Family Assessment in Child Welfare Services


Family assessment instruments can enhance the clinical judgment of child welfare practitioners by structuring decision-making processes and demonstrating the linkages between assessment, service provision, and child and family outcomes. This article describes the concept of family assessment in the child welfare context and provides an overview of the theoretical and disciplinary influences in the family assessment field. Based on a structured review of 85 instruments, the article discusses 21 that appear to the be the most valid and reliable for evaluating four federally-defined domains of family assessment: (1) patterns of social interaction, (2) parenting practices, (3) background and history of the parents or caregivers, and (4) problems in access to basic necessities such as income, employment, and adequate housing. Key measurement criteria as well as practical considerations in the selection and implementation of family assessment instrumentation in child welfare are discussed.

Johnson, M.A.
Stone, S.
Lou, C.
Vu, C.
Ling, J.
Mizrahi, P.
Austin, M.J.
Publication date: 
November 5, 2008
Publication type: 
Journal Article