Prevention. Intervention. Respect.
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Intensive Family-Based Support Services For Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Children And Families

Intensive Family Based Services (IFBS)

The Intensive Family Based Services (IFBS) program, reflecting key features of the US Homebuliders model, offers intensive, time-limited, and home-based support for Aboriginal families in crisis where children are at risk of entering out-of-home care or are currently in care and a restoration plan is in place.

"The Intensive Family Based Services (IFBS) program began in 1994 and offers intensive, time-limited, home-based support for Aboriginal families in crisis where children are at risk of entering out-of-home care or are currently in care and a restoration plan is in place. The program reflects key features of the US Homebuilders model in that:

  • It is delivered in the home
  • It is intensive
  • Caseworkers are available 24/7
  • It is time-limited to 12 weeks (in contrast to the Homebuilders model of 4 – 6 weeks)
  • A mix of concrete and clinical services is provided
  • Low caseloads for workers (Leahy et al., 2008)

Services work intensively over a short period of time (up to three months) with families referred by Community Services Centers. IFBS is offered where "an assessment is made that there is a reasonable prospect of improvement within the family with the right kind of targeted support." The primary focus of the service is the safety, welfare and well-being of the child and/or young person. IFBS caseworkers work with families to improve life skills, parenting capacities, coping abilities and problem solving. Families are also linked up with appropriate community and service supports both during and after the intervention."

Retrieved from


Charlotte Booth, Executive Director

Institute for Family Development

34004 16th Avenue South, Suite 200

Federal Way WA 98003

(253) 874.3630


Evaluation for the program appears in Tilbury, C. (2012). Intensive family-basedsupport services for aboriginal and torres strait islander children and families: A background paper. Retrieved from

 “The program was evaluated in 2008 when there were six Aboriginal community organisations funded under IFBS. Positive results were found in relation to reduced child protection reports (both 6 and 12 months post-intervention), including for families where parents experienced drug and alcohol and mental health problems; and better reunification rates. The evaluation found that the program benefits outweighed costs by a ratio of 1:9. The evaluation suggested that (1) enhanced referral processes and (2) post-intervention support should be considered to enhance program delivery (Leahy et al., 2008).” (p. 9)

“An evaluation was undertaken by the New South Wales Department of Community Services in 2008 of the Intensive Family Based Service (IFBS) for Aboriginal families. This is the only evaluation of intensive family services in Australia that has been located. Results of the evaluation were positive (see section 4). This evaluation is highly relevant to this project, as the service design was evidence-based (drawing from Homebuilders) and the services were provided specifically for Aboriginal families.” (p. 13)


Promising, not adapted
  • Child
  • Family
  • Child disability
  • Child temperament or behavior
  • Exposure to conflict or violence (family or otherwise)
  • History of child abuse and neglect/Use of corporal punishment
  • Lack of access to prenatal support/Lack of social or parental pregnancy support
  • Low birth weight
  • Mental health problems
  • Pregnancy or birth complications
  • Substance abuse
  • Access to health and social services
  • Attachment to parent(s)
  • Concrete support for parents
  • Positive social connection and support
  • Social and emotional competence
  • Access to services
  • Cultural identity/sense of belonging to cultural group
  • Family commitment, safe and healthy relationships
  • Hope/looking forward/optimism
  • Support (family, friends, community)/interdependence