From its inception, the top priority for Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS) has been the safety of children and all family members. An early information packet developed by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation in support of IFPS stated, “First and foremost, intensive family preservation services are not appropriate when children cannot be kept safe at home. In cases of severe abuse or extreme neglect, for example, or where children have been abandoned, they should be removed.”
In the IFPS ToolKit, produced by The National Family Preservation Network (NFPN), the following factors account for the strong safety record of IFPS:
- Safety of the child is the highest priority.
- Workers see families within 24 hours of referral and are available to families 24/7.
- Workers meet with families in the home and are able to observe the home environment, interaction of family members, and any other factors that would jeopardize safety.
- With only a few cases at a time, workers can spend significant amounts of time to teach new skills to the family, monitor progress, and assess safety.
- Prior to termination, workers connect the family to other community services. Families are not abandoned at the end of the IFPS intervention.
- Worker training, supervision, and quality assurance provide additional measures to ensure the safety of families.
While IFPS has an exemplary record of safety, that will only continue through a vigilant and committed effort. NFPN has included a safety component in a quality assurance instrument: CQI for IFPS (http://www.nfpn.org/preservation/cqi-ifps-instrument). The criteria require the IFPS worker to develop a safety plan and to address safety during each visit. How might that look in practice?
An IFPS program (TIES) in Tennessee requires a safety check of all family members within 72 hour intervals. There are many drug-affected infants and families served through this program and these infants and families must have a safety check within 48 hours. The required safety checks are incorporated into the goals, plans, and contracts with the family. If any family members are not present during a safety check, the TIES worker makes every attempt to locate and meet with them. The referral agency is notified if a face-to-face contact is not made. Safety checks take about 20 minutes and are separate from therapy visits if a back-up worker or supervisor conducts the safety check. The family’s worker may combine safety checks with regular visits provided the time interval requirements are met.
NFPN’s online courses for in-home services will include training on risk and safety. The three courses are scheduled for March 10, 17, and 24 at 10:30 a.m. Central Time. The cost is $50 per course or all three courses for $100. You can register by contacting NFPN’s Executive Director, Priscilla Martens, firstname.lastname@example.org. One prerequisite is current use (or purchase) of the NCFAS-G or NCFAS-G+R assessment tool. Participants will receive a Certificate of Completion.
Posted by Priscilla Martens
NFPN Executive Director