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Family Assessment

The process of gathering information on a family to gain a greater understanding of how a family's strengths, needs, and resources affect child safety, well-being, and permanency is called a Family Assessment. The assessment is completed in partnership with the family to understand what everyday life challenges and individual caregiver behaviors contribute to child safety threats to be addressed in case planning.


Family Assessment Response (FAR)

In March 2012, SB 6555 was signed into Washington State law. It requires Children’s Administration (CA) to implement a differential response system (called Family Assessment Response in Washington) that provides an alternative pathway for accepted reports of low-to-moderate risk of child maltreatment. FAR is designed to provide a comprehensive assessment of child safety, risk of subsequent child abuse or neglect, and family strengths and needs. Reports of low-to-moderate risk where children are not in danger or the information being reported does not place children at high risk of maltreatment, will be directed to the FAR pathway. Families, in collaboration with CA’s caseworkers, will assess their needs and strengths and may accept services or concrete resources to address issues of child maltreatment. CA workers will continue to investigate reports of abuse or neglect, when children are determined to be unsafe. Serious physical abuse and sexual abuse intakes are not eligible for FAR. The FAR implementation plan was submitted to the legislature, as required in statute by December 31, 2012. Implementation of FAR will begin no later than December 1, 2013.


Family Preservation Services (FPS)

In Washington State, preservation services include FPS and Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS). Family Preservation Services are available to families whose children face substantial likelihood of being placed outside of the home or to reunify a child in out-of-home care with their family. Family Preservation Services are available to families within 48 hours of referral and are offered for a maximum of six months by a contracted service provider. IFPS are available through a contracted community agency when a family has a child who DSHS believes is at imminent risk of foster care placement. IFPS is a voluntary service that provides up to 20 hours of in-home therapist time each week, for approximately forty days.

Family Reconciliation Services (FRS)

In Washington State, FRS is a voluntary program serving runaway adolescents and youth in conflict with their families. The program targets adolescents between the ages of 12 through 17. FRS services are not long-term services; rather they are meant to resolve crisis situations and prevent unnecessary out-of-home placement. FRS services may include, but are not limited to: short-term family counseling; Crisis Residential Center (CRC) services; and referrals for substance abuse treatment, counseling, mental health services, short-term placements, and Family Assessments in conjunction with juvenile court services.

Family Reunification

In child welfare, family reunification (also reunification) refers to the process of returning children in temporary out-of-home care to their families of origin. Reunification is both the primary goal for children in out-of-home care as well as the most common outcome. Family engagement, individualized needs assessment and case planning, and delivery of cognitive-behavioral, multi-systemic, skills-focused services—among other interventions—are critical reunification strategies.


Family Setting

POC defines three types of out-of-home placement in a 'family setting': 1) state foster homes, 2) private foster homes, and 3) kin placement. State foster homes include: adoptive homes, court ordered unlicensed placements, family crisis residential centers, foster homes/receiving homes, and therapeutic foster homes. Private foster homes include foster care through a child placing agency. Kin placement includes: licensed foster homes (godparents, support networks, Tribal relatives, and other elative care. Non-family placements include: group homes; group care (staff residential); detention centers; group, secured, and regional crisis residential centers; juvenile rehabilitation centers; regional assessment centers; supervised independent living arrangements; and all other.

Family Team Decision-Making (FTDM)

One of four core strategies within the Annie E. Casey Foundation Family to Family (F2F) initiative, Family Team Decision-Making (FTDM) meetings bring together family members, relatives, and representatives from other support systems to consider placement decisions about children in state custody.

Family Voluntary Services (FVS)

In Washington State, FVS support families on a voluntary basis to help prevent chronic or serious problems that interfere with the family’s ability to protect or parent children. This program serves families where the children are safe to remain in the home while the family engages in services through a Voluntary Service Agreement (VSA) or for children who are temporarily placed in an out-of-home setting through a Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA).

Family-Centered Practice Model

See Solution Based Casework


FamLink is the case management information system that Children’s Administration (CA) implemented in February 2009. FamLink replaced CAMIS, the case management system CA had used since the early 1990s.


See Family Assessment Response.

Federal Discharge Date

The foster care discharge date, i.e., the date that a child exits from foster care, is referred to as the Federal Discharge Date, and is recorded for those children who were removed from their homes and for whom there exists a removal date and information about foster care services.


Foster Care

Also referred to as a foster home, foster care is defined by the federal government as is a planned, goal-directed service for children who cannot live with their birth families for some period of time. Children in foster care may live with unrelated foster parents, with relatives, with families who plan to adopt them, or in group homes or residential treatment centers. Foster care is designed primarily as a temporary service that responds to crises in the lives of children and families. The general expectation is that children who enter care will either return to their parents as soon as possible, or will be provided with safe, stable and loving families through placement with relatives or adoption. Some children, however, remain in foster care for extended periods of time. See also out-of-home care. The term out-of-home care or foster care is often used interchangeably with foster care with a relative/kinship care or group/residential care.


Foster Care to 21

Foster Care to 21 will be phased out by June 2015, and is being replaced by Extended Foster Care.


The determination following an investigation by CPS that, based on available information, it is more likely than not that child abuse or neglect did occur. "Unfounded" means a determination that, more likely than not, child abuse or neglect did not occur, or that there is insufficient evidence for the department to determine whether the alleged child abuse or neglect did or did not occur.