Family Assessment of Strengths Tool (FAST)

Member: Kristen S. Slack
(University of Wisconsin - Madison)
View more resources by Kristen S. Slack
Endorsements: 0

The FAST attempts to overcome many of the challenges with existing child maltreatment risk assessment tools (e.g., those that use only risk or deficit-oriented language, those that focus only on aspects of parenting, those that are not free or require extensive training to use). It is intended for use with families who may be at risk for child maltreatment and child protective services (CPS) involvement (as opposed to those already identified for maltreatment or already involved with CPS); it is easy to administer (and may be self-administered), free to use, relatively short compared to existing tools (54 items); it is intended for families with children of any age; it incorporates strengths-based language; it focuses on the ecological context in which families live and aspects of parental wellbeing and functioning (as opposed to just parenting characteristics); and it attends to proximal risk factors that are subject to change with intervention (and therefore can be used in a repeated measures strategy to assess intervention effects, particularly where random assignment is not feasible).


This tool has been piloted three times and in upublished analyses shows evidence of strong predictive validity (it predicts CPS investigations within one year of administration), and concurrent validity with other child maltreatment risk factors. However more work is needed to validate the measure, so this should be considered when deciding between this tool and others.


A disclaimer: This tool is not intended to be used in any deterministic way or as a tool for identifying child maltreatment.  If used in a service setting, it is intended as a means of identifying areas of potential service need in collaboration with a client, and prioritizing those needs. If used in a research context (it's original intent), it can help distinguish families who are higher vs. lower risk for child maltreatment or involvement in child protection systems. I am happy to discuss the tool with researchers and service agencies who are considering its adoption.

Free to use with permission (contact member)
Last Revised Date 
Tue, 04/26/2022 - 10:32
Keywords / Tags 
risk assessment
child maltreatment
Type of resource 
Resource Institution 
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Institution Type 
4 or 4+ year College/University
Recommended Citation 

Slack, K.S. and Berger, L.M. (2019). The Family Assessment of Strengths Tool (FAST).  Madison, WI:  University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Social Work and Institute for Research on Poverty.