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For immediate release: October 12, 2021
Contact: press@ocfs.ny.gov
Email: press@ocfs.ny.gov
Phone: 5184023130

NEW YORK STATE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES ANNOUNCES SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF FEDERAL FAMILY FIRST PREVENTION SERVICES ACT TO TRANSFORM THE NEW YORK STATE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM

New York State Has Decreased the Number of Children in Foster Care by 55% in Last 20 Years
 
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) today announced that New York State has successfully implemented provisions of a sweeping federal law called the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) that will significantly transform the foster care system by supporting interventions that promote foster placement with family or close friends (kin) rather than in group homes or institutions. In addition, the law overhauls the use of federal child welfare funds to allow for investment in more preventative, evidence-based programs such as mental health, substance abuse and parenting programs. OCFS spearheaded the implementation in partnership with a statewide advisory group of advocates, providers, families and local departments of social services.
 
“We have embraced this legislation as further support for a comprehensive body of work the state has underway to keep families intact, support caregivers and take advantage of federal funds to implement new evidence-based prevention models,” said OCFS Commissioner Sheila J. Poole. “Preparing for this launch has required several years of intensive planning, and we are ready thanks to the tremendous effort of OCFS staff and our many partners who supported this enormous undertaking. Our goals are ambitious, but achievable.” 
 
Family First furthers the goals set in New York State decades ago to dramatically reduce the number of children in foster care overall and to place children who have to be removed from their parents with a relative or friend. 
 
Over the last 20 years, New York State has significantly decreased the number of children in foster care by 55%. During that time, the State has focused efforts on increasing placements with kin and has more than doubled the number of children living in such settings to 43%. Congregate care placements dropped from 17% to 14%, and the state is on track to meet its goals of no more than 12% of children in foster care living in congregate care and placing at least half of children in foster care with family or close friends.
 
“Children have the best outcomes when they have the devoted attention of a family providing guidance, love, safety and security,” said Poole.
 
The FFPSA provisions also create financial disincentives for placing children in settings that are not family-based. One hundred thirty-six programs statewide to date have been approved to be “qualified residential treatment programs” offering trauma-informed care so they can qualify to receive federal reimbursement. States, territories and tribes may now also use funding for in-home prevention services to keep families together when safely possible. 
 
While preparing for FFPSA implementation, New York State invested $3 million in transition funds to support kinship initiatives, improve the recruitment and retention of foster families, enhance support for foster parents and help counties with foster family search and engagement, and has additional federal funding to advance the rollout of evidence-based prevention models throughout the state.
 
 
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