The Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) has received national recognition for its Indiana Family Preservation Services program, which provides in-home support to strengthen families and improve outcomes while reducing the number of children entering the foster care system.

The program, which launched in June 2020, has been designated a promising practice by the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare. The program also was highlighted as an example of how new approaches to child welfare practice can enhance child and family well-being in an April report by the Christensen Institute. On Wednesday, David Reed, MSW, LCSW, CSAYC, deputy director for child welfare services at DCS, spoke about the program’s positive impact before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance.

The Indiana Family Preservation Services program is designed to keep children in their home when it is safe to do so. It achieves this goal by helping families understand and implement best practices for parental resilience, child development and social connectedness. The program also can provide other support, such as financial assistance, when not doing so would result in children having to enter foster care. Most importantly, all services are coordinated by a single provider, easing the administrative burden on families by working with a single point of contact.

“Entering foster care and being separated from family is traumatic for children,” Reed said. “When we can provide the support that allows children to remain safely at home, we see vastly improved outcomes and healthier relationships over the long term.”

Reed noted that the program has resulted in children being safer, with fewer children experiencing repeated maltreatment than before its launch.

Additionally, since the federal Family First Prevention Services Act passed in 2018, DCS has:

  • Reduced the number of children in traditional out-of-home foster care by 50 percent
  • Reduced the number of children in residential facilities by more than 50 percent

The Indiana Family Preservation Services program has played a critical role in those outcomes.

Since its inception, Indiana Family Preservation Services has served more than 27,000 children and 14,000 families.