Standards for Military Family Readiness programs

2020 Edition

Family Advocacy Program Services (MIL-FAP) 6: Needs Assessment

Customers who receive ongoing services participate in a strengths-based, individual- or family-focused, culturally-responsive needs assessment that informs the development of the services plan.

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.

Note: Refer to the Assessment Matrix - MFR for additional assessment criteria. The elements of the matrix can be tailored according to the needs of specific customers or service design.

Note: While the safety assessment standards in MIL-FAP 5 address the identification of immediate safety concerns following allegations of domestic abuse or child abuse and neglect, MIL-FAP 6 is focused on the identification of broader service needs including services and support that will address the underlying conditions or behaviors. Both MIL-FAP 5 and MIL-FAP 6 should be conducted if ongoing treatment or support will be provided in cases of domestic abuse or child abuse and neglect.

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
  • Procedures for promoting physical, psychological, and emotional health and safety of customers(MIL-FAP 6.06)

Fundamental Practice

MIL-FAP 6.01

The needs assessment process for family violence cases minimizes duplication of effort, thereby reducing trauma to the customer.


NA The MFR FAP provides education, information and referral, and safety planning only and is not authorized to provide clinical treatment services.

MIL-FAP 6.02

All needs assessments are:
  1. completed within timeframes established by the MFR program;
  2. directed at concerns identified in the original report, referral, or initial contact;
  3. conducted using standardized assessment tools or instruments;
  4. used as a basis for developing and updating the services plan and goals; and
  5. updated periodically including when there are significant changes to the home composition and prior to case closing.


Assessment tools may be provided by Service Headquarters.

MIL-FAP 6.03

The MFR program works with customers to complete a comprehensive, culturally-responsive needs assessment that:
  1. identifies the customer’s strengths, protective factors, and needs;
  2. takes into account the developmental level of children living in the home;
  3. includes a description of the reason for referral/report or the customer’s reason for contacting the program, any history of violence, and any other related risks;
  4. facilitates the identification of customers with co-occurring conditions that may require a referral;
  5. facilitates the identification of the co-occurrence of domestic abuse and child abuse and neglect;
  6. identifies underlying issues that may contribute to family stress;
  7. determines the risk for future abuse;
  8. identifies potential events that may trigger the onset of abuse, as applicable;
  9. evaluates the impact of the problem on children, as applicable, and their need for assistance; and
  10. identifies resources that can increase service participation and support the achievement of agreed upon goals.


Examples of considerations that contribute to a culturally responsive needs assessment include attention to geographic location, language of choice, age and developmental level, and the customers religious, racial, ethnic, and cultural background.


Factors that increase the risk for future domestic abuse include, but are not limited to:

  1. a perpetrator who blames the survivor for his or her abusive acts;
  2. a demonstrated lack of motivation to change his or her behavior;
  3. physical or emotional abuse of children;
  4. previous criminal behaviors unrelated to domestic abuse;
  5. financial problems; and
  6. mental health issues or disorders.

    MIL-FAP 6.04

    In cases of domestic abuse, the needs assessment considers the context in which the violence took place including:

    1. exacerbating factors such as why violence is being used and what injuries, if any, have been inflicted; and
    2. mitigating factors such as whether or not violence was used as self-defense or to protect others within the household.
    NA The MFR FAP provides education, information and referral, and safety planning only and is not authorized to provide clinical treatment services.

    Fundamental Practice

    MIL-FAP 6.05

    When needs assessment reveals the need for specialized or intensive services beyond the scope of the FAP, such as a co-occuring behavioral health issue:
    1. a referral and assistance connecting to services is provided; and
    2. ongoing collaboration and coordinated service planning occurs to the greatest extent possible and appropriate given identified needs and service goals.



    Research has shown that domestic abuse and substance use conditions are often co-occurring in perpetrators and one issue often exacerbates the other. As such, the most effective prevention and treatment programs are those that address the issues of domestic abuse and substance use or misuse concurrently.

    Fundamental Practice

    MIL-FAP 6.06

    The MFR program promotes the physical, psychological, and emotional safety of customers by:
    1. screening customers for histories involving violence or other trauma;
    2. monitoring the service population for emerging physical, psychological, and emotional safety needs; and
    3. making changes to the service environment or procedures as necessary to respond to the safety needs of customers.


    Regarding element (c), examples of mechanisms that can be used to respond to the safety needs of customers include using staggered scheduling and separate entrances to ensure safety and anonymity; monitoring interactions among customers and staff to ensure they remain respectful, calming, and empowering; establishing and enforcing rules for the service environment; and soliciting and responding to feedback from customers regarding their perceived safety in the service environment.
    NA The MFR program provides services where screening for histories involving violence or other trauma would be inappropriate for the service model.
    The National Council for Behavioral Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration identify a physical environment that promotes a sense of safety and collaboration as one of the key domains for implementing a trauma-informed approach to care, and a fundamental component of service accessibility for customers who have experienced trauma.