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March 2010Vol. 11, No. 2Illinois' Integrated Assessment Process

The Illinois Integrated Assessment (IA) is a unique approach designed to meet behavioral, mental, and developmental health needs of the child welfare population and achieve positive outcomes for families involved with the child welfare system. Based on partnerships between caseworkers and licensed clinicians, the IA process uses comprehensive family assessment data obtained through various information-gathering activities to help determine the level of services needed by families.

The Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago recently released a report on the IA process, Family Assessment in Child Welfare: The Illinois DCFS Integrated Assessment Program in Policy and Practice. The report draws on data from statewide databases and interviews with frontline workers to determine how well the model has been implemented since its introduction across the State in 2005.

The report notes a number of challenges to implementation:

  • Meeting the 45-day timeframe to complete the IA
  • Including licensed clinician screeners in family team meetings
  • Engaging fathers in the IA process
  • Incorporating IA recommendations in the service plan

Over time, there was an increase in the percentage of cases meeting the 45-day timeframe and in the percentage of cases that included interviews with fathers.

The report's recommendations focus on (1) adhering to the IA model and having the resources necessary to do so and (2) the transfer of learning opportunities between licensed clinicians and caseworkers that support caseworker professional development.

Family Assessment in Child Welfare: The Illinois DCFS Integrated Assessment Program in Policy and Practice, by Cheryl Smithgall et al., is available on the Chapin Hall website: