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February 2008Vol. 9, No. 1Engaging Families Through Intensive Family Preservation Services

A new report illustrates the effectiveness of Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS) in preventing out-of-home placements of children. Researchers reviewed both IFPS and a variation for children already in out-of-home care, Intensive Family Reunification Services (IFRS), using case-level data from State or private contract agencies in seven States.

The IFPS model includes frequent face-to-face contact with families in their homes or communities, as well as small caseloads, rapid response, 24/7 availability, time-limited services, and provision of both clinical and concrete (e.g., financial) services. While there were some variations among the sites and some differences in the types of families served by programs, all the sites showed a high degree of fidelity to the IFPS model and delivered "intensive" services.

Researchers found that the IFPS programs achieved a 93 percent placement prevention rate (children living with a biological or adoptive parent or relative, with 85 percent living with the biological parent). Family preservation was associated with increased parenting skills and family functioning and was not dependent on the type of maltreatment.

The reunification rate for families that received IFRS was 69 percent (children reunited with biological or adoptive parents, relatives, or guardians). In the case of IFRS, race and maltreatment type appeared to be factors in the rate of reunification. Child well-being and readiness for reunification were two factors associated with successful reunification.

These results show promise for child welfare agencies seeking new strategies for achieving permanency and well-being for children and families.

The report, An Examination of Intensive Family Preservation Services, was prepared by Raymond S. Kirk and Diane P. Griffith of Independent Living Resources, Inc., in cooperation with Priscilla Martens of the National Family Preservation Network (NFPN). Funding was provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report is available on the NFPN website: