Family First

​​​​​​​​​​​Answers to Family First Implementation in Oregon

The federal Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 has changed the landscape of federal child welfare funding in significant ways to support children to remain safely in their homes and encourage family-based placement when foster care placement is necessary. There are specific requirements around evidence-based programs and tools, the legislation expands opportunities to use research and data to drive decision making and direct funding to ensure that children and families receive the most effective services.​

Child Welfare will deliberately and consistently engage a diverse array of internal and external partners while planning and during implementation of Family First. Four workgroups, comprised of Child Welfare leaders, impacted youth, Tribes, birth parents, foster providers, community partners, and service providers are currently helping ensure many voices are included in Oregon’s plan development.  

We expect the Oregon Family First Prevention Plan to be submitted to the federal government in Fall 2020 and will share information along the way.

Oregon is utilizing the technical assistance of Casey Family Programs and Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago to develop the Oregon Family First Prevention Plan. Federal law requires all states to comply by October 2021.
The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) is responsible for implementing the new law. ODHS will engage existing stakeholder, Tribal and leadership groups to develop and work in partnership to implement the state plan once approved.
ODHS Child Welfare Program is committed to keeping service providers, community members, and partners updated as we learn how the Family First legislation will affect our state. Stakeholder feedback and input are valuable, and we will be reaching out as we develop the vision infrastructure for Oregon’s Plan. If you would like to receive updates specific to Family first, you may click here to subscribe
Quarterly ODHS Stakeholder meetings are also a place to have your questions and concerns aired and are accessible by phone in order to ensure a statewide audience.​ See ODHS Quarterly Stakeholders Meeting information​.​

Learn more about Implementation Workgroup Meetings
As we build our Oregon Family First Implementation Plan, we have been working with a diverse group of community partners, service providers, and stakeholders. Currently, a team of committees and workgroups are building the plan in preparation for Family First implementation. You can learn about the work of the groups here:

Meeting Schedule Agendas and Notes
No, Family First is a new federal funding stream, not a grant.  Previously, only when children had been placed in foster care was the state able to receive some federal reimbursement for the care and support. Now, states may use this federal funding to provide up to 12 months of evidence-based mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and in-home parenting training to families at risk of entry into the DHS Child Welfare system.

Family First requires that in order to be eligible for 50 percent federal reimbursement, placement prevention services must be categorized as promising, supported or well-supported on the Title IV-EPrevention Services Clearinghouse​. The Clearinghouse was established by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct a rigorous, transparent, and objective evidence review to ensure the federal government and states invest in services that we know work.

Services will be reviewed by the federal government and, once approved, posted on the Federal Clearinghouse. The services array review process is underway and services eligible for federal reimbursement are limited. The federal government has issued guidance allowing states to use their own rigorous review to evaluate prevention services, that, if approved can be used to receive federal reimbursement.​​

The Family First Prevention workgroups are recommending bodies that will provide recommendations to the Family First Implementation Team.  Areas of focus include:
  • Determining who is eligible for prevention services 
  • Reviewing and enhancing OR’s current preventive service array 
  • Monitoring the effectiveness and quality of services 
  • Enhancing policies and processes related to providing prevention services
​Family First is primarily a change in how Title IV-E funding can be used for child welfare. Prior to Family First, Title IV-E funding has been limited to maintaining children in foster care or providing subsidies if they achieve permanency with adoptive parents or guardians. 

Family First supports in-home services that utilize evidence-based practices that are approved on the Federal Clearinghouse in the following categories:  
  • Mental health prevention and treatment programs or services
  • Substance abuse prevention and treatment programs or services
  • In-home parent skill-based programs or services, and
  • Kinship navigator programs

These supports are aligned with Oregon’s Child Welfare transformation goals to strengthen families so that more children can remain safely with their parents and kinship caregivers.
Support for kinship (relative) caregivers: In early 2020, the Child Welfare Program established the Kinship Navigator Program which is managed by Greater Oregon Behavioral Health Inc (GOBHI). This program links relative caregivers to a broad range of services and supports to help children remain safely with them. 

Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTP): QRTP is a time-limited placement with treatment to provide services and stability before a child in care transitions to a family-like setting or returns home.