2332. Child Protective Services Family Assessment Response

Original Date: December 2011

Revised Date: December 31, 2021

Policy Review: December 31, 2025

Approved by: Frank Ordway, Chief of Staff


Purpose Statement

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance on completing a Child Protective Services (CPS) Family Assessment Response (FAR). FAR is a CPS alternative response to a screened-in allegation of abuse or neglect. FAR focuses on children and youth safety along with the integrity and preservation of families when lower risk allegations of maltreatment have been screened-in for intervention.

Scope

This policy applies to child welfare (CW) employees.

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. The Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) must:
    1. Assess families in response to screened-in allegations of abuse or neglect and evaluate the safety of children and youth to determine if services are needed for the family to improve or restore family well-being.
    2. Contact law enforcement if there is information about a crime that has been committed against a child, youth, or vulnerable adult, or the children or youths’ welfare is endangered, per the Mandated Reports to Law Enforcement policy.
  2. Caseworkers must include tribes in case planning if children or youth are determined by the tribe to be a member or the biological child of a member and eligible for membership, per the Chapter 3 Inquiry and Verification of Child’s Indian Status of the Indian Child Welfare Manual (ICW).
  3. Area administrators (AAs) must resolve any disagreements regarding the pathway of a CPS FAR intake.

Procedures

  1. When conducting a FAR, caseworkers must:
    1. Make initial contact with the parents or guardians and children and youth. This includes:
      1. Contacting parents or guardians by phone when possible to:
        1. Inform them that a CPS FAR referral has been received regarding their children or youth.
        2. Arrange an initial meeting. Unannounced home visits may occur when efforts to contact them have been unsuccessful or the safety of the children or youth will be compromised.
        3. Provide them with the FAR Brochure and verbally explain the CPS FAR and investigation pathways that includes their:
          1. Rights under CPS FAR.
          2. Options to participate or decline in CPS FAR.
        4. Ask if they agree or disagree to participate in CPS FAR.
        5. Discuss the IFF requirements and collaborate with them to conduct the IFF within 72 hours.
        6. Consult with supervisor:
          1. If the parents or guardians decline or interfere with the IFF and safety assessment of the children or youth.
          2. To determine if cases need to be transferred to CPS investigation.
        7. Submit cases for a statewide CPS alert to the FamLink Service Desk when reasonable efforts to locate a child or youth have been exhausted and either:
          1. The child or youth is believed to be in present danger or unsafe.
          2. The court has authorized pick-up of the child.
    2. Complete a CPS investigation on risk-only intakes, screened-in on an open CPS FAR case, unless the risk-only intake is assigned to another office, per the Case Assignment policy. 
    3. Complete an assessment of the family. This includes:
      1. Reviewing case history, if applicable.
      2. Contacting referrers to verify the information in the intake is clear and complete and to learn additional information such as the family’s schedule and child or youth’s likely whereabouts.
      3. Maintaining confidentiality of case information with non-mandatory reporters. Case information may only be shared with mandated reporters as long as the information is pertinent to the CPS case.
      4. Assessing for present danger on all children and youth in the home and documenting results in a case note.
      5. Taking immediate protective action if a child or youth is in present danger.
      6. Partnering with families to identify collateral contacts to speak with regarding family circumstances and the safety of children or youth.
      7. Contacting relevant collateral contacts to gain information about the allegations and overall family functioning related to safety and risk. 
      8. Gathering comprehensive information to complete the FARFA DCYF 10-474 form in FamLink, which includes completing the:
        1. Safety Assessment/Safety Plan DCFY 15-258 form within 30 calendar days
        2. Structured Decision Making Risk Assessment (SDMRA) within 30 calendar days
        3. Case Plan DCYF 15-259A form, if services are being offered.
      9. Assessing all identified children or youth victims in the home for safety within 72 hours of the date and time the intake was received.
      10. Seeing face-to-face all children or youth in the home not identified as victims prior to the completion of the Safety Assessment/Safety Plan DCYF 15-258 form.
      11. Identifying and verifying all individuals living in the home and on the premises and assess for safety threats and risk.
      12. Providing infant safety education and intervention for all children in the household age birth to one year, per the Infant Safety Education and Intervention policy.
      13. Completing a Safety Plan DCYF 15-259 form with the family when safety threats are identified and can be managed in the home with a safety plan.
      14. Placing children or youth out-of-home by a Voluntary Placement Agreement DCYF 15-431 form, law enforcement, or court order when safety cannot be managed with a safety plan, per the Safety Assessment policy.
      15. Collaborating with families to determine if there is a need for childcare, preschool, home visiting services, or other early learning services for non-school-age children. This includes: 
        1. Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) services within two business days of identifying children 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 website.
          2. Inform the parents or guardians of the ESIT referral and that the services are no cost to families and are voluntary.
        2. Preschool, licensed child care for non-school-aged children, or home visiting services to programs enrolled in the DCYF Early Achievers Program. The programs must rate a level 3, 4, or 5 in the Early Achievers Program unless either:
          1. Families live 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 children.
          3. Children are already attending a program and the parents or guardians do not wish to change programs.
      16. Referring children or youth with complex behavioral health needs for a Wraparound Intensive Services (WISe) screen, per the WISe policy.
      17. Completing the Commercially Sexually Exploited Child (CSEC) Screening Tool DCYF 15-476 when there is suspicion, indication, or confirmation that children or youth may be a victim of commercial sexual exploitation.
      18. Determining whether it is probable that the use of substances, including alcohol, marijuana, or prescription medications, contributed to the alleged abuse or neglect.
