Foster Care Policy - West Virginia

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Foster Care PolicyWest Virginia Department of Health and Human ResourcesBureau for Children and FamiliesOffice of Children and Adult ServicesRevised August 13, 20181

TABLE OF CONTENTSSECTION 1 . 5INTRODUCTION.51.1 Introduction and Overview .51.2 Philosophical Principles.61.3 Mission.81.4 Purpose .81.5 Staff Roles .81.6 Definitions .131.7 Legal Basis for Foster Care .191.8 How Children Enter Foster Care .221.9 Foster Care Candidacy .221.10Voluntary Placement.231.11Voluntary Relinquishment (SS-FC-47 and SS-FC-47A) .281.12Court Ordered Custody .301.13Emergency Placement.301.14Temporary Custody .321.15Permanent Custody/Guardianship .341.16Goals for Children in Foster Care .36SECTION 2 . 36INTAKE .362.1 Placement Standards/Regulations .362.2 Placement Requirements .412.3 Preparation of Child for Placement .422.4 Placement Types .432.5 Referral Process (Specific to Placement Type) .532.6 Placement .692.7 Journey Placement Notebook .822.8 Life Book .83SECTION 3 . 85ASSESSMENT .853.1 Introduction .853.2 Health Care .863.3 Initial Clothing Assessment and Allowance .913.4 Title IV-E Foster Care Eligibility/Reimbursability .923.5 Regional Clinical Reviews .933.6 Educational Stability .96SECTION 4 . 98CASE PLAN .984.1 Multidisciplinary Treatment Teams .984.2 Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) (Only for Children Placed in Specialized Family Care Medley) .1034.3 General Case Planning .1044.4 Permanency Planning .1094.5 Concurrent Planning .1184.6 Aftercare Planning .119SECTION 5 . 121CASE MANAGEMENT .121Visitation.1212

Caseworker Contact .122Case Staffing .126Transaction Date Requirements .127Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) .127Medicaid and Medical Insurance .129Consents .138Transportation Payment and Car Safety .141Boarding Care Payments .143Child Care .145Respite Care .145Financial Responsibilities .146Education .148Clothing .151Serious Illness or Death of a Foster Child .152Court Costs/Legal Advertising .153Cause of Action Lawsuit and Insurance Claim Settlements .153SAFEKIDS PIX Identification Card Program .156Trafficked Children and Youth .157Runaway, Missing or Abducted Children .158Photograph on File .161Prudent Parenting .162Youth Transitioning (Youth age 14 and up) .164Life Skills Assessment/Learning Plan (Youth age 14 and older) .164Transition Plan (Youth age 14 and up) .167Case Management for Youth Transitioning (Youth 14 yrs old and up) .170Transitional Living (Youth 14 yrs. old and up) .177Chafee National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) .186Case Review .189Transition to Adulthood/Discharge Planning .189Transfer to Adult Services/Guardianship .195Youth Over 18 Receiving SSI, SS or Other Benefits .196Voluntary Foster Care Services Contract for Youth Over Eighteen (18) (FC-18) .197Post-Secondary Educational Programs .199MODIFY Program .202SECTION 6 . 208CASE REVIEW .2086.1 Introduction .2086.2 Quarterly Status Reviews .2086.3 Yearly Permanency Hearings and Permanency Hearing Reviews .2106.4 Modification of Dispositional Order.213SECTION 7 . 214CASE CLOSURE .2147.1 Discharge Planning .2147.2 Discharge Specific to Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities (PRTF’s) .2167.3 Discharge Planning Specific to Out of State Placements (ICPC) .217SECTION 8 . 218OTHER .2188.1 Family Moves .2188.2 Agency Assignment/Transfer of Cases .2208.3 Case Record Maintenance .2203

8.4Record Retention/Retrieval .2224

Section 1Introduction1.1Introduction and OverviewThis policy provides the philosophical and legal basis as well as the practices andprocedures necessary to provide foster care services. Foster care is acomprehensive, complex array of services for children who, for any number ofreasons, cannot live with their families. It is part of the larger child welfare systemdesigned to support and nurture the healthy development of children and theirfamilies. Foster care is intended to be a partnership of all parties involved includingthe Department, families, children, foster parents, courts, private agencies, andother entities.Foster care for children has been evolving for centuries. By the mid-1800s, familyfoster care emerged as an effort to rescue children whose parents were“inadequate” or unable to care for them. Due to the first White House Conferenceon Children, held at the turn of the century, foster care was redefined as atemporary service whose purpose was to reunite children with their families or, ifnecessary, place them with another family. During this time, a complex childwelfare system of government and voluntary agencies began to emerge with anemphasis on family counseling and psychoanalysis.By the 1960s landmark research studies revealed several important findings inregards to foster care, including: foster care placements were often permanentrather than temporary; frequent moves to new placements left many children withlittle sense of stability or continuity in their lives; children were often inappropriatelyremoved from their homes; and children from poor and minority families weredisproportionately represented in foster care. A growing concern over the negativeimpact separation from their families had on children also emerged. In addition tothese findings, several sociological changes began to impact the perception of outof home care e.g., the rapid increase in the number of children entering foster care,the resurgence of interest in child abuse and neglect, the emergence of advocacyas part of the civil rights movement, and the acceptance of the family as animportant social unit.Pressure to reform the child welfare system evolved along two major themes: outof home care services for children should be provided in the least restrictiveappropriate environment and permanency for children shall be a primary goal ofservices. With the enactment of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of1980 (P.L. 96-272) states were mandated to promote permanency planning for allchildren in out of home care and for children at-risk of removal from their homes.States were also required to make reasonable efforts to prevent out of homeplacements of children and to reunify children already removed from their homes.5

