Standards for private organizations

2020 Edition

Family Preservation and Stabilization Services (FPS) 3: Intake and Assessment

The organization's intake and assessment practices ensure that families receive prompt and responsive access to appropriate services.
2020 Edition




Family Preservation and Stabilization Services improve family functioning, increase child and family well-being, ensure child safety, reduce the need for CPS intervention, prevent the separation of children from their families, and ease the transition to reunification following a separation. 
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
  • Eligibility criteria
  • Procedures for responding to referrals or requests for service
  • Screening and intake procedures
  • Assessment procedures
  • Copy of assessment tool(s)
  • Procedures for determining tribal membership, and facilitating tribal involvement, in cases involving American Indian and Alaska Native children
  • Community resource and referral list
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Families served
  • Review case records

FPS 3.01

Services are available to families facing challenges that affect child and family safety, well-being, and/or stability when:
  1. children are at risk of being placed in out-of-home care, or need services to facilitate family reunification; and
  2. children can remain in, or return to, the home without compromising the safety of any family or community members.

Fundamental Practice

FPS 3.02

The organization responds to referrals or requests for service by directly contacting families within:
  1. 72 hours, if providing family preservation and stabilization services; or
  2. 24 hours, if providing intensive family preservation and stabilization services.


Response time should be appropriate to the urgency of family needs and the level of concern for child and/or family safety. Organizations providing intensive services should be able to respond immediately, if necessary. When special circumstances result in the postponement of contact, the organization should document these circumstances, as well as its efforts to initiate contact, within the first 24 hours of referral or request for service.
Examples: Agencies that may refer families to services include, but are not limited to: child welfare agencies, juvenile justice agencies, and mental health agencies.

FPS 3.03

Families are screened and informed about: 
  1. how well family members’ needs and risk factors match the organization’s services; and
  2. what services will be available and when.
NA Another organization or agency is responsible for screening, as defined in a contract.

Fundamental Practice

FPS 3.04

Prompt, responsive intake practices:
  1. gather information necessary to identify critical service needs and/or determine when a more intensive service is necessary;
  2. give priority to urgent needs and emergency situations;
  3. support timely initiation of services; and
  4. provide placement on a waiting list or referral to appropriate resources when individuals cannot be served or cannot be served promptly.

Fundamental Practice

FPS 3.05

The organization identifies American Indian and Alaska Native children and collaborates with the tribe or Indian organization to determine the most appropriate plan for the family by:
  1. involving representatives from the tribe or local Indian organization in assessment, service planning and monitoring, and aftercare planning, to the greatest extent possible and appropriate;
  2. considering and prioritizing culturally-relevant resources available through or recommended by the tribe or local Indian organization, to the greatest extent possible and appropriate; and
  3. maintaining connections between the family and tribe, when desired by the family.


The organization should have established procedures for identifying American Indian and Alaska Native families who are members of a federally recognized tribe, or eligible for membership. Physical appearance, blood quantum, and perceived presence or absence of cultural cues within the family are not sufficient for identification purposes. In some cases, such as with reunification following out-of-home placement, tribal membership may already be established. 

When tribal representatives or local Indian organizations are involved in the case the organization must provide timely notification of all case conferences, including assessments and case reviews, particularly when changes are made or proposed. Evidence of efforts to identify and contact the family's tribe and of tribal participation should be documented in the case record.
Examples: Tribal participation may occur through in-person attendance, telephone conferencing, or video conferencing.

FPS 3.06

Family members participate in an individualized, culturally and linguistically responsive assessment that is:
  1. completed within established timeframes;
  2. focused on information pertinent for meeting service requests and objectives; and
  3. supplemented with information provided by the referring agency and/or collaborating providers, when appropriate.

FPS 3.07

Assessments are designed to explore, as appropriate, each family member’s strengths, needs, and functioning related to the following areas: 
  1. physical health, including any chronic health problems;
  2. emotional stability, mental health, and adjustment and coping skills;
  3. behavior;
  4. educational readiness, attainment, and cognitive development;
  5. family relationships, family dynamics, and any history or presence of domestic violence; 
  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. parenting skills and disciplinary practices;
  10. gender identity and sexual orientation; and
  11. any history of human trafficking.


The Assessment Matrix - Private, Public, Canadian, Network determines which level of assessment is required for COA’s Service Sections. The assessment elements of the Matrix can be tailored according to the needs of specific individuals or service design.

FPS 3.08

Assessments are focused on:
  1. increasing family engagement in the process;
  2. gaining a better understanding of children's and families' experiences;
  3. learning about times families managed challenging situations successfully; and
  4. identifying competencies and resources that each family member can utilize and leverage to promote change and reduce the risks that precipitated the need for service.

FPS 3.09

  1. use consistent criteria to continually assess progress, needs, strengths, risks, impediments to service, and the continued need for service; and 
  2. document the results of their ongoing assessments once a month.
Note: See FPS 7 for additional expectations regarding regular safety assessments.