      19. Inquiring about the children or youth’s possible membership or eligibility for membership in a federally recognized tribe. This includes,
        1. Following the ICW Manual Chapter 3.0 Inquiry and Verification of Child’s Indian Status.
        2. Contacting the tribe if children or youth are members or eligible for membership with a Washington state tribe to:
          1. Determine the tribe’s level of involvement.
          2. Identify any tribal services and resources available to families.
          3. Review and follow any memorandum of understanding for Washington state tribes for families residing on or off a reservation.
      20. Conducting 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 the Domestic Violence policy and interview all persons, e.g. children, youth, caregivers, or alleged perpetrators separately.
      21. Reporting any new allegation of Child Abuse/Neglect (CA/N) identified during the assessment, following the Intake and Response policy.
      22. Gathering comprehensive information about families to assess children and youth safety and needs and strengths of families.
      23. Completing the CPS FAR Family Assessment (FARFA) within:
        1. 45 calendar days from the intake, if services are not being offered.
        2. 120 calendar days from the intake, if services are being offered and parent or guardian permission has been obtained to leave the case open.
      24. Follow the Photograph Documentation policy if photographs of children or youth or the home environment are needed.
  2. CPS FAR supervisors must:
    1. Review and assign screened-in intakes.
    2. Discuss the intake with CPS investigation supervisors and determine if the pathway should be changed to an CPS investigation.
    3. Contact their AA if there are disagreements regarding the pathway of a CPS FAR intake.
    4. If after reviewing the intake, determine that a child or youth’s safety or the integrity of the assessment would be compromised if the parents or guardians were notified prior to the completion of the initial face-to-face (IFF) meeting, discuss completing the IFF prior to contacting the parents or guardians with the CPS FAR caseworker.
    5. Conduct monthly supervisor case reviews, review all safety plans, and document the reviews in a FamLink case note.
    6. Review CPS FARFAs and Investigative Assessments (IAs) submitted for approval. This includes confirming the case documentation is comprehensive and complete and documenting reviews in FamLink. If:
      1. Approved, transfer cases to the appropriate program or close them.
      2. Not approved, return cases to caseworkers for continued work with instructions of what work needs to be completed before resubmitting for transfer or closure.
    7. Conduct a case staffing with the CPS investigation supervisors to determine how the intake must be assigned when a new intake screens-in for:
      1. CPS FAR and the case is open to a CPS investigation caseworker.
      2. CPS investigation and the case is open to a CPS FAR caseworker.
    8. Transfer CPS FAR cases to CPS investigation if:
      1. There is indication of severe maltreatment or abuse by parents or guardians.
      2. The parents or guardians decline to participate in CPS FAR.
      3. The parents or guardians refuse to allow the CPS FAR caseworkers to complete an Initial Face-to-Face (IFF) or interview the identified children or youth for the safety assessment.
    9. If a case is transferred as described in Procedure Section 2. h., determine who will be responsible for the IFF and if an extension is necessary. Make this determination along with the CPS investigation supervisors.
  3. Case Planning, Ongoing Safety Assessments, and Case Transfers
    Caseworkers must:
    1. Follow the SDMRA policy to determine if cases need to be left open for services.
    2. If services are being offered and will remain open beyond 45 days:
      1. Discuss services with the parents or guardians by the 45th day.
      2. Develop a case plan within 15 days of parent’s or guardian’s agreement.
      3. Obtain parent’s or guardian’s permission to leave the case open up to 120 days for case planning and service provision.
    3. Provide concrete goods and supports that strengthen the families’ ability to safely care for and meet their children’s or youth’s needs. Concrete goods must be directly related to the issues of safety and risk identified in the assessment.
    4. Conduct monthly health and safety visits for all children and youth, parents or guardians, and out-of-home caregivers for cases open longer than 60 days.
    5. Follow the Case Transfer policy when a dependency petition has been filed.
  4. Documentation
    1. Caseworkers must document the following in FamLink case notes:
      1. Parents or guardians were provided information about the CPS FAR and investigations pathway.
      2. Parents or guardians were provided with the FAR Brochure.
      3. Parents’ or guardians’ verbal decision to participate in:
        1. The CPS FAR pathway.
        2. Services that require cases to remain open more than 45 calendar days from the date the intake was received.
      4. Any discussions with parents or guardians regarding child care or early learning services, if appropriate.
    2. Supervisors must document in the Extension/Exceptions page in FamLink:
      1. IFF extensions or exceptions, per the Child Protective Services (CPS) Initial Face-To-Face (IFF) Response policy.
      2. Cases that remain open beyond the 45 days.
      3. Reasons for changing the intake screening decision on the Intake Decision tab.
  5. Concluding a CPS FAR Case
    1. Caseworkers must:
      1. Close cases and submit to their supervisor for approval when:
        1. Cases are within 45 calendar days from the date intake is received, unless parents or guardians receiving services consent to the case remaining open for up to 120 calendar days, per RCW 26.44.030.
        2. Families are not in need of services and there is no present danger or an identified safety threat.
        3. They are unable to locate families and all required ongoing efforts to locate the children and youth and parents or guardians are complete, per the IFF policy. See the Guidelines for Reasonable Efforts to Locate Children and/or Parents DCYF 02-607 as a resource.
        4. Parents or guardians are no longer requesting services and the child is deemed safe through the safety assessment.
      2. Send families the FAR Closing Letter DCYF 10-498 no later than five calendar days after the supervisor approves case closure.
    2. Supervisors must review the documentation and determine whether the case is approved for closures when:
      1. Cases are within 45 calendar days from the date intake is received, unless parents or guardians receiving services consent to the cases remaining open up to 120 calendar days, per RCW 26.44.030.
      2. Families are not in need of services and there is no present danger or an identified safety threat.
      3. Caseworkers were unable to locate families and all required ongoing efforts to locate the children and youth and parents or guardians, are complete, per the IFF policy.

