• June 2014
  • Vol. 15, No. 6

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New Research on Family Reunification

In 2007, the National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) conducted a study that examined and compared outcomes experienced by families receiving intensive family preservation services to outcomes experienced by families receiving reunification services. Findings showed that family preservation was more successful than reunification and that reunited families experienced more problems than preserved families. In 2012, NFPN conducted another study of successful reunification.

The study was conducted in four sites in four States, and three of the four programs were based on the Homebuilders® model. Data were collected between April 2012 and February 2013 in a manner that mirrors reunification case practice: case referral, acceptance of referral, assessment, case planning/goal setting, service delivery, reassessment, case closure, and exit survey/interview. Parent and caregiver perceptions of engagement and caseworker interactions also were collected and used to examine possible connections between caregiver opinions and outcomes. The study marked three important milestones:

  • The first NFPN study to include all three initiatives of family preservation, reunification, and father-involvement
  • The first test of the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale for General Services (NCFAS-G) assessment tool with both alternative response and placement prevention services
  • The first time questions for both caseworkers and families were closely aligned in exit instruments and also corresponded to the NCFAS assessment tools

Findings included the following:

  • There was statistically significant improvement for both intact and reunited families on all 10 domains of the NCFAS tools.
  • Caseworker and family responses to exit instrument questions were closely aligned for intact and reunited families that completed services.
  • Intensive services were effective with families facing challenges often considered to be barriers to reunification, including race, employment, substance use, mental illness, and domestic violence.

In addition to the study, NFPN also released new exit instruments for both intact and reunited families, which can be purchased on the NFPN website:


Family Assessment, Family Functioning, and Caregiver Engagement in Family Preservation and Reunification Programs, and the Relation of These and Other Factors to Reunification Service Outcomes, by Raymond Kirk and Priscilla Martens, is available on the NFPN website:

http://nfpn.org/Portals/0/Documents/2014-reunification-report.pdf (613 KB)

Related Item

The May 2014 issue of Children's Bureau Express featured an article about the 40th anniversary of the Intensive Family Preservation movement:


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