E. Child and Family Assessments

Texas Health Steps: All children entering DFPS conservatorship must receive a comprehensive, preventive health care checkup within 30 days of entering DFPS conservatorship known as the Texas Health Steps medical checkup. The checkup helps identify the child's unique healthcare needs and helps DFPS make decisions that are in the child's best interest. This checkup is repeated annually, or according to the Texas Health Steps periodicity schedule.

Medical Exam within Three Business Days: All children entering DFPS conservatorship receive an initial medical examination from a physician or other health care provider authorized by state law to conduct a medical examination by the end of the third business day after the child is removed from the child's home. Tex. Fam. Code § 264.1076.

Texas Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) 2.0 Assessment: Children and youth ages 3 to 17 must receive a CANS 2.0 assessment completed by an in-network STAR Health clinician within 30 days of removal. Prior to conducting the CANS, the CPS caseworker will conduct the FSNA with the family, identify targeted interventions, and work with the family to prioritize goals and tasks.

DFPS uses the results of the CANS 2.0 to evaluate each child's needs and strengths. This assessment assists in service planning, informs placement decisions, and reduces the number of assessments administered to children in DFPS conservatorship.

Family Strength and Needs Assessment (FSNA) DFPS administers the FSNA to assess the family functioning and aid in developing a plan of service for the family. Although the FSNA and CANS will not be attached to court reports, judges may hear DFPS staff providing testimony or information regarding findings or recommendations that come from these assessments.

Special Issue: Many courts like to schedule a Status Hearing within a few days of the Adversary Hearing to jump start services to families. The law requires that the CANS be administered within 45 days of removal, and DFPS policy sets the completion date at 30 days. The FSNA is conducted with the family within the first three weeks of removal and is used to inform the CANS. Both the STAR Health clinician and the CPS caseworker need time to utilize the CANS and FSNA tools with fidelity. Allowing time for a thorough assessment and coordination of efforts should produce child and family service plans that set a path toward achieving permanency as quickly as possible for the child and family.

Developmental Disability Assessment: During the 85th Legislative Session, the Legislature also added a requirement that DFPS assess whether a child has a developmental disability as soon as possible after the child is placed in DFPS conservatorship, and if the assessment indicates an intellectual disability, to ensure that a referral for a determination of such is made as soon as possible. Tex. Fam. Code § 264.1075.