A State of Ohio Perspective on the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFSPA)

Innovative Conversations Session 7 – Recorded September 2019

Guests Crystal Ward Allen, MSW, LSW, Senior Director and Strategic Consulting with Casey Family Programs, Carla Carpenter, Deputy Director of the Office of Families and Children (OFC) at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and Angela Sausser, Executive Director at the Public Children Services Association of Ohio, speaks with former CIP Director and Innovative Conversations host, Patrick Kanary presenting an Ohio overview discussing the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFSPA) and its impact on the state and its communities. It is the second installment of a two-part discussion, the first of which will explored Family First from a national perspective with national expert dealing with youth and families at risk, Sheila Pires, which you can listen to and experience by clicking here.

THE LAST FEW YEARS have been extremely challenging times for Ohio’s child protection services agencies. The burgeoning opioid epidemic in tandem with ongoing child protection needs, have set record increases of youths entering the foster care system.

View and Download PDF of FFPSA in Ohio Overview

Listen to A State of Ohio Perspective on the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFSPA)


For years, Ohio’s child protection services have been underfunded by the state, relying mainly on local levies and other resources.

(Click on pics to enlarge and view more directly.)

Nevertheless, there is reason for hope with the passage of Ohio’s biennium budget (FY 20-21) under Governor DeWine along with significant changes at the federal level of use of funding in the child protection system through the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFSPA).

View Innovative Conversation Webinar Session on Family First Part 1 | View FFPSA Powerpoint Presentation from Part 1

As studies show, kids do best in a family structure, be it biologically primary or extended family and the FFSPA allows states to focus unlimited reimbursements to states to provide in-home services for these struggling families, assistance ranging from in-home parenting skills and home-visits to mental health services, trauma recovery, and substance abuse services for care givers or adolescents.

This session of, Innovative Conversations, involves Part 2 involving the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) and what it means to states funding in-home treatment and recovery for at-risk youth dealing with the challenges of mental health, substance use, trauma, and judicial justice issues.

Ohio recently passed its FY 20-21 budget and many have observed what a child and family friendly budget this is. One area of increased support was to county children’s services authorities, raising the question: What will this increase do to improve things at the local level? What is the relationship between the state funded increases and those funds anticipated from FFPSA?

Ohio Title IV-E Waiver (ProtectOHIO)

Additional questions this Innovative Conversation session addresses include:

• What prompted the move to create this change in funding requirements?
• What does it mean that Ohio has been designated a “IV-E Waiver” state; what does this mean and how this is related to FFPSA?
• Who are the partners?
• Are families represented? What does the timeline look like?
• And what is the relationship between FFPSA and Medicaid, since both fund community-based services?
• What are the eligibility requirements for these funds? Are there specific population groups that are the focus?
• What do you see as the main opportunities here in Ohio for implementation of FFPSA? What is happening in our state that could benefit from the infusion of these funds?
• What do you see as the particular opportunities under FFSPA for child and family behavioral health? (Full disclosure here…I am on the mental health subcommittee of the state’s planning process)
• What kind of flexibility will Ohio have on what services the states wants to use this funding for? What services have already been approved via the registry?
• What do we hear from local children’s services about the emerging program priorities?
• Will there be requirements around what and how are outcomes determined or measured?
• Since the focus is on prevention and essentially community and home-based care, what restrictions are there regarding out of home placement or congregate care?
• What challenges lie ahead regarding implementation?

The Family First Prevention Services Act was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act on February 9, 2018. This act reforms the federal child welfare financing streams, Title IV-E and Title IV-B of the Social Security Act, to provide services to families who are at risk of entering the child welfare system.

The bill aims to prevent children from entering foster care by allowing federal reimbursement for mental health services, substance use treatment, and in-home parenting skill training to families and children. It also seeks to improve the well-being of children already in foster care by incentivizing states to reduce placement of children in group care.


Crystal Ward Allen
Crystal Ward Allen, MSW, LSW, Senior Director and Strategic Consulting with Casey Family Programs, is a strategic consultant, working with the child welfare communities primarily in Colorado and Ohio to strengthen families and reduce the need for foster care. She has been with Casey Family Programs since spring of 2014, after 24 years working with the child welfare system in Ohio, as well as early years as a juvenile probation counselor in Appalachia, VA; adolescent group care in Pittsburgh, PA; and child welfare in suburban Minnesota. She is a Va. Tech Hokie as well as an OSU Buckeye, loves to ride her bike, hike and enjoy music – but most importantly she has two amazing adult children. Crystal is passionate about ensuring every child and youth has someone that is unconditionally crazy about them – thus, strengthening families is a must

Carla K. Carpenter
As Deputy Director of the Office of Families and Children (OFC) at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Ms. Carpenter serves as the State Child Welfare Director for Ohio. OFC is responsible for oversight of child abuse prevention, protective services, foster care, and adoption services as well as adult protection services across the state. Since joining the Department in 2010 as Statewide Differential Response Manager and then serving as Bureau Chief of Systems and Practice Advancement, Ms. Carpenter has focused on working in collaboration with system partners to implement innovative programming and improve outcomes. Prior to coming to the Department, Ms. Carpenter served as Associate Director of the National Center for Adoption Law & Policy (now the Family &Youth Law Center) at Capital University Law School. She also brings broad experience working in a variety of direct services settings with families and children. She has a bachelor’s degree in social work from Capital University in Columbus and a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University in New York.

Angela Sausser
Angela Sausser is Executive Director at the Public Children Services Association of Ohio. Angela was the chief of the Bureau of Children and Families for the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, overseeing funding, programs, and initiatives related to the mental health and addiction needs of children and their families. Angela served as the project director for the department’s four-year federal grant called ENGAGE (Engaging the New Generation to Achieve their Goals through Empowerment) focused on expanding systems of care for youth and young adults. Finally, Angela retained her governor-appointed position as the director of Ohio Family and Children First Cabinet Council, a post she held throughout her state government career of nine years. There, Angela worked in partnership with the health and human services Cabinet agencies, the Governor and First Lady’s offices, and the Office of Health Transformation to improve the coordination of services for children and their families. Angela was responsible for convening planning, policy, and fiscal teams to address cross-system issues; providing guidance and technical assistance to the 88 county Family and Chil­dren First Councils (FCFCs); and communicating with state officials, agencies, and community partners about issues, policies and funding impacting children and families.

Additional Resources

Family First Prevention Services Act (P.L. 115-123)


Family First Advocacy Toolkit | American Academy of Pediatrics

National Conference of State Legislatures

Information Memorandum on Family First (IM-18-02)​

Program Instruction – Implementation of Title IV-E Plan Requirement​

Child Welfare Community Letter – October 1, 2018​

Program Instruction – State Title IV-E Prevention and Family Services and Programs​

Program Instruction – Tribal Title IV-E Agency Requirements for Electing Title IV-E Prevention and Family Services and Programs​

State Child Welfare Director Letter – January 2, 2019​


Family First Advocacy Toolkit | American Academy of Pediatrics

ODJFS FFPSA information

FFPSA Clearinghouse

Family First Resources

Family First Supporting Evidence Opportunity

Ohio Title IV-E Waiver (ProtectOHIO)

PCSAO Continuum of Care Reform


Family First Prevention Services Act. Statutory language, 2018 H.R. 1892. See pp. 169 to 206.

U.S. House of Representatives, Ways & Means Committee Report. Provides background regarding Congressional intent.

Federal HHS Program Instruction. ACYF-CB-PI-18-07, Issued July 9, 2018, with related attachments.

Federal Register. Notice for Proposed Model Family Foster Home Licensing Standards, including a summary of the proposed model standards.


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