VIEWS: 7 PAGES: 5 POSTED ON: 11/28/2011
New York Family Assessment Response (FAR) Quarterly Vol. 2, No. 1 Pups Pave the Way for FAR Marcia Young, Administrator, family members in the home were, Child and Family Services, to use a technical term, “freaking Monroe County Department of out.” The workers, armed with their Human Services recently acquired skills in family engagement, went head-on into the Monroe County received a report home to find out what all the fuss was from an outlying town. The family about. One family member managed had numerous previous reports, to communicate that the family dog and had not exactly welcomed the was having a litter of puppies at that previous workers in the home. The very moment. The grandmother was new report included concerns of chasing the dog around in an attempt inadequate guardianship regarding to have her deliver the puppies in marijuana use in the home. After one place instead of all over the several failed attempts to contact the house, and was finding it to be quite a family, two workers took the 32-mile challenge. journey out to the country to meet with the family and tell them about As it happens, the assigned Governor David A. Paterson the options for response, including caseworker had previous experience FAR. delivering puppies (she formerly Commissioner Gladys Carrión, Esq. questioned whether it was a good Upon arrival, the workers found that idea to put this experience on the children were in school and the her resume) and she shared this information with the family. As soon as the grandmother heard this, she knew it was divine intervention and motioned for the worker to get in there and help her out. This newly trained FAR worker rolled up her sleeves and guided grandma through the delivery process. At some point during the process (there must have been a lull in the conversation), the worker was able to explain FAR, and grandma, elbow-deep in puppies, said she would like to participate in this process. An appointment was scheduled for the workers to return when the whole family would be there. The workers called back later to check on the puppies. The report is that the new mother and puppies are doing well. The caseworkers are a big hit with the family, the children are safe and the case remains open. Yes indeed, engagement was achieved. 1 www.AmericanHumane.org New York FAR Quarterly Vol. 2, No. 1 Raising the FLAG spring, 2009, that some were having difficulty completing the FAST (it had As with most functional assessment instruments, the FLAG is not Michelle Rafael, Senior Policy Analyst 41 assessment areas with separate designed as a checklist to be read to Joanne Ruppel, M.A., Research Scientist assessments for each parent and the parents or children, but as a way III, FAR Program Evaluator each child in the family). Another for workers to consistently record option was sought. A committee at the outcomes of a comprehensive As our program name, Family OCFS, with significant county input, assessment process that includes Assessment Response, indicates and adapted and shortened the FAST to discussions with family members our enabling legislation requires, an better meet the collective needs of and other sources of information assessment of each family is vital to users. The tool is designed to record as appropriate. FAR workers may comprehensively addressing family family strengths and needs on 23 provide family members with a copy needs, identifying family strengths to questions in four general areas (The of the FLAG instrument and use it as support those needs and responding Family Together, Caregivers’ Status, a conversation starter, reference or in a way that meets those needs. Children’s Status and Caregiver discussion guide. They may also use Advocacy Status). other approaches and tools they find When we began pre-implementation helpful in conducting comprehensive planning with Round 1 counties, Like the FAST, there are four detailed assessments tailored to each family. If we reviewed several assessment answer options for each question, workers do not share the FLAG with instruments used by other states which range from a clear strength to families, they can use the FLAG items (Hawaii, Minnesota, North Carolina) a need for immediate or intensive as a reminder to themselves to assess and even other countries (Ireland, service action. In some critical areas, all key areas listed. As each family is New Zealand). The Round 1 counties such as mental health or substance unique, there may be other strengths worked together to determine the abuse, the answer choices now or needs that the worker and family best fit for them and they even held explicitly address the family’s current discuss, but an assessment of the a rare face-to-face meeting to review use of services, which the FAST did areas on the FLAG instrument is and discuss available tools. An almost not do. The tool became different considered the minimum that needs unanimous decision was reached enough from the original to merit its to be done for each family on the FAR to use the Family Advocacy and own name: Family-Led Assessment track. Support Tool (FAST), an adaptation Guide (FLAG), a name that captures of a series of outcome management the engagement spirit — a hallmark tools collectively known as the Child of our FAR approach. and Adolescent Needs and Strengths Assessment, originally developed by John S. Lyons, Ph.D., for the child Q: Is OCFS writing guidelines for FAR mental health population and later documentation in Connections? expanded with additional sections for A: Great question! When the case review was being the child welfare and juvenile justice completed in December, we all realized that some populations. guidelines for what to include in the record would In the spirit of learning and evolving be very helpful. FAR supervisor Faith Aprilante as we go, OCFS allowed a tryout from Orange County is chairing such an effort to use period of approximately six months the expertise of many current FAR supervisors to create once counties began FAR practice. a helpful document. Stay tuned for the results, due out Even after Tompkins County modified the FAST language to be more family- before the next newsletter. friendly, it became evident by late If you have a question you’d like addressed, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. 