5 Problems With the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018

The Family First Prevention Services Act (“FFPSA”) was signed by President Donald Trump on February 8, 2018. The new law was enacted to help American families as the nation struggles through the current opioid epidemic. The FFPSA offers prevention services and programs for parents to preserve families and prevent children from going into foster care. 

What is available under the FFPSA?

  • Eligibility – Parents or relatives of candidates for foster care, or foster children who are expectant mothers or parents, are eligible for services if they have a written prevention plan.
  • Services – Twelve months of approved mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and in-home parent skill-based programs, are all reimbursable programs and services under the new law.
 See John Kelly, CliffsNotes on Family First Act, Part One: Services to Prevent Foster Care


Sounds great! What is the problem?


1. The FFPSA may not promote actions that are best for children.

The law restricts the use of congregate or group home placements for children. So, rather than placing children in these settings, the law encourages states to place children with relatives. However, many substance abuse issues are often intergenerational, so really the child may just be placed in a similar situation to the one they had with their parent or guardian.

2. The FFPSA stops federal adoption assistance for children adopted before their second birthday.


Therefore, states are not able to be reimbursed by the federal government to help provide financial assistance to adoptive parents. This restriction includes supporting special needs children.

3. Florida may be forced to deny funding to relative caregivers for the support of children in their care to prevent foster care.


Although children in relative care typically experience higher rates of poverty, the FFPSA funds prevention services for parents and guardians of the children, not the relative caregivers.

4. Florida may have a difficult time complying with the FFPSA’s strict standards.


The FFPSA creates strict timelines for the State to comply with the requirements of the new law. Accrediting services and programs and providing training for staff is a long process that could cost millions of dollars.

5. Twelve months of prevention services may not be enough to prevent foster care.


Most addicts relapse and because the twelve months begins when the child is labeled a candidate for foster care, they may not even get twelve months of treatment due to long wait times and a lack of approved services and programs.


Asheley Pankratz is a student at the Shepard Broad College of Law and a Junior Associate of the Nova Law Review. Her article, What About Florida’s Children? Analyzing the Implications of the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 was published in the journal's Florida Law issue of Volume 44. She is a paralegal and has served as a Volunteer Child Advocate (Guardian Ad Litem) in South Florida. She is looking forward to a career in family law and has a deep interest in protecting the rights of children.

Danna Khawam: Vol. 44 Editor-in-Chief

Danna Khawam is currently a Juris Doctor Candidate for May 2020 at Nova Southeastern University, Shepard Broad College of Law. As the Editor-in-Chief of Nova Law Review, Volume 44, her responsibilities are to manage the organization as a whole, including coordinating the 2019 Symposium, overseeing the publication of each issue, and directing the editorial staff. 



Her article, titled Is the End to the Opioid Epidemic Near? Florida and Other States Attempt to Address the Crisis by Passing New Limits on Opioid Prescriptions, was published in the 2018 Florida Book (Vol. 43, Issue 1) of the Nova Law Review. She is also a member of President’s 64, Moot Court Society, and the Honors Program. Danna worked as a Summer Associate at Nelson Mullins Broad and Cassel this past summer and is currently interning there during her final semester at law school. She has accepted an associate position with the firm to commence after taking the Florida Bar Examination.

Last summer, she interned at Environmental and Consumer Protection Division in Broward County, Florida. During her first year of law school, Danna won the Martin Luther King Writing Competition and was the runner-up in the 1L Feinrider Moot Court Competition. As a 2L, Danna competed in the Health Law Competition and ended as an octofinalist. She is currently preparing to compete in the ABA Moot Court Competition. 

Danna holds a degree in Political Science from Fordham University. At Fordham, Danna also minored in Psychology and Arabic. She was the Co-President of the Fordham Club. Danna interned at multiple law firms, including Callagy Law and Davidson & Grannum, while she was an undergraduate student.