2332. Child Protective Services Family Assessment Response

Approval:   Connie Lambert-Eckel, Acting Assistant Secretary

Original Date:  January 1, 2014

Revised Date: July 1, 2018

Policy Review: July 1, 2021


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 screened in for intervention.

Scope

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

Laws

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

Policy

  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 the date and time the intake was received.
    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 managed with a plan.
    4. When the child’s safety cannot be managed with a safety plan, the child must 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 if photographs of children or the home environment are needed.
    2. Develop a case plan with the family to reduce the risk of harm to the child using Case Plan form 15-249A; and enter the case plan into the FAR Family Assessment (FARFA) when:
      1. The family assessment indicates services are needed;
      2. The family agrees to services; and
      3. A case remains open beyond 45 calendar days.
    3. Tribes must 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 CPS investigation completed by the FAR caseworker unless the risk only would be assigned to another office per the Case Assignment policy. 
  4. Service Delivery and Case Closure
    A FAR case must be closed within 45 calendar days from the date the intake was received unless the parent or caregiver receiving services consents to the case remaining open for up to 120 calendar days per RCW 26.44.030 (13).
  5. Case Transfer and Assignment
    1. A FAR case must 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 FAR.
      3. The parent or caregiver refuses to allow the FAR caseworker to complete an Initial Face-to-Face (IFF) or interview the identified children.
    2. Cases must be staffed with the supervisor to determine if the case must transfer to investigations or a dependency petition must 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 must be transferred to Child and Family Welfare Services (CFWS) if a dependency petition is filed.

Procedures

  1. The FAR supervisor must 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 an 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. For initial contact with the parents or caregivers and children the FAR caseworker must:
    1. Contact parents or caregivers by phone when possible to:
      1. Inform a parent a FAR referral has been made regarding their child.
      2. Arrange an initial meeting. Unannounced home visits may occur when efforts to contact the parents have been unsuccessful or the safety of the child will be compromised.
      3. Provide the parents with the FAR Brochure DSHS 22-1534 and explain the FAR and investigation pathways to inform the parents or caregivers of:
        1. Their rights under FAR;
        2. Their options to participate or decline 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 interferes 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, the FAR and investigation supervisors must determine who will be responsible for the IFF and if an extension is necessary.
      2. Transfer the case to CPS investigation.
  3. To complete an assessment of the family the FAR caseworker must:
    1. Partner with the family to identify collateral contacts to speak with regarding the family's circumstances and the safety of the children.
    2. Assess for present danger on all children in the home and document in a case note.
    3. Take immediate protective action if a child is in present danger.
    4. Gather comprehensive information to complete the FARFA including:
      1. Safety Assessment/Safety Plan
      2. SDM Risk Assessment
      3. Case planning 
    5. Complete an Investigative Assessment for all risk only intakes received within the office jurisdiction of the open FAR case. Follow Case Assignment policy.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Determine whether it is probable that the use of substances, including alcohol, marijuana, and/or prescription medications, contributed to the alleged abuse or neglect.
    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. Conduct a universal domestic violence (DV) screening at key points in a case, i.e.) a new intake, case transfer, and re-assessment of safety to identify if DV is present. If DV is identified, follow Domestic Violence policy and ensure all persons (e.g. child, caregivers or alleged perpetrators) are interviewed separately.
    11. Report any new allegation of Child Abuse/Neglect (CA/N) identified during the assessment, following mandatory reporting requirements.
    12. The FARFA must be completed upon case closure, no later than 120 calendar days from intake.
  4. To identify and provide services and community resources the FAR caseworker must:
    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 Health Hotline 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 the 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 participation in services can address issues identified in the assessment as opposed to no services being provided.
  5. To complete case transfer and assignment the FAR caseworker must:
    1. Complete case documentation and the FARFA within five calendar days of the decision to transfer.
    2. Staff case with the FAR and investigation supervisors to determine how the intake must 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. To complete case closure the FAR caseworker must:
    1. Close the case when the family is not in need of services and there is no present danger or an identified safety threat.
    2. Send the family the FAR Closing Letter DSHS 10-498 no later than five calendar 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 DSHS 02-607 has been followed and efforts documented.
  7. To properly document FAR cases, the FAR caseworker must:
    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 that require the case to remain open more than 45 calendar days from the date the intake was received.
      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.

Forms

FAR Brochure form DSHS 22-1534

FAR Assessment Response Closing Letter DSHS 10-498 

Commercially Sexually Exploited Child (CSEC) Screening Tool DSHS 15-476 (Available on CA Intranet)

Case Plan form 15-259A (Available on CA Intranet)

Guidelines for Reasonable Efforts to Locate Children and/or Parents DSHS 02-607 (Available on CA Intranet)

Resources

Indian Child Welfare Manual

Protective Action Plan Guide

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