20, No. 3
North Carolina's Child/Family Evaluation Program
A Valuable Resource for Assessing Possible Emotional Abuse
North Carolina's Child/Family Evaluation Program (CFEP) can be extremely helpful during assessments involving possible emotional abuse. A part of our state's Child Medical Evaluation Program, the CFEP provides forensically-informed mental health evaluations for children and youth who are being actively investigated by child protective services as possible victims of abuse or neglect. Funding for CFEs is provided by the NC Division of Social Services--no local funds are involved.
During a CFE a specially trained mental health professional, or CFE examiner, interviews the child and others to address questions such as:
- What is the likelihood the child has been abused and/or neglected and, if so, who is the probable abuser and what is the extent of the abuse/neglect?
- Is the child safe in their current living situation and, if not, what interventions are necessary to ensure child's safety?
- In light of the concerns, does the child need psychological treatment or other child or family interventions?
The evaluation process typically consists of interviews with the child and others as well a review of relevant records. Afterwards the examiner shares with DSS a report outlining his or her findings and recommendations.
As the following case example illustrates, the CFEP can be a great resource for DSS agencies struggling with potential emotional abuse.
Mary, a CPS investigative assessor, was struggling. She'd been working with a family for weeks and getting nowhere. The case involved in an ugly, years-long feud between a divorced couple. Their 11-year-old daughter was caught in the middle and showing increasing signs of psychological distress. Based on this and Mary's difficulty understanding what was really happening in the family, her supervisor and program manager suggested she seek assistance from the CFEP.
It was the right choice. Although the process took a while--about three months--the CFE helped DSS reach a sound decision to substantiate. The CFE found both parents emotionally abused their daughter. Mary was somewhat surprised by this, since the mother had been polite and easy to work with.
The CFE examiner's report underscored the seriousness of the situation and removed any doubts the agency had about whether the statutory definition of emotional abuse had been met.
For information on accessing the CFEP, see below or visit the Child Medical Evaluation Program at www.med.unc.edu/cmep.
Frequently Asked Questions about North Carolina's CFEP
Adapted from NC Child Medical Evaluation Program, 2015
Who is eligible for funding through CMEP/CFEP?
Children/youth who are actively being investigated by child protective services as possible victims of abuse or neglect.
Is pre-approval required?
For CFEs, yes. Pre-approval is not required for medical exams, though DSS must have an open investigation on the child and complete the DSS-5143 and the DSS portion of the medical report form prior to the exam.
How do I get pre-approval?
Fill out the Authorization Request Form for a Child/Family Evaluation (http://bit.ly/1dxYNLS) and the Consent/Authorization form (DSS-5143, http://bit.ly/1FaWLqG) and fax them to 919-843-9368. If you don't hear back within a day or two, give us a call. We will fax back your approval request with an approval number and the number of hours you are approved for. You may then call a rostered examiner to schedule an appointment. The examiner will want to see a copy of this approval and the consent form.
How do I find a CFE examiner?
Go to www.med.unc.edu/cmep/services/find-local-examiners and log in. Call 919-843-9365 first to obtain a password.
How many hours of evaluation time will be approved for a CFE?
We approve 15 hours evaluation time for the first child in the family, 10 hours for the second and third children, and 6 hours for each child thereafter. We also approve one hour per family for a case conference, which is an interpretive session at the end of the evaluation where the examiner explains the findings and recommendations.
What are the criteria for CFE approval?
The CFEP exists to assist county CPS agencies in decision-making and case disposition, including treatment planning. It is designed to assist CPS in their investigations by providing brief forensic evaluations in cases that have not been, or are unlikely to be, determined through the standard CPS investigative process or through medical evaluation.
The case must be in the CPS investigative stage, and the questions to be addressed in the evaluation must be related to assessment of abuse/neglect. Approval may not be granted to address other issues such as clinical psychological evaluation/treatment, global family functioning, custody evaluation, educational/developmental testing, etc.
CFEP evaluations are meant to supplement--not supplant--the standard CPS investigative process. In the vast majority of cases, we also ask that you have a CME performed on the child before going forward with the CFE, as this is considered part of the standard CPS investigation.
Note that the CFEP is not affiliated with, or specifically designed to aid, law enforcement agencies or district attorneys in criminal prosecutions.
How can I get a consultation on a case I am investigating?
Call Deb Flowers, RN, at 919-843-9365 and let her know you need a consultation. She will tell you what information to send us.