Monthly Archives: October 2013

Featured IFPS Program: Louisiana

Louisiana is the second in our series of featured IFPS programs. (See more at Mississippi.) Louisiana began offering intensive family preservation services in the 1990s. It was discontinued due to budget restraints and reinstated in 2007.

We asked the provider, Volunteers of America Greater Baton Rouge, LA, and the Louisiana State Administrator to talk about key elements of their program.

1.How long has your state offered IFPS? Share about the history of IFPS in your state.

IFPS State Administrator:
Louisiana DCFS has offered IFPS since 2007. It was available in the mid-90s; however, it became a casualty of significant budget restraints and was discontinued. It was resurrected post-Katrina in 2007, when funds became available, and has maintained funding each year now that we have data to support its success. Also, in March 2013, the Homebuilders® model of intensive family preservation became a Medicaid covered service, thereby opening it up to more families.
IFPS Provider:
We started in 1990 with a federal grant. In 1991, we started contracting with the State through OCS, later renamed to DCFS, to provide intensive home-based prevention and reunification services, based on the Homebuilders® model.

2. Why does your state/agency offer IFPS?

IFPS State Administrator:

  • It’s ultimately about safety! If we can prevent a child from coming into custody and safely maintaining them in their own home (now and in the future without repeat maltreatment), the savings to the state is significant and the “emotional savings” to the child and family are immeasurable.
  • Removal of a child from the home can be very traumatizing, even if placed in the best of foster homes. By intervening quickly, we can diffuse a crisis situation and teach the family new skills in order to keep the child safe in the home.
  • The State is also focusing on reducing the number of children in foster care and making sure they have safe and permanent homes. Homebuilders® allows a child to return to their home environment by placing extra supports to smooth the transition, increasing stability in the placement. Referrals to Homebuilders® are also encouraged to stabilize a foster home placement, thereby reducing the number of placement changes and disruptions for the child.
IFPS Provider:

  • We believe that families are more interested and more capable of change during times of crisis and that families can, with help, learn healthier, more nurturing ways of responding to family members, including their children.
  • The Homebuilders® model emphasizes community networking, family advocacy and skills building to increase family self-sufficiency and improve family living.

3. What qualities do you want to see in providers of IFPS, both at the agency and at the therapist level?

IFPS State Administrator:
The Provider/Therapist would have to have:

  • a clear understanding of safety,
  • an ability to teach skills in a motivating and encouraging manner,
  • apply a collaborative approach with the agency and community providers,
  • have a belief in families and their ability to make changes,
  • flexibility to work with all ages and “issues”,
  • availability (24/7 including evenings and weekends),
  • appreciation and respect for diversity and
  • an ability to be engaging with families, seeing them as partners in the process.

All levels of the organization need to be “on board” when it comes to adhering to the Homebuilders® model. From the Therapist to the Program Supervisor and the Program Manager, all need to understand and implement the model with fidelity.

IFPS Provider:
The Provider/Therapist is someone:

  • with good therapeutic skills,
  • who understands the philosophy that families are best served in their homes where intervention happens in real-life situations,
  • who is very flexible and available to see clients when it is convenient for them, rather than the therapist,
  • who is non-judgmental about working with parents who have abused their children,
  • who is a “people” person.

4. What qualities do you look for in an IFPS therapist?

IFPS State Administrator:

  • Life changing transformation in behavior, thoughts, and actions from even the most challenging of family circumstances has occurred.
  • It’s amazing what families can accomplish when they are guided, given the skills and encouragement, and are linked with supports in the community.
  • The feedback surveys are overwhelmingly positive and “glowing” with praise for the program and thanks for giving them this chance to make improvements.
IFPS Provider:
See #3.

5. How do you measure success of IFPS services? How successful are IFPS services in your state?

IFPS State Administrator:
Success is measured by:

  • improved NCFAS ratings,
  • family satisfaction surveys,
  • child safety (whether the child comes into care or is reunified—as long as they are not re-victimized),
  • success at closure (for example, did the family complete the full intervention without dropping out or having a removal), and
  • avoidance of repeat maltreatment within 6 months of the closure date of IFPS.

Homebuilders® is an integral part of our family services menu and is regarded as highly successful in maintaining families safely.

IFPS Provider:
In baby steps often. Indicators we look for:

  • Parents are receptive to suggestions
  • Parents put the new skills into practice
  • Decreased yelling
  • Less fear in the children
  • Parents are not using physical punishment
  • No additional CPS reports for a period of 6 months to at least a year

6. What advice and resources can you share with other states that want to establish a strong IFPS program?

IFPS State Administrator:

  • We recommended that states use a research based model, such as Homebuilders®, and provide oversight to ensure it is followed with integrity and fidelity.
  • Having a State “coordinator” is helpful as this contact person can coordinate trainings for all providers (date, location) as well as conduct Provider meetings to collaborate, problem solve and share successes.
  • For Louisiana, we have access to the Online Data Management (ODM) system where all Homebuilders® data is stored for our families so we can run current statewide data (from a therapist level to a program level to a statewide level) as well as link that system data with our agency system data to check for repeat maltreatment.
IFPS Provider:

  • We use the Homebuilders® model and use the assistance and training provided by the Institute for Family Development (IFD).
  • Coordinate at the state level to evaluate the level of need for this service in your area.
  • Develop a clear agency financial model for providing this service.
  • If you have more questions, you can reach me at 225-928-9398.

