2332. Child Protective Services Family Assessment Response

Approval:   Connie Lambert-Eckel, Acting Assistant Secretary

Original Date:  January 1, 2014

Revised Date: October 19, 2017

Policy Review: October 1, 2020

Purpose Statement

Family Assessment Response (FAR) is a Child Protective Services (CPS) alternative response to an investigation of a screened-in allegation of child abuse or neglect. FAR focuses on child safety along with the integrity and preservation of the family when lower risk allegations of child maltreatment have been reported.


This policy applies to Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) staff.


RCW 26.44.010  Declaration or Purpose
RCW 26.44.020  Definitions
RCW 26.44.030  Reports, Duty and Authority, Duty of Receiving Agency, Duty to Notify, Case Planning and Consultation, Penalty for Unauthorized Exchange of Information, Filing Dependency Petitions, Investigations, Interviews of Children, Records, and Risk Assessment Process
RCW 26.44.031  Records, Maintenance and Disclosure, Destruction of Screened-Out, Unfounded, or Inconclusive Reports, Rules and Proceedings for Enforcement
RCW 26.44.170  Alleged child abuse or neglect, Use of alcohol or controlled substances as contributing factor, Evaluation
RCW 26.44.195  Negligent treatment or maltreatment, Offer of services, Evidence of substance abuse, In-home services, Initiation of dependency proceedings
RCW 26.44.260  Family Assessment Response
RCW 26.44.270  Family Assessment and Recommendation of Services
RCW 26.44.272  Family Assessment, Assessment for Child Safety and Well-being, Referral to Preschool, Child Care, or Early Learning Programs and Communicating with and Assisting Families
RCW 74.13.020  Definitions
RCW 74.13.031  Duties of Department, Child Welfare Services and Children's Services Advisory Committee


  1. Make initial contact with the parent or caregivers to schedule an appointment to meet with the family to provide them with written information regarding FAR.
  2. Safety Assessment
    1. All identified child victims in the home must be assessed for child safety within 72 hours of receipt of the intake.
    2. All children in the home not identified as victims must be seen face-to-face prior to the completion of the Safety Assessment.
    3. A safety plan with the family must be completed when safety threat(s) are identified and can be controlled with a plan.
    4. When the child’s safety cannot be managed with a safety plan, the child will be placed out-of-home by a Voluntary Placement Agreement, law enforcement or court order.
  3. Family Assessment
    1. Comprehensive information about the family must be gathered to assess child safety and the family's needs and strengths. Follow the Photograph Documentation policy 6500 if photographs of children or the home environment are needed.
    2. A case plan must be developed with the family to reduce the risk of harm to the children when:
      1. The family assessment indicates services are needed; and
      2. The family agrees to services.
    3. Tribes will be included in case planning if the child is determined by the tribe to be a member or the biological child of a member and eligible for membership per Chapter 3 Inquiry and Verification of Child’s Indian Status of the Indian Child Welfare Manual (ICW).
    4. A meeting with the family must be conducted if they refuse to participate in identified services.
    5. All identified children, parents and out-of-home caregiver must receive monthly health and safety visits for cases open longer than 60 days.
    6. All risk only intakes screened-in on an open FAR case will have a completed CPS investigation by the FAR caseworker.
  4. Case Closure
    1. The case must be closed within 45 days from the date the intake was received.
    2. The FAR case may remain open an additional 45 days to allow for service delivery (paid or unpaid) with parent or caregiver’s consent.
    3. The case cannot be open more than 90 days per RCW 26.44.030 (13).
  5. Case Transfer and Assignment
    1. A FAR case will be transferred to CPS investigation if:
      1. There is indication of severe maltreatment or abuse by a parent or caregiver.
      2. The parent or caregiver declines to participate in the FAR program.
      3. The parent or caregiver refuses to allow the FAR caseworker to complete an IFF or interview the identified children.
    2. Cases will be staffed with the supervisor to determine if the case will transfer or a dependency petition will be filed when:
      1. Present danger cannot be controlled with a protective action plan.
      2. The child’s safety cannot be managed with a safety plan.
    3. A FAR case will be transferred to Child and Family Welfare Services (CFWS) if a dependency petition is filed.


