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Delay Approved for Implementation of Family First Prevention Services Act Until July 2021

Harrisburg, PA – The Wolf Administration today announced that approval was received from the United States Department of Health & Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families to delay opting into full implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act until July 1, 2021, to give child welfare stakeholders the necessary time to implement these critical reforms.

The Family First Prevention Services Act is a federal law that prioritizes providing services to children in families in the least restrictive manner and with their families as much as safely possible. It allows states to use federal payments for trauma-informed evidence-based prevention services to allow children who may otherwise be placed in congregate settings care to stay with their parents or relatives. In the event placement outside the home occurs, the law directs federal funding towards family-like settings or other specialized settings that are best suited to a child’s individual needs.

The additional time will allow for interested providers for specialized settings to apply or to adjust their programs under the Family First Prevention Services Act. Specialized settings are trauma-informed child residential facilities or supervised independent living programs specializing in providing care and treatment for children and youth with special circumstances.

Furthermore, the delay will support our efforts to build additional evidence-based prevention programs used by counties in a way that safely keeps families together, allows for staffing and data needs to be met, and will not result in the loss of federal funds.

DHS previously released a bulletin with guidance and requirements for providers that wish to become a specialized setting.

RCPA will continue to be represented on the Statewide Family First Task Force and will continue to update members on the new implementation process, timelines, and progress status. If you would like to discuss your organization’s Family First plan or if you have questions, please contact RCPA Children’s Division Director Jim Sharp.