Standards for private organizations

2020 Edition

Services for Unaccompanied Children (UC) 4: Comprehensive Assessment

Children engage in a comprehensive, individualized, trauma-informed, strengths-based, culturally, and linguistically responsive assessment process that informs and guides the service delivery, case closing, and aftercare services.


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 organization provides post-release services only.
2020 Edition




Unaccompanied Children Services support youth safety and well-being, facilitate family involvement and provide necessary supports to children seeking physical and emotional safety and legal protection.
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
  • In a few rare instances, urgent needs were not prioritized; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Culturally responsive assessments are 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
  • Urgent needs are often not prioritized; or 
  • Services are frequently not initiated in a timely manner; or
  • Applicants are not receiving referrals, as appropriate; or 
  • Assessment and reassessment timeframes are often missed; or
  • Assessment are sometimes not sufficiently individualized; 
  • Culturally responsive assessments are not the norm, and this is not being addressed in supervision or training; or
  • Several client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent; or
  • Intake or assessment is done by another organization or referral source and no documentation and/or summary of required information is present in case record. 
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.,
  • There are 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
  • Assessment and re-assessment procedures
  • Copy of assessment tool(s)
  • Community resource and referral list
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Persons served
  • Review case records


UC 4.01

The information gathered for assessments complies with ORR regulations and is: 
  1. directed at concerns identified in the initial screening; and
  2. focused on information pertinent for meeting service requests and objectives.

Fundamental Practice

UC 4.02

A comprehensive, culturally and linguistically responsive assessment is conducted within 5 days of admission by a qualified and trained professional that includes: 
  1. migration journey and apprehension information;
  2. exploration of family relationships;
  3. the child’s strengths, skills, special interests, and personal goals;
  4. a basic legal screening;
  5. a trauma screen and trauma assessment, when appropriate;
  6. criminal history;
  7. risk of suicide, self-injury, neglect, exploitation, and/or violence toward others;
  8. a basic disabilities screening;
  9. a mental health evaluation;
  10. candidacy for community based foster care;
  11. factors related to successful group living; and 
  12. substance use history.


Unaccompanied children may be a candidate for community based foster care within the ORR network if: 
  1. the child is expected to have a protracted stay of four or more months in ORR custody because he or she does not have a viable sponsor;
  2. a legal service provider has identified the child or youth as potentially eligible for immigration relief; and
  3. the child is under the age of 17 years and 6 months at the time of placement.


The organization should comply with mandatory reporting laws and only release information with requests that have been approved through the proper channels within the ORR.


Personnel that conduct evaluations should be aware of the indicators of a potential trafficking victim including, but not limited to, evidence of mental, physical, or sexual abuse; physical exhaustion; working long hours; living with employer or many people in confined area; unclear family relationships; heightened sense of fear or distrust of authority; presence of older significant other or pimp; loyalty or positive feelings towards an abuser; inability or fear of making eye contact; chronic running away or homelessness; possession of excess amounts of cash or hotel keys; and inability to provide a local address or information about parents.
Examples: The organization can help to engage and motivate individuals by demonstrating: 
  1. sensitivity to the willingness of the child to be engaged;
  2. a non-threatening manner;
  3. respect for the child’s autonomy and confidentiality;
  4. flexibility; and
  5. persistence.

Examples: Safety issues may arise when placing individuals, with little or no notice, into a communal living environment prior to completion of a full assessment. The organization should support the smoothest transition possible for children who are both new and currently receiving services.

Factors that can impact group living success can include:
  1. possible reciprocal individual and group effects;
  2. the individual’s ability to adjust to a group; 
  3. safety issues;
  4. previous placements; and 
  5. trauma history.


UC 4.03

Reassessments are conducted as needed, according to the needs of the service recipient.


Reassessments are completed within timeframes established by the ORR or more frequently based on the population served.


Organizations should have protocols that address reassessment for children that return after an episode of running away to welcome and reintegrate children back into the program, as well as respond to children’s physical and clinical needs.