Outlining the expansion of mental health and substance use treatment and parenting skills services to prevent children from entering foster care, the Utah Department of Human Services (DHS) submitted its plan to implement federal Family First Prevention Services Act provisions with an Oct. 1, 2019 start date.

Utah is only the fourth child welfare agency in the nation to submit a plan to the federal Administration on Children, Youth and Families, and one of only a small number of states that plan to implement the Family First Act on Oct. 1. 

About the Family First Prevention Services Act
The Family First Prevention Services Act was signed into law on Feb. 9, 2018 as a part of the Bipartisan Budget Act (HR. 1892, Sens. Orrin Hatch R-Utah and Ron Wyden, D-Ore). The Act is the first major federal modernization of child welfare in three decades and authorizes new optional Title IV-E funding for time-limited prevention services for mental health care, substance abuse prevention and treatment and in-home parent skills based programs while limiting funding for congregate or residential services. Evidence-based prevention services and programs may be provided for children who are at risk for foster care and their parents or kin (extended family) caregivers. The overall goal of the Act is to prevent the need for foster care placement and the corresponding trauma of unnecessary parent-child separation. 

About Utah’s Plan
Utah’s Title IV-E Prevention Plan creates the basic operational foundation for the state’s prevention of foster care through four evidence-based services currently approved through a national clearinghouse directed by the federal Administration. Most of these services are not currently available in Utah, so DHS has made investments in provider training and certification to build service capacity in the state to implement the Family First Act. From the national list of evaluated and approved programs, Utah’s selected services are Functional Family Therapy, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Parents as Teachers. This plan will begin the process of opening the door to further service expansion as additional evidence-based services are approved at the federal level. The plan will be available publicly after federal approval.