New York Family Assessment Response

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Project Overview

In 2007, New York state enacted legislation to amend its social service law to allow for the initiation and implementation of a family assessment response (FAR) as an alternative means of addressing child maltreatment reports. The legislation permitted county child protective services to apply to the State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) to respond differently to accepted reports of child neglect, based on such factors as the type and severity of the alleged maltreatment, number and sources of previous reports, and willingness of the family to participate in assessment and services.

Following the approval of the legislation, OCFS contracted with American Humane Association to provide assistance to the state with implementing this family-led, solution-focused practice shift. A growing representation of counties from throughout the state have applied for and been included in this initiative. Counties have the flexibility to decide what types of reports they will screen into the FAR track, and can include everything from just “education neglect” through using FAR as the preferred initial method for cases unless otherwise specified by the law.

Counties Involved

The first round of FAR implementation began in November 2008, and included six diverse counties: 

  • Chautauqua
  • Erie
  • Onondaga
  • Orange
  • Tompkins
  • Westchester

The second round of FAR implementation began in September 2009 with the addition of eight new counties, including one Native American community:

  • Allegany
  • Cattaraugus
  • Chemung
  • Columbia
  • Essex
  • Monroe
  • St. Regis Mohawk
  • Washington

The third round of FAR implementation began in May 2010 with five additional counties:

  • Putnam
  • Suffolk
  • Rensselaer
  • Yates
  • Livingston

The fourth round of FAR implementation began in March 2011 with the addition of four additional counties and growing throughout 2011:

  • Cayuga
  • Madison
  • Rockland
  • St. Lawrence

The fifth round of FAR implementation began in January 2012 with the addition of two new counties to date:

  • Niagara
  • Oswego

Implementation

The early implementation process includes a two-day FAR Process and Practice training that examines the history of differential response across the country and New York State’s process for the FAR initiative, and reviews county-specific criteria for FAR practice. In addition, counties receive multiple on-site coaching sessions and other forms of technical assistance, and attend a FAR symposium to reinforce a paradigm shift in practice as counties begin using the FAR approach with families.

Several months following the initiation of FAR practice, three supplemental trainings are offered: Supervising a Practice Shift to FAR, Solution-Focused Casework Practice With Children and Families and Assessing Safety and Risk in FAR. American Humane Association has also developed a family assessment response webinar series for state and county staff. These monthly, 90-minute sessions address issues related to FAR practice, implementation and supervision specific for workers, supervisors and administrators. Counties have also held stakeholder and community meetings to encourage the participation of their local community agencies in this process. Additional training, coaching, and technical assistance are underway for Round 1-3 counties and OCFS.

Family Assessment Response (FAR) Newsletter

Volume 1, No. 1, 2009 (PDF)

Volume 2, No. 1, 2010 (PDF)

Volume 2, No. 2, 2010 (PDF)

Volume 2, No. 3, 2010 (PDF)

Volume 2, No. 4, 2011 (PDF)

Volume 3, No. 1, 2011 (PDF)

          FAR Sample Case Documentation

Fall/Winter 2011 (PDF)

Winter 2012 (PDF)

Implementation, Initial Outcomes and Impacts of Pilot Project

The New York Office of Child and Family Services conducted an evaluation of the state’s Differential Response Initiative and created a final report presenting findings and recommendations to the Governor and Legislature.

Read the full report and findings (PDF)

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In October 2008, American Humane Association, in partnership with Walter R. McDonald & Associates and the Institute of Applied Research, was selected to receive a federal cooperative agreement totaling nearly $10 million over five years to develop the National Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services. The grant was awarded by the Children’s Bureau of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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