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April 2024Vol. 25, No. 3Leveraging the Family First Prevention Services Act to Strengthen Supports for Children and Families

Child Trends interviewed child- and family-serving agencies and organizations in six states to compile a report on current efforts to prevent child maltreatment and promote well-being in families with infants and toddlers and how states are using the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) to support their efforts. The report also explores facilitators and challenges that states are facing in their efforts to promote holistic well-being for families and prevent maltreatment and entry into foster care. There were four key findings from the report:

  • Prevention efforts—from development to funding to implementation—vary widely across states and communities.
  • States have an innovative range of services designed to meet the unique needs of families with young children, but they are not available in every state or in every county or region within states.
  • Each state is working to promote equity and incorporate parent voices in their prevention planning and implementation.
  • While FFPSA plays a unique and important role in overall prevention efforts, states report implementation challenges.

FFPSA provides an opportunity for states to use different funding streams to help build a more robust prevention system at all levels of prevention (primary, secondary, and tertiary), with a focus on moving supports as upstream as possible. While FFPSA provides new opportunities for agencies, it also requires creative thinking and partnering across systems to achieve their goals.

All states expressed their enthusiasm and commitment to increasing families' access to prevention services, coordinating with cross-system partners to expand services, and using their available resources creatively. The report included recommendations for state leaders working to improve and expand their prevention services:

  • Reduce silos across and between agencies and their partners.
  • Increase supports specifically designed to meet the needs of families with very young children.
  • Promote equity in policies and practice and bring parents with lived expertise into decision-making roles.
  • Facilitate the use of FFPSA in their overall prevention efforts.

Find the full report, Using the Family First Act to Grow and Nurture Support Systems for Families of Young Children: A Look at Promotion, Prevention, and Family First Act Implementation in Six States, on the Child Trends website.