Standards for private organizations

2020 Edition

Family Preservation and Stabilization Services (FPS) 7: Assessing Safety and the Need for Out-of-Home Care

The organization protects the safety of children, families, and communities by:
  1. conducting safety assessments on a regular basis;
  2. using consistent criteria when evaluating safety and considering the need for out-of-home care; and 
  3. involving professionals, who have at least two years’ related experience and an advanced degree in social work or a comparable human service field, when evaluating the need for out-of-home care.


When an organization does not have the authority to conduct official safety assessments or formally evaluate the need for out-of-home care because the referring public agency is responsible for doing so, the organization will demonstrate implementation of the standard by providing written updates to the referring public agency documenting safety concerns and families’ progress toward addressing those safety concerns.

Even in cases where there is no initial public agency involvement and families voluntarily engage in preventive services, documenting any safety concerns that arise, and noting progress toward addressing those concerns, is good practice.


When the case involves an American Indian or Alaska Native family, a representative from the tribe or a local Indian organization must be involved in regular evaluations of the need for out-of-home care to ensure compliance with Indian Child Welfare Act requirements governing the removal of an Indian child from the home.
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
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Proper documentation is 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
  • Timeframes are often missed; or
  • Several client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent. 
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.,
  • 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
  • Procedures for assessing safety, evaluating the need for out-of-home care, and documenting safety concerns
  • Copy of tools used to assess safety and evaluate the need for out-of-home care
  • Qualifications of personnel involved in evaluating the need for out-of-home care
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Families served
  • Review case records