R.A.P.I.D.

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What is the purpose of the family assessment?

What is the purpose of the family assessment?

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A family assessment is a critical step to ensuring that placement of a child in any family setting is safe. The following guidelines describe what a family assessment entails and it is to be recognized that COVID19 may restrict what you can do in some regards.

The aim is to scale the assessment down to the core essentials that help you determine if the placement can be safe for the child using whatever methods you can safely do (phone calls, use of community, etc.) If any assessment is done and the result is that the prospective placement is more unsafe than the child’s current care setting, then do not move the child and continue to pursue the safest possible setting for that child.

People Involved

  • Caseworker, Case managers, family and extended family, neighbours/friends, community leaders, service providers, government officials, family group case conferencing team.

Purpose

  • To gather in-depth information on the family structure, circumstances, strengths, needs, health and educational backgrounds, household income and livelihood skills, child protection risk factors (including root causes for child’s separation if it is the family of origin being assessed), and views around reunification/placement.
  • Family assessment includes not only members of the household, but of the wider family and community (i.e. anyone who is of influence or importance to the family as well as those who know the family).
  • It should be noted that the full engagement and participation of the family as co-planners is required. The overall objective of Family assessment is to determine the family’s capacity and willingness to provide care and protection to the child.

Guiding Notes

  • Considerations should be made for the family’s ability and desire to provide care and protection for the child while ensuring that families have information about the child and the opportunity to participate in decision-making on that child’s best interest.
  • Ensure that families have information about the child and the opportunity to participate in decision-making on that child’s best interest.
  • The family should be treated with respect for both diversity and cultural differences. This information will be used to guide the determination of the most appropriate form of family/community-based care.
  • Establish and support contact between children and families in preparation for reunification.

Action

  • Upon tracing the family, or having an alternative family identified, the caseworker will complete a family assessment to ascertain the family’s willingness and ability to meet the needs of the child.
  • The assessment will involve multiple visits to the home and conversations with people around the family who are considered important or influential, and who know the family (local authorities, community leaders, extended family, neighbours, health care staff, school staff, NGOs, etc.).
  • The family structure, circumstances, strengths, needs, health and educational backgrounds, household income and livelihood skills, child protection risk factors (including root causes for child’s separation if it is the family of origin being assessed), and desires around reunification/placement will all be evaluated. This will help to determine if the placement is appropriate for the child and what supports may be needed to help ensure its success.
  • Thus, the family assessment must include the family’s current capacity to protect and care for the child as well as the possibility of accessing further support from the community and public services (such as schooling, health care, economic strengthening, self-help groups, etc.). Provide non-custodial, community-based alternatives to residential care that support family unity and reflect the family’s changing needs as their cases proceed.