What Is the Family First Prevention Services Act?

What Is the Family First Prevention Services Act?A Shift in Services


State child protection services (CPS) agencies receive funding from the federal government. But critics of the child welfare system in the US argue federal funding incentivizes foster placement rather than keeping families together. Indeed, some state CPS agencies receive more federal funding when they put children in foster placement, which begs the question of how are these agencies set up to help keep families together? If they need federal funding to provide families with services to help them stay together yet receive that funding when families are broken apart, the system is clearly not working. In an effort to increase the efficiency of the child welfare system in the US, the Family First Prevention Services Act seeks to reprioritize federal funding streams to state CPS agencies. The goal is to better use funds to help—rather than hurt—families.


Signed into law February 9, 2018, the Family First Prevention Services Act (the Act) reforms Title IV-E and Title IV-B of the Social Security Act. It redirects funding to services provided to families who are at risk of entering state child welfare systems and incentivizes states to reduce group placement of children (i.e. congregate care).


Typically, New Jersey’s CPS agency, the DCPP (formerly the DYFS) offers services to families who have an open case. But many families cannot access those same services unless DCPP and/or the court becomes involved. Thus, many go without help until it’s essentially too late because they don’t qualify for the assistance that kicks in once DCPP opens a case.


Under Title IV-E, states can now use the funding to reimburse parents for up to 12 months of mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and in-home parenting skills education and training as preventative measures. Also under Title IV-E, reimbursement for group home placement is limited to two weeks unless exceptions exist. And under Title IV-B, there is no time limit for family reunification services.


The Act reforms Title IV-E and Title IV-B in numerous other ways. Thus, the child welfare system in New Jersey may undergo significant procedural and policy changes, which can make it more difficult for parents to navigate their DCPP cases.


Legislature by nature is dividing. Some state CPS agencies oppose the redistribution of funding while others welcome the incentive to keep more children in their homes by increasing funding for preventative measures. Again, these factors mean parents involved with DCPP face more challenges than ever. If you are a parent involved with the child welfare system in New Jersey, speak with an experienced New Jersey child welfare defense attorney. An attorney can help you understand how the Act could potentially affect your case and help you take steps to access the services and support you need to keep your family together.

If you are dealing with the DCPP in New Jersey, the Williams Law Group, LLC is here to help. The experienced child abuse defense attorneys at Williams Law Group, LLC can help you defend your rights and protect your privacy. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at info@awilliamslawgroup.com, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.



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