On March 1, 2023, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) with an in-person gathering and a livestream, available here. Assistant Secretary January Contreras opened the event by welcoming federal partners, state, territorial and tribal leaders, other partners, and those with lived experience. She recognized the importance of putting families first, “re-envisioning child welfare to prioritize prevention,” and putting resources and services in reach of parents who need it, and that “all families should have a fighting chance.”
The event hosted many speakers. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra noted that this event was not just a celebration, but “an acknowledgement of what we should have been doing a long time ago.” Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) shared the history of how the FFPSA came to exist, giving context to the creation of the legislation. Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL) relayed that foster youth have expressed the need for help for their parents, and that FFPSA responds to this request. Ashanti and Jeff were featured by video, sharing their stories of accessing services available thanks to FFPSA.
Children’s Bureau Associate Commissioner Aysha Schomburg moderated the first panel with Bryan Samuels from Chapin Hall, David Hansell from Casey Family Programs, and Sarah Kastelic from the National Indian Child Welfare Association. Panelists highlighted important changes and improvements that FFPSA has brought, as well as areas for growth and improvement. Sarah noted that tribal communities have always prioritized prevention and that more programs for tribal families are needed in order for FFPSA to be effective.
ACYF Commissioner Rebecca Jones Gaston moderated the second panel with Robert Matthews, Director of Child and Family Services in DC, Justin Brown, Director of Oklahoma Human Services, and Vickie Bradley, Assistant Secretary for Public Health and Human Services for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The panel discussed services successfully implemented under FFPSA and their vision for the future.