Texas delays implementing certain provisions of Family First Prevention Services Act

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Texas Department of Family and Protective Services

Texas delays implementing certain provisions of Family First Prevention Services Act

Congress passed the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) in February 2018. This law restructured federal child welfare funding, particularly Title IV-E and Title IV-B of the Social Security Act, which Texas uses to pay for services for children in foster care and their families.

The Act seeks to reduce the number of children entering in foster care, limit the use of congregate care, and to increase access to substance abuse and mental health services. The agency shares these goals and the State has made strides in addressing them through the policy and funding decisions made during the recent biennium.

DFPS has been worked closely with federal and state staff and stakeholders to analyze the impact to the child welfare system. Part of the analysis is to determine if there is a fiscal impact to the state or needed changes to statute, as well as an examination of the required timelines for implementation. This analysis is preliminary and subject to change, as Texas is awaiting additional guidance from federal agencies.

Based on our analysis, Texas will delay implementation of certain provisions of FFPSA. Below are the provisions that will be delayed:

  1. 472(k)(2) of the Act: Limitations on Title IV-E foster care maintenance payments for placements that are not foster family homes
  2. 472(c) of the Act: Limit on number of children in a foster family home
  3. 472(k)(1)(B) and 475A(c) of the Act: Qualified Residential Treatment Program (QRTPs)
  4. 471(a)(37) of the Act: Certification preventing increases to the juvenile justice population

The main reasons for needing a delay in implementation are:

  • Texas does not currently have enough providers who are accredited and the three accrediting bodies in the country have already stated that they do not have the bandwidth to accredit providers prior to October 2019.
  • Texas does not have Qualified Residential Treatment Programs to serve the highest needs kids and draw down federal money. 
  • Texas does not have enough providers who offer evidence-based services.
  • Texas has not received guidance from the federal government on what evidence-based services will even be acceptable for draw down and cannot increase capacity until guidance is received.

It is also important that the Texas Legislature has the opportunity to weigh-in on the policy and fiscal changes driven by this federal legislation. 

DFPS notified the Administration for Children and Families that Texas will delay the implementation of the provisions listed above. This two year delay does not prohibit Texas from implementing sooner if the decision is to do so.

Read more about the Families First Prevention Services Act on the DFPS website.