Funding Replication

Structure & Funding Required for Replication

Child First, Inc. has developed a framework for replication of the Child First model that seeks to integrate Child First as part of a wider early childhood system of care promoting the healthy development of young children and strengthening family capacity. 

Child First works with local partners to (a) identify State and local champions to support the development of the local Child First network and long-term sustainability, (b) identify affiliate agencies with the necessary qualifications to successfully implement the Child First model, and
(c) develop a financing plan for start-up and sustainability.

Child First Affiliate Agencies

Most of the cost to implement Child First is at the agency level - for the staffing and related program operations costs. Agencies in partnership with local and state champions have the responsibility for identifying and securing funding for a minimum of three years and developing a long-term sustainability plan.

The typical implementation scenario is for an affiliate agency implementing Child First to commit to hiring a minimum of four teams, each with a licensed, Master’s level Clinician and a Bachelor’s level Care Coordinator. A full-time affiliate site Clinical Director/Supervisor oversees the Child First program within the agency, provides the necessary reflective clinical and administrative supervision, and serves as the primary contact within the regional Child First Network. Costs will vary depending on local salaries and the nature of the geographic region to be served (affecting mileage and numbers served).

Child First affiliate agencies also must budget for fees due to the Child First National Program Office. Currently, these include start-up fees, training fees, and annual support fees.  Additional information can be provided upon request.

Funding Sources

Private and public grants play an important role to establish new service areas, but public funding streams are necessary to sustain services. Potential sources for both start-up and sustainability funding include, but are not limited to:

Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting Initiative (MIECHV)

This is an important source for establishing and potentially sustaining the Child First model in a new state. Child First programs are eligible for this funding because Child First has been designated by Health and Human Services as one of the national,  evidence-based home visiting models.  

Medicaid Reimbursement

As a mental health intervention, Child First services are often eligible for Medicaid reimbursement, although this will vary from state to state. Child First may be able to bill for mental health services provided for the child. The Early and Periodic, Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment program (EPSDT) of Medicaid is another avenue to be explored.

State Agency Funding

Several state agencies, especially Child Welfare and Child Mental Health agencies, may be interested in investing state and/or federal dollars in Child First services because of the strong positive outcomes of this evidenced-based model (see OUR IMPACT). In particular, Child First has been proven to reduce re-involvement in child welfare services, as well as improve mental health of both children and caregivers served. Based on a review of our results, sustainable funding could come from braided dollars from state and federal funds in departments of public health, education, early childhood, disability, and adult mental health and substance abuse.

Federal Grants and Funding Streams

Federal grants and initiatives (e.g., Project LAUNCH) from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Department of Education (DOE), Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), and others have been a significant source of Child First start-up in individual communities. Other possible funding streams include Child Abuse and Protection Treatment Act (CAPTA), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA Parts B and C), and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).


Philanthropy can play an important role in the start-up or expansion of Child First services.