Comprehensive family assessment is the ongoing practice of informing decision-making by identifying, considering, and weighing factors that impact children, youth, and their families. Assessment occurs from the time children and families come to the attention of the child welfare system-or before-and continues to case closure.
Many factors, including the child's safety, the risk of future maltreatment, parental protective capacity, and child well-being must be accurately assessed on an ongoing basis. Assessment provides the foundation for assisting children, youth, and families at a number of critical points, including:
- When families are presented with new challenges
- When there are safety concerns for the child or other family members
- When decisions must be made about the need for services or the appropriate type and intensity of interventions or supports
- When reviewing service effectiveness and case progress
Comprehensive family assessment is guided by principles of family-centered, culturally competent practice. Whenever possible, families are seen as providing the best care and protection for their children, family represents the focus of all work, and family members are actively involved in the development and implementation of any plan. The family's culture, race, ethnicity, values, and customs must be respected and carefully considered.