Document Type


Publication Date



Evidence-Based Nebraska.

Family Support programs are prevention-focused efforts that seek to improve upon family function and communication through referrals and interactions with youth and families in Nebraska. Youth and families are referred for various reasons and community-based programs respond to these youth and family needs in a variety of ways, depending upon their individual needs and involve organizations throughout the community as needed. Through interviews with Family Support staff and directors, we learned that programs take different approaches to providing services to youth and families that are individualized to address emergent issues. Youth and families are commonly referred to the program due to behavioral concerns at home and school, poor school attendance behavior, mental health issues, and substance use. Referrals often come from probation and/or diversion, police department missing youth reports, and from schools or by word of mouth. Caseloads vary by program and most report having contact with one to four youth/families, two to three times a week. Most programs, 71%, use a risk assessment or screening tool to help assess youth and family needs to facilitate case planning. Further, program staff discussed challenges related to parent and youth participation (e.g., program engagement) and household constraints (e.g., transportation, supervision) as barriers to service delivery. Twelve out of 29 programs had sufficient cases to examine outcomes (at least 80% of their cases were discharged). Of these, there were high rates of youth successfully completing the program (or a neutral discharge, such as transferring schools). Nine of these 12 programs had sufficient data to examine either family function, family communication, or both (at least 80% of the data were complete and the sample size was greater than one), Family Support appears to be most successful for improving family function from intake to discharge (three programs improved scores), with slightly less success at improving family communication scores from intake to discharge (two programs improved scores). When examining future system involvement for the twelve programs we found that few youth has new status offense court filings, law violations, and detainment in a secure or staff secure facility following discharge from programming. Overall, 1.5% (n = 9) of youth had a new status offense court filing within one year after leaving a program, ranging from 0% - 8.3%. Slightly more, 5.4% (n = 33) had a new law violation within one year from program discharge, with a range of 0% - 25%. An overall total of 32 youth from this sample were detained in a facility following discharge from a program (5.2%), ranging from 0% - 40%.