  1. The FAR supervisor will review the intake and:
    1. Discuss the intake with the CPS investigation supervisor if the pathway should be changed to CPS investigation.
    2. Resolve disagreements regarding the pathway with the area administrator (AA).
    3. Discuss with the FAR caseworker whether the child’s safety or the integrity of the assessment would be compromised if the parents were notified prior to the completion of the IFF.
  2. Initial Contact with the parents or caregivers and children
    The FAR caseworker will:
    1. Contact parents or caregivers by phone when possible to:
      1. Inform the parents a FAR referral has been made regarding their children.
      2. Arrange an initial meeting. Unannounced home visits may occur but only when efforts to contact the parents have been unsuccessful or the safety of the child will be compromised.
      3. Explain the FAR and investigation pathways and inform the parents or caregivers of:
        1. Their rights under FAR;
        2. Their options to participate or decline to participate in FAR; and
        3. CA options if they do not agree to participate in services offered in FAR.
      4. Ask if the parent or caregiver agrees or disagrees to participate in FAR.
      5. Discuss the IFF requirements with parents or caregivers and collaborate with them to conduct the IFF within 72 hours.
    2. If the parent declines or interfere with the IFF and safety assessment of the child:
      1. Staff the case with the FAR and investigation supervisors to transfer the case to CPS investigation. If the IFF has not yet been completed, he FAR and investigation supervisors will determine who will be responsible for the IFF and if an extension is necessary.
      2. Transfer the case to CPS investigation.
  3. Assessment of Family
    The FAR caseworker will:
    1. Assess for present danger on all children in the home and document in a case note.
    2. Take immediate protective action if a child is in present danger.
    3. Gather comprehensive information to complete the FAR Family Assessment (FARFA) including:
      1. Safety Assessment/safety plan
      2. SDM Risk Assessment
      3. Case planning 
    4. Determine whether it is probable that the use of substances, including alcohol, marijuana, and/or prescription medications, contributed to the alleged abuse or neglect.
    5. Partner with the family to identify collateral contacts to speak with regarding the family's circumstances and the safety of the children.
    6. Complete an Investigative Assessment for all risk only intakes received on an open FAR case.
    7. Assess for child safety and child well-being when collaborating with a family to determine the need for childcare, preschool, or home visiting services for non-school-age children.
    8. Complete the Commercially Sexually Exploited Child (CSEC) Screening Tool DSHS 15-476 when there is suspicion, indication or confirmation that a child or youth may be a victim of commercial sexual exploitation.
    9. Inquire about the child’s possible membership or eligibility for membership in a federally recognized tribe.
      1. Follow ICW Manual Chapter 3.0 Inquiry and Verification of Child’s Indian Status.
      2. If a child is a member or eligible for membership with a Washington state Tribe, contact the tribe to:
        1. Determine the tribe’s level of involvement.
        2. Identify any tribal services and resources available to the family.
        3. Review and follow any Memorandum of Understanding for Washington state tribes for families residing on or off a reservation.
    10. Report any new allegation of CA/N identified during the assessment, following mandatory reporting requirements.
    11. The FARFA must be completed upon case closure, no later than 90 days from intake.
  4. Identify and Provide Services and Community Resources
    The FAR caseworker will:
    1. Develop a case plan with the family when the family assessment identifies a need for services or community resources. This includes:
      1. Referring a child to:
        1. Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) services within two business days of identifying a child younger than three years old with a possible developmental delay. To refer:
          1. Contact the Family Resources Coordinator at 1-800-322-2588 or through the ESIT web site.
          2. Inform the child’s parents or legal guardian of the ESIT referral and that the services are no cost to the family and:
            1. Voluntary for non-dependent children; and
            2. Mandatory for dependent children.
        2. Preschool, licensed childcare for non-school-aged children or home visiting services to programs enrolled in the Department of Early Learning (DEL) Early Achievers Program. The programs must rate a level 3, 4, or 5 in the Early Achievers Program unless:
          1. The family lives in an area with no programs that rate 3 or higher in the Early Achievers Program (or if all the childcare programs that meet this requirement are full);
          2. The program is not able to meet the needs of the child; or
          3. The child is already attending a program and the parents or caregivers do not wish to change programs.
        3. A Designated mental health provider if the child or youth has complex behavioral health needs for a Wraparound Intensive Services (WISe) screen per 4542. WISe policy.
      2. Providing concrete goods and supports that strengthen the family’s ability to safely care for and meet their children’s needs. Concrete goods must be directly related to the issues of safety and risk identified in the assessment.
    2. Conduct a meeting when the family declines services and the Safety Assessment indicates:
      1. The child is unsafe. Complete a Family Team Decision Making meeting to determine if:
        1. An in-home safety plan can be implemented.
        2. A safety plan cannot be implemented and out-of-home placement is necessary to ensure the child’s safety
      2. The child is safe. Meet with the family to discuss how the family’s participation in services offered can address issues identified in the assessment as opposed to closing the case with no services provided.
  5. Case Transfer and Assignment
    The FAR caseworker will:
    1. Complete case documentation and the FARFA within five calendar days of the decision to transfer.
    2. Staff case with FAR and investigation supervisors to determine how the intake will be assigned when a new intake screens in for:
      1. FAR and the case is open to an investigation caseworker.
      2. Investigation and the case is open to FAR caseworker.
  6. Case Closure:
    The FAR caseworker will:
    1. Close the case when the family is not in need of services and there is no present danger or identified safety threat.
    2. Send the family the FAR Closing Letter DSHS 10-498 no later than five days after the supervisor approves case closure.
    3. Close the case if unable to locate the family and the Guidelines for Reasonable Efforts to Locate Children and/or Parents has been followed and efforts documented.
  7. Documentation
    The FAR caseworker will:
    1. Document in a FamLink case note:
      1. Parents were provided information about the FAR and investigations pathway.
      2. Parents were provided with the FAR Brochure DSHS 22-1534.
      3. Parent’s verbal decision to participate in:
        1. The FAR pathway
        2. Services more than 45 days from when the case opened.
      4. Any discussions with parents regarding child care or early learning services, if appropriate.
    2. Document in FamLink:
      1. Reasons for changing the intake screening decision on the Intake Decision tab.
      2. An approved IFF extension.


FAR Brochure form DSHS 22-1534

FAR Assessment Response Closing Letter DSHS 10-498


Indian Child Welfare Manual

Guidelines for Reasonable Efforts to Locate Children and/or Parents (available on the CA intranet)

Protective Action Plan Guide