Forms

Case Plan DCYF 15-259A

Commercially Sexually Exploited Child (CSEC) Screening Tool DCYF 15-476 (located in the Forms repository on the DCYF intranet)

FAR Family Assessment DCYF 10-474 (located in the Forms repository on the DCYF intranet)

FAR Assessment Response (FAR) Closing Letter DCYF 10-498 (located in the Forms repository on the DCYF intranet)

Guidelines for Reasonable Efforts to Locate Children and/or Parents DCYF 02-607 (located in the Forms repository on the DCYF intranet)

Safety Assessment/Safety Plan DCYF 15-258

Safety Plan DCYF 15-259

Voluntary Placement Agreement DCYF 15-431

Resources

Case Assignment policy

Case Plan policy

Case Transfer policy

Child Protective Services (CPS) Investigation policy

Child Protective Services (CPS) Initial Face-To-Face (IFF) Response policy

Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) policy

Concrete Goods policy

Domestic Violence policy

Early Achievers Program

Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT)

Family Assessment Response (FAR) Brochure

Family Voluntary Services policy

Health and Safety Visits with Children and Youth and Monthly Visits with Parents and Caregivers policy

Indian Child Welfare Manual

Intake and Response policy

Investigative Assessment (IA) policy

Photograph Documentation policy

Present Danger policy

Protective Action Plan Guide

Safety Assessment policy

Safety Plan policy

Structured Decision Making Risk Assessment (SDMRA) policy

Tribal/State Memorandum of Understanding

Voluntary Placement Agreement policy

Wraparound with Intensive Services (WISe) policy