WHO IS ACCREDITED?

Private Organization Accreditation

White's Residential & Family Services is Indiana's largest social services agency offering accredited and comprehensive residential, foster care, independent living, adoption, and home-based services.
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VOLUNTEER TESTIMONIAL

Bonnie Bagley

Volunteer Roles: Evaluator; Lead Evaluator; Peer Reviewer; Team Leader

I have found that being a COA Volunteer builds my professional skills and experience in ways that more traditional workshops do not. The opportunity to learn about best practices through the COA standards and then see how agencies implement them is truly a growth experience.
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Purpose

Child and Family Services promote child and family well-being, protect children’s safety, stablilize and strengthen families, and ensure permanency.

PA-CFS 7: Comprehensive Family Assessment

Children and families are engaged in an individualized, strengths-based, and culturally responsive comprehensive assessment process that guides agency support, services, and permanency planning.

Interpretation: In addition to gathering comprehensive information, it is also important for the agency to utilize a system for information management that ensures all relevant information is: (1) entered into the agency’s computer system, and (2) available and reflected in generated assessment reports. See PA-RPM 5 for more information regarding expectations related to information management and use.
 

Note: As noted in PA-CFS 9, assessment should be ongoing. See PA-CFS 9 for more information regarding expectations for ongoing assessments of strengths, needs, risks, safety, and progress toward goals.

Table of Evidence

Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
    • Procedures for assessment
    • Tools for and/or criteria included in assessment
    • Data on the timeliness of assessments, for previous quarter
No On-Site Evidence
    • Interview:
      1. Agency leadership
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Children and families served
    • Review case records

  • PA-CFS 7.01

    The assessment process is designed to: 

    1. explore the overall pathway that has led to a family’s involvement with the child welfare system, including individual and family functioning over time and any historical factors that have contributed to the concerns identified in the initial assessment of risk and safety; and
    2. determine the specific challenges, processes, and patterns that lead to child maltreatment in a family’s daily life.


  • PA-CFS 7.02

    In order to promote a comprehensive and responsive assessment process: 

    1. all immediate family members are engaged in the assessment;
    2. the process includes the child and family’s telling of their own story; 
    3. the agency makes a diligent attempt to locate absent fathers, as applicable; and 
    4. extended family members and other supports are identified and involved whenever possible.

    Update:

    • Revised Interpretation - 10/31/17

    Interpretation: The assessment process should be adapted based on the characteristics and needs of families, as necessary and appropriate. For example, the process for engaging family members should be adapted to protect the safety of victims of domestic violence, and strategies for family engagement should account for and accommodate the dynamics of family systems and histories, particularly when kin are caring for children. Similarly, when the agency is working with an American Indian or Alaska Native family, tribal representatives or other tribal community members must be involved in the assessment process, as determined by the tribe and the family. Family participation in the assessment process may not be possible when the agency is serving children with limited family involvement or unaccompanied minors, however children should be actively engaged in the process. 

    Interpretation: Given that parents will often be reluctant to tell their own story due to stigma, cultural norms, and concerns that that the information they provide will be used against them, parents should have multiple opportunities to tell their story, over time, as trust is gradually established.

    Research Note: Identifying and engaging fathers, both custodial and non-custodial, is critical to children’s well-being and may lead to the discovery of additional extended family resources. Research demonstrates that involved fathers can have an undeniably positive impact on child development. Some strategies for engaging fathers include:

    • speaking with fathers to assess their needs, the program’s father-friendliness, and program accessibility;
    • understanding factors that impact father involvement, including issues related to culture, economics, and self-esteem;
    • training personnel on the impact of father involvement, the diversity of fathers’ roles within family systems, and ways that fathers may relate to their children;
    • developing partnerships with community providers that are already accessible to fathers; and
    • coordinating dads-only programming and offering multiple ways for fathers to connect with the agency.


  • PA-CFS 7.03

    A strengths-based and culturally-responsive approach to assessment is undertaken to: 

    1. increase family engagement in the process; 
    2. gain a better understanding of families’ experiences;
    3. learn about times families managed challenging situations successfully; and 
    4. identify competencies and resources family members can utilize and build upon to promote change and reduce the risk of maltreatment.

