Monthly Archives: January 2014

Sex Trafficking Awareness

Lately, human trafficking seems to be increasing in many of our communities. On December 31, 2013, President Barack Obama declared January 2014 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 2014 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, culminating in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1. I call upon businesses, national and community organizations, faith-based groups, families, and all Americans to recognize the vital role we can play in ending all forms of slavery and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.

As IFPS professionals we need to ask ourselves how much we really know about “human trafficking.”

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, human trafficking is “a modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain.” This includes using adults or children for sexual slavery and forced labor.

The Department of Homeland Security reports that “every year, millions of men, women, and children worldwide, including in the United States are victims of human trafficking. Victims are often lured with false promises of well-paying jobs or are manipulated by people they trust, but instead are forced or coerced into prostitution, domestic, servitude, farm or factory labor, other types of forced labor.”

It is critical that IFPS providers be aware of and alert to possible sex trafficking of the vulnerable children and families we serve. Truancy or dropping out of school, frequently running away, lack of basic needs, fear of seeking help, and restriction of freedom of movement are some of the indicators of potential sex trafficking of youth.

Last fall, a congressional committee addressed sex trafficking of youth in foster care ( Two witnesses were from Washington State.

Bobbe Bridge is a retired judge and Founding President/CEO of Center for Children and Youth Justice. Following is a portion of her testimony:

Washington State was relatively early among state governments to recognize that trafficking in persons, whether domestically or internationally, was an issue of statewide significance. The Task Force Against Trafficking of Persons was created by the legislature in 2002, and in 2003 Washington became the first state in the nation to prohibit trafficking in persons. The term “child prostitute” has been all but removed from our lexicon. Instead we refer to the children and youth who are the victims of sex trafficking as commercially sexually exploited youth (“CSEC”).

You can read Judge Bridge’s full testimony here: (PDF, 3.3 MB)

Another witness, Melinda Giovengo, the Executive Director of YouthCare in Seattle, Washington, established the connection between at-risk and foster-care youth and sex trafficking. According to Giovengo:

  1. Studies indicate that between 55% and 90% of prostituted individuals report a history of child sexual and/or physical abuse.
  2. Youth in foster care are disproportionately at risk for victimization through sex trafficking due to prior abuse and a lack of social/familial support. Furthermore, sex trafficking constitutes violence and abuse of vulnerable youth.
  3. Youth in foster care are often victims of sex trafficking long before social workers, foster parents, or other providers are aware.
  4. Youth who have run away, or are missing from care, are at significant risk for sex trafficking.

You can read Ms. Giovengo’s full testimony and recommendations here: (PDF, 188 KB)

“This month, I call on every nation, every community, and every individual to fight human trafficking wherever it exists. Let us declare as one that slavery has no place in our world, and let us finally restore to all people the most basic rights of freedom, dignity, and justice” (President Barack Obama, Presidential Proclamation, December 31, 2013).

Posted by Moneefah D. Jackson and Peg Marckworth


Celebrating 40 Years of IFPS – Part 2

IFPS - Keeping Families Together and Children SafeIn this post we look at the target populations with which IFPS has been found to be effective and an assessment tool for use with IFPS.

IFPS is Effective with High-Risk Families

Dr. Ray Kirk from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill conducted a retrospective study (NC DSS, 2001) of more than 1,200 children who had received IFPS services in North Carolina and compared them with over 110,000 children who had not received these services.

IFPS outperformed traditional child welfare services in every case by reducing the number of placements or delaying placements. IFPS interventions improved family functioning and were most effective with the highest risk families.

IFPS Reduces Disproportionality

In this study, high-risk minority children receiving traditional services were at higher risk of placement than white children, but minority children receiving IFPS were less likely to be placed than white children.

Note: a future blog post will provide details of this study.

IFPS is Effective with Older Youth

A study showed that IFPS services resulted in a 92% placement prevention rate for older youth (ages 12-17) in comparison to an 88% placement prevention rate for younger children (ages 0-11). For more details of this study, visit:

IFPS is Effective with Juvenile Offenders

HOMEBUILDERS® received funding from the U.S. Administration for Children, Youth and Families to provide services to youth and families referred from the Pierce County Juvenile Court.

