New York Family Assessment Response (FAR)

News & Announcements

The Winter New York FAR Quarterly issue is here!

New York FAR Quarterly






Check it out: New York FAR Newsletter-Issue 2: Winter 2016 (PDF)





2014 CPS Symposium-Child Protective Services (CPS): One Destination, Two Paths







October 22nd & 23rd, 2014
The Desmond Hotel | 660 Albany Shaker Road | Albany, NY 12211

The 2014 symposium brought us together to recognize the hard work of child protective services. Over the years, family assessment response (FAR) and investigative services have helped create safety through increased family engagement and community supports. Together, we considered additional ways to enhance CPS practice within counties implementing both the investigative approach and FAR. The goals of this event were to:

  • Elevate the engagement and assessment of families in CPS across tracks;
  • Promote the safety of children and youth within all tracks and stages of the CPS process; and,
  • To encourage collaboration across responses and agencies.


Download the Symposium Program: 2014 CPS Symposium Program (PDF)

Download the Symposium Certifiate: 2014 Symposium Certificate (PDF)


Workshop Materials

  • How FAR We’ve Come!

Kathy Cardilli, BA, Amy Natale-McConnell, LMSW, and Diane Barbato, Casework Administrators, Monroe County Department of Human Services

Strengthening partnerships both within your agency and with community partners is essential. Through this workshop, you will learn about a number of collaborations that the FAR staff in Monroe County has undertaken in order to bridge these relationships. We will provide an overview of how FAR started in Monroe County, the challenges that arose between CPS Investigation and FAR as well as misperceptions with the community and how collaborative efforts have worked to lessen these challenges.

Download the PowerPoint Presentation: How FAR We’ve Come (PDF)


  • Transformative Listening: Using Mediation Tools in CPS

Colleen Mulready, MSW, CPS/FAR Caseworker, Ulster County Department of Social Services

 In this workshop, participants will learn the basic principles of transformative mediation, a unique approach to assisting individuals in resolving conflicts. In the session, we will explore the relationship between conflict resolution methods and CPS casework practice. Participants will learn the interview technique of “attending” as a form of listening, a strategy designed to create an opportunity for “shifts” or “movements” along a path towards the resolution of a problem or conflict. In addition to modeling and hands-on practice of this technique, we will discuss the lessons learned from the field of conflict resolution and how it relates to the day-to-day work of the CPS caseworker.

Download the PowerPoint Presentation: Transformative Listening (PDF)


  • One County’s FAR Journey: Research, Collaboration, Practice

Gail Barton, Deputy Commissioner, Michele Resue, FAR Supervisor, Laura Little, CPS/INV Senior Caseworker, Tioga County Department of Social Services

Are you thinking about FAR but just not sure FAR is that different from what CPS does now? Are you interested in FAR but just not sure children and families will benefit from another approach? This presentation will focus on the process Tioga County used to answer these questions. The choice to do FAR involved a logical, research-based exploration of how families could best be served by FAR. Commissioner, legislator, staff, and stakeholder involvement and support were crucial steps in the process. Successes, challenges, and lessons learned will be shared.

Download the PowerPoint Presentation: One County’s FAR Journey – Research, Collaboration, Practice (PDF)

  • From the Dance Floor to the Balcony: Skills of the Adaptive Leader in Change Management

Nancy C. McDaniel, MPA, Director, Consultation and Capacity Building, Butler Institute for Families

In this session, Ms. McDaniel will engage participants in a discussion of the leadership skills needed by staff at all levels to implement sustainable systems change. Participants will learn the distinctions between adaptive and technical skills, and will be engaged in anonymous, interactive polling to assess how adaptive their own skills are as well as those of their team or agency. Throughout the session, participants will share their own experiences and describe the characteristics that they have found to be most powerful in facilitating systems change.

Download the PowerPoint Presentation: From the Dance Floor to the Balcony (PDF) 

  • Assessing OUR FAR Practice

Christa M. Doty, MSW, LCSW, Senior Training and Project Specialist, Butler Institute for Families and  Thalia Wright, MSL, Child Abuse Specialist 2, Rochester Regional Office, Division of Child Welfare & Community Services, OCFS

As with any practice shift, it is helpful to have tools that inform us how we are doing and where we want to go. This workshop will offer a way for counties, supervisors, and  caseworkers to assess where they are and how to evolve their FAR practice. A Gold, Silver, Bronze System will be introduced to help assessing how we are adhering to the fidelity of FAR, what we are already doing well, and ways we can improve our practice. Come with an open mind and ideas of what is best practice because this workshop will adhere to the FAR principle that “it is a process, not an event.”




Project Overview

In 2007, New York State enacted legislation to amend its social service law to allow for the initiation and implementation of a family assessment response (FAR) as an alternative means of addressing child maltreatment reports. Updated and made permanent in June 2011, the legislation permitted county child protective services (CPS) to apply to the State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) to respond differently to accepted reports of child neglect, based on such factors as the type and severity of the alleged maltreatment, number and sources of previous reports, and willingness of the family to participate in assessment and services. The recent updates also included the ability for the state to include New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services (NYC ACS) in the implementation process.

