Frequently Asked Questions
For the Legislature
Q: How is Children's Administration working to get the community involved in FAR?
A: FAR depends on community partners to be successful. We believe that communities are invested in the safety and well-being of their children. Regional offices are working with their communities as we roll out FAR. We will also rely on the IV-E Advisory Committee to assist in these efforts. Some businesses have already heard about FAR and are volunteering their help. We are developing a video and brochures to inform communities about FAR.
Q: Will FAR workers interview the child separately from the parents?
A: The safety of the child is the primary focus of all Children's Administration caseworkers. The FAR pathway is a new approach that will help us to build trust and partnerships with families who need our help. The FAR caseworker is expected to talk with parents to get their permission before talking with children. Whenever it does not jeopardize child safety, the FAR caseworker will talk with the family together.
Q: CPS investigations sometimes become very confrontational, which causes families to shut down. How do FAR guidelines for caseworkers address this?
A: Children's Administration is using Solution Based Casework to better engage families involved with CPS. Parents are partners in the FAR pathway. All communication, training, and coaching for FAR caseworkers will emphasize this principle. We will focus on family involvement in every step of the assessment process and service selection. The FAR pathway is a new way to work with families. Coaches will work with FAR caseworkers to ensure the FAR principles are incorporated in their practice.
Q: How will Children's Administration staff be trained to implement FAR and Performance-Based Contracting?
A: Children's Administration and the Washington State Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence are developing training for CA staff that emphasizes the transformative nature of FAR and performance-based contracting for family support and related services. It will also address the ongoing needs of caseworkers. Training will include four phases:
- General information about what all staff need to know about FAR and performance-based contracting.
- FamLink Training that addresses the tools that are changing to support caseworkers.
- Specific training for FAR caseworkers about family engagement and assessment.
- Ongoing coaching for staff to ensure that they have integrated the training into their practice.
Children's Administration and The Alliance are working together to assess which training can be provided electronically and what training is best done in-person.
Q: Is the science of early childhood development being incorporated into the training?
A: The Alliance is updating all training curriculum to include child development and how it is affected by trauma and abuse.
FAR Cost Savings
Q: With the 10-day response time going away, could CPS caseloads increase? The success of FAR depends on cost-savings. How will this work?
A: Children's Administration looked at a sample of 10-day response cases and found that 70 percent to 80 percent did not meet the statutory requirements for a CPS response. Those referrals will be screened out. The 10-day response will be eliminated in October 2013, which will give us time to work with intake staff to ensure they screen out cases that do not meet statutory requirements. The majority of the 10-day response cases that meet the statutory requirements will screen in for the FAR pathway. Research on programs similar to FAR show a reduction in repeat referrals. Over time, a reduction in the number of repeat intakes should reduce CPS workload.
Children's Administration is also working on multiple permanency strategies to help safely reduce caseloads. As we safely return children home or move them into permanent homes, the funding that was used to pay for foster care maintenance may be used to provide support and in-home services for families in the FAR pathway.
Q: Where is the FAR savings coming from?
A: FAR savings will come from reducing caseloads over time. We do not anticipate that they will come in the first few years. Long-term benefits of FAR include:
- Preventing out-of-home placement: When we strengthen families' connections to their communities and help them address the issues that contribute to neglect, we expect to see fewer dependencies. This will reduce Child and Family Welfare Services and adoptions caseloads and result in substantial savings to the foster care system.
- Reducing repeat maltreatment and referrals: If we can help families to meet their needs and find longer-term solutions to issues that affect them, fewer families will be re-referred for concerns about child abuse and neglect. Over time, the reduced repeat referrals and reduced maltreatment will reduce CPS caseloads in both the FAR and investigative pathways.
Children's Administration will continue to track caseloads.
Q: Has Children's Administration assigned someone to look for grant opportunities and other business partners for FAR and performance-based contracting?
A: Children's Administration has approached some philanthropic groups to help provide private funding for these initiatives. We have had more interest and support for FAR than for PBC, and will continue our efforts to reach out to philanthropic groups.
