North Carolina Family Assessment Scale – General + Reunification (NCFAS-G+R)

Assessment Rating:
A – Psychometrics Well-Demonstrated
See entire scale

Raymond S. Kirk, PhD, jointly developed with the National Family Preservation Network (NFPN)

Description / Purpose:

Type of Tool: Assessment Tool

The NCFAS-G+R is an assessment tool designed to examine family functioning in the domains of Environment, Parental Capabilities, Family Interactions, Family Safety, Child Well-Being, Social/Community Life, Self-Sufficiency, Family Health, Caregiver/Child Ambivalence, and Readiness for Reunification.

The NCFAS-G+R has 70 subscales in 10 domains. Each of the NCFAS-G+R scales provides an organizing framework for social workers and other family practitioners to conduct a comprehensive family assessment, intended to inform the development of a service plan and subsequently document changes in family functioning that represent outcomes of the services provided. The NCFAS-G+R is completed by the practitioner after gathering information necessary for the practitioner to confidently assign ratings on the level of functioning on each subscale, then assigning a rating to each of the overarching domains that comprise the subscales. Conducting assessments both at the beginning and end of the service (and optionally at the interim) provides workers with the opportunity to prioritize goals and services, and to compute change scores between preservice and postservice levels of functioning.

NCFAS-G+R includes the five domains of the NCFAS (Environment, Parental Capabilities, Family Interactions, Family Safety, and Child Well-Being), the three additional domains of the NCFAS-G (Social/Community Life, Self-Sufficiency, and Family Health), and the two domains of the NCFAS-R (Caregiver/Child Ambivalence and Readiness for Reunification).

Target Population: Although individual members of the family contribute important and sometimes critical information, the unit of analysis for the NCFAS-G+R scale is the family (family members of all ages).

Time to Administer: Approximately 30–40 minutes to complete the process of entering the assessment data. However, obtaining sufficient information across multiple domains and their associated subscales may require several hours of face-to-face contact with the family and obtaining information from collateral sources.

Completed By: Family service workers following home visits

Modalities Available: Pen and paper, Online

Scoring Information: Scoring information for the NCFAS-G+R may be obtained from the National Family Preservation Network.

Languages Available: English, Spanish

Training Requirements for Intended Users: There is no minimum degree or experience required to administer the scale. However, a license to use the NCFAS-G+R is granted to agencies via their acquisition of the NCFAS-G+R package. Although the scales are designed to be intuitive, the scale developers and National Family Preservation Network (NFPN), strongly encourage purchasing agencies to complete the training prior to using the scale in actual case practice. The training materials in the package are self-administered, can be done individually or in groups, and require several hours to complete. NFPN offers supplemental training for a fee.

Availability: The NCFAS-G+R and accompanying training materials may only be purchased from the National Family Preservation Network.

Contact Information

Company: National Family Preservation Network
Name: Michelle Reines
Title: Executive Director
Phone: (888) 498-9047

Summary of Relevant Psychometric Research

This tool has received the Measurement Tools Rating of "A – Psychometrics Well-Demonstrated" based on the published, peer-reviewed research available. The tool must have 2 or more published, peer-reviewed studies that have established the measure’s psychometrics (e.g., reliability and validity, sensitivity and specificity, etc.). Please see the Measurement Tools Rating Scale for more information.

Show relevant research...

Reed-Ashcraft, K., Kirk, R. S., & Fraser, M. W. (2001). The reliability and validity of the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale. Research on Social Work Practice, 11(4), 503–520.


Participants — 288 people drawn from family protective services (FPS) services in North Carolina

Race/Ethnicity — Not specified


The analysis looked at internal reliability of scale items within the areas of well-being measured by the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale (NCFAS) and at concurrent validity using correlations with scales intended to measure similar domains, including the Child Well-being Scales, the Family Inventory for Resources Management, and the Index of Family Relations. The analysis supported the NCFAS as a measure of overall environment, child well-being, overall family interactions, and family safety. The NCFAS correlated well with other similar measures currently in use.

