Child, Family, and Community Well-Being

Recap: Senate Finance Committee Hearing on the Family First Prevention Services Act

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May 24, 2024

On May 22, 2024, the Senate Finance Committee convened the hearing, “The Family First Prevention Services Act: Successes, Roadblocks, and Opportunities for Improvement.” This session was part of Foster Care Awareness Month, reflecting the ongoing commitment to enhancing child welfare in the U.S. The hearing brought together experts, policymakers, and stakeholders to discuss the progress and challenges of the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) since its enactment in 2018. The discussions highlighted both the successes achieved under the act and the obstacles that continue to impede its full implementation.

Social Current submitted this written testimony, which incorporates feedback from our network.

Key Statements

Senator Mike Crapo’s Opening Remarks
Senator Crapo, the committee’s ranking member, emphasized the bipartisan nature of FFPSA and its role in transforming the child welfare system to prioritize prevention and family preservation. He highlighted the importance of front-end interventions, such as mental health and substance use disorder treatment, to keep families intact and reduce reliance on foster care. Crapo also noted the recent regulation to reduce bureaucratic barriers for family members to become licensed foster parents, which he believes will further support children living with trusted caregivers.

Chairman Ron Wyden’s Remarks
Chairman Wyden underlined the necessity of federal funding to empower kinship caregivers and the importance of prevention services to address issues like mental health and substance use disorders. He called for removing bureaucratic barriers that prevent states from fully utilizing available prevention funds and stressed the need for more comprehensive support systems to keep families together. Wyden also expressed concern over the government’s disproportionate spending on traditional foster care compared to prevention services, urging for better allocation of resources.

Expert Testimonies

JooYeun Chang, Doris Duke Foundation
Chang highlighted the significant impact of FFPSA in shifting the child welfare paradigm toward prevention. Despite its promise, she noted that many families still face barriers to accessing the necessary services. Chang recommended structural changes to broaden eligibility for prevention services and include support for addressing domestic violence and economic hardships. She emphasized the importance of community-based support systems and the need for data-driven approaches to effectively identify and serve at-risk populations.

David Reed, Indiana Department of Child Services
Reed provided insights into Indiana’s implementation of FFPSA, showcasing the state’s success in reducing the number of children in foster care by over 50%. He emphasized the importance of flexible, comprehensive service models like Indiana’s Family Preservation Services, which address various family needs, including economic support to prevent unnecessary foster care placements. Reed shared specific examples of how targeted interventions, such as providing concrete support like transportation, have kept families together and reduced racial disparities in child removals.

Rebecca Jones Gaston, Administration for Children and Families
Commissioner Gaston discussed the broader implementation of FFPSA across various states and tribes. She underscored the importance of cultural responsiveness in prevention programs and highlighted regulatory actions to strengthen kinship care and provide legal representation for families in the child welfare system. Gaston also pointed out the challenges of workforce shortages and the need for better collaboration across service systems. She emphasized the role of federal support in overcoming these challenges and the importance of continuous evaluation and data collection to measure the effectiveness of prevention programs.

Key Takeaways

  • Bipartisan Support: FFPSA represents a significant bipartisan effort to transform child welfare by focusing on prevention and keeping families together whenever possible.
  • Kinship Care: Enhanced support for kinship caregivers is crucial. Simplifying licensing standards and providing financial assistance can help more children stay with relatives rather than entering foster care.
  • Prevention Services: There is a need for broader and more flexible prevention services. Addressing issues like domestic violence economic hardship, and providing concrete support can prevent family crises that lead to foster care placements.
  • Implementation Challenges: Despite the successes, states face hurdles like bureaucratic red tape and insufficient evidence-based models in the Prevention Services Clearinghouse. There is a call for streamlined processes and increased federal support to overcome these barriers.
  • Data and Evaluation: Continuous evaluation and data collection are vital to measure the effectiveness of prevention programs and make necessary adjustments to improve outcomes for children and families.


The hearing underscored the ongoing commitment to improving child welfare through the FFPSA. While significant progress has been made, roadblocks remain to be addressed. Policymakers, advocates, and stakeholders must continue working together to refine and expand the reach of prevention services, ensuring that all children can grow up in safe, stable, and loving environments. The continued collaboration between federal and state agencies and community partners is essential to realize the full potential of the FFPSA and create a child welfare system that genuinely supports and strengthens families.

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