What is the Family First Prevention Services Act Part I: Introduction

What is the Family First Prevention Services Act Part I: Introduction

What is the Family First Prevention Services Act Part I: Introduction

You can download the entire concept paper for this blog here.

What is the Family First Prevention Services Act Part I about?

The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) is a national policy that offers an opportunity to supply more supports and services to maintain children and youth in home-like settings with families. The overarching goal of Part 1 of the act is prevention. Part 1 seeks to prevent the need for foster care while supporting children, youth, and families in their homes. In order to prevent the need for foster care, states must track child and youth well-being to show that the prevention services are not preventing access to needed foster care services.

What type does the FFPSA allow that is different than before?

“At the simplest level, Title IV-E [for Foster Care] is the federal funding mechanism that states were able to use to pay for, primarily, out-of-home care for children. Meaning if the states wanted to draw down with the bulk of child welfare funding was that were to support children in crisis, the only way you could do it, and the biggest federal funding mechanism, was for out-of-home care. What FFPSA does is open the use of Title IV-E to front end diversion prevention services that can be used with families that are in crisis, where that child’s at risk of coming into care, before that child moves into out-of-home care, which opens again the toolbox of services we can provide.” -David DeStefano, Chief of Strategy, Kids Central, Inc.

Family First Prevention Services Act Part I and Person-Centered Intelligence

Certain requirements of the act necessitate that states track and collect of additional information about families and systems. This article identifies how Opeeka’s Person-Centered Intelligence Solution (P-CIS, /pieces/) assists with certain aspects included in Part I of the act.

What is Person-Centered Intelligence Solution (P-CIS)?

P-CIS is an assessment and outcomes management solution designed to help agencies and their staff plan and guide person-centered care while measuring progress along personal trajectories of safety and success. It helps capture family circumstances in meaningful ways resulting in reliable, valid and consistently administered outcome measures across everyone receiving services.

P-CIS organizes information about families into Story Maps, which better allows staff to recognize, understand, and respond to the effects of trauma using trauma-informed approaches that have proven successful for families with similar traumatic experiences. P-CIS transforms assessment data into directly meaningful information.

Why is it important to understand a family story for prevention?

“What I think is really, really important is that we’ve got to really rethink prevention. I want to challenge us to think about programs we haven’t thought about yet. I want to challenge us to think about ways to prevent that we really haven’t gone there and say to ourselves, ‘if we look at a family story, if we look from the inception of a family, right, where can we move prevention to so it really is prevention. Where can we move so it really is primary so that we’re not doing the traditional, secondary and tertiary prevention that we might like to rest on and all prevention. But how far back on the continuum can we move it? And I think part of doing that goes to listening to family stories and letting families tell us where the first touch would have made a difference, where our intervention really could have impacted.” -Chris Groeber, Professor of Social Work, University of South Florida

What is a FFPSA Prevention Plan?

What does FFPSA policy say about a prevention plan?

“As a requirement related to providing Services and Programs, the State must maintain a written prevention plan for the child. Services and programs in the prevention plan must be trauma-informed. Including in the requirements are the following:

  1. Identify the foster care prevention strategy for the child so that the child may remain safely at home, live temporarily with a kin caregiver until reunification can be safely achieved, or live permanently with a kin caregiver;
  2. List the services or programs to be provided to or on behalf of the child to ensure the success of that prevention strategy;”

How do you create a prevention plan for FFPSA policy?

A care prevention plan must be customized to meet the individualized strengths and needs of the child/youth and family. The first step is to assess and identify strengths and needs, and the second step is to match services, supports or activities.

Often, gathering the information needed is an unstructured activity during which story lines and emotions emerge and intertwine. Itemizing strengths and needs for everyone, including children/youth and family members is an orienting first step. Assessments which capture information about areas of strengths and needs are helpful tools to structure the process of information gathering.

