CHILD WELFARE MANUAL

Section 2, Chapter 5 (Child Abuse and Neglect Reports), Subsection 4 – Family Assessments

(Effective 04/06/21)

Table of Contents

5.4 Family Assessments

5.4.1 Involving Law Enforcement in a Family Assessment

5.4.2 Making a Conclusion

5.4.2.1 Safety Re-Assurance in Delayed Assessments

5.4.2.2 Notifications for Family Assessment Dispositions

5.4.3 Family Assessment Conclusion Summary Template

5.4.4 Educational Neglect

5.4.4.1 Definition of Educational Neglect

5.4.4.2 Educational Neglect vs. Truancy

5.4.4.3 Assessing Underlying Causes of Educational Neglect

5.4.4.4 Home Schooling

5.4.4.5 When a Family Assessment Needs to be an Investigation

5.4.5 Differential Response Assessments

5.4.5.1 Initial Timeframes

5.4.5.2 Caseload Size

5.4.5.3 Requirements to Identify Family Assessments as Differential Response Assessments

5.4.5.4 Staff Expectations

5.4.5.5 Differential Response Assessment Conclusion Summary

5.4 Family Assessments

Pursuant to Section 210.145, RSMo, when a Child Abuse/Neglect Report is classified as a Family Assessment staff shall:

  1. Assess any service needs of the family.  The assessment of risk and service needs shall be based on information gathered from the family and other sources;
  2. Provide services which are voluntary and time-limited unless it is determined by staff based on the assessment of risk that there will be a high risk of abuse or neglect if the family refuses to accept the services.  Staff shall identify services for families where it is determined that the child is at high risk of future abuse or neglect.  Staff shall thoroughly document in the record its attempt to provide voluntary services and the reasons these services are important to reduce the risk of future abuse or neglect to the child.  If the family continues to refuse voluntary services or the child needs to be protected, staff may commence an Investigation;
  3. Commence an immediate Investigation if at any time during the Family Assessment and services approach staff determines that an Investigation, as delineated in sections 210.109 to 210.183, is required.  Staff who have conducted the Family Assessment may remain involved in the provision of services to the child and family;
  4. Document at the time the case is closed, the outcome of the Family Assessment, any service provided, and the removal of risk to the child if it existed.

5.4.1 Involving Law Enforcement in a Family Assessment

Staff may request law enforcement to accompany them when making an initial visit for a Family Assessment, without switching the report to the Investigation track.  The reasons for making such a request might include:

    • Worker safety;
    • Family does not allow access to the child;
    • Family member safety;
    • Criminal violation not related to CA/N;
    • Status offense by juvenile (involve juvenile officer);
    • Potential for law enforcement to take custody of child;
    • Past history of domestic violence and/or drug involvement in the home; or
    • History or suspicion of active meth lab at residence.

There should be a discussion with the law enforcement officer prior to the visit regarding the role each will play.  Staff should immediately advise the family of the reason law enforcement is involved.           

5.4.2 Making a Conclusion

The Family Assessment shall be completed within forty-five (45) days.  A determination shall be reached during the Family Assessment as to whether or not the family needs services beyond the forty-five (45) day assessment period.  These services may include a track change to the Differential Response Assessment or a Family Centered Services case.

The following is a list of the possible determinations which may be reached at the end of the Family Assessment period, which may be entered on the conclusion screen in FACES:

    • Agency Responded No Concerns Found – The Division responded to the report, assured safety of the children, spoke with parent/caretaker, made a home visit and found that the allegations in the report had no merit.
    • Agency Responded Concerns Addressed – The Division responded to the report and found concerns in the home, but those concerns were addressed through the assessment process, community resources, or other resources from staff.
    • Agency Responded Services Provided – The Division responded to the report and found concerns in the home.  Concerns in the home continued beyond the 45 day conclusion period and a Differential Response track was taken.
    • Agency Responded Refer to FCS or AC Case Opened – The Division responded to the report and at some point during the assessment period, referred the family to Family Centered Services or child was taken into custody and an Alternative Care case was opened.
    • Family Declined Services, Child Safe — The Division offered to provide Differential Response services or Family-Centered Services, but the family refused services.  Staff has been able to document that the child is safe.

5.4.2.1 Safety Re-Assurance in Delayed Assessments

Staff must provide ongoing assurance of children’s safety and well-being during the assessment period when an Assessment remains open beyond the initial forty-five (45) days.

When a report is in delayed status, staff should complete face to face re-assurance of children’s safety:

      • Forty-five (45) days from receipt of the report;
      • Every thirty (30) days thereafter; and
      • As needed to address ongoing safety concerns.

Staff may need to make multidisciplinary team and collateral contacts to continue to assure the safety of the child while the report is in delayed status.

