There are a lot of changes happening within the child welfare system in Kentucky due to recent state policy changes, agency commitments from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and both state and federal funding that will have a profound impact on how our child welfare system functions and supports Kentucky children and families.

The Cabinet has begun work on implementing House Bill 1, along with other needed reforms to transform the way our child welfare system works to keep kids safe and strengthen families.

What do we need to consider next? One critical next step is how the state responds to and implements the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA). The great news, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services is already in the process of planning. They have announced that they want to be early implementers of the federal legislation.

The Kentucky Child Welfare Oversight and Advisory Committee learned about Family First with testimony from Casey Family Programs, Kentucky Youth Advocates, and Jefferson County Family Court Chief Judge Tara Hagerty.

So, what is the Family First Preservation Services Act?

The short answer: complex but FULL of great opportunities.

The long answer:

The Family First Prevention Services Act is a federal act passed by Congress in February 2018. FFPSA realigns federal funding to prioritize prevention and evidence-based strategies. It’s designed to intervene early, so that kids can remain safely at home, by:

  • Focusing on families already showing early warning signs of abuse or neglect
  • Targeting known abuse or neglect drivers, like mental health, substance use disorders, and a lack of parent understanding, or inappropriate expectations of typical childhood development and behaviors
  • And investing in interventions that are research-informed and have a proven track record

The new law also makes foster care work better, by:

  • Reserving group home placements for kids who need special behavioral health care
  • And focusing foster care resources on improving outcomes for kids who can’t remain safely at home

We know that Kentucky kids can thrive when they are safe and healthy and have the support of a family. And Kentucky families can best care for their children when they have the support of their community.

Want a deeper explanation of Family First?

Check it out here.

Want to learn more about how it will impact Kentucky? Stay tuned. The law will go into effect for Kentucky in October 2019. We will update as progress is made.

Judge Tara Hagerty, chief judge of Jefferson County Family Court, and Shannon Moody of Kentucky Youth Advocates present on the Family First Prevention Services Act to the Child Welfare Oversight and Advisory Committee.