The North Dakota Department of Human Services and Casey Family Programs are hosting an informational meeting on Thursday, Nov. 15 in Bismarck on the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018. The new federal law prioritizes keeping families together and providing evidence-based prevention and early intervention services and programs to prevent families from entering the child welfare system.

The meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Central Time in the Brynhild Haugland Room at the state Capitol. Families, services providers, legal and judiciary professionals, public agencies and other stakeholders engaged in child welfare services are encouraged to attend. Seating is limited to 125 attendees. Registration is not required, and there is no cost to attend. The meeting will also be webcast live at www.nd.gov/dhs/services/childfamily/.

In the morning, presenters will provide an overview of the federal law and share state-specific foster care data. At 1 p.m. attendees will learn about North Dakota’s implementation efforts including a review of timelines and preliminary plans to revise funding for foster care diversion; recruitment and retention of high-quality foster families; an evidence-based kinship navigator program and other topics. At 2:15 p.m. there will be a panel discussion involving child welfare experts from Casey Family Programs, the Children’s Bureau and the Department of Human Services. 

Under the new law, states and tribes will be able to access additional federal funding to support front-end prevention services. Other provisions include incentives for states to reduce placements of children in group care, expand supports for youth transitioning to adulthood, promote kinship and relative placements, as well as other enhancements to strengthen the child welfare system.