Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Child and Family Services (PA-CFS) 6: Comprehensive Family Assessment

Children and families are engaged in an individualized, strengths-based, and culturally responsive comprehensive assessment process that guides support, services, and permanency planning.
2020 Edition

Currently viewing: CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES (PA-CFS)

VIEW THE STANDARDS

Purpose

Child and Family Services promote child and family well-being, protect children’s safety, stablilize and strengthen families, and ensure permanency.
1
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. 
2
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.  
3
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.
4
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
  • Assessment procedures
  • Copy of assessment tool(s)
No On-Site Evidence
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Parents served
    4. Children served
    5. Resource parents
    6. Residential treatment providers
  • Review case records

 

PA-CFS 6.01

The assessment process is initiated in a timely manner and completed within established timeframes.

Interpretation

The assessment should be completed within a timeframe that facilitates the development of a service plan within 30 days of the date a case is opened, as addressed in PA-CFS 7.01. When children are separated from their families before the assessment is initiated it will be especially important to initiate the assessment process in a timely manner, ideally within 72 hours of separation.  When children will be placed in treatment foster care and are separated from their families before the assessment is initiated, the assessment process should begin on the day of placement. 

 

PA-CFS 6.02

Families participate in an individualized, strengths-based, culturally and linguistically responsive comprehensive assessment that is designed to: 
  1. engage all immediate family members, including absent fathers, when applicable and possible; 
  2. identify and involve extended family and other supports, whenever possible; 
  3. include the child and family’s telling of their own story; 
  4. explore the pathway that has led to the family’s involvement with the child welfare system, including individual and family functioning over time and any historical factors that have contributed to the concerns identified in the initial assessment of risk and safety; 
  5. determine the specific challenges, processes, and patterns that lead to child maltreatment in the family’s daily life; and
  6. learn about times the family managed challenging situations successfully, and identify competencies and resources family members can utilize to promote change and reduce the risk of maltreatment. 

Interpretation

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.

Interpretation: The assessment process should be adapted based on the characteristics and needs of families, as necessary and appropriate. For example, engagement strategies should account for and accommodate family dynamics and histories, particularly when kin are caring for children; the process for engaging family members should be adapted to protect the safety of domestic violence victims, as needed; and if fathers are absent the agency should make a diligent attempt to locate them.  Family participation in the assessment process may not be possible when the agency is serving children with limited family involvement or unaccompanied minors. 
Examples: Given that parents may be reluctant to tell their own story due to stigma, cultural norms, and concerns that the information they provide will be used against them, it may be helpful to provide parents with multiple opportunities to tell their story, over time, as trust is gradually established.

 
Fundamental Practice

PA-CFS 6.03

Assessments explore parents’ strengths, needs, and functioning related to the following areas:  
  1. family relationships, dynamics, and functioning, including any presence or history of domestic violence or human trafficking;
  2. informal and social supports, including relationships with extended family and community members, as well as connections to community and cultural resources;
  3. trauma exposure and related symptoms;
  4. ability to meet basic financial needs and obtain adequate housing, food, and clothing;
  5.  physical health, including any chronic health problems;
  6. emotional stability, including mental health and coping abilities;
  7. substance use;
  8. parenting skills; and
  9. disciplinary practices.

Interpretation

Standardized and evidence-based assessment tools are recommended to inform decision-making in a structured manner and objectively gather data across cases.   

Interpretation

Regarding element (c), the expectation of this standard is that personnel will conduct a screening to identify trauma exposure and reactions and arrange for a follow-up trauma-focused assessment when needed. Clinical trauma assessment must be provided by appropriately trained clinicians.
 

 
Fundamental Practice

PA-CFS 6.04

Assessments explore children’s strengths, needs, and functioning related to the following areas:  
  1. physical health, including any chronic health problems;
  2. emotional stability and adjustment;
  3. behavior, including any risk of harm to self or others;
  4. education and cognitive development, including school readiness;
  5. family relationships; 
  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. gender identity and sexual orientation; and
  10. any history of or exposure to domestic violence or human trafficking.
Interpretation: Regarding element (h), the expectation of this standard is that personnel will conduct a screening to identify trauma exposure and reactions, and arrange for a follow-up trauma-focused assessment when needed. Clinical trauma assessment must be provided by appropriately trained clinicians.

Regarding element (i), when exploring gender identity and sexual orientation personnel should ask open-ended questions that prompt discussion and help establish rapport, as opposed to asking direct questions. Information shared should be used to inform service planning, as well as for matching children with resource families they may be able to join, when appropriate, and should only be included in written plans when children give explicit consent.

 
Examples: Several tools are available to help identify a potential victim of human trafficking and determine the next steps toward an appropriate course of treatment. Examples of these tools include, but are not limited to, the Rapid Screening Tool for Child Trafficking and the Comprehensive Screening and Safety Tool for Child Trafficking.