Intensive Family Preservation Services to prevent out-of-home placement of children: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Zoe Bezeczky, Asmaa El-Banna, Stavros Petrou, Alison Kemp, Jonathan Scourfield, Donald Forrester, Ulugbek B. Nurmatov - Child Abuse & Neglect



Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS) are in-home crisis intervention services designed to help families with children at imminent risk of out-of-home placement.


To assess the evidence of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of IFPS in reducing the need for children to enter out-of-home care.

Participants and setting

Children <18 years and their families in the home setting.


A systematic review and meta-analysis was carried out by searching 12 databases and 16 websites for publications up to January 2019.


1948 potentially relevant papers were identified, of which 37 papers, relating to 33 studies, met our inclusion criteria. Studies reported outcomes at child or family level. There were significant reductions in relative risk (RR) of out-of-home placements in children who received IFPS compared with controls at child level at three, six, 12 and 24 months’ follow-up (RR 0.57, 95 % CI 0.35 to 0.93, RR 0.51, 95 % CI 0.27 to 0.96, RR 0.60, 95 % CI 0.48 to 0.76, RR 0.51, 95 % CI 0.30 to 0.87 respectively). At family level, there was not a significant reduction in RR of placement. Economic evidence was limited to cost analyses or cost-cost offset analyses.


The available evidence, at child level, suggests that IFPS are effective in preventing children from entering care up to 24 months after the intervention. Placement outcomes reported at family level did not demonstrate a significant reduction in out-of-home placements. The economic analyses suggest that IFPS could be cost-saving; however, evidence of cost-effectiveness generated by full economic evaluations is needed.