General Questions about FAR - updated 4/2/13
Q: What is the FAR pathway?
A: Family Assessment Response is Washington State's Differential Response Model, an alternative method for responding to allegations of child abuse and neglect. Washington will use the FAR pathway to respond to low - moderate allegations of child abuse and neglect. If the FAR caseworker determines that children cannot be kept safe using voluntary services, FAR cases can be transferred to the Investigative pathway. Although FAR is a CPS response, no one is named as a subject and no findings of child abuse or neglect are made.
Q: What is the Investigative pathway?
A: The Investigative Pathway is the current CPS investigation process. When we implement Family Assessment Response (FAR), CA will have two CPS responses:
- The FAR pathway for low to moderate neglect and minor physical abuse cases
- The Investigative Pathway for sexual abuse and high risk physical abuse and neglect cases.
Q: Why do we need both the FAR and the Investigative pathways?
A: Having both FAR and the Investigative pathway allows Children's Administration to have a response proportionate to allegations of abuse and neglect. The FAR pathway gives us a new avenue to address issues related to poverty and isolation that impact families. Both the FAR and Investigative pathways are CPS responses. The priority for both pathways is the safety of children.
Q: What are the goals of FAR?
A: FAR emphasizes family engagement and concrete services. The goals of FAR include:
- Early Intervention
- Family-Centered Practice
- Increased resource identification for immediate and long-term support outside the scope of abuse and neglect
- Improved engagement and assessment
- Q: How will FAR improve family outcomes?
A: In the short-term, FAR improves the relationship between the family and the social service professional; increases family engagement in services, and helps families take immediate steps to address child safety.
Intermediate benefits of FAR include increasing the parents' understanding of issues that have contributed to safety and neglect concerns. It also helps families learn more about services that can help them develop skills and make behavioral changes.
Long-term benefits of FAR are the safe reduction of out-of-home placements, prevention of repeat maltreatment, reduced re-referrals and improved child and family well-being.
Q: Why are we implementing FAR now?
A: In 2012, with input from CA leadership, the Legislature required CA to phase-in FAR beginning no later than December 2013. The first offices will begin assigning FAR cases to caseworkers in January 2014. Family Assessment Response has been shown to be an effective CPS intervention for families who screen for low to moderate risk of neglect.
Research shows that children served via Family Assessment Response are as safe or safer than similar children who receive an investigative response and had lower likelihood of subsequent maltreatment. Research also shows that:
- Parents who received services through Family Assessment Response received more services to meet basic needs
- Case workers felt better able to intervene effectively
- Costs to the implementing agency were initially higher, but saving were realized over time.1
1National Quality Improvement Center. (2010). Differential Response in Child Protective Services: Guide for Judges and Judicial Officers.
Q: How does the IV-E Waiver support FAR?
A: Children's Administration applied for and received a IV-E Waiver that allows us to reinvest saving as we safely reduce foster care caseloads. This supports FAR by providing the flexibility to utilize the IV-E funding for upfront services and interventions that allow children to remain safely at home.
The IV-Waiver does not give CA new money. The federal government has agreed to waive certain provisions of Title IV-E. As Children's Administration is able to safely reduce the number of children in out-of-home care, these federal dollars can be used for in-home services.
Over the five years of the Title IV-E Waiver, there is a capped allotment of $411 million. This means the Children's Administration can receive up to $411 million in federal dollars during the five years to use for in-home and out-of-home services. Washington is required to match the federal participation.
|AVAILABLE FEDERAL DOLLARS:
||$411 million / 5 Years
|EXPENDITURE OPPORTUNITY WITHOUT A WAIVER:
|EXPENDITURE OPPORTUNITY WITH A WAIVER:
||There is no requirement for the ratio of in-home versus out-of-home spending. This is provided for illustration purposes only.
Q: Does FAR allow families to self-report or request services for assessment and treatment for children adopted from Children's Administration?
A: FAR is a CPS response. There must be an allegation of abuse or neglect that meets the legal definition for a family to receive FAR services. Families may call Intake who will screen their requests to determine if they are eligible for Family Voluntary Services (FVS), Child and Family Welfare Services (CFWS), or Family Reconciliation Services (FRS).
