New Online Resource for Family First Act Accreditation

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The Accreditation Guru has set up a resource page for group homes and congregate care providers seeking the necessary seal of approval for federal funding.

The Family First Prevention Services Act, which passed last year and takes effect in October, limits federal funding for congregate care placements to two weeks. But there is an exception to the two-week limit for a new designation of providers called Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTP), which provide more clinical models aimed at addressing behavioral health or other special needs.

To qualify as a QRTP, the organization must be accredited by one of three entities: CARF International, the Council on Accreditation, or The Joint Commission. In addition to accreditation, a QRTP must meet the following criteria:

  • Has a trauma-informed treatment model that includes service of clinical needs.
  • Has registered or licensed nursing staff in accordance with the model, and that a nurse is on call at all times.
  • Is inclusive of family members in treatment plans and programs.
  • Plans for at least a six-month window of support after discharge.
Family First Act
Jennifer Flowers, founder and CEO of Accreditation Guru, Inc.

Children’s Bureau Associate Commissioner Jerry Milner, testifying at a House Ways and Means hearing last summer, acknowledged that with three accrediting agencies for all the potential providers, delays in this process were “one of the top two issues we consistently hear about. It is, frankly, a very big concern.” Jennifer Flowers, CEO of Accreditation Guru, had warned about the potential for a traffic jam in a Chronicle of Social Change column in May. 

States can elect to delay the new limitations on congregate care funds for up to two years, but must forgo new funds offered by Family First for front-end services aimed at preventing the need for foster care in some cases. The Chronicle, through the Freedom of Information Act, is currently pursuing information on which states have expressed an intention to delay.

This new resource page links readers to information about the Family First Act and the accreditors, and connects them to the many blog posts and webinars that Accreditation Guru has already produced about the new law. There is also a free, 29-question assessment designed to help providers prepare for the accreditation process.

Click here to access the resource page.

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John Kelly
About John Kelly 1130 Articles
John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change.