Last week the Act 4 Juvenile Justice (Act4JJ) released a new document, Family First Prevention Services Act: Opportunities and Risks for Youth Justice and Campaigns to End Youth Incarceration.” The guide was developed by Lisa Pilnik on behalf of Youth First, with contributions and feedback from several other organizations.

Major federal legislation brought changes to the child welfare and juvenile justice systems in 2018—the Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First) and the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). Family First unlocks new funding opportunities to provide preventative programs for at-risk families to keep children out of the foster care system. The reauthorization of the JJDPA in 2018 addresses juvenile justice reforms that protect children in the youth justice system. Both laws focus on serving children in families and communities, decreasing out of home placements, investing in prevention programs, and addressing racial and ethnic disparities.

Youth involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice system barriers includes struggle with mental health problems, drug abuse, unemployment, homelessness, and recidivism. As states intend to implement Family First or delay implementation, this document provides recommendations for leveraging both prevention services and keeping youth in their homes and families. This guidance recommendation can be used to ensure that the JJDPA and Family First are implemented for youth involved in both systems. For more information, go to