Q: What are the timeframes for providing services to families in the FAR Pathway?
A: The legislation that gives CA the authority to implement FAR allows 45 days to complete the intervention, unless the family is involved in a specific service that would keep it open up to 90 days. Other states who have implemented similar differential response programs, found that cases were open an average of 67 days.
Q: What can I do if I am interested in becoming a FAR caseworker?
A: If you are interested in becoming a FAR caseworker, familiarize yourself with all of the information about FAR on the CA homepage and research done on other states' differential response programs. Talk with your supervisor about your interest in FAR and ask how you can get involved.
FAR Implementation Roll-Out - updated 4/2/13
Q: Which offices will implement FAR in January 2014?
A: The initial offices will be selected from 12 offices that were identified by Regional leadership (each Region selected 4 offices) to complete a FAR readiness assessment. Those offices include:
- Region 1: Spokane, Moses Lake, Ellensburg, and Richland
- Region 2: Mt. Vernon, Lynnwood, MLK, and Kent
- Region 3: Pierce East, a combination of Forks, Port Angeles and Port Townsend, Aberdeen and Stevenson
Once the readiness assessments are complete, CA leadership will consult with the Title IV-E Advisory Committee to choose the offices that will implement FAR first. We anticipate selecting the offices in May 2013 for the January 2014 implementation. We will notify all CA staff and our community partners when the offices are selected.
FAR Caseload - updated 4/2/13
Q: What are the recommended case load sizes for FAR?
A: CA is striving for a 1:18 caseload for all CPS programs. When FAR is first rolled out, we will have a 1:8 caseload ratio for FAR workers while the caseworkers learn the new program.
Q: Will the FAR and Investigative caseworkers work closely together on a case?
A: FAR cases will not be assigned to an Investigative caseworker when they are in the FAR Pathway. If a case transfers from FAR to the Investigative Pathway, the caseworkers will work closely to ensure a smooth transition for the family.
Q: Will FAR caseworkers be expected to meet with families during evening/weekend hours?
A: Children's Administration values family partnerships, we expect that caseworkers will engage with families at times that are convenient for the family. Sometimes this will mean adjusting caseworker schedules to meet with families. The readiness assessment asks offices to identify how they will schedule staff to accommodate families.
Intake - updated 4/2/13
Q: What will happen to low to moderate risk intake reports?
A: Low-to moderate-risk intakes that meet the legal definition for abuse and neglect will be screened in by Intake for the Family Assessment Response pathway or for The Investigative pathway, as appropriate.
If the intake does not meet the legal definition of child abuse or neglect, we do not have the authority to intervene. RCW 26.44.020 defines child abuse and neglect: (1) "Abuse or neglect" means sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or injury of a child by any person under circumstances which cause harm to the child's health, welfare, or safety, excluding conduct permitted under RCW 9A.16.100; or the negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child by a person responsible for or providing care to the child. An abused child is a child who has been subjected to child abuse or neglect as defined in this section.
Q: What about history of past CPS involvement?
A: After intake determines that a case meets the sufficiency screen for CA/N, they will use a new structured decision making tool to determine which pathway to assign a CPS case to. This tool takes several factors into account, including the families' CPS history. If the family has had three or more investigations or FAR Assessments in the past year, the intake will be assigned to the CPS pathway.
CA will begin using a new intake tool to assess which cases go to the FAR pathway and which go to the Investigative pathway in October 2013. The first offices will begin assigning FAR cases to caseworkers in January 2014.
Q: How many intakes will be assigned to the FAR pathway and how did we estimate that 60-70% of the intakes will be suitable for FAR?
A: Other states that have implemented differential response programs found that 70% of their CPS cases received a differential response. In 2011, Children's Administration accepted 35,175 reports of child abuse and neglect. Of that number, 19,030 (almost 60%), alleged the neglect of children, compared to 34% reporting physical abuse and 6% reporting sexual abuse. The majority of neglect cases will screen in for a FAR response and many of the minor physical abuse allegations will be assigned to the FAR pathway.
