introduction of a child into a family, especially a special needs child, can
place burdens and experiences on families, some of which they have never
encountered. To assess a family's strengths and resources and their
likely capability to cope with and integrate these challenges is the key to
good home study practice and the successful placement of children.
Under Manitoba legislation, mandated child and family services agencies are responsible to assess foster care and adoptive applicants to determine their suitability, capacity and willingness to provide care to children who are in care of the agency.
While there were homestudy templates in the past, the way in which individual workers gathered the information and reported it was varied. As a result, some homestudies provided a lot of description, but little assessment. This method also allowed for worker bias, which meant that two workers could produce two very different assessments on the same family.
In the spring of 2009, acting on the recommendation of an inter-agency staff committee, the Director’s Leadership Table of the General Authority endorsed the S.A.F.E. (Structured Analysis Family Evaluation) tool to assist workers in assessing prospective foster and adoptive families. S.A.F.E. is a strength-based approach, while recognizing that the paramount duty of the agency is to protect the best interest of the child. It is also sensitive to the family's expectations for open, transparent and fair treatment. It was developed by the Consortium for Children in California and is widely recognized and supported through research as a leading practice approach, with a number of jurisdictions throughout the United States and Canada now using S.A.F.E. When fully implemented, evaluations have proven that the following benefits can be expected:
Because the General Authority's agencies and service regions use the S.A.F.E. process of evaluation, prospective foster parents can expect: