Arizona Families F.I.R.S.T. (AFF) was established by Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 8-881 (Senate Bill 1280, passed in the 2000 legislative session), and is administered jointly by the Arizona Department of Economic Security (ADES) and the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), with DES designated as the lead agency. The legislation established a statewide program for substance-abusing families entering the child welfare system as well as those families receiving cash assistance through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The legislation recognized that substance abuse is a major problem contributing to child abuse and neglect, and is also a significant barrier for those attempting to re-enter the job market or maintain employment.
In the spring of 2001, nine AFF providers received contracts through ADES to implement a community substance abuse prevention and treatment program under Arizona Families F.I.R.S.T. Contract providers across the State of Arizona were funded so that all counties would be covered by AFF services. The agencies funded included: Arizona Partnership for Children-Coconino, Arizona Partnership for Children-Yavapai, and Arizona Partnership for Children-Yuma; Community Partnership of Southern Arizona; Horizon Human Services; Old Concho Community Assistance Center; Southeastern Arizona Behavioral Health Services; TERROS; and WestCare Arizona.
Over the past three years of program operations, AFF provider agencies worked to: develop a referral process; screen, access, and treat clients with the required AFF timeframes; develop collaborative partnerships with subcontractors and other community agencies; and coordinate treatment services with Regional Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA) providers when the AFF client was found to be eligible for Medicaid-Title XIX funded services. Provider agencies also have worked to promote a more family-centered service delivery system, and to engage and retain clients in treatment. AFF providers and RBHA providers coordinate efforts to serve eligible clients in a manner that maximizes resources and Title XIX/XXI funds. Through the Partnership each eligible person would be afforded access to a comprehensive array of Title XIX behavioral health services that will assist, support, and encourage that person to achieve and maintain health and self-sufficiency. (author abstract)