Q: What happens if there is a new CPS intake on an open case assigned to the FAR Pathway?
A: If there is a new allegation of sexual abuse or high risk physical abuse or neglect, the case will be assigned to the Investigative Pathway. If the intake alleges low - moderate neglect or minor physical abuse, the FAR caseworker will reassess safety to determine if the case is still appropriate for FAR. New allegations of child abuse and neglect require initial face to face contact with children according to current policy. All CA staff are mandated reporters and are required to call intake when they suspect child abuse and neglect.
Initial Face to Face Time Frames
Q: How can we be assured that we will not miss Initial Face-to-Face (IFF) timeframes if a FAR case goes to investigation?
A: FAR and CPS investigators will be expected to work diligently to meet the Initial Face to Face timeframes. If the child is unable to be seen within timeframes, an extension may be granted. All cases in the FAR pathway will have a 72 hour IFF response time.
Q: Because FAR and CPS response timelines are the same, has management thought about how to deal with the impact on Initial Fact-to-Face (IFF) timelines if the FAR worker must see the child within 72 hours and unforeseen issues impact their ability to do so?
A: The IFF performance measures should not be affected by FAR. Similar to a caseworker in the Investigative pathway, the FAR worker must complete an IFF within required timeframes. The FAR worker will ask the child's parents permission to interview the child whenever possible. When the FAR worker has made diligent efforts to complete the IFF but has been unable to do so, the FAR supervisor will grant an extension. Children's Administration will continue to track performance issues related to the IFF, repeat maltreatment, repeat referrals, and entry into out-of-home care from both the FAR and Investigative pathways.
Parent Refusal to Allow Initial Face to Face with child
Q: What if a family refuses to allow a FAR worker to complete an IFF with the child?
A: The FAR pathway depends on the family's voluntary participation. The FAR worker will do their best to engage the family and explain the purpose of talking with the parents and the child. The FAR worker will ask the parents' permission to speak to the child alone, on the rare occasion that talking with children alone is necessary. Whenever possible, caseworkers should speak to families together; a separate interview with the child alone is not required unless the worker feels it is warranted based on additional information they receive or observe when they meet with the family. If the parents refuse to participate in FAR, the case will be transferred to the Investigative pathway.
Q: If the FAR worker must ask permission of parent to talk to the child, how can a FAR worker truly determine whether the child is safe?
A: FAR is a different, non-investigative way to engage families as partners in child safety. Other states have found that the FAR approach increases child safety. Talking with parents before we talk with children builds a more trusting relationship between the worker and the family from the beginning of the case. Research indicates that children in differential response cases are forth coming about what is happening in their family when their parents are present for the conversation. If a FAR worker believes a child cannot be kept safe, the case should be staffed to determine whether it should transfer to the Investigative pathway.
FAR Family Assessment - updated 4/2/13
Q: Will a contracted provider conduct family assessments?
A: No. Children Administration has case management responsibilities and the FAR worker will conduct family assessments with the family.
Q: If the family accepts FAR, is there a separate assessment?
A: Yes. FAR will use the Family Assessment tool in FamLink. This tool was developed with field staff and CA headquarters.
Q: Will workers still make collateral contacts for FAR cases as part of the family assessment?
A: The FAR pathway is a new, non-investigative approach that allows the family to take the lead in assessing their strengths and needs. FAR workers will ask the family who they want to involve in the FAR process (such as drug and alcohol counselors, teachers, relatives, etc.), to provide information about child safety and contribute to the Family Assessment. FAR workers must work with the family to engage with the community (including family members, Tribes, churches, etc) to identify natural supports. It is still very important for FAR workers to gather information about the family to verify that children are safe; however, engaging the family in the process is a critical component of FAR.
Q: Will FAR workers be required to contact the referrer?
A: The FAR caseworker will work with the family to determine who can provide the best information to contribute to the Family Assessment. The FAR worker and the family may determine that the referrer has helpful information about the family's situation. The referrer may be a good source of information about what natural and community supports the family has access to.
