- Family support services are community-based services that assist and support parents in their role as caregivers. Family support services promote parental competency and healthy child development by helping parents enhance their strengths and resolve problems that can lead to child maltreatment, developmental delays, and family disruption.
- Family preservation services are short-term services designed to help families cope with significant stresses or problems that interfere with their ability to nurture their children. The goal of family preservation services is to maintain children with their families, or to reunify them, whenever it can be done safely.
Family support and preservation services may be provided to different types of families involved with the child welfare system–birth or biological families, kinship families, foster families, and adoptive families–to enhance family functioning and ensure child safety. In family support and preservation services, the worker assists the family in identifying strengths, needs, and current resources in order to create a plan to address their concerns and help them achieve their goals. Assessment is incorporated throughout the process and may take a number of different forms, but always with the family as partners in the process.
The following resources provide an introduction to the field of family support and preservation services.
CWLA Standards of Excellence for Services to Strengthen and Preserve Families With Children
Child Welfare League of America (2003)
Describes the services and supports that should be available to all families, emphasizing three service strategies: family resource, support, and education; family-centered casework; and intensive family-centered crisis services.
California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare
Rates the effectiveness of programs to preserve, support, and stabilize families in crisis or at risk of child removal.
Family Strengthening Writ Large: On Becoming a Nation That Promotes Strong Families and Successful Youth (PDF - 659 KB)
National Human Services Assembly, Family Strengthening Policy Center (2007)
Offers a high-level synthesis of research and suggests broad strategies for changing America's culture to better promote nurturing family relationships, family financial stability, and positive connections.
National Family Preservation Network
Offers research-based tools, training resources, and technical assistance to public and private child- and family-serving agencies in the areas of family preservation, reunification, and fatherhood.
National Resource Center for In-Home Services
Provides training and technical assistance to States and Tribes to ensure the safety and well-being of children and youth in their homes; prevent their initial placement or reentry into foster care; and preserve, support, and stabilize their families.
Child Welfare Information Gateway;Children's Bureau;FRIENDS National Resource Center For Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention
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Center for the Study of Social Policy
Describes a framework for increasing family strengths and enhancing child development by helping parents build protective factors in their lives and communities. The website offers resources for planning and implementation, community partnership development, research and evaluation, and more.