A Note About the Family First Prevention Act of 2018

The FFPSA makes dramatic changes to federal financing of child welfare by opening up new avenues of funding for prevention services to keep youth out of foster care and placing new requirements on child welfare agencies and courts to reduce unnecessary institutional care placements. The FFPSA contains key provisions that can support advocates in arguing for placement with family and against institutional care, including limitations on when institutional care can be federally funded, enhanced requirements for certain types of residential facilities (Qualified Residential Treatment Programs, or QRTPs), and court oversight of certain institutional placements.

The earliest a jurisdiction could implement these IV-E funding provisions was October 1st, 2019. Jurisdictions may “opt in” any time thereafter, but no later than October 1, 2021.In theory (although unlikely), a state could choose not to implement the legislation at all and forgo all federal funding. Jurisdictions may not access the prevention services funding without also implementing the restrictions on placements.

Due to its utility to advocates, many of the guides and resources on the Every Kid Needs a Family site reference the provisions and language of FFPSA. However, an attorney using these resources may practice in a jurisdiction that has not yet opted into FFPSA. Although it is important to know whether FFPSA applies in your jurisdiction, the relevant material on this site can still provide a useful framework to attorneys in advocating around prevention services, reasonable efforts and institutional care placements, as the information and recommendations are based in best practices.

For a summary of statutory law related to Institutional Care Placements, go to the

Federal & State Law Fact Sheet

Indian Child Welfare Act

One well-known child welfare response to massive institutional placement that emphasizes keeping families and communities together is The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Congress passed ICWA in 1978 after many hearings and reports that detailed the systematic policies and practices that removed Indian children from their homes and communities and placed them in non-Indian foster homes, orphanages, and other institutions. Understanding ICWA principles and incorporating them into policies and advocacy in all child welfare cases will help to reduce reliance on institutional care. In 2013, 18 major child welfare organizations, including Casey Family Programs, the Children's Defense Fund, and the Child Welfare League of America, filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that ICWA represents best practices for all child welfare cases.

Data by state

Explore the data

View an interactive map with the most recent data on institutional care placements and the eight-year trend for each state.

NCSC NACC Annie E. Casey Foundation