2 www.AmericanHumane.org New York FAR Quarterly Vol. 2, No. 1 Creating a Favorable Buzz About Our Work With Families Kerron Norman, Director of Child familiar with some of the dimensions reached out to the press to cover Welfare, Westchester County Department of this response. This familiarity also the schools’ success story. The press of Social Services created a favorable buzz about our in turn reached out to WCDSS and new way of engaging families. some of the partners for our input, How did the Westchester County which resulted in a second article. Department of Social Services get Roughly six months subsequent We later collaborated with the Vera favorable press on family assessment to launching the FAR model, we Institute of Justice, which produced a response? Timing combined with decided to celebrate the successes comprehensive document that speaks strategy. of the families we’d worked with. well of Yonkers’ dedication and We were inspired by three things: response to truancy. Since early 2007, WCDSS Child an 18.6 percent improvement in Welfare Services has participated in a school attendance over a two-year In short, good news and good will are multidisciplinary Truancy Reduction period since the start of the Yonkers worth announcing. Task Force. This collaboration started Truancy Reduction Taskforce; a desire from a shared concern about the high to support the Graham Windham rate of truancy in Yonkers. It involves foster care agency’s Graham Youth the Yonkers Board of Education, the Development Program, which trains probation and police departments, youths for careers in the catering the district attorney’s office, Student industry and other fields; and the Advocacy and other community Governor’s proclamation that 2009 service providers. In alignment was the Year of the Caseworker. with this focus, Yonkers piloted an educational neglect unit in the As we planned our celebration, we child protective services program to began to recognize that we were respond to the majority of truancy- in a good place to announce to the related allegations. The following year, Westchester County community when OCFS initiated the FAR model, this “feel good, done good” news we saw it as a natural progression for story about our child welfare work. our work with educational neglect We consulted with the county’s cases. first deputy commissioner and the communications director about We announced our plans to the task our celebration plans and received force and answered their questions. a favorable response to releasing We educated our partners on Social the story to the press. The press and Services Law 427-a, which addresses the community responded quite the legality of a differential response, positively. and referenced the OCFS website for additional review. Extremely helpful The school district also received to us was that several years ago, a favorable community response WCDSS piloted a differential response to FAR and the truancy reduction approach, so the partners were strategies. The school superintendent Helpful Resources From the American Humane Association: • A Social Worker’s Tool Kit for Working with Immigrant Families, which includes A Child Welfare Flow Chart and Immigration Status and Relief Options: Download a copy at www.americanhumane.org/migrationtoolkits • Guidelines for Family Group Decision Making in Child Welfare: Download a copy at www.fgdm.org • The Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services: www.differentialresponseqic.org 3 www.AmericanHumane.org New York FAR Quarterly Vol. 2, No. 1 FAR Quality Assurance Case Review Gail Haulenbeek, OCFS, and other states are doing for quality ◦ Case activity consistent with Faith Aprilante, Orange County FAR assurance but nothing met our FAR model is documented in Project Coordinator and Case Supervisor needs. As a group, the Round 1 progress notes counties and OCFS decided that the ◦ Appropriate use of informal What is “typical” FAR practice? development of quality assurance services and family support How do supervisors, managers, tools was needed and that it would be network administrators and OCFS know what beneficial to everyone to get a better FAR practice looks like with families? ◦ Case closings or openings for understanding of what we could learn How do we know if FAR case practices formal preventive services that about FAR case practice by a review of and services are providing for are within county-targeted casework records. children’s safety and building families’ time frames and appropriate capacities to care for their children? To get started on the development of to case circumstances a first-generation quality assurance These questions have been raised • Practice fidelity process and tool set, OCFS invited the by FAR counties and OCFS during FAR counties to have a representative ◦ How well/clearly are conference calls and at the FAR participate in a conference call to caseworkers explaining the symposium. As FAR has grown from develop the requirements for a review two options? an idea into a significant portion tool and process. The group agreed of some districts’ child protection ◦ How well are caseworkers that the following dimensions of response systems, we have all begun explaining the issues of FAR practice needed to be examined to expand our focus from startup to concern and engaging through a case review: continuous quality improvement. all family members in a Now that we know what FAR is and • Model fidelity discussion of their views have developed our implementation of those issues and other knowledge and skill set, the time ◦ Case track assignment in line concerns of the family? has come