components of the FFPSA based on currently-available information. Guidance from the federal government due October 1, 2018 should clarify some key questions and help states prepare for the significant child welfare reforms ahead.