Intensive Family Preservation Programmes (IFPP)

Topic Status Complete

Intensive Family Preservation Programmes (IFPP) for families in crisis, where there is an imminent risk of out-of-home placement or children entering care

Outcome of the appraisal


The evidence supports the adoption of intensive family preservation programmes for families in crisis.

The use of intensive family preservation programmes reduces the risk of out of home child placement. Parent and children’s perspectives support the view that intensive family preservation programmes are beneficial and can address crises that may risk a child needing to enter care. While the evidence leaves some uncertainty about the impact of this on children’s emotional and behavioural wellbeing, there appears to be no evidence of harm.

The economic analysis is associated with uncertainty but indicates the potential for cost savings of up to £12,171 per child through the use of intensive family preservation programmes due to the avoidance of out-of-home placements.

Why was this topic appraised?


Children and young people in Wales have a right in law to be safe, play, have an education and be healthy and happy. For most children, the family environment is a place where they can thrive. Some children, however, are at risk of suffering harm within their families due to abuse and maltreatment. Where there are concerns about a child’s welfare, children’s services may need to intervene, and whilst they will aim to keep children in the family environment, they may need to remove them for their safety. Targeted interventions may help to resolve crises and allow children to stay within their family environment rather than enter care.

Intensive family preservations programmes (IFPPs) are short-term, intensive interventions which are utilised during a period of crisis when there is an imminent risk of a child entering care. They aim to resolve crises by providing direct support to a family by improving skills and resilience and indirect support through linking families to additional services.

This topic was proposed by Jonathan Scourfield, Professor of Social Work at Cardiff University, also based at Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre.

Plain language summary


Child maltreatment has a profoundly negative impact on children’s wellbeing. It can have long lasting effects on the child’s social, emotional, and mental development. If social services believe that a child is at risk of suffering significant harm, they may need to take the child into care. However, where it is safe to do so, social services can support the child to stay at home. Specific help can be provided to the family to improve their situation and keep the family together.

Intensive family preservation programmes are aimed at families in crisis. They are short term and provide in-depth support. The programmes help families to address the problems that they are facing. If there is improvement, the risk of harm to the child reduces. This means that they no longer face the possibility of being removed from the home.

During the intervention, a professional works closely with a family to assess their needs.  A range of approaches are used to help families develop skills and address issues that may be driving the crisis. These issues can be related to drugs and alcohol, as well as others. Intensive family preservation programmes can have specific names. In Wales, there is the program “Option 2”.

While intensive family preservation programmes are in use in Wales, there are some concerns that they are not intensive enough.  It is unclear if they reach all families in crisis. While they are currently available for families with drug and alcohol problems, they may benefit a wider group of people.

Health Technology Wales looked for evidence on whether intensive family preservation programmes are able to keep families together and improve the wellbeing of children and their parents. The evidence supports the adoption of intensive family preservation programmes for families in crisis.

Topic Exploration Report

TER347 04.2020

Evidence Appraisal Review

EAR046 03.2024


GUI046 03.2023

View PDF

Due to publication delays, an update search was conducted in January 2024 to identify any new evidence published after the topic was reviewed by the Appraisal Panel in March 2023. No new studies were found that would change the evidence included in the Evidence Appraisal Report (EAR) or affect the Appraisal Panel’s guidance.

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