Family Preservation and Family Support Services Program (FP/FS), 1994-2002

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Project Overview

The purpose of the Family Preservation and Family Support (FP/FS) Services Implementation study was to evaluate how states and communities implemented the FP/FS program, the ways in which program implementation altered the pre-existing service delivery system, and the effects this had on service delivery.

In 1993, title IV-B, subpart 2 was created within the Social Security Act to provide funding specifically dedicated to child welfare preventive services. Originally named the Family Preservation and Family Support (FP/FS) Services program, the program’s scope was expanded in 1997 and was reauthorized as the Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) program.

The primary goals of Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) are to prevent the unnecessary separation of children from their families, improve the quality of care and services to children and their families, and ensure permanency for children by reuniting them with their parents, by adoption or by another permanent living arrangement. The programs include: family support, family preservation, time-limited family reunification and adoption promotion and support services.

The services are designed to help State child welfare agencies and eligible Indian tribes establish and operate integrated, preventive family preservation services and community-based family support services for families at risk or in crisis. Most grant funds go directly to State governments or certain eligible Indian tribes for expenditure in accordance with their 5-year plans. Other grant funds are set aside for nationally-funded evaluation, research, and training and technical assistance projects. In addition, State courts receive grants to improve foster care and adoption proceedings.

PSSF services are based on several key principles. The welfare and safety of children and of all family members should be maintained while strengthening and preserving the family. It is advantageous for the family as a whole to receive services which identify and enhance its strengths while meeting individual and family needs. Services should be easily accessible, often delivered in the home or in community-based settings, and they should respect cultural and community differences. In addition, they should be flexible, responsive to real family needs, and linked to other supports and services outside the child welfare system. Services should involve community organizations and residents, including parents, in their design and delivery. They should be intensive enough to keep children safe and meet family needs, varying between preventive and crisis services.

The study involved: (1) a review and analysis of the applications, five-year state plans and annual reports submitted by each of the 50 states; and (2) in-depth case studies of 35 individual states’ and communities’ implementation of the program. To collect information for this component, on-site visits to 14 states and 21 communities were conducted between 1995 and 2001 and discussions were held with stakeholders knowledgeable of all aspects of planning, implementation and program operation.

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