IFPS State Administrator
Nell Aucoin
DCFS Child Welfare
Prevention and Family Services
Baton Rouge, LA

IFPS Provider
Raylene McKinnon
Director of Child and Family Services
Volunteers of America Greater Baton Rouge, LA

Posted by Peg Marckworth


IFPS is Effective with Older Youth

Several years ago, the National Family Preservation Network, in association with Dr. Ray Kirk and the National Alliance to End Homelessness, conducted research on the use of IFPS with older youth.

Two agencies provided data on IFPS services to older youth with one of the agencies providing comparative data for younger children. Older youth were defined as ages 12–17 while younger children were defined as ages 0–11.

The major findings of the study:

  • IFPS services were highly effective with older youth for both placement prevention services and reunification. The difference in outcomes for older youth vs. younger children was very small:
    Younger Children Older Youth
    Placement Prevention Success Rate 88% 92%
    Reunification Rate 97% 92%
  • Older youth were more likely to be female and had significantly higher rates of physical and sexual abuse than younger children, as well as family conflict. Other issues much more prevalent in older youth than younger children included adoption disruption, behavior problems, delinquency, child-centered violence, school problems, mental health problems, and substance abuse. All of these issues were effectively addressed in terms of preserving the placement or reunifying the older youth with their families.
  • The NCFAS and the NCFAS-R assessment tools were found to be reliable for use with both the older youth and younger children. This is critical because the tools measure over 40 factors of family functioning that affect youth and their families and are used in a wide variety of youth- and family-serving systems.
  • Despite having many more presenting problems than younger children, older youth and their families made just as much progress as younger children and their families on all measures of family functioning with one exception. That exception was the area of child well-being which includes the factors of mental health, child’s behavior, school performance, relationship with caregivers, relationship with siblings, and relationship with peers. Since these factors are child-focused, rather than parent-focused, and tend to reflect the older youth’s desire for independence and ability to make choices, including bad choices, less progress in this area is perhaps understandable. In any event, somewhat less progress in the area of child well-being did not adversely affect the overall positive outcomes for older youth.
  • Early IFPS programs served primarily older youth and we are now coming full circle to realizing that IFPS is still an excellent resource for adolescents.

To view the Older Youth Research Report, visit:

Posted by Priscilla Martens, NFPN Executive Director

IFPS with Adoptive Families

The National Family Preservation Network, in association with Dr. Marianne Berry, conducted research on the use of IFPS with post-adoptive families in a project funded by a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Data on IFPS were provided by the state of Missouri.

The published research included these key findings:

• Services focused primarily on parent/child conflict, communication problems, the child’s emotional problems, and school problems.

Variable (N = 99)



Primary Problem Addressed in Adoption IFPS Intervention
Parent/child conflict



Communication skills



Parenting skills problems



Emotional problems



Physical abuse



Mental health problems






School problems



Medical illness/disability



Physical violence



Delinquent behavior



Child neglect



Severe financial problems



Criminal behavior



Sexual abuse



Marital conflict






Drug abuse



Developmental disability









• 83% of the adoptive families studied were preserved by the end of IFPS. At a 6-month follow-up point, 76% remained intact. No families contacted at the 6- or 12-month follow-up checks had legally disrupted.

Table 9: Case Outcomes

Variable (N = 99)



Type of Placement Originally Anticipated
Foster Home






Relative Care



Psychiatric Hospital






Emergency Shelter



No placements



Prior to IFPS services



During IFPS services



After IFPS services cease



• The adopted children who were most likely to experience placement during or after IFPS were those who were significantly older and IFPS was being used to reunify the family, rather than avert placement. Placement rates were highest for children served for delinquent or criminal behavior, running away, or where the family was experiencing physical violence, severe financial problems or medical illness or disability.

• The content of training for preservation workers who work with adoptive families is significantly enhanced with information of special importance to adoptive families. These content areas include grief and loss, attachment, parental expectations, and ways to enhance the parental characteristics of patience, flexibility, humor and acceptance.

• Findings from this study indicate the need for greater availability of IFPS services to adoptive families, given placement prevention rates in the 80% + range, and high parental satisfaction.

Click here to get the full report on IFPS with Post-Adoptive Families:


Posted by Priscilla Martens, NFPN Executive Director

An Interview with Rep. Roger Freeman

Rep. Roger Freeman

Rep. Roger Freeman

The IFPS Blog seeks to present a variety of perspectives on Intensive Family Preservation Services. In October, 2013 we conducted this interview with Washington State legislator, Roger Freeman.

Representative Roger Freeman passed away on October 29, 2014. He was a first-term legislator in Washington State and Vice Chair of the Early Learning and Human Services Committee. Rep. Freeman was an attorney and manager of the dependency unit of the King County Department of Public Defender.

