Evaluation of Family Preservation and Reunification Programs: Final Report
Chapin Hall Center for Children
James Bell Associates
Washington, DC: Department of Health and Human Services
April 2002, 221 pages
Presents a comparative analysis of three Homebuilder Family preservation programs in Kentucky, New Jersey, and Tennessee with a broader, home-based family preservation service model in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Homebuilder Model, created in Tacoma, Washington in 1974, initiates contact with the family in crisis within 24 hours, limits caseload size to one or two families per worker, and provides up to 20 hours of counseling services for four to six weeks. The broader, home-based model used in Philadelphia stresses longer-term interventions with 12 weeks of service, focuses on drug and alcohol abuse, provides concrete services and counseling, and maintains caseloads of five families per worker. Each program uses an experimental group of caseworkers using the family preservation programs and a control group of caseworkers. This evaluation fails to provide statistical evidence that family preservation programs have more than minimal benefit to improved family or child functioning. However,intense and short-term service programs may meet the needs of some families entering the child welfare system and can be useful tools in the array of possible options for treatment. Specialization of services for type of problem (substance abuse) or client characteristics (young isolated mothers) may offer another avenue to increase positive results. The approach of developing a series of small, targeted programs may prove more effective than a single, large effort.