Research-Supported Resources

At the beginning of each year, the National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) provides a list of resources available through our website.  Social services are increasingly required to be research-supported, especially with passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act that has a 50% federal match for programs that are evidence based. Since its beginning in 1992, NFPN has promoted research-supported tools, programs, and practice.  We have also conducted 9 research projects on our resources.  So, let’s take a look at some of these resources and the underlying research.  We’ll begin with preservation because that’s in our name!

In the largest study of Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS), Dr. Ray Kirk compared 1200 children who had received IFPS with 110,000 children who had not received these services.  IFPS outperformed traditional services in every case with greater improvement in family functioning, reducing the number of placements, and delaying placements.  You can read the research report here  Many agencies inquire about how to start or strengthen an IFPS program.  For a comprehensive overview of IFPS visit

One of the most important developments in the field of social work over the past two decades is the focus on family assessment.   Analysis of the initial Child and Family Services Reviews identified a link between comprehensive family assessments and good outcomes for families.  Guidelines for high-quality assessments are available here

NFPN partnered with Dr. Ray Kirk to develop one of the first assessment tools for reunifying families, the NCFAS-R.  Diverting families from the child welfare system resulted in the development of the NCFAS-G.  Generally, all grants and contracts now mandate trauma-informed practice.  In response, NFPN and Dr. Kirk developed the Trauma/Post-Trauma Well-Being assessment tool.  All of these assessment tools have successful reliability/validity studies.  For an overview of the research on the tools visit For information on and a description of each of the assessment tools (including Spanish versions) visit

In partnership with two child welfare agencies in Washington and California, NFPN conducted one of the first demonstration studies of father involvement.  With training, incentives, and support from administrators, social workers demonstrated improvement in identifying fathers as a resource and including them in the case plan and involving the father’s extended family in the case plan.  To view the project’s research reports visit  More information on father-involvement curricula and resources is available here:

NFPN offers training and technical assistance on all of its resources. Training packages and videos are available as well as onsite training and technical assistance by phone and email.  For agencies using the NCFAS-G+R assessment tool, video training is now available: The Substance Abuse and In-Home Video Training is especially relevant in the midst of a time of high misuse of drugs including opioids:

For more information on all resources and training/technical assistance, contact Priscilla Martens, NFPN Executive Director,, 888-498-9047.


Posted by Priscilla Martens, Executive Director


Wrapping up 2018

In 2018 NFPN News Notes had posts on the opioid epidemic, trauma-informed care, engaging fathers, reunification, kinship care, and the Family First Prevention Services Act.

If I had to choose one topic that I believe will have the most impact for the future, it would be the Family First Act.  It’s not just the act itself that will have an impact.  The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is using the legislation as a springboard to reshape the child welfare system.

ACF has issued guidance (not mandates) on topics affecting the child welfare system, including legal representation, father involvement, and, most importantly, primary prevention.  In the past ACF has largely focused on foster care and adoption, occasionally mentioning prevention.  Now, their top priority is to “reshape child welfare to focus on proactively strengthening families through primary prevention of child maltreatment.”  In other words, a child welfare system should keep families safe, healthy, and together whenever possible before remedial efforts become necessary. The result is that the child welfare system partners with community service providers to meet the needs of families before families enter the public child welfare system.

It’s also important to note that while ACF says the public child welfare system may provide funding for primary prevention, it would not be involved in providing the services. Community services will be voluntary and open to everyone in the community.

To view the ACF memo on Primary Prevention visit

Here are links to other guidance provided by ACF:                                                           Legal Representation                 Father Involvement

ACF does mandate how to implement the Family First Act. A key component of the Act is a clearinghouse to review and approve Evidence-Based Practice programs that will constitute the services to families.  ACF has released its initial criteria for reviewing services and programs and a list of the first 10 programs that will be reviewed.  You can find the information here:    Instructions to states for implementing Family First are available here:

There is a lot of reading involved in this post but it’s important to understand the perspective of the federal government with regard to helping families.  It will have a tremendous impact on families and the workforce for years to come!

Speaking of the workforce, thank you for selflessly helping families year in and year out.  NFPN salutes you!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Posted by Priscilla Martens, Executive Director

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