Yearly Archives: 2006

Year In Review 2006

The year 2006 was one of great discoveries, including validation of the effectiveness of the original Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS) model and the top-ranking designation of assessment tools used with IFPS and IFPS-based reunification services. Here are the highlights:

The Resurgence of IFPS

This was the title of the March NFPN News Notes reporting that five comparison group studies (two published since 2002) demonstrated the effectiveness of high-fidelity IFPS programs. A special issue later that month reported on a new research study finding that the HOMEBUILDERS® model of IFPS significantly reduces out-of-home placements, subsequent reports of child abuse and neglect, and produces a benefit of $2.54 for every dollar spent. Since its inception, NFPN has promoted high-fidelity IFPS and well-designed research on its effectiveness. Child welfare agencies are starting to respond to the research findings by bolstering their IFPS programs with increased fidelity to the HOMEBUILDERS model, increased training for staff, and by adding quality assurance components.

NCFAS and NCFAS-R Ranked Top Assessment Tools

A research team at Berkeley reviewed 85 assessment instruments and found the NCFAS and NCFAS-R family functioning scales to be the most relevant for use in child welfare settings. The NCFAS was specifically designed for use with IFPS cases while the NCFAS-R was designed specifically for IFPS-based reunification cases. Both tools are used extensively in the child welfare system and have been found reliable and valid. NFPN has offered training packages on these tools for the past four years and developed supplemental materials during this past year to enhance case practice.

NCFAS-G Scale Successfully Field-Tested with Differential Response Program

NFPN and Dr. Ray Kirk worked with the San Mateo County Human Services Agency to field test an expanded version of the NCFAS with the county’s new differential response program. The tool was found reliable and valid with this program. NFPN will introduce the NCFAS-G in January as the centerpiece of a new training package. Complete details will be forthcoming in the January News Notes.

Building More Effective Child Welfare Systems

To assist child welfare agencies in building more effective systems, NFPN studied one of the best child welfare agencies in the nation, the Allegheny County Department of Humans Services in Pittsburgh, PA. Findings from this study were presented in a monograph published in November. The monograph also contains 21 evidence-based practices that have been found effective, or show promise of being effective, in the child welfare system. The monograph was mailed to every state child welfare director in the nation. Thanks to all of you who passed along the information and Web link for the monograph to decision makers.

You’re the Best!

It would be futile for NFPN to develop resources and provide information without your enthusiastic response. Thanks for taking the time to share how the resources and information are used in your agency, to promote effective practices in your agency, to point out areas that need more attention, and to cheerfully continue serving families no matter what. NFPN counts it a privilege to serve with you.

Merry Christmas to all!

Monograph: An Effective Child Welfare System

The National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) is pleased to present a monograph on one of the most effective child welfare systems in the nation: Allegheny County Department of Human Services in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The monograph describes why Allegheny County’s system is so effective and also includes a list of 21 evidence-based practices and programs that have been found effective, or show promise of being effective, in the child welfare system.

NFPN believes that the best outcome is for children to remain with their parents whenever it is safe to do so, and this monograph is one way that NFPN can express its commitment and support to that outcome, and to all of those involved in the child welfare system.

The following is an excerpt from the monograph:

Allegheny County has an effective child welfare system because it focuses first on limited entry and second, on quick exits. The philosophy is to keep families together whenever it is safe to do so, and that message is reinforced in all policies, procedures, and budgeting. By directing a good deal of its own funds to prevention, and working with the community to leverage other funding, many families who otherwise might enter the child welfare system receive a wide variety of community services instead. If a family does enter the system, one-third of the resources are directed to keeping the children with their parents and working with the family in the home environment. Resource specialists are stationed in every child welfare office.

If placement is indicated, the decision is made by a team in a pre-placement conference, never by an individual caseworker. Kin placements are given priority, with two-thirds of children placed with relatives. Relatives are screened, licensed, and paid the same as foster parents. Expedited background checks and kits to help relatives meet safety standards allow for preliminary certification and immediate placement. If the child cannot be placed with relatives, a level of care based on the child’s needs is posted, and foster care providers respond with a placement offer. The caseworker then selects the best placement that fits the child’s needs. Every effort is made to reunify children with parents, with nearly 80% achieving that goal annually.

NFPN developed this monograph because it is essential to discover and share how Allegheny County achieves its success. To that end, NFPN would like to distribute this monograph as widely as possible. You can help by sharing this edition of News Notes with someone you know who is in a position to implement changes in policies and procedures in the child welfare system.

Click here to get a copy of the Monograph.

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