A Synthesis of Research on Family Preservation and Family Reunification Programs. Family Preservation


As indicated in the companion paper on current family preservation programs, one of the most striking features of these efforts is their diversity. They vary on a number of dimensions, including the extent to which the focus is on placement prevention versus other goals, such as the improvement of family functioning.2 There is also variation in the intensity and duration of services provided to families and in adherence to various "models" of family preservation.3 One criticism of the research in this area is that it has not adequately encompassed this diversity. In this section, we review research on the effects of intensive, in-home services programs in which placement prevention was either the primary goal or one of several objectives. Since the central concern of family preservation programs has been the prevention of placement, this has been a major focus of evaluations. We begin with an examination of what is known about the placement prevention effects of programs.4

2 For example, the prevention of placement was the primary objective in programs studied by Yuan, McDonald, Wheeler, Struckman-Johnson, and Rivest (1990); Feldman (1991); Fraser, Pecora, and Haapala (1991); Schwartz, AuClaire, and Harris (1991); and Schuerman, Rzepnicki, and Littell (1994). The program described by Jones, Neuman, and Shyne (1976) emphasized placement prevention and other goals. Placement prevention was not a primary goal in the Family Support Project in Los Angeles (Meezan and McCroskey 1993).

3 For descriptions of various models, see Nelson, Landsman, and Deutelman (1990) and Cimmarusti (1992).

4 Much of the material in this section is a revision of material in Schuerman, Rzepnicki, and Littell (1994).