P-CIS is a software that was designed with care plans in mind. Our custom reports support the development of child-specific care plans that are organized, actionable, strength based and customized to meet the individualized strengths and needs of the child/youth and family.


How can personal Story Map inform the FFPSA prevention plan?

A prevention plan can be created from an individual’s assessment with a P-CIS Story Map. Responses are organized based on ratings, providing actionable insights at a glance. P-CIS helps transform information about needs and strengths of each individual into story maps.

What is a Story Map?

A story map organizes assessment data into a visual tool. Customized thresholds are automatically applied to assessment responses, such that beyond the threshold, areas of the circumstances are categorized into needs for focus and strengths to build or use in the plan.


How can a Family Report help reduce the burden of delivering the FFPSA prevention plan in a family friendly way?

A Family Report from P-CIS automatically converts the data captured in the assessment and notes into a written plan that is suitable for a child/youth or family to understand. As soon as the assessment is completed, a written plan in the form of a Family Report for each family member can be viewed or downloaded. There are two reports for each family member: a needs report and a strengths report.

What is in a Family Report for a FFPSA Prevention Plan?

Family Reports list the areas of focus along with latest progress. The Notes section identifies the specific care plan, and there is plenty of room for families to take notes or draw pictures to capture their own thoughts during the process. Dedicating this free space on the plan for children/youth and families reinforces that their thoughts and feelings are important for the care plan.

What does the FFPSA policy say about Trauma Informed Care?

“The services or programs to be provided to or on behalf of a child are provided under an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma and in accordance with recognized principles of a trauma-informed approach and trauma-specific interventions to address trauma’s consequences and facilitate healing.”

What is trauma-informed care?

Trauma-informed care recognizes, acknowledges, and seeks to mitigate the impact of trauma. While it is difficult to talk about, understanding a child/youth and family’s trauma helps provide context to their circumstances. Assessment questions can identify types of trauma. This can provide clues about underlying need. P-CIS immediately highlights areas of underlying need, such as traumatic experiences.


What does the FFPSA policy say about measuring outcomes?

“For services and programs provided in accordance with promising, supported, or well-supported practices:

  • Outcome measures are reliable and valid, and are administrated consistently and accurately across all those receiving the practice.”

What are FFPSA outcomes?

Outcomes are a result of a change in a measure that we are targeting for change. The areas of focus for care are expected to change, and a measure of this change becomes the outcomes of care.

Complex areas of life can be difficult to boil down into a measure or an outcome.

What are examples of FFPSA outcomes?

  1. Increase organization and structure in the environment of the child/youth.
  2. Decrease time the child spends without supervision.
  3. Increase stability and safety of a living situation.
  4. Increased health and well-being of the child.

How can I capture outcomes for the FFPSA policy?

Assessments which can evaluate the quality and quantity related to each area of need are helpful in operationalizing outcome tracking.

The change we measure translates into outcomes.


What types of assessments are important for the FFPSA policy?

P-CIS supports nearly any assessment used in human services practice. (See blog about different types and uses of assessments here.)

  • Screening tools
  • Level of care assessments
  • Biopsychosocial evaluations
  • Diagnostic tools
  • Checklists
  • Functional assessments
  • Decision support tools
  • Satisfaction surveys

How do you track outcomes for the FFPSA?

P-CIS provides visualization of longitudinal changes in well-being as measured through assessment and reassessment. P-CIS supports defined schedules with automated reminders, a supervisor review process, and reports that measure change over time. P-CIS promotes practices that support reliable and valid outcome measures that are collected consistently and accurately for children, youth, and families.


The FFPSA policy provides guidance and funding to augment prevention activities, keeping children and youth more often in family settings and at home. P-CIS facilitates the collection and sharing of information needed to build prevention strategies across a system of care, and it automates the conversion of assessment data into written plans. This increases the value of the information collected and it automates the documentation of a prevention plan into a usable format from that information. P-CIS reduces the burden on staff to manually document the prevention plan to meet the requirement of the FFPSA policy.