On Friday, June 22, HHS issued their first request for comments on how to approach the issue of defining and listing services and practices that will qualify under the Family First Prevention Services Act. There is a very quick turn-around time with comments due by July 22.

Under the Family First Act, HHS is to issue the criteria they will use in categorizing services/programs funded under the Act as promising, supported and well-supported programs. HHS is directed to publish the criteria and the initial list of eligible services/programs by October 1, 2018.

The programs/services that qualify as promising, supported and well-supported in-home, mental health or substance abuse programs will be eligible for funding under the Family First Act. States have the option to fund the qualifying services starting on October 1, 2019 (FY 2020) with states required to spend at least 50 percent of federal dollars drawn-down on services at the highest level (well-supported) programs.
Under the notice respondents are asked to comment on potential initial criteria for:
• (a) identifying eligible programs and services for review by the Clearinghouse,
• (b) prioritizing eligible programs and services for review,
• (c) identifying eligible studies aligned with prioritized programs and services,
• (d) prioritizing eligible studies for rating,
• (e) rating studies, and
• (f) rating programs and services as promising, supported, and well-supported practices.
The notice indicates that after comments are received, “HHS will revise and publish the initial criteria and a preliminary list of candidate programs and services to be considered for review; and begin to conduct reviews. This Notice is one step in ensuring that activities associated with the development of a Clearinghouse are transparent and build from the existing knowledge of States, federal agencies, researchers, evaluators, program and service developers, key stakeholders and experts, and the general public.”