FCAP evaluates the effectiveness of program services in improving outcomes for children.
1. Improved child functioning.
FCAP uses a standardized measure to assess changes in children’s emotional and behavioral problems. It is called the Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Survey (CAFAS). The FCAP evaluator completes this interview-based instrument during the evaluation and 6 months later. It determines the child’s level of impairment in the following areas: emotional and behavioral problems, relationships with others and role functioning at home, at school and in the community. The CAFAS level of impairment corresponds with the type and intensity of needed services.
As can be seen in the following graph, at 6 months after the evaluation fewer children are classified as having the highest levels of impairment and more children have lower levels of impairment. Very few children change for the worse.
Overall children do improve after receiving an FCAP evaluation. Although these results cannot be definitively tied to the evaluation or FCAP case assistance during the 6-month follow-up period, there are good reasons to believe FCAP makes a difference. The evaluation identifies problems and needs, makes recommendations, organizes an intervention plan and in many cases provides case management or linkage assistance. Any or all of these activities might help improve children’s functioning. The lack of improvement in some cases could be due to a variety of factors including that the necessary services for the child or family were not locally available.
2. Progress toward permanency.
FCAP classifies children’s permanency situation at the beginning of the case, immediately after the completion of the assessment, and 6 months later. The categories are whether a permanent family has been identified and whether the child is living with a permanent family. Progress toward permanency is defined as having achieved either.
The following graph shows how cases changed over time. As can be seen, for children with a permanent home identified, more were living in that home 6 months later.
Improvements in permanency, although modest, do occur after an FCAP evaluation. In addition, these results do not tell the whole story. For example, in some cases the referral question is whether the home the child is living in or plans to move to is the right match considering the child’s problems and needs. The FCAP evaluation may decide that the placement is unlikely to work over time. This could lead to the appearance that a child has moved away from permanency when in fact an important step towards a workable permanent plan has been made. More and more cases are referred where reunification is still a possibility. It may take longer than 6 months for parents and children to have achieved treatment progress or met other conditions before reunification can be completed. In addition, when there is no permanent home available, FCAP is not designed to recruit homes.