Kirk, R. S., Kim, M. M., & Griffith, D. P. (2005). Advances in the reliability and validity of the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 11(3–4), 157–176.


Participants — 1279 families involved in Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS)

Race/Ethnicity — Not specified


Improved family function is hypothesized to be related to prevention of placement. The predictive validity of the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale (NCFAS) was assessed using the relation of NCFAS family functioning scores to placement at end of services. Analysis showed that ratings in the strengths range at follow-up on the NCFAS were associated with non-placement at end of service and at one year, with the exception of the Overall Parental Capabilities. The analysis suggests that the NCFAS is a valid tool for assessing areas needing service and that the scores on assessment domains are related to later family outcomes.

Kirk, R. S. (2008). Development and field testing of a family assessment scale for use in child welfare practice settings utilizing differential response. Protecting Children, 23(1–2), 71–87.


Participants — 123 families (252 children)

Race/Ethnicity — 48% Hispanic, 18% White, 18% Black, and 16% Other


This article presents the results of a project undertaken to develop and field test the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale for General Services (NCFAS-G), a comprehensive family assessment instrument designed for differential response practice settings. The NCFAS-G assists workers to assess families in eight domains of family functioning. A field test was conducted in a large, urban county using a voluntary, 90-day, DR model. To summarize the findings from this study, the NCFAS-G appears to be reliable when used by trained differential response workers serving moderate-risk families. Concurrent validity is tentatively established (based upon the proportion of families at or above baseline at closure), but stronger concurrent validity needs to be established and requires additional research. 

Fernandez, E., & Lee, J. S. (2013). Accomplishing family reunification for children in care: An Australian study. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(9), 1374–1384.


Participants — 145 children, ages 0–12 years, from 84 families

Race/Ethnicity — Not specified. Study conducted in Australia.


The current paper examined (1) whether NCFAS-R domain ratings at intake and closure differ by characteristics of parents and children; and (2) whether reunification is predicted by NCFAS-R score at closure. Ordinary least squared (OLS) regression was used to examine whether NCFAS-R scores at intake and closure were predicted by demographic variables, primary reason in care, and placement circumstance. To examine the relationship between NCFAS-R scores at closure and reunification outcome, a logistic regression model was used. At intake, the average score was highest for the Child Well-Being domain and lowest for the Parental Capabilities domain. NCFAS-R scores were increased at closure on all domains, with the biggest improvement on the domains of Family Safety and Child Well-Being. At intake, NCFAS-R scores did not differ significantly by independent variables examined except for the Child Well-Being domain. Children who were placed with their siblings displayed 0.45 points higher scores on the Child Well-Being domain. At closure, NCFAS-R scores differed significantly by some family variables and a placement variable. In general, mothers being 25 years or younger, mothers having year 11 or a higher level of education, or children being placed with their siblings were significantly associated with higher scores on various NCFAS-R domains at closure. Overall, NCFAS-R scores at closure significantly predicted reunification with parents or kin. One unit increase in overall NCFAS-R score at closure increased the odds of reunification by a factor of 8.39.

Kirk, R. S. (2015). 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). Journal of Public Child Welfare, 9(5), 444–462.


Participants — 170 in-home service families in three family preservation programs

Race/Ethnicity — 66% White, 29% African American, 5% Other, and 2% identified as Hispanic


Two new domains of the NCFAS-G+R, trauma and posttrauma well-being, were tested for reliability and validity in relation to previous NCFAS-G+R domains. Domains were tested for reliability using Cronbach's alpha, factor structure was explored, and convergent validity was examined through correlations of new scale items with domain ratings on the NCFAS-G+R. Assessment ratings were cross tabulated with practice and outcome variables. Reliability of the new domains was established with Cronbach's alphas of .811 and .905, respectively, factor structure was confirmed, new scale items and domains correlated predictably, and significantly with other NCFAS domains. Outcome variables were influenced by trauma assessment ratings. Displaying good psychometric properties, the trauma-focused assessment domains hold promise for assisting child welfare practitioners in assessing trauma symptomology and posttrauma well-being following services.

Date Reviewed: August 2021 (Originally reviewed in August 2021)