Standards for private organizations

2020 Edition

Family Foster Care and Kinship Care (FKC) 3: Initial Assessment

The organization conducts prompt and responsive initial assessment to determine if the program can meet the needs of children and families, and provides alternative service recommendations if needed.


Because organizational roles in the initial assessment process are dependent on referral systems and contractual obligations, organizations should provide procedural or documentary evidence that demonstrates implementation of the standards.
2020 Edition




Children in Family Foster Care and Kinship Care live in safe, stable, nurturing, and often temporary family settings that best provide the continuity of care to preserve relationships, promote well-being, and ensure permanency.
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions, procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • In a few rare instances, urgent needs were not prioritized; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Culturally responsive assessments are the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations and training; or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Urgent needs are often not prioritized; or 
  • Services are frequently not initiated in a timely manner; or
  • Applicants are not receiving referrals, as appropriate; or 
  • Assessment and reassessment timeframes are often missed; or
  • Assessments are sometimes not sufficiently individualized; 
  • Culturally responsive assessments are not the norm, and this is not being addressed in supervision or training; or
  • Several client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent; or
  • Intake or assessment is done by another organization or referral source and no documentation and/or summary of required information is present in case record. 
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • There are no written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing.  
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Admission policy
  • Initial assessment and intake procedures
  • Procedures for identification of children with American Indian and Alaska Native heritage and collaboration with tribes on ICWA cases
  • Copies of tribal state agreements, when applicable
  • Community resource and referral list
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
  • Review case records

FKC 3.01

Organizations maintain an admission policy that includes:
  1. steps and requirements for admission;
  2. prohibition of discriminatory selection processes; and
  3. reasons the program may decline referrals.
NA The organization: (1) accepts all clients, or (2) only receives clients by referral, and is required by contract to accept all referrals.

FKC 3.02

Prompt, responsive initial assessment practices: 
  1. give priority to urgent needs and emergency situations; 
  2. support timely initiation of services; and
  3. ensure that referral sources are notified immediately if services cannot be provided or cannot be provided promptly.
NA The organization is not responsible for initial assessment.

FKC 3.03

During intake, the organization:
  1. gathers information necessary to identify critical service needs and/or determine when a more intensive service is necessary; and
  2. conducts an assessment of children’s risk of harm to self or others that is used to inform decision-making, identify appropriate resource families, and develop safety plans with parents and resource families.

Fundamental Practice

FKC 3.04

The organization identifies American Indian and Alaska Native children and has a process to ensure outreach and collaboration with the tribe or Indian organization to: 
  1. determine jurisdiction; 
  2. ensure compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act;
  3. provide families with information regarding their rights under the Indian Child Welfare Act; 
  4. facilitate their participation in assessment and service planning to determine the most appropriate plan for children and families; and 
  5. maintain connections between children, their extended family, and their tribes.


The organization should have established procedures for identifying American Indian and Alaska Native children to determine if the child or his/her biological parent(s) are members of a federally recognized tribe, or if the child is eligible for membership in a federally recognized tribe. Physical appearance, blood quantum, and perceived presence or absence of cultural cues within the family, are not appropriate determinants of ICWA applicability. The organization should document efforts to identify and contact children’s tribes, and if tribes are unknown, the organization should contact the regional office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to identify, locate, and notify the child’s tribe.
NA The organization provides kinship care services only.

NA The organization provides services for foreign-born children only.