Public Policy


To have the greatest positive impact on both our community and the client population we serve, Families First employs advocacy to promote public policy that strengthens and supports central Indiana families and helps individuals realize their full potential. As a frontline social service organization, Families First is uniquely positioned to speak to the current needs of central Indiana families and suggest possible solutions for meeting those needs.


Families First is non-partisan and non-ideological, and determines involvement and/or engagement in public policy issues based on the following underlying principles:

Strong families are the greatest asset for healthy communities.

Nonprofit community-based organizations play a critical role in building healthy communities by promoting strong families.

Populations facing the greatest need and greatest disparities should be prioritized.

Action Levels


Families First is integral in initiating and participating with the key players in discussions, decision-making and action on issue. Significant staff time will be devoted to issue.


Families First joins with coalitions or partner groups in creating community dialogue and awareness, but does not take the lead. Whether Families First will take a public stance on an issue is determined by the President and Executive Committee of the Board of Directors.


Families First’s staff leadership is aware of potential issues, and is keeping abreast of research and public policy related to the issue. Families First will monitor issues should action level need to be elevated.

2017 Public Policy Advocacy Agenda

Expand treatment and prevention services for substance abuse and mental illness

  • Increase funding for mental health and addictions treatment
  • Expand school-based prevention programs
  • Establish reciprocity in professional licensing for out-of-state practitioners
  • Appropriate funds for mental health provider loan forgiveness

Action Level: SUPPORT

Ensure adequate protection and support for individuals who are victims of, or at risk of, domestic violence, abuse, financial exploitation, trafficking, or other mistreatment:

  • Maintain current funding levels for domestic violence services
  • Increase funding for the Adult Protective Services system
  • Increase funding for adult guardianship services
  • Clarify the guardian’s power to restrict visitation with a protected person
  • Establish legal protections for victims of sex trafficking
  • Define bias-motivated crimes and establish penalties

Action Level: SUPPORT

Respond to the growth in numbers of children entering the child services system and the increasing acuity of their needs:

  • Increase appropriations to the Family & Children’s Fund
  • Raise reimbursement rates for agency providers serving DCS cases

Action Level: SUPPORT

Promote economic opportunity and stability for low-wealth individuals and families:

  • Eliminate restrictive asset limits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • Expand Pre-K educational opportunities
  • Protect tax credit programs such as the State Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC); Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP); and Individual Development Accounts (IDA).
  • Oppose predatory lending practices, including payday loans
  • Support paid family leave for all Hoosier families

Action Level: MONITOR