Family Assessment in Child Welfare: The Illinois DCFS Integrated Assessment Program in Policy and Practice
Launched in 2005, the Illinois Integrated Assessment (IA) program partners child welfare caseworkers with licensed clinicians to provide better information about the functioning of children entering foster care and about child and family strengths, support systems, and service needs. The information-gathering activities and the collaborative process between the caseworker and IA screener are intended to produce better-quality child and family assessments, which in turn facilitate the development of better service plans. In short, it is anticipated that the IA process contributes to earlier and more appropriate interventions being identified and provided to the family. This report outlines the key components of the IA model and presents data on the extent to which the program as implemented adheres to the model. This report also draws on the experiences of frontline caseworkers to explore how the model is being utilized and implemented in practice. Findings suggest that the IA program, with its pairing of caseworkers and licensed clinicians outside the child welfare organization, yields comprehensive family assessment information and also provides opportunities for caseworker professional development.