Q: What is the estimated timeframe to complete the FAR Family Assessment?
A: The legislation that gives CA the authority to implement FAR allows 45 days to complete the intervention, unless the family is involved in a specific service that would keep the case open up to 90 days. We are working on the policy guidelines for completing the Family Assessment.
Q: If the Family Assessment indicates services would benefit the family, will the FAR staff continue to carry the case, or will it be assigned to FVS?
A: The FAR caseworker will work with the family for the duration of the case. The FAR caseworker and family will identify the services and supports that would be most helpful to reduce the risk of future child abuse and neglect. Once they services and supports have been identified, the FAR caseworker will work with the family, community, and (when necessary) contracted service providers to engage the family in services.
Parent Refusal to Participate in the Family Assessment or Services - updated 4/2/13
Q: What happens if a family refuses to participate in the FAR Assessment?
A: The FAR case will be transferred to the Investigative pathway.
Q: What happens when families refuse or disagrees with the selected services during or after the FAR Assessment?
A: During or after an assessment, if a family disagrees with the FAR caseworker about the services the family needs, there will be a family meeting with the family, caseworker, the caseworker's supervisor, area administrator, and anyone the family chooses to include to discuss the disagreement. It is important in the FAR pathway that the family is a partner in the decision making process, especially regarding the services their family needs. If a family refuses to participate in FAR services, the FAR worker will assess the child's safety. If the child cannot be kept safe, the case will be transferred to the Investigative track. If the child is safe, the case will be closed.
Q: When will a FAR case transfer to the Investigative Pathway?
A: There are 4 times when a FAR case might transfer to the investigative unit:
- If the FAR caseworker goes to the home and finds that the safety concerns and risk are much higher than were initially described in the intake.
- If the family refuses to participate in the FAR assessment.
- If there is a new CPS intake that alleges sexual abuse or high risk physical abuse or neglect.
- If there are significant safety concerns, any time in the life of the case, which cannot be immediately addressed with a safety plan.
Family Voluntary Services and FAR
Q: Is there a pathway from FAR to Family Voluntary Services (FVS)?
A: No. FVS will provide services to families referred from the investigative pathway or to non-CPS families who need assistance and there are no allegations of child abuse or neglect (e.g. parent going in to the hospital with no one to care for their child). Family Assessment Response is a CPS response that provides services to low-to-moderate risk families. Cases will never be referred from FAR to FVS.
FAR Training and Tools
Q: What kind of training and tools will be available?
A: We are working with the training Alliance and FamLink to develop training for FAR caseworkers, other CA staff, community partners, Tribes, courts, and mandated reporters. We are going to partner with the Regional FAR leads and office leads to make sure that the training meets your needs.
Community Resource Teams and Available Resources - updated 4/2/13
Q: FAR is a resource rich model. Where will we get additional resources to implement FAR?
A: We understand that all regions and offices do not have comparable resources. Offices will complete a readiness assessment prior to implementation. Identifying resource gaps is part of readiness assessment. Headquarters will partner with the field and the PBC Network Providers to develop more resources in areas that are resource poor.
One of the goals of Performance Based Contracting is to increase resources in communities that need them. Community Resource Teams, which will include Tribes, PBC Network providers, other DSHS administrations, community partners, local businesses, religious/spiritual organization, etc. will be established in each office and can help identify community resources that may not have been accessed in the past.
Q: Will the Community Resource Team be expected to find someone to provide services, such as car repair?
A: Offices will work with their Community Resource Teams to identify community resources or other DSHS administration services that can provide for the concrete needs of our clients. Services that are not available in the clients' community will be provided through performance-based contracting.
Q: What will the local Community Resource teams look like, what is their role, when and how often will we contact them about helping a family?
A: Local offices will develop Community Resource Teams to address the needs of families in the community. Each Community Resource Team will look different depending on their needs and the resources available. Each team will develop their own meeting schedules. Children's Administration may contact Community Resource Team members when they are trying to access resources for families. Ideally, members of these teams will have knowledge about local resources and can identify help for families that we have not traditionally provided.