2022 Edition

Child and Family Development and Support Services (CA-CFD) 3: Intake and Assessment

The organization's outreach, intake, and assessment practices ensure that families receive prompt and responsive access to appropriate services.




  Child and Family Development and Support Services promote positive parenting; support children's health and safety; strengthen parent-child relationships; improve family functioning and self-sufficiency; and enhance parental health, well-being, and life course development.
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions, procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • In a few rare instances, urgent needs were not prioritized; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Culturally responsive assessments are the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations and training; or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Urgent needs are often not prioritized; or 
  • Services are frequently not initiated in a timely manner; or
  • Applicants are not receiving referrals, as appropriate; or 
  • Assessment and reassessment timeframes are often missed; or
  • Assessments are sometimes not sufficiently individualized; 
  • Culturally responsive assessments are not the norm, and this is not being addressed in supervision or training; or
  • Several client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent; or
  • Intake or assessment is done by another organization or referral source and no documentation and/or summary of required information is present in case record. 
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • There are no written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing.  
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Screening and intake procedures
  • Assessment procedures
  • Copy of assessment tool(s)
  • Outreach materials
  • Community resource and referral list
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Persons served
  • Review case records


CA-CFD 3.01

The organization conducts community outreach, or collaborates with other providers who may come in contact with the program's target population, to identify and engage families who need help maintaining or strengthening child and family functioning.


Programs designed to provide services to expectant parents or parents with very young children should strive to identify and engage families as early as possible, to ensure families receive services at critical points in pregnancy and early childhood.

Examples: When the organization provides outreach directly to families, outreach strategies may include, but are not limited to:

  1. telephone calls;
  2. mailings;
  3. announcements at community programs and events;
  4. distributing information packets in places where families naturally congregate (e.g. schools, libraries, and faith-based institutions); and
  5. drop-in visits to the home. 

Examples: Other providers that may come in contact with individuals or families in need of services include, but are not limited to:

  1. hospitals;
  2. prenatal clinics;
  3. health departments;
  4. departments of family and children's services;
  5. schools; and
  6. drug treatment courts. 


CA-CFD 3.02

Families are screened and informed about:
  1. how well their request matches the organization's services; and
  2. what services will be available and when.
NA Another organization is responsible for screening, as defined in a contract.

Fundamental Practice

CA-CFD 3.03

Prompt, responsive intake practices:
  1. gather information necessary to identify critical service needs and/or determine when a more intensive service is necessary;
  2. give priority to urgent needs and emergency situations;
  3. support timely initiation of services; and
  4. provide placement on a waiting list or referral to appropriate resources when individuals cannot be served or cannot be served promptly.


When individuals cannot be served promptly and services should not be delayed (e.g., when individuals are seeking time-sensitive services during pregnancy or for very young children), they should be referred to alternate resources rather than placed on a waiting list. 

Examples: Some organizations that provide only parent education groups, and thus are not required to conduct more thorough assessments as per CA-CFD 3.04 and CA-CFD 3.05, may strive to promote service responsiveness by also seeking information regarding needs, goals, and potential barriers to service participation.


CA-CFD 3.04

Family members participate in an individualized, culturally and linguistically responsive assessment that is:

  1. completed within established timeframes;
  2. updated as needed based on the needs of the family and the design of the program; and
  3. focused on information pertinent for meeting service requests and objectives.
NA The organization provides only parent education groups.

Examples: Timeframes for reassessment may vary based on program design. For example, a program designed to monitor child health and development may require reassessments at specific intervals, e.g., annually or in accordance with specific child development milestones. 


CA-CFD 3.05

Standardized assessment tools are used to identify:

  1. strengths and protective factors upon which the family can build; and
  2. needs and risk factors associated with poor child, individual, and family outcomes.


Programs that conduct assessments of child development should work with families to better understand a child’s strengths and needs, and informed clinical opinion can be used when standardized measures will not accurately reflect a child’s developmental status.


The Assessment Matrix - Private, Public, Canadian, Network determines which level of assessment is required for COA’s Service Sections. The assessment elements of the Matrix can be tailored according to the needs of specific individuals or service design.

NA The organization provides only parent education groups.

Examples: Programs may concentrate their assessments on different areas, depending on the program model and area of focus. For example, while one program might limit its assessment to observation of a parent’s skills and functioning in specific areas, another might take a broader approach and include a more in-depth evaluation of areas such as parent-child attachment and/or child health and development.