5.4.2.2 Notifications for Family Assessment Dispositions

There may be situations in which the alleged perpetrator on a Family Assessment is not a parent and not a member of the household.  FACES will generate the Family Assessment Disposition form letter (CS-21a) for that perpetrator.  In addition, staff is only required to provide the CS-21a to a parent and/or a household member or to anyone staff provided the Description of the Family Assessment (CS-24a).

5.4.3 Family Assessment Conclusion Summary Template

The following conclusion summary template shall be used on all family assessments. The template shall be used in the Conclusion Summary section of the FACES Conclusion Screen:

The (   ) County Children’s Division received an Assessment report on (Date), incident date (Date).  

Summary of Alleged Concerns:

Safety was assured of victim child(ren) on (Date and time each victim child was verified as safe)

Was an Immediate Safety Intervention Plan needed? If so, please explain how the safety threat(s) were resolved:

A Family Assessment was conducted and it was determined that the report would be concluded as (Family Assessment Conclusion) based on the following:

Child Vulnerabilities:

Parental Protective Capacities:

Strengths of the Family and Safety Network:

Past or Current Substance Abuse:

Mental Health Needs:

Culture:

Domestic Violence:

Prior history was reviewed and concerns were expressed in the past that included: (Note any significant history as it pertains to this report).

Trends noted when reviewing prior history included:

The Risk Assessment level scored (#) due to

A Family Centered Service Case will/will not be opened for this report.

Why/Why not?

5.4.4 Educational Neglect

5.4.4.1 Definition of Educational Neglect:

Educational neglect is the failure by the person responsible for the care, custody, and control of the child to provide an appropriate education and to promote school attendance as required by Missouri Law.  Section 167.031 RSMo., requires all children ages 7 up to age 17  to attend school, except that any child who has successfully completed 16 credits toward high school graduation is not required to attend, therefore does not meet the criteria for educational neglect.  Children ages 5 and 6 are required to attend school, when they have been enrolled in a public school by their parent or guardian.

The following exceptions apply to the compulsory attendance laws:

      • A child who is determined by the superintendent of schools or the chief school officer of a school to be mentally or physically incapacitated may be excused from attendance at school for the full term required, or any part thereof.
      • A child between the ages of fourteen (14) and seventeen (17) may be excused from attending school full time by the superintendent of the public school or by a court of competent jurisdiction when legal employment has been obtained by the child.
      • A child between the ages of five (5) and seven (7) currently enrolled in a public school shall be excused from attendance if a parent, guardian or other person having custody makes a written request that the child be dropped from the school’s roll.

5.4.4.2 Educational Neglect vs. Truancy

Educational neglect must be differentiated from truancy (a status offense).

      • When a child is continuously absent from school through intent or neglect of the parent or caretaker, there is educational neglect.
      • When a child is absent through his/her own intent, this is truancy and not reportable as child abuse/neglect.

5.4.4.3 Assessing Underlying Causes of Educational Neglect

There are often underlying causes for educational neglect.  It is important that staff utilize a holistic approach to determine why the child(ren)’s educational needs are not being met.  For example, a child may be missing school because they are unable to maintain appropriate behavior.  The parent may choose to keep the child at home to avoid getting called to the school to take the child home.  In this situation, staff should assess whether the parent is meeting the child’s mental health needs.

5.4.4.4 Home Schooling

A “home school” is defined in Section 167.031, RSMo. as a school, whether incorporated or unincorporated, that:

      • Has as its primary purpose the provision of private or religious-based instruction;
      • Enrolls pupils between the ages of seven years and the compulsory attendance age for the district, of which no more than four are unrelated by affinity or consanguinity in the third degree;
      • Does not charge or receive consideration in the form of tuition, fees, or other remuneration in a genuine and fair exchange for provision of instruction.

As evidence that a child is receiving regular instruction, the parent or guardian shall, except as otherwise provided, maintain the following records:

      • A plan book, diary, or other written record indicating subjects taught and activities engaged in;
      • A portfolio of samples of the child’s academic work;
      • A record of evaluations of the child’s academic progress;
      • Or other written or credible evidence equivalent to the above documents

In addition, the parent or guardian shall offer at least one thousand hours of instruction, at least six hundred hours of which will be in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies and science or academic courses that are related to the aforementioned subject areas and consonant with the pupil’s age and ability.  At least four hundred of the six hundred hours shall occur at the regular home school location.

Verification of Home Schooling Records

The parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible for the care, custody, and control of a child, may indicate they are providing for their child(ren)’s educational needs through home schooling.  Verification may be obtained in many ways, including, but not limited to:

      • Requesting the parent/caretaker to show staff a copy of their home schooling records.
      • Confirming whether or not the child(ren)’s names appear with the recorder of deeds or chief school officer in the county where the child legally resides pursuant to Section 167.042, RSMo.
      • Asking when, where, and how home schooling takes place within the family system.

The Children’s Division does not have the legal authority to compel a family to produce home schooling records.  However, if the family willingly provides home schooling records, staff may review the records to see if they are maintained in compliance with Section 167.031, RSMo.

