Boys Town In-Home Family Services (BT-IHFS)

About This Program

Target Population: Families with children ages 0-17 at-risk of out-of-home placement

For children/adolescents ages: 0 – 17

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 0 – 17

Program Overview

Boys Town In-Home Family Services (BT-IHFS) is an in-home parent skills-based service for parents/caregivers with children at-risk for involvement in the child welfare system or out-of-home placement. The program includes family engagement, assessment, service planning, parent and life skills training using an adapted version of Common Sense Parenting®, assisting with resources and supports, and case closure planning. BT-IHFS was developed to serve families with high caregiver strain, ineffective parenting strategies, difficulty accessing formal and informal supports, and children with significant emotional and behavioral needs. The BT-IHFS program has a hypothesized theory of change that starts with the provision of individualized, needs-driven services to families with a focus on building strong relationships through quick engagement interactions. The primary method is to provide coaching on parenting skills and connect the family to needed community resources or supports.

Program Goals

The goals of Boys Town In-Home Family Services® (BT-IHFS) are:

  • Achieving family safety, permanency, and well-being
  • Providing a safe home environment, with no immediate threat of danger to a child including no evidence of substantiated or unsubstantiated child maltreatment
  • Keeping the family together in their homes
  • Improving their family relationships and decreasing caregiver strain
  • Promoting healthy well-being and decreasing conduct and/or emotional problems in their children
  • Improving their family functioning that includes physical care of family members and socialization and education of children
  • Developing supports to maintain economic and housing stability

Logic Model

View the Logic Model for Boys Town In-Home Family Services (BT-IHFS).

Essential Components

The essential components of Boys Town In-Home Family Services® (BT-IHFS) include:

  • Trained Family Consultants work directly with family members to:
    • Identify existing strengths
    • Build on existing strengths
    • Solve problems that impact the safety, permanency, and well-being of their family
  • Teaching parenting skills by using an adaptation of the Common Sense Parenting® program:
    • Skills include:
      • Encouraging good behavior
      • Preventing problems
      • Correcting misbehavior
      • Setting tolerances
      • Using strategies to stay calm
    • Taught one-on-one by Family Consultants during weekly visits to the home through:
      • Providing skill instruction
      • Providing modeling Providing practice
      • Providing coaching
      • Giving assignments for the parents to complete with their children
  • Teaching family life skills during Family Consultants' weekly visits to the home:
    • Skills include:
      • Checking on child's school progress
      • Setting up a budget
      • Creating a family safety plan
    • Taught through:
      • Providing instruction
      • Providing modeling
      • Providing practice
      • Providing coaching
      • Giving assignments related to specific family needs
      • Customizing skills taught to the individual needs of each family
  • Increasing family resources and supports to help meet family needs through caregivers being encouraged to identify and connect with existing:
    • Informal supports including:
      • Friends
      • Family
      • Neighbors
    • Formal supports including:
      • School
      • Church
      • Community
    • Building strong partnerships with families by:
      • Providing individualized services:
        • Focused on parenting and family life skills
        • Specific skills chosen based on the strengths and needs of each family
      • Providing quick engagement interventions given by family consultants in order to:
        • Increase family engagement in services
        • Create momentum for substantial change
      • Promoting self-determination by:
        • Involving families in making their individual service plan
        • Having family share accountability for goal attainment
        • Encouraging self-advocacy and empowerment in families
      • Providing support by family consultants through:
        • Conducting scheduled weekly visits
        • Being available 24/7 to provide support and advice

Program Delivery

Child/Adolescent Services

Boys Town In-Home Family Services (BT-IHFS) directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

  • Children and adolescents at high risk of involvement in the child welfare system and/or out-of-home placement due to abuse/neglect, disruptive behaviors, internalizing disorders (e.g., anxiety, depression), and maladaptive home and school behaviors

Parent/Caregiver Services

Boys Town In-Home Family Services (BT-IHFS) directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Parents/caregivers of families that are at high risk of involvement in the child welfare system (e.g., abuse, neglect, dysfunctional family interactions, limited parenting skills, lacking access to community/financial resources or supports); parents of children at risk for out-of-home placement who have disruptive behaviors, internalizing disorders (e.g., anxiety, depression), and maladaptive home and school behaviors
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: Services include all of the members of the family in the home. In addition, supports may be coordinated with family members outside of the home, friends, teachers, etc.

