Top Stories of 2018: Family First Act Becomes Law

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We’ve counted down 10 of the biggest stories The Chronicle of Social Change covered in 2018, connecting readers with a few links to our coverage on a big story from 2018.

Readers of The Chronicle will not be surprised to know that the most covered story of this year for us was the passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act, which in previous years had failed to pass the Senate as a standalone bill and as part of larger packages. But in February, as part of a temporary spending bill to keep the government open, President Trump signed into law a 100-plus page rewrite of the rules when it comes to the Title IV-E entitlement.

Currently, the multi-billion dollar IV-E pipeline only contributes to costs related to foster care placements, support for families who adopt foster youth, and subsidies to relatives who serve as long-term guardians. Under Family First, states will be able to tap into the entitlement to try and serve families without the use of foster care.

The law also restricts federal support for so-called congregate care, non-family foster care settings like group homes and institutions. Under Family First, states can only use federal money for those options for two weeks, with a few notable exceptions.

As the October deadline for Family First closes in, you can expect much more analysis and coverage of the law from The Chronicle in 2019.

Lead Read

Inside Game: The Key Players Behind Washington’s Biggest Foster Care Reform in Decades, by Daniel Heimpel, provides the backstory on how a massive overhaul of child welfare finance, once left for dead, came back to life.

Also Read

John Kelly with a complete guide to the law in three parts: prevention services, congregate limits and everything else.

Mark Testa on child welfare’s looming evidence problem.

Michael Fitzgerald on a split between New York State and New York City on the Family First Act.

Daniel Heimpel on America’s devolving compact with vulnerable families.

John Kelly on the first 12 candidates for funding under the Family First Act.

Jerry Milner: Family First is a Good Step, But True Prevention is the Key.

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John Kelly, Editor in Chief, The Chronicle of Social Change
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John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change. Reach him at