Image of Family First Prevention Services Act

What is the Family First Prevention Services Act?

The Family First Prevention Services Act, known as Family First, is a groundbreaking child welfare federal law signed in 2018. The law is based on two core beliefs:

  • First, whenever possible children are best living with their parents or with kin
  • Second, when placement is required foster and congregate (group) care it should be of the highest quality and length of stay should be as short as possible.

The Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families is leading the Family First work in Delaware.

How Can Family First Improve Outcomes for Children and Families?

Family First provides funding to states to offer evidence-based services to prevent children coming into foster care. When children remain with their families, it helps them to maintain connections and build resiliency. The goal of this landmark law is to find innovative ways to help at-risk children and families connect to prevention services that promote wellbeing and strengthen family connections.
Services may include:

  • Mental health and substance use services for children and adults
  • Parenting skill building and support services
  • Kinship navigator programs

Family First also adds requirements to strengthen congregate (group) care programs when care is needed. These programs must:

  • Be accredited and have 24/7 licensed nursing and clinical staff available
  • Be trauma-informed
  • Engage and support caregivers during placement and after return home

What’s Happening in Delaware?

The Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families is collaborating with stakeholders to create Delaware’s Family First Prevention Plan. So far we have:

  • Held a kick off meeting of an Advisory Group in January with about 40 different stakeholders
  • Engaged individuals with lived experience of the child welfare system to help FFPSA planning
  • Launched a workgroup to recommend which evidence-based interventions would help Delaware children and their families
  • Launched a workgroup to identify ways to strengthen congregate care programs

Have you had experience with the Division of Family Services? Do you work with children and families impacted by this law? We need your help and input to craft an effective prevention plan. Please reach out to Aileen Fink at to tell your story and find out how to get involved. Together, we can make a difference in Delaware.