Family First News

Virginia Department of Social Services is committed to using reliable, accurate, transparent and timely communication among stakeholders throughout the implementation of Family First.

Family First Implementation Update

The implementation of Family First has been extended to January 30, 2021. VDSS had several major Family First implementation activities scheduled for Spring 2020 that unfortunately have been cancelled and/or postponed due to COVID-19. These activities include training for specified providers in evidence based practices and assisting localities in determining the needs of their communities which are critical to support the implementation of Family First. Implementing Family First remains a high priority for the Division of Family Services and implementation activities will continue with our state and community partners.

Spring 2020 Three Branch Meeting

On April 9, 2020, the Three Branch Team convened to discuss the extension of the Family First implementation date. The Family First Team provided updates on the implementation status, the efforts to address the ongoing complexities of Family First and an updated timeline. Three Branch Team members actively participated in the meeting and service providers offered valuable input. We look forward to continuing our work with this group.

Visit our Resources to Establish and Expand Evidence Based Services Page

Check out our new Resources to Establish and Expand Evidence Based Services page. You will find information on 3 Evidence Based Programs: Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, Multisystemic Therapy and Functional Family Therapy.

QRTP Application Available

The QRTP Application is available and can be found here (at the bottom of the page). Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, and we encourage providers to submit as early as possible to ensure designation prior to January 2021.

Visit our Kinship Navigator Page

Check out our new Kinship Navigator page to learn about Kinship Navigator Programs in Virginia.


Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse

The Clearinghouse released a list of the next programs and services planned for systematic review and can be found on their FAQs page. Programs that receive a rating of well-supported, supported or promising are eligible for federal reimbursement to states upon implementation of Family First to provide support to children and their families to prevent placement into foster care.

Visit our New Funding Page

Check out our new Funding Page to learn more about Title IV-E Funding and other child welfare funding sources.

Visit our New Qualified Residential Treatment Program Page

Check out our new Qualified Residential Treatment Program Page to learn about the federal requirements for non-family based placements. There is a robust section of answers to our most frequently asked questions! If you still have a question, please feel free to reach out to us at

Three Branch Meeting

On October 8, 2019, the Three Branch Team convened to discuss implementation efforts. This meeting focused specifically on how Family First will enhance the use of kinship care and engagement in Virginia across the child welfare continuum (informal kinship care to formal and permanent kinship care). One of the main goals behind the Family First Act is to reduce the need for entry into foster care whenever it is safe to do so - and engaging relatives and supporting families is one of the primary ways to do so. There were three keynote speakers: Ana Beltran, an attorney and Special Advisor to Generations United; Heidi Epstein, the Director of Kinship Policy and the Assistant Director of State Projects at the ABA Center on Children and the Law; and Sarah Smalls, a Generations United Grand Voices Advocate, Invited Member of the Federal Council on Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, and a Caregiver and Community Advocate for Grandparents and Relative Caregivers.

Three Branch Meeting
Three Branch Meeting
Three Branch Meeting

Release of the Prevention Services Handbook

After much anticipation, the Prevention Services Clearinghouse Handbook has been released. The Prevention Services Clearinghouse Handbook of Standards and Procedures provides a detailed description of the standards used to identify and review programs and services for the Prevention Services Clearinghouse and the procedures followed by the Prevention Services Clearinghouse staff. The Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse was established by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to systematically review research on programs and services intended to provide enhanced support to children and families and prevent foster care placements. These practices include mental health prevention and treatment services, substance us disorder prevention and treatment services and in-home parent skill-based programs, as well as kinship navigator programs.

Qualified Residential Treatment Program (QRTP) Information Session

Under Family First, the Qualified Residential Treatment Program (QRTP) was designed to address the needs of foster youth with serious emotional or behavioral challenges. This new federal designation will have an impact on current non family based placements in Virginia. On June 12, 2019, an information session was held to collaborate with Virginia non family based placements and educate programs on Family First and to provide information on what we know now concerning QRTPs. Over 130 participants from across the state attended the session that was supported by Casey Family Programs. We appreciated everyone’s participation including our partners at the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, Department of Medical Assistance Services, Office of Children’s Services and the Virginia Department of Social Services Licensing Division in helping to support our foster youth.

Next Three Branch Meeting

On August 21, 2019, the Three Branch team will convene again to discuss implementation efforts. We are excited that our partners at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) will join us to learn more about our Three Branch model and how the team is supporting implementation of Family First in Virginia.