Twelve months after intake, 73% of youth served were not placed in out-of home care. Data from the overflow comparison group showed that only 28% of the comparison youth avoided placement. For the full report, visit:

IFPS is Effective with Children with Mental Health Challenges

HOMEBUILDERS® was originally developed to prevent the psychiatric hospitalization of severely behaviorally disturbed children. From January 2009 through April 2013 the program served 3014 children at risk of placement, 383 of whom were reported to have serious mental health symptoms.

In the entire population, 97.5% of children successfully avoided placement at termination of services. Ninety-six percent of the 383 youth with serious mental health issues avoided out of home placement at termination of services. For additional studies involving IFPS and mental health visit:

IFPS is Effective with Adoptive Families

Dr. Marianne Berry and NFPN conducted a study on the use of IFPS with post-adoptive families in Missouri. 83% of the adoptive families studied were preserved by the end of IFPS. At a six-month follow-up point, 76% remained intact. No families contacted at the six or 12-month follow-up checks had legally disrupted. To view the complete report, visit:

IFPS is Effective with Reunifying Families

The earliest study of the use of IFPS with reunifying families was conducted in Utah in 1995.

The IFPS intervention lasted 90 days and children were returned to the families within 15 days of referral. Following IFPS services, 92% of the children were at home vs. 28% of the control group. For additional information, view the IFPS ToolKit (chapters 10 and 11) here:

Assessment Tool Created for Use with IFPS

Development of the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale (NCFAS) for use with IFPS services provided an opportunity to measure a family’s progress following an IFPS intervention. The family’s progress is also closely tied to successfully remaining intact. Here’s a chart with typical pre/post ratings from research on use of the NCFAS with IFPS families (the percentages refer to the families that are at baseline or above, meaning that no intervention is required in that domain):

NCFAS Ratings of Baseline or Above at Intake and Closing
The NCFAS tools continue to demonstrate strong reliability and validity with IFPS programs. For a more detailed report, visit:

Posted by Charlotte Booth, Executive Director, Institute for Family Development
and Priscilla Martens, Executive Director, National Family Preservation Network

Celebrating 40 Years of IFPS

Keeping Families Together Title PageDid you know that the term “family preservation” did not exist 40 years ago?

We’ve come a long way in the past 40 years! From no use of the term “family preservation” before 1974 to over 37 million Google listings for “family preservation” in 2014.

IFPS got off to a strong start, was boosted with a strong dose of private foundation and federal government support, experienced a rough patch for a period of time, and is now growing and stronger than ever.

Come along for the journey for the next 40 years!

Birth of IFPS

In 1974 the HOMEBUILDERS® program, a model of Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS), began in Washington State. Its goal—strengthen families and prevent unnecessary out-of-home placement.

The federal government provided impetus for nationwide replication of IFPS through the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980. This act required states to provide reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the removal of children from their homes or make it possible for them to return home. Family preservation services were listed as an essential component of satisfying the reasonable efforts requirement.

Foundation and Federal Funding for IFPS

The private sector stepped up to provide key funding for IFPS.

  • In 1986 the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation awarded $3.3 million for development of model programs, training/technical assistance, and capacity building.
  • In 1992, the Clark Foundation funded 7 existing organizations to promote IFPS.
  • Both the Clark Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation provided funding to establish a new organization, the National Family Preservation Network (NFPN). NFPN is the only national organization whose mission is to serve as the primary national voice for the preservation of families.

By 1993 IFPS programs existed in 35 states with 12 states passing specific family preservation legislation. That was also the year that federal funding first became directly available for IFPS through the Family Preservation and Support Act, later changed to the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program (PSSF).

The program was expanded to include funding for reunification and adoption services as well as family preservation and prevention. About one-fourth of the annual federal funding goes to family preservation.

Title IV-E Waivers

In 1994, Congress passed Public Law 103–432, which established Section 1130 of the Social Security Act (SSA) and gave the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the authority to approve state demonstration projects, now referred to as IV-E waivers.

