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December/January 2018Vol. 18, No. 9Two Domains Added to the NCFAS G+R

Recent research has fueled increasing interest among child welfare practitioners on the effects of trauma on families and children in the child welfare system. Adverse experiences (e.g., emotional, physical, and sexual abuse), emotional and physical neglect, and forms of family dysfunction (e.g., domestic violence, substance use, mental illness) leave a lasting impact on family functioning and well-being.

An article in the Journal of Public Child Welfare discusses the two new trauma-focused domains of the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale for General and Reunification Services (NCFAS G+R). The two new domains are trauma and posttrauma well-being, which were added to help child welfare workers provide children and their families with trauma-informed supports and services that connect the fields of public health, mental health, and social work.

The assessments conducted with these domains are intended for use during in-home visits as well as other practice settings. To determine the efficacy of the trauma and posttrauma domains, a field test was conducted over 6 months in three states with long-standing, high-fidelity family preservation programs and that had previous experience using the NCFAS scales. States were instructed to apply the trauma domain to all families and not just those who already had a history of trauma to ensure that the trauma domain was capable of assessing both inclusion and exclusion of previous and reoccurring trauma. The posttrauma domain was used at closure only for families whose responses were below baseline for at least one item on the trauma scale.

The reported findings include the following:

  • Workers had little to no trouble using the two new domains, which were created to be similar to previous NCFAS domains.
  • As a practice tool, the trauma domain was able to include and exclude families based on trauma history and trauma symptoms, and the posttrauma domain was able to show that manifestations of trauma can be diminished with appropriate in-home and other services.
  • Child welfare workers using the domains in their assessments delivered effective services if they already had basic trauma-informed practice training by social workers specializing in trauma and mental health professionals.

Trauma-informed practice can mitigate the effects of adverse experiences for children and families in the child welfare system. According to the article, the recently added NCFAS G+R domains of trauma and posttrauma work as intended, making them valuable tools for working with this vulnerable population.

"Psychometric Properties of the Trauma and Post-Trauma Well-Being Assessment Domains of the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale for General and Reunification Services (NCFAS G+R)," by Raymond S. Kirk (Journal of Public Child Welfare, 9), is available at