Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does FPS advocate allowing a child to remain in the home when the child's safety is at risk?
No. A referral is made to FPS by Child Protective Services (CPS), only when CPS has found that, although the child may be at imminent risk of placement, intensive work with the family can reduce that risk and improve the family's ability to stay together. Throughout the service period the FPS worker, along with the family and other helpers, will continue to monitor for safety.
2. What factors does an FPS practitioner consider in assessing the safety of a child in his/her home?
The FPS worker considers the child's age, the severity and frequency of abuse or neglect, previous history of abuse or neglect, stresses within the household and the caregiver's intellectual and emotional capacities. Other factors include: the family support system, the likelihood of cooperation by family members, the immediacy of the risk of maltreatment and its likely recurrence.
Some home environments are simply too threatening to the welfare of the child. FPS is concerned not only with the physical safety of the child in the home, but also with his/her emotional well-being. Therefore, the FPS practitioner weighs the potential harm of a child remaining in the home with the potential psychological damage of separating the child from his/her family.
3. What if a child needs to be placed in out-of-home care?
At no time does FPS advocate keeping the child in a home in which safety cannot be maintained. Because the FPS practitioner is able to spend so much time with the client family, the practitioner learns a great deal about the family's strengths as well as potentials for harm. In some cases, a placement is recommended as a result of this intensive assessment. But placement of the child is not considered a "failure" of the intervention or of the family when it is done to protect the child. In the case that a child is recommended for placement and the family has been receiving FPS, the family members are often more prepared to work toward reunification or toward another plan for the child. Also, the children as well as the adults who remain in the home after a child has been placed, benefit from the FPS services provided, which can prevent the placement of other children.
4. What is the focus of the FPS intervention?
Usually, the FPS practitioner begins his/her services by identifying the family's concrete needs (e.g., housing, food, health care), which if not met, could result in a disruption for the family. After adequately addressing these needs by linking the family to resources within the community and utilizing FPS discretionary funds, the practitioner can then build upon the trust developed and focus on other concerns, such as the crisis that brought the family to the attention of FPS. Some other areas of focus include: improving parenting skills, the quality of family relationships and communication patterns, enhancing the family's ability to connect to community services, and addressing the behaviors that interfere with successful parenting.
5. What if a family cannot be sufficiently helped in a period of four to twelve weeks?
Realistic goals are established at the beginning of the service period and can be modified during the service period. Rather than seeking to "cure" all of the family's concerns, FPS is designed to empower a family to identify its own strengths and enable it to learn the skills necessary for daily living, coping with crises and achieving goals. Before closing a client family's case, the practitioner will ensure that the family is connected with follow-up services appropriate to its needs.
6. Do families become too dependent on their FPS practitioner and unable to function when the worker leaves?
No. From the first visit, the FPS worker informs the family members that he/she is working with them temporarily to enable them to become more independent. Instead of doing things for the family, FPS empowers family members to do things for themselves. The practitioner helps the family to identify strengths, to build parenting and daily living skills, and to create a supportive network to help maintain stability.
7. What families are most likely to benefit from FPS?
Families in which one or more children are at imminent risk of placement or in which a child has been removed from the home and reunification is planned, are most likely to be referred to FPS. To be eligible for FPS, the family must be deemed a safe place for its members as well as the FPS practitioner. Those families that are committed to solving their problems and staying together are most likely to benefit from FPS.
8. Are there families who should not receive FPS?
If the safety of a child within the home cannot be ensured with the additional support and monitoring of FPS, the family should not receive FPS. Also, if there is no serious risk of placement or less intensive services are appropriate, the family should be helped to obtain those supports and services.
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