Connecticut – Federal Approval of Family First Prevention Plan

Governor Lamont Announces Federal Approval of Connecticut’s Family First Prevention Plan

HARTFORD, CT (STL.News) Governor Ned Lamont announced that his administration has received notification from the U.S. Children’s Bureau that the Family First Prevention Plan submitted by the State of Connecticut has been approved.

The plan was written in response to the Family First Prevention Services Act signed into law as part of the U.S. Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.  This legislation represents a major shift in federal policy leading to families having greater access to mental health services, substance use treatment, and in-home skill-based parenting supports intended to stabilize families and keep them safely together.  It also sets forth enhancements for kinship providers and expectations when children require a treatment intervention in a congregate care facility.

Connecticut’s Family First Prevention Plan
Executive summary of Connecticut’s Family First Prevention Plan

“This prevention plan is designed to enhance the well-being of all of Connecticut’s children, youth, and families,” Governor Lamont said.  “I am very proud of the collaborative and deliberate approach taken by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families to lead this effort.  This is Connecticut’s plan and one that will lead to our children having a brighter future.”

Family First is being utilized as a tool, as part of Connecticut’s overall prevention strategy, to assist in building upon an existing infrastructure with the goal to prevent maltreatment and children entering foster care.  The plan is unique in its approach from others around the country as supports are outlined not solely for families known to the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, but for any family experiencing specific behaviors, conditions, or circumstances placing them at increased risk for maltreatment and involvement with the child welfare system.

“We have reimagined our system to not only serve those families who come to our attention but have also taken a bold approach to develop supports for families upstream and within local communities resulting in them actually being diverted from involvement with the child welfare agency,” Connecticut Department of Children and Families Commissioner Vannessa Dorantes said.  “We need to continue to lift the negative stigma of seeking help and this plan sets the framework for early intervention right in your own community.”

More than 400 community partners were involved in the development of the plan, including parents and youth with lived experience, decision makers throughout state government, community organizations, advocates, and contracted providers.

“Our priority was to ensure that the voices of children and families were truly at the center of the work,” Commissioner Dorantes stated.

Multiple “parents as experts” conversations were designed to actively seek input from families on their perspective about how supports can best be delivered to promote family well-being and prevent maltreatment.

Major intended outcomes of Connecticut’s Family First Prevention Plan include:

  • Upstream approach that looks to prevent child maltreatment and families requiring child welfare involvement
  • Enhancement of existing Evidence Based Programs available within local communities leading to families remaining safely together
  • Establishment of standards and oversight for children requiring placement into a treatment setting
  • Coordinated approach to supporting kinship providers
  • Encourages cross-system collaboration and partnerships emphasizing equitable access and outcomes