The Use of Safety and Risk Assessment in Child Protection Cases - Montana

Date: March 2021

Safety Assessment

Citation: Ann. Code § 41-3-102; Child & Fam. Serv. Pol. Man. § 202-3

'Safety and risk assessment' means an evaluation by a social worker following an initial report of child abuse or neglect to assess the following:

  • The existing threat or threats to the child's safety
  • The protective capabilities of the parent or guardian
  • Any particular vulnerabilities of the child
  • Any interventions required to protect the child
  • The likelihood of future physical or psychological harm to the child

From the policy manual: In conducting the investigation and assessment of a report, the child protection specialist must collect information and proceed in accordance with the SAMS Family Functioning Assessment Field Guide. The Family Functioning Assessment (FFA) forms and field guide shall be used as the specialist's guide to the investigation and assessment.

Safety Decisions and Safety Planning

Citation: Child & Fam. Serv. Pol. Man. § 202-3

If the specialist identifies that any child is in immediate danger at any point during the investigation and assessment, a protection plan must be put in place before the Specialist leaves the location of the child.

Supervisory consultation must be completed within 24 hours of the first face-to-face contact with all children in the family and documented in the contacts and nature sections of the FFA. If immediate danger is identified, supervisory consultation should occur prior to leaving the situation, if possible, to ensure the protection plan is adequate. If legal custody is being sought due to a child being in immediate danger, supervisor consultation must occur prior to removal of the child, if at all possible. This consultation can be completed by phone or in person.

Upon completion of the FFA, the specialist must make a determination regarding the safety of the child and the outcome of the report. If a child is determined to be unsafe, further action must be taken by the specialist, in accordance with Montana law and the policy of the Child and Family Services Division to ensure the safety and health of the child.

Risk Assessment

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Family Strengths and Needs Assessment to Determine Service Needs

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Ongoing Assessment to Evaluate Progress on the Service Plan

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Assessment for Reunification and/or Case Closure

Citation: Child & Fam. Serv. Pol. Man. § 202-4

Open cases may be closed when the specialist determines that the child is safe through the Safety Assessment at Case Closure process and the supervisor agrees to the closure. Reasons for the closure shall be documented in the case record and on the Safety Assessment at Case Closure form. The specialist is encouraged to notify the parent in writing that the agency has terminated services to the family when a case is closed.