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?
–See John Kelly, CliffsNotes on Family First Act, Part One: Services to Prevent Foster Care
- 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.
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.