Children and teens involved in the child welfare system do best in families, where there is a safe and stable environment that supports their growth and well-being. Passage of the bipartisan federal Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 (Family First) took important steps to realign federal funding to ensure children in foster care are placed with families and to prioritize critical supports, such as mental health and substance abuse treatment, in-home parent skill-based programs, and family therapy, that can help prevent the need for foster care in the first place.

Each state must opt-in for the opportunity to draw down federal funds in this new way to keep families safely together. Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services and Department for Community Based Services leadership has committed to being among the first states to implement Family First.

Currently, Kentucky is awaiting approval of the Prevention Plan submitted to the United States Children’s Bureau at the end of August. This plan outlines how the Commonwealth intends to implement Family First.

In anticipation of implementation of this important opportunity in communities across the Commonwealth, Kentucky Youth Advocates has launched a Family First Communications and Advocacy Toolkit to provide information and strategies for those interested in being engaged in the implementation process. The toolkit can help child welfare leaders and professionals, advocates, private providers, and other stakeholders understand Family First and talk about how it will improve outcomes for kids and families in Kentucky.