Standards for private organizations

2020 Edition

Family Preservation and Stabilization Services Definition

Purpose

Family Preservation and Stabilization Services improve family functioning, increase child and family well-being, ensure child safety, reduce the need for CPS intervention, prevent the separation of children from their families, and ease the transition to reunification following a separation. 

Definition

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. Services should only be provided when children can remain in or return to the home without compromising the safety of any family or community member. 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 of this section is on keeping children with their biological families, family preservation services can also be used to stabilize foster and adoptive placements to prevent re-entry to service systems and facilities.

Interpretation

Organizations should be familiar with the relevant legal requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which governs child welfare proceedings involving American Indian and Alaska Native children in state child welfare systems and requires active efforts be made to prevent removal or support reunification. Family preservation services are one option in a continuum of support services that may be provided to families, and early consultation with children’s tribes is critical to ensuring that a full range of culturally-relevant resources have been made available to families and that active effort requirements are fulfilled.
2020 Edition

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Examples: Families may be 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.

Out-of-home placements may include, but are not limited to, placements in: kinship care, family foster care, psychiatric inpatient care, residential treatment, and juvenile justice facilities.

Popular family preservation models include: the crisis intervention model, the home-based model, and the family treatment model.
Note: Please see FPS Reference List for the research that informed the development of these standards.