New Tool Kit Helps Leaders Communicate the Benefits of Family First Law
The Annie E. Casey Foundation has developed a downloadable tool kit to help child welfare leaders, advocates, private providers and others talk about how the Family First Prevention Services Act can help improve outcomes for children and families.
Young people involved in the child welfare system do best in families, in a safe and stable environment that supports their long-term well-being, according to research. The passage of Family First took a large step toward this vision by restructuring how the federal government spends money on child welfare to ensure that more children in foster care are placed with families. The law also provides more support for critical services, such as mental health and substance abuse treatment, in-home training and family therapy that can help prevent the need for foster care in the first place.
The tool kit features talking points for agency staff, guidance for media interviews and text to incorporate in public remarks. Casey encourages child welfare agency staff to pick and choose which resources can help them confidently communicate about the goals of Family First and how it works.
The tool kit includes:
- Family First: Talking Points Memo, a four-page document that provides a variety of bullet points from which agency staff can choose;
- Message Box, a tool that helps staff when participating in media interviews or making remarks in smaller venues not requiring a written speech;
- Family First: The Basics, which describes key elements of the new law and includes links to pieces other groups have developed that staff can use and reproduce as appropriate;
- Family First: New Funds for Effective Prevention Services, a guide that spells out the variety of child welfare programs now funded with federal dollars for prevention services;
- Family First: Addressing the Opioid Epidemic, which talks about the relationship between increases in foster care placements and substance abuse, including the opioid crisis hitting some states harder than others;
- Family First: Words Matter, which gives tips on how best to frame concepts and issues related to Family First; and
- Family First: Strategic Communications Tips, which outlines suggestions on working with traditional and social media and through targeted outlets as a way for reaching specialized audiences.
“We hope that these tools help child welfare leaders move toward effective implementation of the law and a better future for young people,” says Tracey Feild, director of the Foundation’s Child Welfare Strategy Group.