Definition of Family Assessments
As defined by Minnesota State Statute, a family assessment is a comprehensive assessment of child safety, risk of subsequent child maltreatment, and family strength and needs that is applied to a child maltreatment report that does not allege substantial child endangerment. Family assessment does not include a determination as to whether child maltreatment occurred, but does determine the need for services.
The goals of family assessment are:
- Assess for the child's safety and risk of maltreatment
- Build a partnership between parents and social workers
- Ensure the safety of the child or children
- Identify and build on the existing family strengths
- Identify the family's needs and provide services
- Minimize negative labeling of parents involved in the child protection system
- Utilize county resources in the most effective manner to help meet needs of families
Family Assessments are Different from Investigations
Unlike investigations, there is no determination made regarding whether or not an incident of maltreatment occurred. The goal of a family assessment is to use a holistic approach, focusing on the safety of the children and the families' strengths. Concerns and needs are addressed rather than focusing on the details of a specific incident to prove or disprove that abuse or neglect occurred.
Child protection services are often provided on a voluntary basis. There are cases where the need for child protection services is critical and court action can be sought to require the family to accept child protection services and to ensure that the family follows through with the necessary social service plan.