Family Assessment Response
Family Assessment Response: Another Road to Safety
Family Assessment Response (FAR) is New York State’s alternative Child Protective response to some reports of child maltreatment. FAR does not require an investigation and determination of allegations and individual culpability for families reported to the SCR. It is an alternative approach to providing protection to children by engaging families in an assessment of child safety and of family needs, in finding solutions to family problems and in identifying informal and formal supports to meet their needs and increase their ability to care for their children.
Safety is Always First
Those CPS programs that use FAR do not use it for every CPS report. FAR can only be used where caseworkers see that there is no immediate danger to children and where there are no allegations of serious child abuse. Each social services district develops its own specific criteria for using FAR. Child protective services will continue to use traditional investigations for serious reports of child abuse and neglect and where children are in imminent risk of harm. But investigations are not necessary for many struggling families who want what is best for their children.
The FAR Philosophy
With FAR, caseworkers work in partnership with families to address problems that could affect child safety. There is no CPS “investigation” and there is no determination of whether maltreatment occurred. There is no blame.
FAR is based on the belief that parents love their children and want them to be safe. Sometimes parents need help to make that happen. FAR can provide that help. The FAR approach is family centered and family-led. It builds on families’ strengths and responds to their individual needs. The approach is solution-focused. That means it is designed to connect families with the services that they need to strengthen and support their families and to prevent future involvement with the child welfare system.
The FAR Approach
Participation in FAR is voluntary. When a caseworker offers to respond to a CPS report with FAR, the subject (that is the person who the report says engaged in child maltreatment or neglect) can always choose to have the CPS respond with a traditional investigation instead.
Maintaining Child Safety
Although the FAR approach is unlike an investigative approach, FAR is still a child protective response, and caseworkers must always protect child safety first and foremost. Caseworker and family are both constantly assessing safety and risk for the family’s children. If, while working with a family, a FAR caseworker had serious concerns about the immediate safety of a child, the child protective service would have to open an investigation and stop using FAR.