The Shifting Policy Impact of Intensive Family Preservation Services
This report traces the evolution and impact of Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS) on state and national policy over the past twenty years. In this relatively short period, IFPS has been-often simultaneously-a cutting-edge service for families in crisis, a major policy direction for innovative state child welfare agencies, the focal point of national child welfare legislation, and the subject of fierce and partisan debate about the future directions for the child welfare field. The IFPS story is complex because its impact varies across the many jurisdictions at the county, state, and federal levels, and because it is still evolving. Although IFPS has achieved a remarkable prominence in a relatively short period, it has not transformed child welfare services as some of its pioneers had envisioned. Several conclusions can be drawn about the status of family preservation's impact on the nation's child welfare system. Family preservation services have created and confirmed a now-widespread professional belief that intensive interventions can make a positive difference to families. Even as the momentum behind family preservation services has slowed, it is now part of a larger array of services that is developed more integrally with local communities and neighborhoods. This approach may provide a refuge from the polarizing and fruitless debate between protecting children and strengthening families.