Family assessment response (FAR), also referred to as “differential response,” “dual track,” “multiple track,” or “alternative response” throughout the country, is an approach that allows CPS agencies to respond in multiple ways to suspected abuse and neglect. In traditional CPS systems, without FAR, there is only one response to all of the reports made to a state or county child abuse and neglect hotline. Child welfare workers investigate the allegation that results in a formal disposition indicating whether or not maltreatment occurred. Currently, research findings indicate that this single approach is not effective in all types of reports of maltreatment. That’s why differential response has emerged.

The ways in which FAR is practiced varies; however, generally, for high-risk reports, an investigation ensues, while for low- and moderate-risk cases with no immediate safety concerns, a family assessment is conducted, which gauges the family’s needs and strengths. Research shows that these families who receive an assessment rather than an investigation are more likely to be receptive to and engaged in the receipt of services when they are approached in a non-adversarial, non-accusatory manner.

FAR project staff at the Butler Institute for Families have been providing training, technical assistance, research and evaluation, and other capacity-building services in collaboration with OCFS and Casey Family Programs since the initiative began. A growing representation of counties from throughout the state have applied for and been included in this initiative. Counties have the flexibility to decide what types of reports they will screen into the FAR track and can include everything from “education neglect” through using FAR as the preferred initial method for cases unless otherwise specified by the law, as some counties have chosen to do.


New York State Office of Children & Family Services logo (

Casey Family Programs - Fostering families. Fostering change.

Project Timeframe: 2008 – Ongoing


Project Summary:

Butler Institute project staff are uniquely involved in many aspects of FAR implementation within the state of New York. We assist new counties with training and coaching opportunities as outlined below. We are working with NYS training providers and county trainers to help sustain FAR implementation by involving them in a train-the-trainer process for each new training developed and for expanding FAR counties. We have provided additional support to both the state and counties regarding supervisory practice shift for FAR implementation and in other areas of practice. We reinforce training and coaching information through regular webinars for workers, supervisors, and other stakeholders to build skills and the use of various tools in FAR practice. We also produce a quarterly FAR-specific newsletter distributed to county and state agencies, as well as agency stakeholders and additional funders. County staff often submit articles for inclusion in the newsletter regarding FAR milestones, practice tips and tools, and staff recognition, to name a few.

In collaboration with OCFS and Casey Family Programs, the Butler Institute team has provided annual quality assurance case documentation reviews, a disproportionate minority representation (DMR) case review, continued curriculum development, training of trainers to increase state capacity to advance FAR training, and convened periodic FAR symposiums to bring together all active FAR counties, state representatives, and trainers to learn, reflect on the state of FAR practice and policy development, and network with one another.


The early implementation process includes a two-day FAR Process and Practice training that examines the history of differential response across the country and New York State’s process for the FAR initiative, and reviews county-specific criteria for FAR practice. In addition, counties receive multiple on-site coaching sessions and other forms of technical assistance, and attend a FAR symposium to reinforce a paradigm shift in practice as counties begin using the FAR approach with families.

Several months following the initiation of FAR practice, three supplemental trainings are offered: Supervising a Practice Shift to FAR, Solution-Focused Casework Practice With Children and Families, and Assessing Safety and Risk in FAR. This project has also developed a family assessment response webinar series for state and county staff. These monthly, 90-minute sessions address issues related to FAR practice, implementation, and supervision specific for workers, supervisors, and administrators. Counties have also held stakeholder and community meetings to encourage the participation of their local community agencies in this process. Additional training, coaching, and technical assistance are underway for Round 1-3 counties and OCFS.

Implementation, Initial Outcomes, and Impacts of Pilot Project

The New York Office of Child and Family Services conducted an evaluation of the state’s Differential Response Initiative and created a final report presenting findings and recommendations to the Governor and Legislature.

Findings and Reccommendations Report (PDF)




Funded/Sponsored by:


Contact Information: or (303) 871-4588

Professional Development

Resources & Publications

Here are some resources related to this project:

Facilitators: Kasey Matz and Christa Doty, Training and Technical Assistance Specialist, NY Family Assessment Response (FAR) Project

The first of its kind, this Share and Learn Webinar, included a facilitated discussion among participants that left them with the wisdom, skills and abilities to conduct the Family-Led Assessment Guide (FLAG; assessment tool used in NY FAR counties) process with meaning and purpose. Participants were ready to share and learn what they’ve experienced that works and doesn’t and how the FLAG can serve the worker, the family, the agency and inform FAR case planning.

Listen to the webinar recording:


Download the materials:


We recently presented at the 7th annual National Conference on Differential Response in Child Welfare, The Ever-Changing Landscape, which was held on November 13-16 in Henderson, Nevada. Representatives from all over the country participated in the events including our staff from the New York Family Assessment Response (FAR) initiative. Take a look at our very own Jeanne Ferguson’s workshop presentation on Safety Assessments within FAR.



Map of current New York FAR Implementation Counties