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Keeping Families Together with the Teaching-Family Model

Many Teaching-Family Association accredited agencies use the Teaching-Family Model (TFM) in keeping families together via an in-home service delivery. With the passage of the Family First Act, these home-based prevention services using the TFM would qualify for federal funding and work to keep children in the family home and out of the foster care system.

Researchers continue to explore the effectiveness of in-home Teaching-Family Model services designed to strengthen families at Boys Town, with the collaboration of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and at Utah Youth Village through their Families First services.

Northern Family Intervention Services, Inc. (NFIS) in Michigan also provides in-home services using the TFM. Years of outcomes data from NFIS provides insight into what research will show once completed.

Keeping Families Together at NFIS

Using the Teaching-Family Model, trained and certified family specialists strengthen families’ skills and relationships. These specialists meet with a family weekly to several times per week over three to twelve months. The home-based and wraparound services provided offer parent education, behavioral support and connection to community supports. Fundamentally, the specialists help the family meet their needs.

Keeping Families TogetherDuring a period from 2009 to 2014, the agency served 706 families in northern Michigan. 92 percent of children served in these homes remained at home through to the end of services. Youth experienced an average reduction in standardized CAFAS scores—measuring day-to-day functioning—of an impressive 27 points from the beginning to the end of services.

Youth and parents both experience very high satisfaction with the services provided. NFIS received detailed feedback from 80 percent of families served during this time. Parent and youth satisfaction scores averaged 3.8 and 3.9, respectively, on a scale of four.

One Case StudyPerhaps most telling, however, is a one-county case study with families at-risk for involvement in the juvenile justice system. In this context, NFIS services resulted in a reduction of short-term detention stays of 77 percent. Post-treatment, 100 percent of families demonstrated improved standardized AAPI parenting scores in the moderate to low risk range.

Return on investment also sets Teaching-Family Model in-home services apart. This case study achieved a return on investment for the county of 89 percent. The Washington State Institute for Public Policy reported similar programs using home-based components and behavioral skill teaching, such as Triple-P Parenting and HomeBuilders, as having lower returns on investment between 79 and 84 percent.

Teaching-Family Model a “Model” Program

Boasting excellent results like these from NFIS and other agencies, plus a soon-to-be deepened evidence base, the Teaching-Family Model is a model program for keeping families together and children out of the foster care system.

The TFM provides positive, strengths-based, trauma-informed and skill-building behavioral interventions and systems for quality assurance across a continuum of care—allowing an organization to efficiently meet local needs from in-home services to treatment foster care or quality, family-style group homes. Recent research into Teaching-Family Model group homes showed “significantly better outcomes” for youth post-discharge.

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