2019-2021: Family First Readiness Strategy Roadmap
Reducing the use of congregate care, increasing certified kinship care when foster care is necessary, and providing prevention services to keep families safely together in New York State
The Redlich Horwitz Foundation (RHF) is pleased to partner with the New York Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and local jurisdictions on Family First implementation.
The Family First Readiness initiative is designed to help local child welfare offices in New York State prepare to successfully implement the federal Family First Prevention Services Act. Family First passed with bipartisan support in 2018 and will be fully implemented in New York State in October 2021.
The law is designed to prevent children’s entry into foster care by providing high-intensity, evidence-based prevention services to at-risk families without regard to their income. The second goal is to ensure children are placed in the least restrictive foster care setting, and when that setting is a residential facility, to ensure those children receive high-quality, short-term clinical care.
Decrease congregate care:
Increase certified kinship care:
RHF’s Family First Readiness effort is aligned with New York State’s Family First Transition Fund and its two statewide goals: a maximum of 12 percent of children in foster care placed in congregate care; and a minimum of 30 percent of children in foster care living in approved kinship homes.
In Year One of Family First Readiness, 19 counties received individualized consultation and capacity-building support from a team of child welfare experts. Each county completed a two-year Family First Readiness work plan that identified specific strategies it would implement to achieve a decrease in residential care, an increase in certified kinship care, and other family-centered enhancements in agency practice.
In Year Two of the Family First Readiness initiative, 18 counties are continuing to implement their Family First strategies and make additional improvements to their placement processes, their kinship practice and their evidence-based support for all families who need it. The 18 counties participating in Year Two of the Family First Readiness initiative are: Albany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Clinton, Cortland, Erie, Franklin, Herkimer, Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Monroe, Montgomery, Rockland, Steuben, Suffolk, Sullivan, Tompkins, and Ulster.
In future phases, RHF plans to extend its support to local jurisdictions and the State to assist in:
Building a continuum of prevention services, as well as options for step-downs and community-based alternatives to placement;
Achieving compliance with the QRTP and prevention requirements of the law; and
Using data to measure progress and continue improving outcomes for families and child welfare staff.