Although the literature has provided many critiques of research done on family preservation programs, these critiques have usually been limited to the studies ' assumptions, approach, or methodology. Because of the nature of these critiques, suggestions for future research in this field of practice have been scattered throughout the literature and have not benefited from a wider historical perspective.

This paper examines the historical evolution of family preservation studies in child welfare and suggests future directions for research in the field. Among the suggestions the authors posit are (1) research questions should be framed by what we know about improvements in the lives of families and children served by family preservation programs; (2) future explorations should include areas that have received relatively little attention in current research, including the impact of organizational conditions on service fidelity and worker performance; (3) newer treatment models, particularly those that provide both intensive services during a crisis period and less intensive services for maintenance, should be tested; (4) data collection points in longitudinal studies should be guided by theory, and measures should change over time to reflect the theoretically expected changes in families; (5) complex measures of placement prevention and other measures that capture changes in family functioning, child well-being, and child safety, should be utilized to obtain a full picture of program effects; and (6) multiple informants should be used to provide data about program effectiveness. In addition, the authors will argue that the field should carefully consider the amount of change that should be expected from the service models delivered.