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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Family First Prevention Services Act and how will it impact Indiana?

The Family First Prevention Services Act, also known as the Family First Act, is a federal law that was adopted in 2018 and based on several core principles. You can find the full piece of legislation here. Research shows that kids do best when they’re able to safely grow up in their own families. Children who do need to be removed should be placed in family-based settings whenever possible. The child welfare system will work toward keeping families together by providing access to the right prevention services for the right family, to ensure a stable and safe environment focused on long-term success.

DCS supports all goals of Family First and is compliant with all the requirements of the act.

The Family First Act seems focused on preventing foster care. How can Indiana ensure children will stay safe if there is evidence of abuse or neglect in the home?

Indiana launched its Family Preservation Services program on June 1, 2020, to ensure that families have evidence-based supports so that children can safely remain in their own homes whenever possible. These comprehensive services are focused on ensuring child safety through regular, in-home, face-to-face contact. They focus on the development of research-proven protective factors and provide concrete supports (housing supports, utility assistance, etc.) when necessary to keep families together.

What are the services that will be delivered to families once DCS implements the Family First Act?  

Indiana implemented its Family Preservation Services program on June 1, 2020. These services include evidence-based interventions delivered by qualified professionals and are available in all 92 counties of the state. Indiana’s Family First Prevention Plan received approval on June 30, 2022, and the state can now claim federal dollars to support the interventions included in the plan.

Do all placement facilities need a Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTP) designation?

Yes. DCS recognizes the importance of high-quality residence treatment programs for youth who need them. As such, we prioritize contracting with only QRTP-designated programs.

The recognized exceptions are facilities that provide services and support for prenatal, post-partum and parenting youth, independent living for youth 18 and older, and supportive residential services for youth who have been or who are at risk of being trafficked. DCS also contracts with emergency shelter care and diagnostic and evaluation (D&E) programs, which, by definition, are not QRTP-designated and are designed to be short-term.

DCS has said under the Family First Act, it will place children in need of services only with facilities that are designated as a QRTP. Are there any exceptions?  

Yes. Under the law, recognized exceptions are made for facilities that provide:

  • Services and support for prenatal, post-partum and parenting support for youth
  • Independent living for youth 18 and older
  • Supportive services for sex trafficking victims

Send us your questions.  

If you have questions about Indiana's plans for the Family First Act, please email

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