Standards for Military Family Readiness programs

2020 Edition

Family Advocacy Program Services (MIL-FAP) 5: Safety Planning

Following a report of domestic abuse or child abuse and neglect, providers work with customers to:

  1. evaluate whether immediate threats to safety exist;
  2. determine if ongoing efforts are needed to promote safety and strengthen families; and
  3. develop a comprehensive safety plan designed to manage immediate and ongoing safety concerns.
2020 Edition




Customers receiving Family Advocacy Program Services gain new competencies, improve individual and family functioning and resiliency, make connections in their community, and reduce their risk for family violence.
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the programs’ practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions; exceptions do not impact service quality and/or overall performance.
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance 
A rating of (2) indicates that a programs’ infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement. The majority of the standard's requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented.  Minor inconsistencies and practices that are not fully developed are noted, however, these do not significantly impact service quality and/or overall performance.
Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that significant aspects of the programs’ observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement. The program has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework. Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner.  Service quality or program functioning may be compromised. Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation and Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all. Observed infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.

Please see Rating Guidance for additional rating examples. 
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Interview:
    1. MFR program director
    2. Relevant staff
    3. Customers

Fundamental Practice

MIL-FAP 5.01

The MFR program follows-up with the customer according to the following guidelines:
  1. every child and domestic abuse survivor determined to be in imminent danger is seen immediately; and
  2. in all other cases, children and domestic abuse survivors are seen in accordance with timeframes established by DoD or Service policy, but not to exceed  24 hours to ensure their safety.


In some cases, authority to make an initial in-person visit may be delegated to other professionals, such as law enforcement officials or child protective services workers. When contact is delegated, the MFR program demonstrates standard implementation by providing any needed follow-up and initiating its internal assessment process within established timeframes.

MIL-FAP 5.02

Safety assessments are conducted using a standardized tool that is widely recognized as a valid safety assessment tool. 


Assessment tools may be provided by Service Headquarters.

MIL-FAP 5.03

Immediately following a report of child abuse and neglect, the MFR program engages the customer in the safety assessment process that will inform development of a safety plan and considers:
  1. the presence, or threat, of serious harm including lethality risk;
  2. the family’s ability to protect the child including family strengths, resources or characteristics that mitigate threats of serious harm to the child; and
  3. the child’s vulnerability.


Examples of child attributes that can impact vulnerability include age; developmental level and mental disability; physical disability and illness; the visibility of the child to others such as caregivers, teachers, or doctors; the child’s ability to communicate; and the child’s ability to meet their own basic needs.
NA The MFR program does not provide services in cases meeting DoD criteria for suspected child abuse and neglect.

MIL-FAP 5.04

Immediately following a report of domestic abuse, the MFR program engages the customer in a safety assessment that:
  1. informs development of a safety plan;
  2. addresses factors that may limit a survivor’s willingess to provide complete and accurate information;
  3. identifies immediate needs including medical and dental care, legal assistance, financial assistance, food, shelter, and clothing;
  4. considers lethality risk; and
  5. identifies safety factors for any involved family members.


Examples of factors that may limit a survivor's willingness to provide complete and accurate information include fear of further violence if his or her partner finds out; his or her financial dependency on the perpetrator; fear that the report will jeopardize the family’s sole source of income and insurance; or fear that his or her children will be removed from the home or that they may lose custody.


Examples of factors that can contribute to lethality risk in domestic abuse cases include:
  1. increased frequency or severity of violence;
  2. ease of access to weapons and previous use of, or threats of using, weapons;
  3. threats to harm or kill the partner, oneself, or someone else;
  4. evidence of excessive use of alcohol or other drugs;
  5. presence of extreme jealousy, possessiveness, monitoring behaviors, obsession or stalking;
  6. attempts to control daily activities;
  7. previous acts or attempts of forced or coerced sex;
  8. previous attempts to strangle the survivor;
  9. survivor attempts or makes statements to leave the relationship;
  10. whether or not the survivor is pregnant and the perpetrator’s attitude toward the pregnancy; and
  11. whether or not the survivor fears that the perpetrator will harm the survivor or another person.

MIL-FAP 5.05

Whenever the safety of the customer is in question, the MFR program:
  1. makes a referral to military law enforcement, the command, or child protective services as appropriate; and/or
  2. take steps to encourage the customer to go to a safe location.

MIL-FAP 5.06

Survivors of domestic abuse guide the development of an assessment-based safety plan that:

  1. reflects their stated needs and goals;
  2. is tailored to their particular strengths, needs, risks, abilities, resources, and circumstances;
  3. builds on realistic possibilities and options;
  4. prepares them to promote their safety in various circumstances and places including preparing for immediate escape, if necessary;
  5. is adaptable to changing circumstances; and
  6. responds to the needs of their children, as applicable.


Literature highlights the importance of helping survivors develop safety plans regardless of whether they: (1) have left the perpetrator, (2) are in the process of leaving the perpetrator, or (3) will remain involved with the perpetrator.

MIL-FAP 5.07

The customer is involved in the development of an assessment-based safety plan for allegations of child abuse and neglect that:
  1. identifies those strategies and services that can be provided immediately to ensure the child’s safety;
  2. describes how the plan will be implemented and monitored; and
  3. stays in effect until there is no longer serious harm, or the threat of serious harm with insufficient protective capacities.

NA The MFR program does not provide services in cases meeting DoD criteria of suspected child abuse and neglect.

MIL-FAP 5.08

Survivors of domestic abuse, or the non-offending parent in allegations of child abuse and neglect, are offered contact information for local and national resources. 

MIL-FAP 5.09

An on-going, informal assessment of safety occurs at every contact and safety assessments and plans are formally updated:
  1. at least quarterly;
  2. following allegations of a new incident of domestic abuse or child abuse and neglect;
  3. following the initiation of command or legal involvement;
  4. during significant transition periods in treatment;
  5. following significant changes to the home’s composition or its finances;
  6. following significant events such as deployment, pregnancy, or job loss;
  7. when clinically relevant issues are uncovered such as childhood trauma;
  8. according to regulatory or administrative requirements; and
  9. prior to case closing.