Shields for Families
Up-Front Assessments (UFA) / Point of Engagement (POE)
SHIELDS assists in the timely provision of services to individuals referred to child protective services for suspected abuse or neglect through the provision of immediate comprehensive assessments that determine caregivers’ capacity to provide a safe environment for their children.
11601 S. Western Ave. | Los Angeles, CA 90047 
program info 310.242.5000 | fax 323.242.5011
TTD/TTY (English) 800.735.2922 | TTD/TTY (Spanish) 800.855.3000

SHIELDS works directly with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and their emergency response team when a high-risk family is identified during a child abuse investigation. Clinical staff goes to the home to assess caregivers’ capacity to provide a safe environment for their children and assist in the maintenance or timely reunification of the family unit via linkages and intensive case management.

In an effort to address the disproportionality of children of color within the child welfare system, SHIELDS collaborates with DCFS to provide Up Front Assessments in the Department’s Point of Engagement (POE) Program, an innovative multidisciplinary, family-centered approach that enlists the support of the community to prevent and address child abuse issues and includes the family in the process of selecting and planning for the prompt delivery of needed services.

SHIELDS provides the Up-Front Assessment (UFA) component of POE to reduce the number of child detentions, the median length of stay in placement as well as the rate of abuse of children within foster care. Within two to twenty fours of the DCFS emergency response team having substantiated child abuse and/or neglect, SHIELDS dispatches a licensed or registered clinician to assess the family needs via the Behavioral Severity Assessment Program (BSAP) then collaborates with DCFS to determine if it is appropriate for the child(ren) to remain within the home. SHIELDS staff immediately links families to services that address their specific needs and hosts/participates in Team Decision Making meetings that assist in the development of a family plan that promotes expeditious reunification and recovery.

SHIELDS was the pilot provider of Up-Front Assessments in Los Angeles County, implementing services in collaboration with DCFS Compton Regional Offices in 2004. Within the first two years of providing assessments, the out-of-home placement rate in the Compton service area decreased by 62%. Based on that success, SHIELDS assisted DCFS by training providers throughout Los Angeles County to expand the pilot of UFA services to become a standard Departmental practice. The UFA program went Countywide in April, 2009. In addition, SHIELDS worked with the Milwaukee, Wisconsin child welfare and substance abuse treatment providers to assist them with implementing UFAs to address the disproportionality experienced in their system. UFA services began in Milwaukee in February, 2010.


Program Highlights

  • To date, SHIELDS has conducted over 6,000 assessments for families in Service Planning Area (SPA) 6 resulting in 9,201 DCFS affected children being able to remain within their homes.
  • The majority of cases go to VFM or VFR, avoiding the court and reducing the time the case is under DCFS jurisdiction (approximately 6 months).
  • All cases referred are high risk or every high risk and would have resulted in detention prior to the implementation of the pilot program.
  • Assessment and services have been provided at no cost to the families.
  • The amount of time that children are out of the home, has been reduced to less than a year (previously close to 2 years)


 Download Brochure