2.1 Assessment and Planning
The Family-Centered Services assessment is integral in determining appropriate services for intact families with open FCS cases. Accurate, comprehensive assessments that engage the family lead to plans that appropriately address the family’s needs. Planning for the interventions that will lead to case closure begins with the assessment process and must be re-assessed throughout the casework process during ongoing evaluation of progress.
The Family-Centered Services assessment is defined as an on-going process which evaluates and identifies the current level of family functioning, the current risk to the child(ren) and the family strengths and service needs.
Family Assessment Tools
Staff must complete an assessment of the family within the first thirty (30) days of case opening by using any assessment tools that work for the needs of the family. The assessment of the family should be documented in case contact notes in FACES. Tools that may be used include, but are not limited to:
- Genogram (CD-14G) -The Genogram is completed in order to gain information regarding the structure and history of the family/household. It is important to know who makes up the family, who lives in the household, and relative supports. This provides information that relates to behavior passed from one generation to the next, extended family support and conflict, and important historical information that may be related to present functioning.
- Culturagram (CD-14F) -The purpose of the culturagram is to help staff recognize the cultural differences between families. Culture is defined as the thoughts, ideas, behavior patterns, customs, values, skills, language, and religion a person holds. By completing the culturagram, staff develop a better understanding of the family’s needs and strengths and can begin to plan for appropriate interventions on an individual, family, and community basis. The use of the culturagram helps empower families by leading to a greater appreciation and celebration of their unique cultural backgrounds.
- Eco-map (CD-14H) -The ecomap is completed to map the family system and its relationships with individuals and systems outside the family. The ecomap will include important nurturing or conflictual connections between the family and environment. It also demonstrates the flow of resources, as well as resources the family needs that are conflictual or non-existent.
- Timeline -Used to identify events experienced by the family. By plotting these events on a linear line, this method can help determine the onset of the presenting problem, what was going on before and after the onset.
- Three Houses Tool (CD-217) – The Three Houses tool matches the three key assessment questions of Signs of Safety assessment and planning – What are we worried about, What’s working well, and What needs to happen? – T three houses tool is used to better engage children in the conversation.
These tools are designed to assist staff in conducting thorough and comprehensive assessments of:
- Family history
- Child safety
- Family structure and functioning
- Family strengths and supports
- The family’s level of risk for future child maltreatment
- The family’s need for services
A good family assessment should lead to a meaningful safety goal. Safety goals are clear, simple statements that convince everyone the case can be closed. Safety goals do not include how the goals will be achieved — in other words they are not tasks. Safety goals are designed to reduce risk of future child maltreatment and to promote and maintain positive change in family functioning.
Assessment of Safety
Assessment of child safety is always a primary concern of the division and whether staff are formally or informally assessing the child’s safety, assessment continues throughout the life of the case. Staff should always be alert to changes in the family circumstances or household composition that pose a threat to the safety of the child.
The Immediate Safety Intervention Plan (CD-263) is to be used to document any necessary interventions to address immediate safety concerns. The CD-263 should be used when there is identifiable and likely danger to the child(ren), there is insufficient existing safety to mitigate the danger, and some action is needed to keep the danger from actually occurring. The CD-263 could be developed in a first meeting with the family or at any time in an assessment.
History with the Agency
Prior to making contact with the family the worker must document in the narrative a brief description of prior reports of abuse/neglect, as well as a summary of concerns identified in unsubstantiated reports. Due to expungement criteria for unsubstantiated reports, incident numbers will NOT be listed. Workers should use such phrases as “Concerns have been identified in the past that include.”, rather than stating “These concerns were from prior reports” in their documentation.
Identifying Children with American Indian Heritage/Alaskan Native
During the assessment process, staff should identify American Indian Heritage/Alaskan Native for children listed in the FCS case. Any initial American Indian heritage including the specific tribe obtained should be documented in the opening summary in FACES. Follow up information should be documented in the quarterly summaries.