    Interpretation: Culturally-responsive assessment includes but is not limited to attention to: 

    • age;
    • developmental level;
    • ethnicity;
    • gender identity and expression;
    • geographic location, including length of time there;
    • socioeconomic status;
    • immigration/refugee history and status, including potential eligibility for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) and other immigration-related services;
    • preferred language;
    • race;
    • sexual orientation;
    • tribal affiliation;
    • religion; and
    • cultural values and traditions.

    Research Note: It may be especially important to identify strengths related to the protective factors that have been shown to support effective parenting and promote child and family well-being, even under stress. Research has shown that protective factors including nurturing and attachment, knowledge of parenting and child and youth development, parental resilience, social connections, and concrete supports for parents are linked to lower incidence of child abuse and neglect.

    Research Note: When working with undocumented children, it is particularly important that workers assess children for their potential eligibility for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). Minors under 21 years-of-age may be eligible for SIJS if (1) they cannot be reunified with either parent because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment, and (2) it is not in their best interest to be returned to their home country. SIJS allows a child to remain in the United States and eventually obtain lawful permanent residency. It also provides an employment authorization document that allows the child to work and serves as a government-issued identification card.


  • FP
    PA-CFS 7.04

    Assessments explore parents’ strengths, needs, and functioning related to the following areas: 

    1. family relationships, dynamics, and functioning, including any presence or history of domestic violence;
    2. informal and social supports, including relationships with extended family and community members, as well as connections to community and cultural resources;
    3. trauma exposure and related symptoms;
    4. ability to meet basic financial needs and obtain adequate housing, food, and clothing;
    5. physical health, including any chronic health problems;
    6. emotional stability, including mental health and coping abilities;
    7. substance use;
    8. parenting skills; and
    9. disciplinary practices.

    Interpretation: The assessment should consider individual and family functioning over time, including historical factors that have contributed to the concerns identified in the initial assessments of risk and safety. Standardized and evidence-based assessment tools are recommended to inform decision-making in a structured manner and objectively gather data across cases.  Tools such as ecomaps and genograms may also help identify extended family and community support systems and facilitate in-depth conversations between workers and families.

    Interpretation: Regarding element (c), the expectation of this standard is that personnel will conduct a screening to identify trauma exposure and reactions, and arrange for a follow-up trauma-focused assessment when needed. Clinical trauma assessment must be provided by appropriately trained clinicians.

    Note: Refer to the Assessment Matrix - Private, Public, Canadian, Network for additional assessment criteria. The elements of the matrix can be tailored according to the needs of specific individuals or service design.


  • FP
    PA-CFS 7.05

    Assessments explore children’s strengths, needs, and functioning related to the following areas: 

    1. physical health, including any chronic health problems;
    2. emotional stability and adjustment;
    3. behavior;
    4. education and cognitive development, including school readiness;
    5. family relationships; 
    6. informal and social supports, including relationships with adults and peers in the extended family and community, as well as connections to community and cultural resources;
    7. substance use;
    8. trauma exposure and related symptoms;
    9. gender identity and sexual orientation; and
    10. any history of human trafficking.

    Interpretation: Regarding element (i), when exploring gender identity and sexual orientation personnel should ask open-ended questions that prompt discussion and help establish rapport, as opposed to asking direct questions. Information shared should be used to inform service planning, as well as for matching children with resource families they may be able to join, when appropriate, and should only be included in written plans when children give explicit consent.

    Note: See also the Interpretations and Note to PA-CFS 7.04.

    Note: See PA-CFS 18 for additional information regarding health and mental health screenings and assessments when children are in out-of-home care.

    Research Note: Personnel that conduct assessments should be aware of the indicators of a potential victim of human trafficking. Several tools are available to help identify a potential victim and determine next steps toward an appropriate course of treatment. Examples of these tools include, but are not limited to, the Rapid Screening Tool for Child Trafficking and the Comprehensive Screening and Safety Tool for Child Trafficking.


  • PA-CFS 7.06

    The assessment process is initiated in a timely manner, and comprehensive assessments are completed by qualified personnel within timeframes established by the agency.

    Interpretation: The comprehensive assessment should be completed within a timeframe that facilitates the development of a service plan within 30 days of the date a case is opened, as addressed in PA-CFS 8.05. When children are separated from their families before the assessment is initiated it will be especially important to initiate the assessment process in a timely manner, ideally within 72 hours of separation. 

    Note: See PA-CFS 18 regarding timeframes for conducting health screenings when children are in out-of-home care.

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