for us to ask ourselves, “so with county criteria how are we doing?” The future of ◦ First contact: timely call, ◦ How thoroughly are workers FAR in New York will be determined appointment setup versus exploring/eliciting each in part by what we learn now about unannounced visit family’s strengths and the quality and effectiveness of FAR potential solutions to ◦ Safety: accurate and timely identified issues? practices, so knowing as much as we initial and ongoing assessment can about how FAR is being practiced ◦ Are strengths-based and is very important to all of us. ◦ Re-reporting when danger is solution-focused techniques identified and/or family not being used? The Needs and Requirements cooperating with FAR after FAR track was chosen ◦ Is there sufficiency/ We agreed that we need a quality adequacy of engagement and ◦ Assessments of safety and information gathering on areas assurance process for FAR. Our family strengths and needs of family functioning that tools for assessing the provision (FLAG or other approved impact child safety and well of traditional CPS investigation assessment tool) are consistent being? and assessment clearly would with case circumstances and not meet the need. OCFS asked ◦ Are families being supported documented American Humane to identify what to make decisions regarding what actions, supports or services might be needed? ◦ Do the services or solutions fit the family’s needs and reduce the likelihood that maltreatment will occur? ◦ Is the level of casework contacts and efforts commensurate with family strengths and needs? (Continued on page 5) Training Participants, Livingston and Yates Process & Practice Training, April 6-7, 2010 4 www.AmericanHumane.org New York FAR Quarterly Vol. 2, No. 1 (Continued from page 4) regarding answers to all of the review The report was shared with the questions. counties early in February. Individual ◦ What is the quality of decision debriefing conference calls were set making on closing the case The Review up so that each county could discuss or opening it for preventive its findings with OCFS and American services, including a warm During the week of Dec. 7, 2009, three Humane. The findings were mixed; handoff? 3-person review teams met at OCFS some strengths and a number of to review 94 cases, with roughly equal practice soft spots were identified. ◦ What is the quality of numbers of cases from each of the six Like everything else related to FAR, it supervision in guiding staff Round 1 counties. Reviewers included was a great learning experience. We members’ work with families, Faith Aprilante from Orange County, expect that the review will launch a in coaching their engagement Steve Grome from Onondaga County lot of discussion, self-assessment and and interviewing skills and Gina Newlin from Tompkins more work to develop useful tools for with families and in setting County; Lara Bruce, Debra Gilmore the counties and OCFS to assess and expectations for the quality of and Lauren Morley from American promote quality FAR practice. the FAR process? Humane; and Margaret Coombs, Based on this agreement, OCFS Sonoma Pelton and Karen Sessions, staff developed a draft case review professional development program tool and process in consultation associates from the regional offices. with American Humane and the Each case was reviewed by all three Round 1 counties. It was important review team members and one to everyone that all the perspectives review consensus was reached. The of those of us involved in FAR be process was challenging, as at this represented in the review. In order to point in the evolution of FAR in New do that, a process was developed in York, no specific standards for case which a 3-person team, comprising documentation had been developed; a representative from American thus, documentation varied widely. Humane, an OCFS Regional Office American Humane developed a staff person involved in FAR report on the findings and worked implementation and a county FAR with the reviewers to be sure that the supervisor or worker, would review findings were accurately represented. case records and come to consensus tive: rilan te shares her perspec coordinator Faith Ap FAR implementation t to each case by e perspectives brough a very inter esting experience. Th scussion about FAR practices Participating in this case review was r quite thoughtful di ict reviewers made fo s. Many of the large themes gleaned OCFS and local distr American Humane, nt do cumentation method d not find surprising es through our curre reviewed, which I di and how that translat t among each of the districts the documentation of the from this expe rience were consisten dantly clear throug h this process is that g. What became abun documentation to be ture in order for the but did find reassurin ilies needs more struc ality assurance, I aking with our FAR fam ue to the nature of qu great efforts we are m flecti on of our practice. Tr ate our practice as we ll clear and accurate re ourselves and evalu useful and present a lpin g us “check in” with collaborate in was quite useful in he stricts have agreed to feel that this review w, many of the FAR di e guidelines will help what reso nated from the revie It is hoped that thes as our needs. Using documentin g within a FAR case. d at the same time wo rk to idelines to follow in their case records an developing gu arly demonstrated in that their work is cle our FAR staff ensure actice. ross the state improve casework pr l work being done ac such great, cre ative and thoughtfu view is that there is is innovative work! What I saw in this re ocess only adds to th to evaluate our pr and that continuing Write for Us! The American Humane Association provides this newsletter to New York Contact us with your ideas so we can counties currently implementing get them into our schedule. We’ll feature Family Assessment Response. one story per issue. Please reply to Lara Bruce at Larab@americanhumane.org. 5 www.AmericanHumane.org
"Pups Pave the Way for FAR"