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The Family First Readiness Initiative

 Welcome to From 2018 to 2022, the Redlich Horwitz Foundation provided technical assistance to select New York counties to implement the provisions of the Family First Prevention Services Act. While our website is no longer actively updating, you can still access our resources and tools related to improving kinship care and decreasing congregate care. Stay connected with us at as we continue to work in partnership to transform child welfare in New York State.


June 2020: RHF announces launch of new county Family First newsletter

RHF releases a new Family First monthly newsletter—just for local districts! The newsletter features upcoming learning series, important policy updates and other implementation support.

You can subscribe here

Family First NY Map of New York State

May 2020: Consultants launch regional learning collaboratives

The team launches four Family First Readiness regional learning collaboratives to enable peer-to-peer learning and support for county leaders.

COVID-19 Guide Graphic

April 2020: RHF releases COVID-19 resource guide

RHF releases a new, easy-to-use desktop guide for child welfare staff and families that shares resources, policies, and, guidance for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Map of New York State

March 2020: RHF invites 18 NY counties to continue readiness efforts

RHF awards grants to 18 counties to continue their Family First Readiness work in 2020. This year’s effort will include the launch of regional learning collaboratives to enable county staff to learn together with their peers as they implement their Family First strategies.

Family First Readiness initiative one page document

January 2020: RHF releases one-pager

RHF released a new one-pager that provides an overview of the Family First Readiness initiative and its success to date.

Strategy Session group meeting for Family First Readinss

December 4 2019: Family First Readiness Strategy Sessions

RHF and OCFS reconvene the Family First Readiness counties to discuss concrete strategies for improving placement practice and increasing youth and family supports.

Consultant visit to county office
post it note with lightbulb drawing

October 2019: Consultants begin making site visits to counties

Counties continue working with their consultants, selecting Family First Readiness strategies to implement. At the conclusion of this effort, each county will have a two-year, high-level work plan to guide its strategy implementation.

The RACI Matrix Document

August 2019: Counties begin working with their consultants

The RHF consulting team uses resources and best practices developed in Onondaga, Dutchess and Westchester with their counties and begins the work of analyzing data, identifying opportunities and developing strategies.


Placement Process and Kinship Practice Tools 

child focus report cover
The Redlich Horwitz Foundation logo

July 24, 2019: RHF releases guide to using Transition Fund allocations

RHF releases a guide that provides recommendations for how counties may choose to spend their transition funds to meet the goals of the Family First Transition Fund.

  • Six Strategies to Achieve Sustainable Change with Family First Transition Funds (PDF)

kick off convening meeting speaker a podium

July 23 & 24, 2019: Counties attend Family First Readiness Kick-Off Convening

RHF, OCFS, Casey Family Programs, and Annie. E. Casey Foundation hosts a kick-off convening for the 19 counties participating in the Family First Readiness effort.
Newsletter announcing the kick-off 
Egnyte drive featuring resources from the convening
Consulting support roadmap

Family First Readiness support timeline

July 1, 2019: RHF announces Family First Readiness Initiative

RHF announces its new Family First Readiness initiative, designed to provide up to 27 counties with an individualized consultation and other grant-making support to help them prepare their systems for Family First implementation. Counties begin working with their consultants to develop strategies for decreasing their use of congregate care and increasing their use of certified kinship and family-based foster care.

Jessie Rothkuo headshot

April 15, 2019: RHF hires Jessie Rothkuo to lead Family First Readiness effort

Redlich Horwitz Foundation hires a full-time staff member to focus exclusively on working with counties of the state of New York around the Family First Prevention Services Act.


Decrease congregate care:


April 12, 2019: NYS passes Family First Transition Fund

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signs legislation to establish the Family First Transition Fund, a public-private partnership with RHF, to provide $3 million in state funding and $400k in private funding to help local districts of social services meet the State’s Family First Readiness goals.

Increase certified kinship care:


RHF Video on television with play button

March 2019: RHF releases video featuring NY leaders

RHF releases a video featuring state leaders who are guiding family-focused change in their jurisdictions.

alarm clock graphic

February 1, 2019: New York State delays Family First implementation

New York State elects to delay its implementation of Family First until September 29, 2021. This will give the state time to adequately plan and ready the system for thoughtful implementation.

3 Counties Congregate Care report cover

October 2018: Publication released that illustrates successful strategies in NY counties

RHF publishes case studies from Onondaga, Dutchess and Westchester counties documenting their multi-year efforts with RHF support to reduce unnecessary congregate care and increase kinship foster care.

RHF Brief Report Cover for Family First Brief

April 2018: RHF releases an in-brief on Family First

RHF releases an issue brief about the promise Family First holds for New York providers and counties to help them increase the use of family-based care. (PDF)

Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) Cover
polaroid photo of the US Capitol

February 9, 2018: Passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act

Congress enacts the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) as part of the federal Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-123). The law introduces new programmatic and fiscal reforms that restrict the use of institutional settings for foster care and encourage the use of high-quality preventive services to keep families safely together when possible. The law also creates new requirements for family and court involvement in foster care decisions.

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