Family First: Overview

Family First Prevention Services Act, simply referred to as 'Family First,' is federal legislation which will restructure how the federal government spends money on child welfare to improve outcomes for children. It will prevent the need for removal through evidence-based family preservation services. 

If removal is necessary, placement will be prioritized in this order:

  • Relative or fictive kin
  • Licensed Foster Family
  • Congregate care (for treatment only)

Key components of Family First will include foster care prevention services such as mental health, substance abuse treatment services, in-home, parent skill-based programs that include parent education, and individual and family counseling. It will also include kinship navigator programs, which are designed to provide support to relatives and fictive kin when the child cannot be safely maintained in the home.

There are limitations on federal financial participation for placements that are not in foster family homes. Family First will be designed to discourage use of congregate care settings. A child who has been clinically assessed using an evidence-based and validated tool approved by HHS and determined to have specific short-term and long-term mental and behavioral health goals that cannot be met in a family or family-like setting may receive services in a Qualified Residential Treatment Program (QRTP). The setting will provide the least restrictive environment and most appropriate level of care.

Watch for Updates: For more information you may also view the Family First Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Family First Resources webpages. As the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) rolls out Family First, this website will be the primary source of information. As we move forward, more information will be added and the site will be expanded to include new resources, additional FAQs and more. Please check back regularly for updates.