When the case plan is developed and an intervention is implemented, the child protective services (CPS) caseworker will, on an ongoing basis, evaluate whether safety threats have been addressed by either being eliminated or controlled with increased protective capacities, and whether risk factors and conditions have changed. This is central to case decisions and to determining next steps. Monitoring change should begin as soon as an intervention is implemented and continue throughout the life of a case until appropriate outcomes have been achieved.
Evaluating family progress helps answer the following questions.
- Is the family actively participating in the services agreed to in the case plan?
- Is the child safe? Have the risk and protective factors, strengths, or safety threats changed, warranting a change or elimination of the safety plan or the development of a safety plan?
- What changes, if any, have occurred with respect to the conditions and behaviors contributing to the risk of child maltreatment?
- What outcomes have been accomplished, and how does the caseworker know that they have been accomplished?
- What progress has been made toward achieving case goals?
- Have the services been effective in helping clients achieve outcomes and goals and, if not, what adjustments need to be made to improve outcomes?
- What is the current level of risk in the family?
- Have the protective capacities increased sufficiently so that parents or caregivers can protect their children and meet their developmental needs so the case can be closed?
- If the child has been removed from the home, has it been determined that reunification is not likely in the Federal- and/or State-required timeframes and there is no significant progress toward outcomes? If so, is a different goal for achieving permanency needed?
Because intervention and service provision to families at risk of maltreatment is a collaborative effort between CPS and other agencies of individual providers, the evaluation of family progress also needs to be collaborative. While the caseworker is responsible for managing the comparison of the family's progress based on information gathered from all service providers, he or she must be sure to actively involve the family throughout the process.