The federal Family First Prevention Services Act was enacted in 2018 to overhaul child welfare systems throughout the country. At its core, the act is intended to focus resources on preventing child maltreatment and reduce the use of congregate care.
Many states found it necessary to enact legislation to align their child welfare laws with Family First. As of the end of 2022, 29 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have enacted bills and resolutions concerning Family First. Many of the new laws define “foster home,” “residential treatment center,” “kin” and other terms to align with the federal act. Others address funding for the implementation of evidence-based practices or kinship navigator programs. Some enactments establish requirements for performance audits or other reports to track and evaluate Family First implementation.
Arkansas, for example, enacted legislation to define “foster home” as a home that is licensed or approved as a foster home where a child in the foster care system is placed in the care of a licensed foster parent. Colorado amended its definition of “kin” to ensure kin are eligible for prevention services.
Georgia appropriated funds for the state’s child welfare automated information system and for a Family First project management team to oversee implementation of the act. Illinois enacted legislation that requires an audit of its Department of Children and Family Services’ compliance with Family First requirements to protect and affirm LGBTQ children and youth.
In addition to passing legislation, 46 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have submitted Title IV-E prevention plans to the Children's Bureau for approval. As of July 2022, 37 plans have been approved and 9 are awaiting approval.
The interactive map below displays enacted state legislation and states' approved Title IV-E prevention plans. Click on individual states.