2022 Edition

Family Preservation and Stabilization Services (CA-FPS) 3: Intake and Assessment

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




Family Preservation and Stabilization Services strengthen parental capacity, improve family relationships and functioning, increase child and family well-being, ensure child safety, prevent the separation of children from their families, promote successful reunification following a separation, and prevent future crises. 
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
  • Eligibility criteria
  • Procedures for responding to referrals or requests for service
  • Screening and intake procedures
  • Assessment procedures
  • Copy of assessment tool(s)
  • Procedures for developing and reviewing safety plans and reporting safety concerns
  • Community resource and referral list
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Families served
  • Review case records


CA-FPS 3.01

Families facing challenges that affect child and family safety, well-being, and/or stability are eiligible for services when:
  1. children are at risk of being placed in out-of-home care, or need services to facilitate family reunification; and
  2. children can remain in, or return to, the home without compromising the safety of any family or community members.


CA-FPS 3.02

Upon receiving a referral, the organization:
  1. reviews the referral information to make an initial determination regarding the family’s eligibility for service; and
  2. notifies the referral source if the family does not meet the program’s eligibility criteria or the program does not currently have an opening.
Examples: Agencies that may refer families to services include, but are not limited to: 
  1. child welfare agencies; 
  2. youth justice agencies; and 
  3. mental health agencies.

Fundamental Practice

CA-FPS 3.03

The organization responds to accepted referrals and direct requests for service by contacting families within:
  1. 72 hours, if providing family preservation and stabilization services; or
  2. 24 hours, if providing intensive family preservation and stabilization services.


Response time should be appropriate to the urgency of family needs and the level of concern for child and/or family safety. Organizations providing intensive services should be able to respond immediately, if the level of crisis warrants an immediate response.

If a family has been referred to service and the organization is unable to reach the family within the timeframe specified in the standards, the referral source should be notified. If a family has requested service and the organization is unable to reach the family within the timeframe specified in the standard, the organization should document its efforts to initiate contact. 


CA-FPS 3.04

Families are screened and informed about: 
  1. how well family members’ needs and risk factors match the organization’s services; and
  2. what services will be available and when.
NA Another organization or agency is responsible for screening, as defined in a contract.

Fundamental Practice

CA-FPS 3.05

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


When a family cannot be served promptly and services should not be delayed (e.g., because family members have intensive needs), the family should be referred to alternate resources rather than placed on a waiting list.  If referral to other appropriate resources is not possible (e.g., because the organization operates in a rural area and alternate resources are not available), the organization must at least inform the referral source that the family cannot be served immediately.
Examples: The organization might determine that a family cannot be served because, for example, the safety threats presented by the family are too great, or because the family is relatively low-risk and would be better served by a less intensive program. 


CA-FPS 3.06

Family members participate in an individualized, culturally and linguistically responsive assessment that is:
  1. completed within established timeframes;
  2. conducted through a combination of interviews, discussion, and observation;
  3. supplemented with information provided by the referral source, collaborating providers, and/or others involved with the family, when appropriate; and
  4. updated as needed based on the needs and progress of family members.
Examples: Assessment of family relations is often an ongoing process that begins when the worker first meets the family and continues throughout treatment as interventions are implemented and their effects are observed.


CA-FPS 3.07

Assessments are focused on:
  1. understanding individual family members' experiences and perspectives;
  2. understanding both the family as a whole and how the family is impacted by the broader community;
  3. determining the specific challenges, factors, and patterns that lead to problems in the family’s daily life, focusing on the issues that precipitated the need for service;
  4. identifying competencies and resources that each family member can utilize to promote change and reduce the risks that precipitated the need for service; and
  5. identifying barriers to change.


CA-FPS 3.08

Assessments explore the family's strengths, needs, and functioning related to the following areas:  
  1. family relationships, dynamics, and functioning, including any presence or history of child abuse or neglect or domestic violence;
  2. informal and social supports, including relationships with extended family and community members, as well as connections to community and cultural resources;
  3. ability to meet basic financial needs and obtain adequate housing, food, and clothing;
  4. physical and behavioural health;
  5. cognitive, educational, and vocational development and attainment;
  6. trauma exposure and related symptoms;
  7. parenting and disciplinary practices;
  8. gender identity and sexual orientation; and
  9. any history of human trafficking.


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.

Fundamental Practice

CA-FPS 3.09

Personnel protect safety during service provision by:
  1. assessing safety concerns on a frequent and ongoing basis;
  2. collaborating with the family to develop a safety plan that identifies strategies and resources needed to control threats, if serious and immediate safety concerns exist;
  3. involving supervisory personnel when reviewing serious and immediate safety concerns, and the safety plans created to address those concerns;
  4. reporting serious and immediate safety concerns to the referral source or another appropriate authority; and
  5. terminating services and advocating the referral source or another appropriate authority to impose alternative protective measures if safety cannot be reasonably ensured through family preservation services.


When families are mandated to receive services, the public agency (e.g., the child welfare caseworker) may have primary responsibility for monitoring safety, but the organization should still collaborate with the public agency to ensure that this standard is implemented.  When families have sought services voluntarily it will not be relevant to report safety concerns to the referral source, but the organization should still report safety concerns to the appropriate authority in line with mandated reporting responsibilities.
Examples: Safety concerns may be related to:
  1. child abuse or neglect;
  2. self-harm;
  3. physical violence between family members;
  4. threats posed to a family member by an individual in the community; and/or
  5. threats posed to the worker by a family member.

Examples: Other practices addressed throughout this section of standards also contribute to the organization’s ability to protect safety.  For example, the organization will promote safety by ensuring that:
  1. families served meet eligibility criteria as per CA-FPS 3.01;
  2. service frequency is based on family needs and concerns regarding safety as per CA-FPS 5.02;
  3. staff are available to families 24-7 as per CA-FPS 6.07; and
  4. supervisors are available to staff 24-7 as per CA-FPS 2.08.