Conceived as a strategy for generating new knowledge about innovative and effective child welfare practices, waivers give states flexibility in the use of federal funds for alternative supports and services that promote safety, permanency, and well-being for children in the child protection and foster care systems.

Waivers allow funding and programs to prevent foster care, including authorization for IFPS as well as reinvestment of public funds that are saved through prevention of costly out-of-home placement. Congress is currently authorizing up to 10 new waiver projects annually.


Fidelity Validates IFPS

In 2001 a federal study indicated that IFPS was not effective in preventing out-of-home placements of children. Subsequent studies addressed methodological problems in the federal study. A breakthrough came in 2006 with a study conducted by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP). WSIPP did a meta-analysis of 14 IFPS evaluations based on fidelity to the Homebuilders® model of IFPS. The results from the combined 14 studies showed no significant effect on out-of-home placements.

But the programs with demonstrated fidelity to the Homebuilders® model reduced out-of-home placement by 31%. In addition, the high-fidelity programs produced $2.54 of benefits for each dollar of cost.

IFPS is Effective With a Variety of Families

A study conducted by NFPN found that the positive results of IFPS are not diminished when working with families of color, families involved with substance abuse, or families referred for neglect.

In the next post we’ll take a closer look at the target populations with which IFPS has been found to be effective.

Posted by Charlotte Booth, Executive Director, Institute for Family Development
and Priscilla Martens, Executive Director, National Family Preservation Network

New Year’s Quiz Winner

In our New Year’s post we posed the question, “In what state did IFPS originate?

The correct answer is, Washington State.

We offered the choice of one of two prizes to the first person to leave a comment with the correct answer.

PRIZE #1 — 15-minute consultation with an IFPS expert, Charlotte Booth

Charlotte Booth

Charlotte Booth, Institute for Family Development

Prize #2 — A copy of Keeping Families Together, the classic book on IFPS

Keeping Families Together Cover

And our prize winner is . . .

David Gillock

Congratulations, David! To claim your prize, please check your e-mail for a message from us or contact

Thank you for participating in our first blog quiz!

New Year’s Quiz

Happy New Year from the IFPS Coast-to-Coast Blog. We’re excited to have you along on our journey in 2014!

Through our survey at the end of last year, we heard about topics you are interested in and ones that don’t appeal to you. We’ve learned that practice tips are always a popular topic, so we will continue to make that a major focus. We will also include posts on research in the field, views of IFPS from an international perspective, and profiles of IFPS programs in states across the country.

Let’s kick off the New Year with a quick quiz about IFPS:

  1. In what state did IFPS originate?
  2. How many states have strong IFPS programs?
  3. Do IFPS programs include reunification services to preserve families?
  4. What is the average number of face-to-face hours that a therapist spends with families during an IFPS intervention?
  5. What is the average success rate of families remaining together at case closure in strong IFPS states?
  6. What is the average percentage of older youth (ages 12–17) served by strong IFPS programs?
  7. What is the hallmark of all strong, effective IFPS programs?

You can find the answers to these questions, except for question #1, in the IFPS Nationwide Survey available here:

The first person to post a comment with the correct answer to QUESTION #1  will win a 15-minute consultation with an IFPS expert or the classic book on IFPS, Keeping Families Together. Winner chooses the prize and the consolation prize goes to second place. Sorry, those who live or work in the state where IFPS originated do not qualify.

Our goal with the IFPS Coast-to-Coast blog is to provide a nationwide forum for exchanging knowledge and expertise about IFPS. We want to extend our reach in 2014. Here’s how you can help:

  1. Send this post to your colleagues through their preferred social media.
  2. Ask colleagues to join the IFPS blog family. Tell them that the easiest way to receive new posts is through e-mail. Sign up by clicking the “Follow” button in the right-hand sidebar.
  3. Commit to posting a comment at least once in 2014. Comments help keep the blog interesting, interactive, and insightful.

Remember, a new post comes out every Wednesday. And, don’t forget to submit your answer to the quiz now!

Happy New Year!

Posted by Peg Marckworth