Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Child and Family Development and Support Services (PA-CFD) 3: Intake and Assessment

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




Families participating in Child and Family Development and Support Services gain new competencies, improve child health and well-being, improve family functioning, and make family-community connections.
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the agency's 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 or agency performance. 
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance
A rating of (2) indicates that an agency's infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement.
  • The majority of the standards requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented. 
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality or agency performance.

Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that the agency's observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement.  

  • The agency 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 agency functioning may be compromised.  
  • Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation or Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.  
  • The agency’s observed service delivery infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Screening and intake procedures
  • Assessment procedures
  • Copy of assessment tool(s)
  • Outreach materials
  • Community resource and referral list
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Persons served
  • Review case records


PA-CFD 3.01

The agency conducts community outreach, or collaborates with other providers who may serve families in need of services, to:
  1. identify families who may need help maintaining or strengthening child and family functioning; and
  2. ensure that families are made aware of the program as early as possible, as appropriate to the type of service offered.
Examples: Other providers that may serve families in need of services include, but are not limited to, hospitals and health departments.  
When the agency provides outreach directly to families, outreach strategies may include, but are not limited to: 
  1. telephone calls;
  2. mailings; 
  3. announcements at community programs and events; 
  4. distributing information packets in places where families naturally congregate (e.g., schools, libraries, and faith-based institutions); and 
  5. drop-in visits to the home.


PA-CFD 3.02

Families are screened and informed about:
  1. how well their request matches the agency's services; and
  2. what services will be available and when.
NA Another agency is responsible for screening, as defined in a contract.

Fundamental Practice

PA-CFD 3.03

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.


PA-CFD 3.04

Family members participate in an individualized, culturally and linguistically responsive assessment that is:
  1. completed within established timeframes;
  2. updated as needed based on the needs of the family; and
  3. focused on information pertinent for meeting service requests and objectives.
NA The agency provides only parent education groups.


PA-CFD 3.05

Standardized assessment tools are used to:
  1. identify family strengths and protective factors;
  2. assess for needs and risk factors associated with poor child, individual, and family outcomes; and
  3. assess child development, including strengths, needs, challenges, functional status, and social competence.


Service providers should work with families to better understand a child’s strengths and needs, and informed clinical opinion can be used when standardized measures will not accurately reflect a child’s developmental status.


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.
NA The agency provides only parent education groups.