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Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE)

Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE) is Consortium for Children’s standardized, uniform home study methodology that is used to assess prospective families. Used throughout the United States and Canada, the methodology can be used to assess individuals applying to become foster parents, adoptive parents, kinship providers, and/or guardianship providers.

Initially developed in 1991 and revised throughout the years to reflect current data, research, and trends in child welfare, SAFE is designed to provide a uniform and comprehensive home study process. It is also designed to help eliminate worker bias and protect everyone involved—the child/youth, the prospective family, the Home Study Practitioner, the Supervisor, and the Agency/Jurisdiction.

The methodology consists of four components: the Information Gathering Tools, the Structured Analysis, the Pre-Formatted Home Study Report, and the SAFE Compatibility Inventory. Each component ties in together to create a thorough evaluation.

The Information Gathering Tools assist the Home Study Practitioner (HSP) with focused interviewing so they can better identify strengths and areas that might need further exploration. As the information is gathered, Structured Analysis begins. The Structured Analysis process is supported by the SAFE Desk Guide, a research-based tool, that aids and guides the HSP through the practice of developing the Psychosocial Evaluation in a structured manner.

The SAFE Psychosocial Evaluation focuses on the entirety of an Applicant’s history identifying strengths as well as past issues, behaviors, or events that could or do affect the Applicant's current functioning or ability to parent.

The SAFE Compatibility Inventory can assist with placement, as it aids the HSP in assessing the willingness and ability of the prospective family to support certain needs, characteristics, and behaviors of youth in care. This comprehensive tool can also pinpoint the resources and services the family will need to sustain a healthy placement.

All components come together in the Pre-Formatted Home Study Report, which is created through the SAFE process and helps to serve as a placement document.

To use the SAFE methodology, HSPs must be SAFE certified and have a SAFE certified Supervisor. All SAFE Supervisors must have completed both the SAFE 2-Day Training and the SAFE Supervisor Training. The SAFE certification trainings are provided by Consortium for Children.

Once a HSP and Supervisor are SAFE certified, they receive access to all SAFE tools and documents needed to conduct a SAFE home study. In addition, they receive access to the SAFE Resource center, which contains sample home studies, tutorials, and skill building articles that can enhance their knowledge of the SAFE process.

Support from the SAFE team doesn’t end when the training does! SAFE Specialists are available to provide consultation to SAFE certified HSPs and Supervisors on an ongoing basis. Technical assistance is also available.

If you would like more information or are interested in implementing SAFE, you may visit our implementation page or contact us directly!

Four Components of SAFE

Information Gathering Tools

SAFE utilizes uniquely designed questionnaires that promote increased disclosure, facilitate focused interviewing, and save time for both the applicant family and social worker. These questionnaires provide for optimal framing of questions as well as provide an accurate record of an applicant’s answers. In addition to the questionnaires, SAFE utilizes a uniformed, user-friendly Reference Letter. The SAFE Reference Letter was developed to enable Home Study Practitioners to obtain additional information about Applicants for analysis and follow up.

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Structured Analysis

The SAFE Psychosocial Inventory and SAFE Desk Guide provide a structured framework for the home study practitioner to perform a thorough psychosocial evaluation of an applicant family. The Psychosocial Inventory contains 68 psychosocial factors that are considered uniformly by every worker for every applicant family.

The SAFE Desk Guide defines each of the 68 psychosocial factors found on the SAFE Psychosocial Inventory and provides examples that guide the home study practitioner in identifying both family strengths as well as potential issues of concern. The SAFE Psychosocial Inventory and SAFE Desk Guide support the home study practitioner in developing a thorough psychosocial evaluation of the applicant family that is ultimately incorporated into the final home study report.

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Pre-Formatted Home Study Report

While uniform in format and content, SAFE Home Study Reports can be modified for every SAFE jurisdiction to reflect their unique regulations and rules. The structure of the SAFE home study report assists the home study practitioner in documenting and analyzing assessments and evaluations developed during the home study process. The SAFE Home Study Reports provide ease of use in cross-jurisdictional placements as information is found in the same placement and order from one jurisdiction to the next.

Applicants are informed at the beginning of a SAFE home study process that they will have the opportunity to receive or to read a copy of their final written SAFE home study report.

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The Compatibility Inventory

The SAFE Compatibility Inventory is a comprehensive tool designed to assist the agency in achieving a successful placement match between a child/youth and family. The applicant family will provide information regarding their strengths and interests as well as their comfort level in supporting a variety of needs, characteristics, and behaviors that a child/youth may have. The applicant family’s responses will be compared to the strengths, interests, and needs of the child/youth requiring placement. The information provided on the Compatibility Inventory will also help the agency determine any additional services and resources that may be beneficial to the care of the child/youth.