Functional Family Therapy and the Family First Prevention Services Act

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<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >Functional Family Therapy and the Family First Prevention Services Act</span>

The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), signed into law in 2018, provides funding to help prevent child abuse and neglect in the U.S. The law changes the way states receive federal child welfare funding from Title IV-E of the Social Security Act and improves access to early intervention services for children and families in crisis.

Functional Family Therapy (FFT) is one early intervention service funded by the FFPSA. This program for youth is designed to address risk and protective factors that affect healthy behavioral and emotional development.

Together, FFPSA and FFT work toward improving family and individual skills and keeping parents and children together under one roof.

How the Family First Prevention Services Act Assists Families in Need

According to Implementing the Family First Prevention Services Act, A Technical Guide for Agencies, Policymakers and Other Stakeholders, the FFPSA framework is built with three fundamental principles:

1. Help families at risk of separation stay together in a safe environment
Family First provides increased access to Title IV-E (grants reserved to states for aiding families with children in crisis and for child welfare services), which previously only allowed funding to be used for out-of-home foster care placement. Under Family First, grant money can be used for early intervention services, like substance use, mental health, and parenting supports.

2. Place children in foster care in a family setting
Family First understands the importance of keeping youth with their relatives. Grant money can be used to rehabilitate family units or temporarily place a child with someone in their family network. Non-family settings, i.e., group foster care, are seen as a last resort.

3. Improve access to high-quality residential treatment
According to the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), residential treatment “should be strictly limited to young children whose mental health and therapeutic needs warrant a short-term intervention.” If a standardized assessment tool verifies that a youth’s “behavioral and/or mental health issues are indeed so severe that they prohibit that child from safely living with a family,” Family First funding can be used to stabilize adolescents in residential settings and return them to their families as quickly as possible.

Many evidence-based FFPSA interventions aim to accomplish the above three goals, one of which is FFT.

FFT is a Well-Supported Program Backed By the FFPSA

FFT is considered to be a well-supported intervention program under the FFPSA.

According to the FFPSA Executive Summary, there are three designations for FFPSA practices:

1. Well-Supported
Well-supported programs must undergo at least two randomized controlled trials (RTC) in different usual care or practice settings. The tests must determine that the practice is superior to a comparable practice.

2. Supported
Supported programs undergo at least one RTC in a typical care environment and are found superior to comparable practices.

3. Promising
Promising programs are supported by at least one study that uses a control group to establish a benefit over a comparable practice.

As a well-supported program, the outcomes of FFT, i.e., improved family and individual skills and prosocial behaviors, are proven to last for at least one year after program completion.

Using FFPSA Funding for an FFT Program Through FFT LLC

FFT LLC brings Functional Family Therapy to over 40,000 families a year across the globe that are at risk of involvement in the justice and child welfare systems and/or gangs. We utilize advanced data tracking software to seamlessly provide all data required by the FFPSA and other statewide and local projects, including program outcomes and model adherence reports.

Since the inception of FFPSA, FFT LLC has established 28 teams in 12 U.S. states utilizing FFPSA funding. We offer a comprehensive guide to becoming a Family Functional Therapy provider that acts as a valuable resource to other organizations in the child welfare system that are interested in utilizing FFPSA funding for this well-supported program.

Additionally, our overview of this evidence-based intervention program explains how FFT helps keep parents and children together, improves skills and behavior, and keeps young people out of the juvenile justice system.

Our data proves the effectiveness of FFT as an intervention program. Of youth who participate in FFT, 77% have no new offenses 18 months post-referral, 89% have no drug charges 18 months after completion, and 95% attend work or school regularly at treatment close. Furthermore, our evidence-based programs have been shown to successfully treat at-risk youth in the community and decrease out-of-home placement costs between $1,300 and $5,000 per family per year. On the other hand, incarcerating just one youth can cost over $50,000 per year with the likelihood of poorer outcomes for both the child and their family.

With the help of FFT LLC and FFPSA funding, your organization can become an FFT provider and, too, help community-based organizations achieve these goals. Most importantly, it can be done at no cost to you or the families you assist. With better outcomes, healthier families, safer children, and cost savings, utilizing FFPSA funding for FFT intervention is a valuable way to improve our communities.

FFT LLC brings Functional Family Therapy to families around the world and provides clinical oversight and ongoing research to ensure that all FFT providers adhere to evidence-based practice standards. Contact us for more information about our evidence-based youth and family counseling services.