Celebrate the 5-Year Anniversary of Family First

February 24, 2023

This February marks the 5-year anniversary of the signing of the Family First Prevention Services Act, a federal law that allows local child welfare agencies to use federal funding to pay for services that keep kids safe, growing up in their families. Since its enactment, Family First has helped to significantly change how agencies across the country provide services to families, children, and youth involved in the child welfare system.

Colorado embraced Family First because the changes ushered in by the law aligned with changes already underway in our communities. Family First has helped shift the system to focus on keeping children with their families; prevent the need for out-of-home care; and provide families with greater access to mental health services, in-home services, and resources to support improved parenting skills.

Family First is providing Colorado the opportunity to:

  • Reshape child welfare and provide more proactive services, so more children and youth can grow up with their family.
  • Partner with community-based service providers to respond to the individual needs of children, youth and families.
  • Provide a high level of mental health treatment at the right care setting level.

In the past five years, Colorado has implemented nine services that are trauma-informed, evidence-based, and subject to a well-designed and rigorous evaluation: Child First, Fostering Healthy Futures - Preteen, Functional Family Therapy, Multisystemic Therapy (MST), Healthy Families America, Nurse-Family Partnership, Parents as Teachers, SafeCare, and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy. Funds expended on these nine services are now eligible for partial federal reimbursement, and federal funds claimed on these services will support growing capacity to underserved regions of Colorado. While all of these services are not currently available in every Colorado community, the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) is working with providers and partners to expand services to more regions.

Colorado’s five-year Family First Prevention Plan was approved in September 2022 after a review by the Children's Bureau, a federal agency organized under the United States Department of Health and Human Services' (HSS) Administration for Children and Families. Over the next year, CDHS will continue to develop processes, infrastructure, and capacity to expand Family First programming for families and identify additional funding opportunities.

In celebration of the role that Family First has played in primary prevention and its impact on the child welfare system nationwide, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra is inviting members of the public to join his team to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Family First being signed into law. Register for the March 1, 2023 event HERE. The event will celebrate moving Family First prevention services forward; hear inspiring stories about the impact that this critically important law has had on children, youth, and families; and hear from child welfare leaders about their visions for the future of prevention services.


Colorado has created a bold vision for a 21st century child welfare system that positively and proactively supports children and youth through strong and healthy family formation with a continuum of community-based, prevention-focused services. Colorado’s Family First Prevention Plan is the springboard for developing a prevention framework to keep children, youth, and families from experiencing out of home placements, deeper involvement in the child welfare system, or reentry into the system.
While Colorado’s federal Prevention Plan represents just one component of the larger vision to connect kids and families with upstream services and supports, it is an important step toward actualizing this vision and introducing and developing valuable programs for families into the state. CDHS expresses enormous gratitude to the many counties, community partners, families, and state agencies for their partnership and collaboration.
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