As we conclude our month-long exploration of the evolution of child welfare policies in the United States, it’s only fitting to shine a spotlight on one of the most impactful pieces of legislation in recent years: the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 (FFPSA). This landmark law represents a significant shift in how we approach child welfare, emphasizing prevention and family support as key components of keeping children safe and thriving.


The FFPSA prioritizes family-based care over group settings, recognizing that children fare better when they can remain with their families or in kinship care whenever possible. By investing in prevention services and supports for families in crisis, the act aims to address underlying issues before they escalate to the point of requiring removal of children from their homes. This proactive approach not only helps to keep families together but also reduces the trauma and disruption experienced by children placed in out-of-home care.

Moreover, the FFPSA provides federal funding for evidence-based prevention services, such as mental health and substance abuse treatment, parenting skills training, and family counseling. By supporting families in addressing the root causes of their challenges, the act seeks to strengthen familial bonds and promote stability and well-being for children and parents alike.

One of the most significant aspects of the FFPSA is its emphasis on supporting kinship caregivers—relatives or close family friends who step in to care for children when their parents are unable to do so. These caregivers play a vital role in providing stability and continuity for children during times of upheaval, and the act provides funding to help support them in their caregiving responsibilities.

As we reflect on the impact of the FFPSA, it’s clear that this legislation represents a paradigm shift in how we approach child welfare in the United States. By prioritizing prevention, family preservation, and support for kinship caregivers, the act holds the promise of creating a more compassionate and effective child welfare system—one that prioritizes the well-being and best interests of children and families above all else.

But the work doesn’t stop here. As we move forward, it’s essential that we continue to advocate for policies and practices that prioritize the best interests of children. We can create a brighter future for generations to come—one where every child has the opportunity to grow up in a safe, loving, and nurturing environment. Together, let’s embrace change and build a world where all children can thrive.

Learn more about how you can bring change to the life of a vulnerable child by volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Henrico County.