Yearly Archives: 2007

Year In Review – 2007

The National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) completed two major projects in 2007, launching a new assessment tool with training package and completing a research study on Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS).

NCFAS-G Training Package

NFPN, in cooperation with Dr. Ray Kirk from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (retired), developed the NCFAS-G for general services, including differential response programs. A self-contained training package to accompany the tool was introduced in January, and over 30 agencies are currently using the new tool. A research paper on the use of the NCFAS-G with a differential response program will be published in 2008.

IFPS Research

The IFPS research study, funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, had two components: conducting a nationwide survey of IFPS programs; and analyzing key factors relating to effectiveness of IFPS including race (disproportionality), substance abuse, and type of referring problem.

The nationwide IFPS survey, the largest one conducted since 1994, was based on information provided by state public child welfare agencies. Only three states did not provide any information. Respondents from 20 states indicated that they provide IFPS to a substantial portion of the state’s population and have a service model based on specific criteria. While no state met all of the best practice standards, at least 80% of the IFPS states have solid eligibility, family engagement, worker training, and supervision standards. Less than half of the states met best practice standards for caseload, hours of service for families, and using a clinical model. The good news is that at least five states are either returning to, or establishing, model integrity with new or revamped programs.

The IFPS research study involved collecting data from seven sites in seven states (Colorado, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Washington) using the NCFAS and NCFAS-R as instruments. The findings for IFPS were very positive: IFPS services achieved the same success rate (placement prevention) with families of color, substance abusing families, and families with referring issue of neglect (as opposed to abuse) as it did with all other types of families. These findings are highly significant for the child welfare system as it grapples with issues of reducing disproportionality in race, dealing with a high number of substance-abusing families, and addressing families involved in chronic neglect.

The study also looked at families receiving Intensive Family Reunification Services (IFRS). The findings were mixed with this much smaller sample of families: black families had lower rates of reunification with mixed race families having higher rates and white families in between. Substance abusing families showed substantial progress after receiving IFRS and these services showed more success with families involved in physical abuse than with those involved in neglect.

To view the complete research report, visit IFPS Research Report.

As follow-up to the research study, NFPN intends to convene an IFPS Summit in 2008.

Summary

NFPN offers training packages to practitioners on three family assessment scales: NCFAS for use in preserving high risk intact families, NCFAS-R for use with reunifying families with a child(ren) in out-of-home placement, and NCFAS-G for general services including lower-risk families and differential response. The training packages were revised this year with material added to make them more useful for training and in the field.

During the past year, 70 agencies nationwide and in Canada and Australia purchased the training packages to train over 1800 workers. In turn, these workers will use the assessments and related services with over 27,000 families.

NFPN also offers basic and advanced training packages on father engagement and involvement with 3 agencies purchasing these materials to train over 100 workers. The state of Indiana trained 1,000 workers statewide in 2007.
As always, the last word of the year goes to you. NFPN could not exist without your support and assistance. Thank you for using the products and resources that NFPN provides and giving us your valuable feedback, so that we can improve and advance the field. The reason for all that we do is to help families and it is a joy to serve families alongside you.

Merry Christmas to all!

Research Study Demonstrates Effectiveness of IFPS

The National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) has completed its research study on Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS) with very satisfactory findings. The study focused on factors of great urgency for the child welfare system in terms of identifying effective services for families. These factors include race (disproportionality), substance abuse, type of referring problem (abuse vs. neglect), differences between intact and reunifying families, and follow-up services.

NFPN recruited seven sites in seven states to submit data on their IFPS programs. State child welfare agencies or private providers included in the study were from the states of Colorado, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

All of the sites have strong IFPS models with well-defined programs. Six of the seven sites also offer Intensive Family Reunification Services (IFRS) programs. Maryland provided only IFPS data and the Missouri site provided only IFRS data. All of the sites use the NCFAS and the NCFAS-R, where applicable, as family functioning assessment tools and for data collection. The reliability of both tools was confirmed in this study.

The findings for IFPS are extremely positive. Data were submitted on a total of nearly 1,200 families, although not all data items were available for all families. IFPS services achieved the same success rate (placement prevention) with families of color, substance abusing families, and families with referring issue of neglect (as opposed to abuse) as it did with all other types of families. These findings are highly significant for the child welfare system as it grapples with the issues of reducing disproportionality, dealing with a high number of substance-abusing families, and addressing families involved in chronic neglect. The findings strongly suggest that IFPS can be used effectively with these types of families.

The findings were mixed for families receiving reunification services (IFRS). There was a substantially smaller number of families in this category (332) and 22% dropped out prior to the close of services (twice the number of IFPS families that dropped out). Just over two-thirds of the children were reunited with their families at case closure. The domains of the NCFAS-R that measure parental/child ambivalence towards reunification and readiness for reunification had more negative changes than other scale items and were highly predictive of success or failure in reunifying families.

In terms of the factors looked at in this study, black families had lower rates of reunification with mixed race families having higher rates and white families in between. Substance abusing families showed substantial progress after receiving IFRS services and had no difference in placement rates from other families. IFRS services showed more success with families involved in physical abuse than with those involved in neglect.

Five of the seven sites provide step-down or follow-up services that were available to 83% of IFPS families and 71% of IFRS families in the study. However, very little is known about the type of services offered and who provides them.

In summary, this multi-state study demonstrates that strong IFPS programs are effective with a variety of families and presenting problems. The study definitely provides support for developing, strengthening, and expanding IFPS programs nationwide.

The study also shows that both IFPS and IFRS programs need to improve data collection, track families and outcomes over a longer period of time, and identify and track the services provided. More work is needed with IFRS in terms of model development. NFPN intends to focus more on IFRS in the future.

NFPN expresses its gratitude to the seven sites that participated in the study and to the Annie E. Casey Foundation for funding the project.

To view the entire research report, see IFPS Research Report.

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