Private Organization Accreditation

Debt Education and Certification Foundation (DECAF), a private non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, provides high-quality financial education and counseling, with nationwide outreach throughout the U.S. DECAF is HUD-approved, and recognized as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work for in Texas.


Jane Bonk, Ph.D., LCSW

Volunteer Roles: Commissioner; Evaluator; Lead Evaluator; Peer Reviewer; Team Leader

Dr. Jane Bonk is a team leader, evaluator, and commissioner who has led over 25 site visits for COA.
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Family Preservation and Stabilization Services improve family functioning, increase child and family well-being, ensure child safety, reduce the need for CPS intervention, and the separation of children from their families, and ease the transition to reunification following a separation. 


Family Preservation and Stabilization Services provide crisis intervention, therapy, counseling, education, support, and advocacy to families who are coping with circumstances that put children at risk of being separated from their families and placed in out-of-home care, or families with children transitioning to reunification following a separation. Family preservation is sometimes considered an alternative response to a Child Protective Services (CPS) intervention. 

This section is designed to accommodate programs that provide two levels of service: (1) family preservation and stabilization services, and (2) intensive family preservation and stabilization services. Intensive programs typically serve families with children at greater risk of being separated from their families, respond to referrals or requests for service within a shorter period of time, provide more frequent and intensive services, and place stricter limits on caseload size. 

While the focus is on children remaining with their biological families, family preservation services are also used to stabilize foster and adoptive placements to prevent re-entry to service systems and facilities.

Research Note: Intensive family preservation programs were traditionally intended to reduce out-of-home placement rates and, consequently, placement prevention was initially the outcome of ultimate interest. However, more recent literature criticizes the use of placement prevention as the principal outcome measure and emphasizes the importance of also valuing broader aspects of child and family functioning, such as environment, parental capabilities, family interactions, family safety, and child well-being.

Research Note: Studies have shown that at least 25% of all out-of-home placements could have been prevented with access to some form of family preservation and stabilization services. Research also demonstrates that it is much more difficult to successfully implement FPS services when the family has already experienced child separation. 

Note: Families are considered to be at risk when one or more of the following circumstances exist:

  1. family violence, physical and/or emotional abuse, and neglect;
  2. parent-child conflicts, including those that result in a child running away;
  3. housing problems or financial distress;
  4. substance use conditions;
  5. mental health conditions or serious emotional disturbances;
  6. delinquency or incarceration;
  7. death, divorce, or separation of parents;
  8. resettlement-related stresses experienced by immigrant and refugee families; and/or
  9. special needs presented by chronic illnesses or handicapping conditions.
Note: Out-of-home placements can include, but are not limited to, placements in: kinship care, family foster care, psychiatric inpatient care, residential treatment, and juvenile justice facilities.

Note: Popular family preservation models include: 1) the crisis intervention model, 2) the home-based model, and 3) the family treatment model.

Note: The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) provides a set of “minimum federal standards,” which governs state child welfare proceedings involving American Indian and Alaska Native children. ICWA requires that active efforts be made to prevent removal or support reunification. Active efforts require affirmative, thorough, timely, and culturally responsive engagement with families to satisfy the case plan by accessing resources and services and partnering with the tribe. Family preservation services are just one option in a continuum of support services that may be provided to families to prevent removal or support reunification. Early consultation with children’s tribes is critical to ensuring that a full range of resources have been made available to the family and that active effort requirements are fulfilled. Organizations may work with tribal leadership, elders, religious figures, or professionals with expertise concerning the given tribe to determine culturally-responsive active efforts and identify culturally appropriate services for the family. 

While collaboration with federally recognized tribes is required by ICWA, organizations should reach out to tribal representatives when children have heritage in tribes that are not federally recognized as well. Tribes and Indian organizations serve as an important resource to local organizations working with American Indian and Alaska Native families. Tribes can facilitate families’ connections to their culture and tribal government, inform families and the organization of culturally relevant services available to them, act as an advocate for children and their families, and provide ongoing support and information throughout all aspects of service delivery.  Actively seeking tribal involvement is particularly important when tribes do not have the infrastructure to participate formally in the case or when the tribes are geographically distant from the family’s home and their participation is somewhat limited. 

The terms “American Indian and Alaska Native”, “Indian”, or “Native” are used interchangeably throughout the standards to refer to children or families who are members of federally recognized tribes and protected under ICWA as well as to agencies or organizations that belong to or advocate on behalf of tribes.

Note: Please see FPS Reference List for a list of resources that informed the development of these standards.

Family Preservation and Stabilization Services Narrative

Self-Study Evidence
    • Provide an overview of the different programs being accredited under this section. The overview should describe:
      1. the program's approach to delivering services;
      2. eligibility criteria;
      3. any unique or special services provided to specific populations; and
      4. major funding streams.
    • If elements of the service (e.g., assessments) are provided by contract with outside programs or through participation in a formal, coordinated service delivery system, provide a list that identifies the providers and the service components for which they are responsible. Do not include services provided by referral.
    • Provide any other information you would like the Peer Review Team to know about these programs.
    • A demographic profile of persons and families served by the programs being reviewed under this service section with percentages representing the following:
      1. racial and ethnic characteristics;
      2. gender/gender identity;
      3. age;
      4. major religious groups; and
      5. major language groups
    • As applicable, a list of groups or classes including, for each group or class:
      1. the type of group/class;
      2. whether the group/class is short-term or ongoing;
      3. how often the group/class is offered;
      4. the average number of participants per session of the group/class, in the last month; and
      5. the total number of participants in the group/class, in the last month
    • A list of any programs that were opened, merged with other programs or services, or closed
    • A list or description of program outcomes and outputs being measured
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