North Carolina Family Assessment Scale (NCFAS)

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

Raymond S. Kirk, PhD, and Kellie Reed-Ashcraft, PhD

Description / Purpose:

The NCFAS is an assessment tool designed to examine family functioning in the domains of Environment, Parental Capabilities, Family Interactions, Family Safety, and Child Well-being.

The NCFAS has 36 subscales in 5 domains. Each of the NCFAS scales provides an organizing framework for social workers and other family practitioners to conduct a comprehensive family assessment intended to inform the construction of a service plan and subsequently document changes in family functioning that represent outcomes of the service plan. It is completed by the practitioner after gathering information necessary for the practitioner to confidently assign ratings of the level of functioning on each subscale, and when all subscales are complete then assigning a rating of family functioning to each of the overarching domains that comprise the subscales. Conducting assessments both at the beginning and end of the service (intermediate assessment at 90-day intervals) provides workers with the opportunity to prioritize goals and services and to compute change scores between pre-service and post-service levels of functioning.

Target Population: Although individual members of the family contribute important, and sometimes critical information, the unit of analysis for the NCFAS scales 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 a number of hours of face-to-face contact with the family, and the process of obtaining information from collateral sources.

Completed By: Family service workers following home visits

Modalities Available: Paper and pencil, database

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

Languages Available: English, Spanish — the rating for the measure is based solely on the English version of the measure.

Training Requirements for Intended Users: There is no minimum degree or license requirement to administer the scale. However, permission to use the NCFAS scales is granted to agencies via their acquisition of the NCFAS training materials. Although the scales are designed to be intuitive, the scale developers and NFPN strongly encourage purchasing agencies to complete the training prior to using the scale in an actual case practice. The training materials are self-administered, can be done individually or in groups, and require several hours to complete.

Availability: The NCFAS and accompanying training material may 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.

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 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 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.

Date Reviewed: February 2015 (Originally reviewed in June 2009)