States Lag in Family First Plan Submissions

According to the most recent tally by the Children’s Bureau, just five states have approved plans in place to implement evidence-based services under the Family First Prevention Services Act.

The five states are Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, and Utah (plus the District of Columbia). Another seven states have submitted plans to the Children’s Bureau for review (Alaska, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia). See here for an inventory of current or expected evidence-based services that will be used in these states.

Family First became effective on October 1, 2019. Early estimates suggested that as many as 13 states plus DC would apply for funding and be approved in its first year. These early projections were not far off. They largely reflect the list of states that have either been approved or have submitted plans for approval.

At the time, the largest barrier to state participation was believed to be the limits the law placed on congregate care. State matching requirements for the new evidence-based prevention services and other start-up costs were another barrier, although these costs were substantially addressed by the Family First Transition Act.

Since then, state budget challenges stemming from the COVID-19 crisis have created an additional barrier.  The Child Welfare Emergency Assistance Act (S. 4172), introduced earlier this month by four Democratic senators, would help address these fiscal barriers for states, but its prospects are unclear.

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