When Home Schooling is Verified

Once it is verified home schooling is taking place and there are no other allegations of abuse or neglect, staff should conclude the report.

When Home Schooling Cannot be Verified

If during the assessment period staff cannot verify home schooling is occurring, they will send a Compulsory Attendance Notification Letter (CS-21I) to the superintendent or designee of the school district in which the child(ren) reside informing them that home schooling cannot be verified.

5.4.4.5 When a Family Assessment Needs to be an Investigation

Often allegations of educational neglect are addressed during a Family Assessment.  Factors to consider when track changing to an Investigation for educational neglect should include, but not be limited to:

      • Is there a prior history of educational neglect?
      • Was the family cooperative?
      • If there are multiple children, do they all have attendance concerns or just one child?
      • Are the circumstances for the child’s absences beyond the family’s control?
      • What is the school district’s attendance policy?  How many days have been missed?
      • How is the child being impacted by the attendance concerns?
      • What efforts have been made by the school district and/or other agencies to remedy the concern?
      • Can the family be referred for Family-Centered Services to assist in alleviating concerns of educational neglect?
      • Is a referral to the juvenile office appropriate?

Notifying School District

For those cases in which staff have made a determination by a preponderance of the evidence that educational neglect exists, the Compulsory Attendance Notification Letter, (CS-21I) will be sent to the superintendent or designee of the school district in which the child(ren) reside. 

5.4.5 Differential Response Assessments

Differential Response Assessments are assessments that have been determined by the family, staff, and supervisor as needing more intensive work with the family and traditionally go beyond the 45 day completion requirement.  The purpose of determining a Differential Response Assessment is to provide the family with the needed resources, support, and services to further promote safety and well-being within the family during the assessment period.

5.4.5.1 Initial Timeframes

Staff shall follow Missouri statutes regarding response priorities for assuring safety of victim and non-victim child(ren). Staff shall abide by Missouri statute regarding the notification of parents prior to interviewing children, not leaving business cards, etc.

5.4.5.2 Caseload Size

Supervisor discretion will be used to determine the number of Family Assessments each staff will carry.  The number of Family Assessments will be based on the direct services being provided to family.  Individual circuits will determine what staff is assigned Differential Response Assessments.

5.4.5.3 Requirements to Identify Family Assessments as Differential Response Assessments

Differential Response Assessments will require a consultation between staff and a supervisor that the family is in need of services that will continue past the 45 day completion requirement.  These consultations shall be prior to the 45 day completion requirement.  Conversations should include what services the family is in need of, how Children’s Division can support, and resources that can be provided.  Supervisor consults should be more frequent in a Differential Response Assessment to continually assess the family throughout the report period.  All supervisor consults shall be documented in FACES.  The supervisor consult between staff and the supervisor that a Family Assessment is going to be track changed to a Differential Response Assessment shall occur and be documented in FACES by the 45th day.

Supervisory level or higher shall go to the Priority Response/Track Assignment Override screen in FACES and track change the report from “Assessment” to “Differential Response.”

If throughout the Differential Response Assessment process the allegations have been determined to be more severe, supervisory level or higher may go to the Priority Response/Track Assignment Override screen in FACES and track change the report from “Differential Response” to “Investigation.”

5.4.5.4 Staff Expectations

Staff are expected to thoroughly document the on-going assessment of the family, safety, risk, services provided, and case consultations in FACES.  Supervisor discretion should be used to determine the number of home visits that are needed for each Differential Response Assessment.  The number should be based on the needs of the family.  This may be one home visit per week or weekly contact with the family through in-person, phone, or contact with members of their safety network.  The family’s safety network should be meaningful to the family’s situation.  Proper releases are to be used and staff shall tell parents that someone will be contacting members of their safety network to obtain additional information as needed.

Required tools include:

      • Family Risk Assessment Map (CD-220)Suggested tools could include:
      • My Safety House (CD-216)
      • Three Houses Tool (CD-217)
      • Case Mapping Tool (CD-218)
      • Fairy Tool (CD-227)
      • Wizard Tool (CD-228)
      • Timelines
      • Genogram
      • Eco-Map
      • Culturagram
      • Web-based resources
      • Community-based resources

Differential Response Assessments shall be completed within 90 days of the original report date.  If more intense services are needed within the initial 45 day timeframe or after, the case should be referred to Family Centered Services as soon as the need is identified.

5.4.5.5 Differential Response Assessment Conclusion Summary

The following should be included in the conclusion summary of every Differential Response Assessment:

      • Original Concern;
      • Reason the report was identified as a Differential Response Assessment;
      • Services and support provided to the family throughout the assessment period;
      • Safety concerns;
      • Risk reduction;
      • Resolution of the report due to working as a Differential Response Assessment;
      • Whether a Family Centered Services case should or should not be opened;
      • Conclusion for closing is “Agency Responded-Services Provided” when an FCS case is not opened from a DR Assessment.