Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare

Mental Health In-home Parent Skill-Based Does Not Currently Meet Criteria

Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare (FFT-CW®) is an adaptation of Functional Family Therapy (FFT) designed to serve families with children age 18 or younger referred to child welfare services. FFT-CW aims to improve child and family outcomes and keep families together by offering a continuum of services tailored to individual family needs. Families receive one of two levels of services based on a preliminary risk assessment at program intake. Families can move between levels of services if later assessments indicate that risk factors have changed. An agency can choose to implement only one track based on the needs of the population they plan to serve. 


Families assessed as high-risk receive a developmentally-adapted FFT intervention with enhanced behavioral and mental health targets delivered in five phases by a trained clinical therapist. The first three phases focus on increasing engagement, building motivation for change, and understanding relational patterns. The next phase focuses on behavior change and identifying and addressing family needs. The final phase helps families generalize these behavior changes to their everyday lives and to contexts outside the immediate family. For families with younger children, program content is more parent-driven, focusing on building skills for creating a family context in which children can flourish. For families with adolescents, program content focuses on how problem behaviors can motivate families to engage in change.  


Families assessed as low-risk receive a comprehensive case management intervention that trained “interventionists" (i.e., case managers) deliver in three phases. In the first phase, interventionists focus on increasing family engagement with the program and increasing the families’ motivation for change. In the next phase, interventionists provide support to families and connect them with community programs and resources. In the final phase, interventionists help families generalize changes they have made while taking part in the program to their everyday lives and to contexts outside of the immediate family. 


Across both levels of services, families are supported by a treatment team that includes the interventionist or therapist as well as a clinical supervisor who provides ongoing supervision and training. Other team members can include recruitment/intake workers and family resource specialists to help with referrals. The treatment team for the high-risk intervention should have plans to access a clinical psychiatrist who can provide as-needed psychiatric assessments, treatment planning, medication management, referrals, and therapy services. 

FFT-CW does not currently meet criteria to receive a rating because no studies met eligibility criteria for review.

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed: Sep 2022


The program or service description, target population, and program or service delivery and implementation information were informed by the following sources: the program or service manual, the program or service developer’s website, the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare, and the studies reviewed.

This information does not necessarily represent the views of the program or service developers. For more information on how this program or service was reviewed, visit the Review Process page or download the Handbook.

Target Population

FFT-CW is designed to serve families with children age 18 or younger who have been referred to child welfare services for indicated or suspected child abuse or neglect. 


FFT-CW services typically last about 6 months.

Location/Delivery Setting
Recommended Locations/Delivery Settings

FFT-CW is typically delivered in clinical or home settings. It can also be delivered in community settings. 

Education, Certifications and Training

Trained interventionists who have at least a bachelor’s degree deliver the FFT-CW low-risk intervention. Trained master’s level therapists deliver the FFT-CW high-risk intervention. FFT interventionists and therapists receive supervision from master’s or doctoral level clinical supervisors who have been trained in low and high-risk model-specific protocols, respectively. All FFT-CW high-risk treatment teams should have plans for accessing a psychiatrist with experience in both adult psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry. FFT-CW treatment teams are recommended, but not required, to include (1) recruitment/intake workers who conduct eligibility and risk assessments and (2) a family resource specialist who keeps an up-to-date community resource database and gives resource information to interventionists and therapists. 

FFT-CW interventionists, therapists, and clinical supervisors must be part of an FFT-CW certified site and must receive training in FFT-CW from FFT-LLC. Organizations interested in becoming an FFT-CW site must first complete a certification application and receive approval. Training then occurs in three phases. The first phase is a clinical training focused on the core intervention model and use of the clinical services system. Clinical training is typically conducted in groups of 3–8 providers, with separate groups for interventionists and therapists. The second phase is supervision training, which takes place over the course of a year. During this phase, a member of the team trains to be the onsite supervisor by taking part in an initial intensive training, monthly phone consultations, and a 1-day follow-up training. The third phase, maintenance, includes annual training activities and consultation services that are required for a site to remain certified. 

Program or Service Documentation
Book/Manual/Available documentation used for review

Alexander, J. F., Niermann, A., Neeb, A., Kopp, D., Demaranville, H., Hollimon, A., & Robbins, M. S. (2011). Section 2: Functional Family Therapy Child Welfare. FFT LLC.  

Available languages

FFT-CW materials are available in English.

Other supporting materials

FFT-LLC FFT-CW Training Information

For More Information


Phone: (206) 369-5894 

Contact form:

Note: The details on Dosage; Location; Education, Certifications, and Training; Other Supporting Materials; and For More Information sections above are provided to website users for informational purposes only. This information is not exhaustive and may be subject to change.

Results of Search and Review Number of Studies Identified and Reviewed for Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare
Identified in Search 1
Eligible for Review 0
Rated High 0
Rated Moderate 0
Rated Low 0
Reviewed Only for Risk of Harm 0
Sometimes study results are reported in more than one document, or a single document reports results from multiple studies. Studies are identified below by their Prevention Services Clearinghouse study identification numbers. To receive a rating of supported or well-supported, the favorable evidence for a program or service must have been obtained from research conducted in a usual care or practice setting.

Studies Not Eligible for Review

Study 10078

Turner, C. W., Robbins, M. S., Rowlands, S., & Weaver, L. R. (2017). Summary of comparison between FFT-CW and usual care sample from Administration for Children's Services. Child Abuse & Neglect, 69, 85-95.

This study is ineligible for review because it is not a study of the program or service under review (Study Eligibility Criterion 4.1.6).