Recommended Intensity:

One to two face-to-face contacts weekly for a total of 2-6 hours

Recommended Duration:

20 weeks (on average)

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Adoptive Home
  • Birth Family Home
  • Foster / Kinship Care


Boys Town In-Home Family Services (BT-IHFS) includes a homework component:

Families can be asked to complete homework assignments related to the parenting skills training, etc.


Boys Town In-Home Family Services (BT-IHFS) has materials available in a language other than English:


For information on which materials are available in this language, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

Family Consultants require personal transportation, cell phone, computer, and secure office work space for maintaining confidential files/program materials.

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

Family Consultants are required to have at least a bachelor's degree in the behavioral sciences or human services-related fields. Requirements can vary by state. For example, some states or contracts require Family Consultants to have a master's degree. Supervisors typically have prior experience as a Family Consultant.

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Program Manual(s)

Father Flanagan's Boys' Home. (2015). Boys Town In-Home Family Services program manual. Author.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:

Training for Family Consultants and supervisors is available onsite at Boys Town, Nebraska.

Number of days/hours:

Family Consultant training is five days, with an additional two days of training for supervisors on observing and developing staff, model fidelity, data collection and analysis, leadership, etc.

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Child Welfare Outcomes: Permanency and Child/Family Well-Being

Duppong Hurley, K., Lambert, M., Patwardhan, I., Ringle, J., Thompson, R., & Farley, J. (2020). Parental report of outcomes from a randomized trial of in-home family services. Journal of Family Psychology 34(1), 79–89.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 300


  • Age — Parents/Guardians: Younger than 31 years to older than 39 years; Children: 5–14 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Parents/Guardians: 70% White/Caucasian; Children: Not specified
  • Gender — Parents/Guardians: 90% Female; Children: 68% Male
  • Status — Participants were high-risk families recruited from a state helpline for families struggling with child emotional or behavioral issues.

Location/Institution: United States

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
The purpose of the study was to examine the efficacy of the Boys Town In-Home Family Services (BT-IHFS) program for families of high-risk youth. Participants were randomly assigned to either BT-IHFS or to the services as usual comparison group. Measures utilized include the Caregiver Strain Questionnaire (CGSQ), the Family Assessment Device (FAD), the Alabama Parenting Questionnaire (APQ), the Parenting Scale (PS), the Family Resource Scale (FRS,) and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Results indicate that four main effects were significant at the .05 per-test alpha level: caregiver strain (CGSQ), parenting (PS), child behavior (SDQ), and the money and time subscale of the FRS. However, only caregiver strain was statistically significant after applying a conservative family-wise correction for multiple tests. During the maintenance phase, there were no significant differences between the BT-IHFS and comparison groups, aside from caregiver strain that showed a significant improvement for the comparison condition. Limitations include the reliance on self-reported measures.

Length of controlled postintervention follow-up: 6 and 12 months.

Additional References

Ingram, S. D., Cash, S. J., Oats, R. G., Simpson, A., & Thompson, R. W. (2015). Development of an evidence-informed in-home family services model for families and children at-risk of abuse and neglect. Child & Family Social Work, 20(2), 139–148.

Thompson, R., & Koley, S. (2014). Engaging families in in-home family intervention. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 23(2), 19–22.

Spielberger, J., Scannell, M., & Harden, A. (2010). Characteristics and outcomes of children served by the Boys Town South Florida family centered services program, 2004–2009. Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.

Contact Information

Susan Lamke, MS
Title: Director of National Training
Agency/Affiliation: Boys Town
Phone: (531) 355-1477

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: January 2024

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: November 2020

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: December 2020