When composing your Main Reason statement, you should provide strong and clear justification for the item's rating. This information should be concise and clearly presented, should support the rating, and should not conflict with any of the information you have entered for other items. It's important to remember that the site leaders who conduct quality assurance (QA) on your completed instruments will neither have completed a case record review of the files nor have participated in your case-related interviews. Therefore, they will use the information you provide in your Main Reason statements to determine that each item's questions were answered appropriately and that the ratings are therefore correct.
Before you begin writing your Main Reason statement, though, you should take the time to review the item's follow-up questions. Your goal, wherever possible, should be to address most of the issues raised in the follow-up questions in the Main Reason statement itself. The follow-up questions can also serve as a guide for the order in which you should present information in your Main Reason statement, which in turn can help keep the statement as clear and concise as possible.
You must begin the Main Reason statement of every rated item with the phrase, “Item [number] was rated as [rating] because...” and then complete the sentence with a concise summary of why the item received the rating that it did. This summary sentence is extremely important and will not only help you and your review partner to crystallize why you’re rating the item as you are, but will make your justification information much clearer to the site leader who conducts QA on your instrument.
Following this summary sentence should be your explanatory information. This should be succinct and on-topic, but also thorough. Keep the following in mind as you compose your answer:
- Avoid Abbreviations. The only abbreviations you should use when completing the instrument are PUR, for “period under review”; ANI for “Area Needing Improvement”; and NA for “Not Applicable.”
- Do Not Use Names. Names are not to be used anywhere in the body of the instrument or rating documentation. The only exception to this rule is the Face Sheet, which can include names, and certain specific places in the instrument where first names are necessary for distinguishing individuals in the case (such as the chart in item 12).
- Do Not Cut and Paste. Even though the automated application allows for cutting and pasting across items, you should avoid doing so. Each item in the instrument should be answered separately and stand on its own to ensure that its specific purpose of assessment is being addressed.
- Explain Concerted Efforts. Several items require that you address whether concerted efforts were made by the agency. In such cases, you must detail those efforts clearly and not just state that “concerted efforts were made.” Likewise, if concerted efforts were not made, you should describe the lack of efforts clearly and note what should have taken place in terms of agency efforts.
In addition to the summary sentence and explanation that justifies the item's calculated rating, reviewers also must note the source or sources of the information they used to address each item. These sources should be listed at the end of the explanation. For example, reviewers who used the case record and an interview with the target child to answer and rate one item might conclude their Main Reason statement with:
Sources: case record, interview with target child
If you believe that an item's rating should have been different from what it is, first double-check your answers to each item question. An inaccurate response to one of the item questions is the most typical reason why the rating that is calculated may differ from what you would expect. If, after reviewing your answers, you still think the rating is incorrect, you should consult with one of the local site leaders. If necessary and appropriate, he or she can conduct a manual override of the rating and change it to what it should be.