IFPS Blog: Rep. Freeman, you are a public defender. Could you share some of your experiences? Do you represent families facing removal of their children?

Rep. Freeman: We’re part of a model court system in which attorneys have specialized training and experience in working with dependency cases. I have been involved with child welfare dependency cases for nine years. I represent parents from the investigative stage all the way through to termination of parental rights. Over 80% of the cases are drug related. But the biggest shock to me is that so many of the children are removed due to the family’s poverty. These families may resist intervention, so my job is to mediate between the families and the child welfare workers to connect the families with the help that they need to keep their children.

What I see as the key to helping families is to get them engaged with services within the first 30 days. The families that engage early on have better outcomes, with their children returned to them within 6-12 months. When families do not engage, it can lead to termination of parental rights.

Click here to see how adequate legal representation provided in Washington State affects children (PDF file, 881Kb).

IFPS Blog: How did you learn about Intensive Family Preservation Services and what are your thoughts about these services?

Rep. Freeman: I knew about FPS (a less intensive service), but I realized that some families need more contact, teaching, and hands-on services. That’s when I learned about IFPS and what a vital service it is. The earlier that families are referred to IFPS, the less likely it is that they will go further into the child welfare system. I’m a huge fan of IFPS and would like to obtain more funding for it, especially for use with drug-affected parents before the child is born.

IFPS Blog: As a legislator, what do you look for to determine if a program is effective?

Rep. Freeman: The legislature supports early intervention. We want to fund services that create better outcomes for families such as pre-K programs, substance abuse treatment, and day care in order for parents to maintain employment.

I am especially concerned about parents with disabilities. If parents with disabilities are unable to care for their children on their own, then they should be assisted through kinship care or other arrangements that allow the parents to remain involved in their children’s lives.

IFPS Blog: What do you think are the best ways to help families stay together?

Rep. Freeman: I think the best way is “aggressive engagement.” We need rapid response teams that provide immediate assistance rather than waiting for multiple complaints before providing services. IFPS is an example of a rapid response. We need more services like that in which parents receive fast, competent, and skill-building services in order that they can move to more effective parenting.

Posted by
Mary Fischer, Associate Director
Institute for Family Development

Updated after Rep. Freeman’s death.

Featured IFPS Program: Mississippi

Mississippi has offered intensive family preservation services since 1992.

We asked the provider, Mississippi Children’s Home Services and the State Administrator to talk about key elements of their program.

Why does your state offer IFPS?

IFPS State Administrator:
It offers IFPS services to prevent the removal of children from their home setting due to abuse, neglect, etc.
IFPS Provider:
Mississippi Children’s Home Services (MCHS) recognizes the importance of family preservation services as a part of a service continuum to help families remain together and to prevent children from entering foster care, when they can be safely maintained at home.

How long has your state offered IFPS?—share about the history of IFPS in your state.

IFPS State Administrator:

  • Mississippi’s intensive family preservation services began in 1992 as a pilot project in one county with two contract employees.
  • It expanded to all counties in 1996.
  • Between 1999 and 2007 the positions were state service.
  • In 2007 the services were once again outsourced.
  • Currently, we have one Provider that provides the service to all 82 counties.
IFPS Provider:

  • The Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) provided family preservation services in-house from 1995–2006.
  • Mississippi Children’s Home Services (MCHS), applied and was awarded the contract for Family Preservation in 2006, when MDHS first outsourced the service.
  • MCHS has continued to provide family preservation services and in 2010, was awarded the contract for Comprehensive Family Support Services Program (CFSSP), which included family preservation and reunification services.
  • MCHS is the sole provider of CFSSP for the state.

What qualities do you want to see in providers of IFPS both at the agency and at the therapist level?

IFPS State Administrator:
We would look for competence, stability, values, a commitment to the families served, and a provider who has similar views on child abuse prevention, etc.
IFPS Provider:Question not applicable

What qualities do you look for in an IFPS therapist?

IFPS State Administrator:Question not applicable IFPS Provider:
We look for therapists who are:

  • committed to preserving the family unit
  • understand that this is a time-limited intensive program and can stay focused on the family goals and treatment needs
  • build on the family’s strengths and recognize that the family is a key resource for change.
  • MCHS also seeks therapists who are able to learn and apply evidenced based models and interventions in practice.

What changes do you see in families that receive IFPS?

IFPS State Administrator:

  • Most of the families learn to maintain on their own without future assistance from the agency.
  • They are driven to keep their children safe, and use the skills taught to them so that further issues concerning abuse/neglect do not arise.
  • They are confident, have more positive interactions within their families; and are more positive in their outlook on life.
IFPS Provider:
Families who by the end of the intervention:

  • communicate effectively with each other
  • know who their support systems are in the community
  • parents have realistic expectations of their children
  • improved marital relationships
  • improved and appropriate disciplinary techniques
  • better income management skills
  • better home management skills
  • more respect among all family members

Posted by Peg Marckworth

Information provided by:
Carolyn Cotton Bland, Mississippi Division of Family and Children’s Services
Elizabeth Frizsell, Mississippi Children’s Home Services