A new tool for families in crisis

In January, three communities in our state will see a profound change in how the Department of Social and Health Services’ Child Protective Services responds to some allegations of child abuse and neglect.

The new Family Assessment Response, or FAR, made possible by legislation passed in 2012, maintains our focus on child safety while in some instances providing an alternative to a CPS investigation. The FAR approach recognizes that most families want to keep their kids safe and are better able to care for them when basic needs are met and when they have connections in their communities.

FAR, which will be phased in statewide, is designed to help families find a constructive and productive pathway to community services and supports. Using FAR, we will work with families to determine what they are doing well and where they need help, whether it’s parenting skills, transportation, housing, etc.

Eligible families may volunteer to enter the FAR pathway when we screen in allegations that are low- or medium-risk for neglect or physical abuse. Families also may opt to take the investigative route, and we can determine at any time, based upon the facts presented, that one is needed. CPS will continue to investigate allegations of sexual abuse and serious physical abuse.

We receive approximately 75,000 reports of child abuse and neglect each year and open investigations into more than one-third of those. Based on our review of our own data and that in other states that have successfully implemented FAR, we estimate about 65 percent of CPS cases we open are eligible for the FAR pathway, once it is in place statewide.

We need to have both tools — FAR and investigations — to respond to families in crisis. We look forward to the possibilities FAR creates for families to build on their strengths.

We already are lining up resources — non-profits, schools, businesses, etc., in the areas in which FAR will begin in January — Lynnwood, Aberdeen and two ZIP Codes in Spokane. These partnerships are an acknowledgement that all of us have a role in keeping kids safe.

And that serves as a reminder. If you suspect abuse or neglect of a child, please call 1-866-ENDHARM (1-866-363-4276*). If you believe a child is in immediate danger, please call 9-1-1. *TYY

For more information about FAR, visit www.dshs.wa.gov/ca/about/far.asp

Jennifer Strus is the Assistant Secretary, Children’s Administration, Washington state Department of Social and Health Services.

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Tuesday, Nov. 21

A sketchy look at the day in politics.… Continue reading

Editorial: Give Everett residents say on council districts

A ballot proposal switching the city council to district representation requires a public process.

Robinson: In Alabama, is party more important than morality?

Voters will have to decide if Roy Moore’s alleged behavior is a greater sin than being a Democrat.

Harrop: If we’re retrying Bill Clinton, let’s stick to facts

The demand that any woman’s claim of rape be automatically believed can have tragic consequences.

Questions for Mill Creek city council after Kelly’s ouster

Mill Creek’s voters’ outrage was in full force when we voted for… Continue reading

Allow cannabis shops to hire guards

I saw the Nov. 16 Herald story about the pot shop being… Continue reading

Trump’s base will get worst of GOP tax reform

Not yet one year into his dictatorship, our phony in chief enjoys… Continue reading

Editorial cartoons for Monday, Nov. 20

A sketchy look at the day in politics.… Continue reading

Editorial: School funding half-full, half-empty, but not ample

The Supreme Court says the state’s school funding plan won’t meet its deadline. So there’s work to do.

Most Read