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Pups Pave the Way for FAR

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					                                 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 larab@americanhumane.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

				
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