2022 Edition

Family Foster Care and Kinship Care (CA-FKC) 4: Comprehensive Assessment

Children, parents, and resource families are engaged in an individualized, strengths-based, and culturally responsive comprehensive assessment process that guides supports, service, and permanency planning.


When the organization receives an assessment from another provider this assessment should contain all components identified within the standards or the organization should use a supplemental assessment that satisfies the standards and provides additional opportunities to engage with and learn about children and families.




Children in Family Foster Care and Kinship Care live in safe, stable, nurturing, and often temporary family settings that best provide the continuity of care to preserve relationships, promote well-being, and ensure permanency.
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
  • Assessment procedures
  • Copy of assessment tool(s)
  • Regulatory or administrative requirements that define intervals for assessments, if applicable
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Children and families served
  • Review case records


CA-FKC 4.01

Families participate in an individualized, strengths-based, and culturally and linguistically responsive assessment that:
  1. is completed within established timeframes;
  2. engages all immediate family members;
  3. includes the child and family’s telling of their own story; 
  4. identifies and involves extended family and other supports whenever possible; and
  5. explores individual and family functioning over time, including family competencies and resources and times families successfully managed challenging situations.


The assessment process should be initiated through individual meetings:
  1. with children within the first 72 hours of initial placement or any subsequent placements; 
  2. with parents within the first two weeks of placement; 
  3. with resource parents within the first two weeks of placement;
  4. with children in treatment foster care as part of the admission process on the day of placement; and
  5. with treatment foster parents within 10 days of placement.


The Assessment Matrix - Private, Public, Canadian 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.
Examples: The assessment process should be adapted based on the characteristics and needs of families, as necessary and appropriate. For example strategies for family engagement should account for and accommodate family histories, particularly when kin are caring for children. 

Family participation in the assessment process may not be possible when the organization is serving children with limited family involvement or unaccompanied minors.

Fundamental Practice

CA-FKC 4.02

Assessments explore parents’ strengths, needs, and functioning related to the following areas and their impact on parenting capacity: 
  1. family relationships, dynamics, and functioning, including any history of or exposure to domestic violence or human trafficking;
  2. informal and social supports, including relationships with extended family and community members, as well as connections to community and cultural resources;
  3. trauma exposure and related symptoms;
  4. ability to meet basic financial needs and obtain adequate housing, food, and clothing;
  5. physical health, including any chronic health problems;
  6. substance use;
  7. emotional stability, including mental health, adjustment, and coping abilities;
  8. parenting skills; and
  9. disciplinary practices.


Standardized and evidence-based assessment tools are recommended to inform decision-making in a structured manner and objectively gather data across cases. 

Regarding element (c), the expectation of this standard is that personnel will conduct a screening to identify trauma exposure and reactions, and arrange for a follow-up trauma-focused assessment when needed. Clinical trauma assessment must be provided by appropriately trained clinicians. 

NA The organization, by virtue of law or contract, does not serve parents. 

Fundamental Practice

CA-FKC 4.03

Assessments explore children’s strengths, needs, and functioning related to the following areas:
  1. physical health, including any chronic health problems;
  2. emotional stability and adjustment;
  3. behaviour, including any risk of harm to self or others;
  4. education and cognitive development, including school readiness;
  5. family relationships, including with siblings and kin;
  6. informal and social supports, including relationships with adults and peers in the extended family and community, as well as connections to community and cultural resources;
  7. substance use;
  8. trauma exposure and related symptoms;
  9. gender identity and sexual orientation; and
  10. any history of or exposure to domestic violence or human trafficking.


Regarding element (i), when exploring gender identity and sexual orientation personnel should ask open-ended questions that prompt discussion and help establish rapport, as opposed to asking direct questions. Information shared should be used to inform service planning, as well as for matching children with resource families they may be able to join, when appropriate, and should only be included in written plans when children give explicit consent.
NA The organization does not provide case management services for children. 
Examples: Several tools are available to help identify a potential victim of human trafficking and determine next steps toward an appropriate course of treatment. Examples of these tools include but are not limited to: the Rapid Screening Tool for Child Trafficking and the Comprehensive Screening and Safety Tool for Child Trafficking.

Fundamental Practice

CA-FKC 4.04

Assessment is ongoing and formal re-assessments of strengths, needs, risk, and safety are conducted with families periodically, including: 
  1. as part of case reviews;
  2. for decision making processes; and
  3. when children’s or families’ circumstances change.


To prevent unnecessary placement changes and ensure placement in the least restrictive setting that meets their needs, an individualized re-assessment should determine the appropriate level of care for youth who are pregnant or parenting and evaluate whether the youth’s needs can continue to be met in a family setting.
Examples: Because disclosure of trauma often occurs gradually, organizations can consider integrating routine trauma screenings into the ongoing assessment process, and including multiple reporters, to develop a more complete understanding of the child or family’s trauma history.