Family First Act: Next Steps for Maine
Children and teens involved in the child welfare system do best in families, where they can live in a safe, stable, happy and healthy environment that supports their growth and well-being. Maine is currently working with a cross-section of government and community members to improve the child welfare system to create better outcomes for children and families. Maine plans to enhance those efforts through the federal Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First).
What is Family First?
Family First was adopted in February 2018 and provides states federal funds in new and expanded ways including promoting the use of trauma-informed, evidence-based interventions and services to prevent the need for foster care placements. The vision is reflected in its name: A family first for children through quality prevention services. Children succeed in safe and stable families with parents who care for their children and have access to strong community supports.
The new federal law realigns federal funding and recognizes that growing up in a home with a family is essential for all kids, especially those who have experienced abuse or neglect. It also recognizes that too many children are unnecessarily separated from parents who could provide safe and loving care if given access to needed mental health services, substance abuse treatment, or strengthened parenting skills. The law creates these changes through key reforms:
- Increased funding for prevention services including mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, and in-home skill-based programming for parents.
- Implementation of new requirements for residential care placements
- Increased federal funding for Kinship Navigator Programs.
- Expanded Title IV-E funding for children whose parents are in a family-based treatment facility.
- Guidance on family foster home licensing through the federal Department of Health and Human
What is Maine doing to implement Family First?
Like many other states, Maine is just beginning the planning process. The state is engaging the entire community in planning and gathering ongoing feedback on improving Maine's prevention services and practice models to better support children and families.
If you would like to volunteer your services to be part of one of the planning teams – Evidence Based Practice, Qualified Residential Treatment Program, Workforce/Training Supports, or Candidacy – please provide your contact information.