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Biden Team Seeks More Input on Family First Act Process

The Biden administration has released an updated version of the process for vetting foster care prevention services, and is seeking public comment through November 24.

The Handbook of Standards and Procedures, Version 2.0 is presently in draft status and would update the process and procedures for the Title IV-E Prevention Services

Clearinghouse, which was created after the passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act in 2018. That law enabled states to use IV-E entitlement funds — heretofore reserved for foster care and adoption subsidy payments — to fund efforts at preventing the use of foster care when children are deemed to be at imminent risk of a removal.

The clearinghouse reviews parenting, mental health, substance abuse and kinship navigator services and rates them based on the strength of their evidence. Each model receives a rating of Well-Supported, Supported, Promising, or is declared to not presently meet criteria for inclusion.

The administration asked for input on the handbook developed by the Trump administration in July 2021. At the time, the agency noted it was especially eager for comments on how the clearinghouse might advance racial equity and support for underserved communities. That made sense, given that six months prior, a newly-inaugurated Joe Biden had issued an executive order on advancing equity through the federal government.

The 2.0 handbook draft includes some modest changes along those lines, but really across the board, this update does not include much more than clarifications on definitions and eligibility, and a significant change in when baseline equivalence is required to achieve a high rating on any single evaluation.

But Youth Services Insider has it on good authority that the comments on equity and more expansive consideration of programs was largely ignored in the last go-round, and that the Administration on Children, Youth and Families Commissioner Rebecca Jones Gaston has an interest in considering more substantive changes as the administration moves toward finalizing a second iteration of the handbook. Jones Gaston had not even been nominated during the last comment period; she was announced for the role in November of 2021 and was confirmed in December of 2022.

Click here to read about the changes included in the new draft handbook, and for details on how to provide public comment.

Update: The administration is holding a listening session on November 14 at 3pm regarding its new draft handbook and its desire for more public comment. Click here to register for that discussion.


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