IFPS is Effective with Older Youth

Several years ago, the National Family Preservation Network, in association with Dr. Ray Kirk and the National Alliance to End Homelessness, conducted research on the use of IFPS with older youth.

Two agencies provided data on IFPS services to older youth with one of the agencies providing comparative data for younger children. Older youth were defined as ages 12–17 while younger children were defined as ages 0–11.

The major findings of the study:

  • IFPS services were highly effective with older youth for both placement prevention services and reunification. The difference in outcomes for older youth vs. younger children was very small:
    Younger Children Older Youth
    Placement Prevention Success Rate 88% 92%
    Reunification Rate 97% 92%
  • Older youth were more likely to be female and had significantly higher rates of physical and sexual abuse than younger children, as well as family conflict. Other issues much more prevalent in older youth than younger children included adoption disruption, behavior problems, delinquency, child-centered violence, school problems, mental health problems, and substance abuse. All of these issues were effectively addressed in terms of preserving the placement or reunifying the older youth with their families.
  • The NCFAS and the NCFAS-R assessment tools were found to be reliable for use with both the older youth and younger children. This is critical because the tools measure over 40 factors of family functioning that affect youth and their families and are used in a wide variety of youth- and family-serving systems.
  • Despite having many more presenting problems than younger children, older youth and their families made just as much progress as younger children and their families on all measures of family functioning with one exception. That exception was the area of child well-being which includes the factors of mental health, child’s behavior, school performance, relationship with caregivers, relationship with siblings, and relationship with peers. Since these factors are child-focused, rather than parent-focused, and tend to reflect the older youth’s desire for independence and ability to make choices, including bad choices, less progress in this area is perhaps understandable. In any event, somewhat less progress in the area of child well-being did not adversely affect the overall positive outcomes for older youth.
  • Early IFPS programs served primarily older youth and we are now coming full circle to realizing that IFPS is still an excellent resource for adolescents.

To view the Older Youth Research Report, visit:

Posted by Priscilla Martens, NFPN Executive Director