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March 2023Vol. 24, No. 2FFPSA Prevention Provisions That Can Benefit Older Youth

An article by the American Bar Association highlights the ways in which prevention services can be used to benefit older youth under the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) of 2018. Before FFPSA, title IV-E funds for prevention services could be used only once a child was removed from the home. Under FFPSA, prevention funds can be used for “candidates for foster care,” which opens the door to prevention services for youth ages 18 to 21 who are eligible to reenter care under state law as well as expectant and parenting youth in care, regardless of whether their children are system involved.


There are two types of prevention services these groups are eligible to receive under FFPSA: (1) mental health and substance use prevention and treatment services provided by a qualified clinician and (2) in-home parent skill-based programs, including parenting skills training, parent education, and individual and family counseling. For prevention programs to receive federal funding, they must fall into one of these two categories and be evidence based.


When States develop prevention programs for older youth, they should address the reasons these youth come into care and better address the needs of them and their families. When states develop prevention programs for expectant and parenting youth, they can provide specialized support that improves outcomes and opportunities for these young parents.


The article provides strategies for attorneys who represent children, youth, and parents to use to enforce existing laws to complement FFPSA implementation work. Examples include the following:


  • Enforce the reasonable efforts provision requiring child welfare agencies to make reasonable efforts to prevent placement of children in foster care.
  • Enforce the requirements for fair hearings for denials of services and benefits under title IV-E.
  • Enforce laws regarding dispositions for youth in care who are pregnant or parenting to ensure appropriate placements and services and respect for the parental rights of young parents. 


More information is available in the article, “Leveraging the FFPSA for Older Youth: Prevention Provisions.” The article is part of a three-part series on how  FFPSA can be leveraged to benefit older youth. The other two articles are on the reduction of group care provisions and improving transitions.