In 1993, Congress enacted the Family Preservation and Family Support ServicesProgram (P.L. 103-66) which provided additional funding for preventive servicesand crisis services for children and families at-risk of entering the foster caresystem. Implementation of these programs required active involvement of a broadcommunity of stakeholders to focus on needs and services for children andfamilies.In response to major concerns about the extended length of stay and pooroutcomes for minority children and the prevalence of using race to determineplacements for children in foster care, the Multiethnic Placement Act (P.L. 103382) and the Interethnic Placement Provisions (P.L. 104-188) were enacted. Thislegislation forbids the delay or denial of a foster or adoptive placement based solelyon the race, color, ethnicity, or national origin of the prospective foster parent,adoptive parent or the child involved. It also compels states to make diligent effortsto recruit and retain foster and adoptive families that reflect the racial and ethnicdiversity of the children for whom foster homes are needed.The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-89) was enacted to ensurethat children’s safety would be the paramount concern of all child welfare decisionmaking and to promote the adoption of children who cannot return safely to theirown homes. This law has five key principles: safety is the paramount concern thatmust guide all child welfare services; foster care is temporary; permanencyplanning efforts should begin as soon as a child enters care; the child welfaresystem must focus on results and accountability; and innovative approaches areneeded to achieve the goals of safety, permanency, and well-being.The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act wasenacted on October 7, 2008. This legislation addresses some of the mostimportant needs affecting foster children, including extending federal foster carepayments up to 21 years old, providing federal support for relatives caring forfoster children, increasing access to foster care and adoption services to NativeAmerican tribes, providing foster parents with the right to be heard, andimproving the oversight of the health and education needs of children in fostercare.Together, these actions and policies have moved foster care into a new phase.Foster care has become a complex system of services and placements that aredesigned to ensure that children are safe, permanency is achieved, and the child’ssocial, emotional and intellectual well-being is addressed.1.2Philosophical PrinciplesPhilosophical beliefs about children in foster care and their families is the singlemost important variable in the provision of quality foster care services. Values andbeliefs about children and their families drive decision making, interaction, and6

involvement.Safety is the paramount concern that must guide all child welfare services. Whenmaking decisions about a child, including those decisions regarding serviceprovision, placement, and permanency planning, the safety of the child must bethe foremost issue in determining what is in the best interest of the child.Foster care is temporary. Foster care placement provides a substitute livingarrangement for a child for a planned period of time. The child’s placement mustbe the most appropriate living situation that can meet the individual child’s needs.The time the child is in out-of-home care must be productive in terms of servicesprovided to address the identified needs of the child in order for him to grow,develop, and achieve his permanency plan.Permanency planning efforts should begin as soon as a child enters foster care.A child should only be placed in foster care when appropriate and only when effortsto strengthen the family’s situation have failed or when a child is unsafe, and a plancannot be implemented which controls the threats to child safety. Concurrentplanning should be utilized to allow staff to work to reunify the family, while at thesame time planning for the possibility that reunification will not succeed. Allchildren are entitled to have safe, permanent living situations that promote theirsafety and well-being.Permanent placements, whether it is reunification,adoption, legal guardianship, placement with relatives or other permanent plannedliving arrangement must be achieved in a timely manner, with the goal of limitingthe number of children who remain in foster care for more than twenty-four (24)months. The total number of children in foster care for more than twenty-four (24)months should not exceed twenty (20) percent of the foster care population at anypoint in time.Interventions and decisions should be defined through child-centered, familyfocused principles. This system of operation requires that children and familiestake part in all decisions that impact their lives. Children, their parents, andextended family must be full partners in the process that develops, implements,and reviews their cases. Being part of the case work process makes families morelikely to be invested in making the changes necessary to positively address thereasons their children were removed from their homes. Child-centered, familyfocused practice also demands that services are individualized to meet the specificneeds of the children and families that are being served.Foster care is a process and not a series of discreet, unrelated steps. It is acontinuum of care that is offered in conjunction with other services such as familypreservation, child protective services, youth services, or adoption. Foster careinvolves looking backward to assess the home situation and determine the stepsnecessary to make it possible for the child to return home. It also requires lookingforward to the steps necessary to provide a permanent substitute livingarrangement.7

1.3MissionThe West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau forChildren and Families is committed to ensuring that children in out-of-home careand their families receive adequate and appropriate services that best meet theirneeds for safety, permanency, and well-being.1.4PurposeThere are three (3) primary purposes for foster care:a) To reunite the child in foster care with his family by providing interventionsaimed at reunification whenever possible and when the safety of the child canbe assured. It is vital to remember that children should not be separated from theirfamilies longer than necessary. If safety can be re-established within thehome, the child/children should be returned to that home and reunifiedwith their parents/guardians once safety is re-established. Legal andphysical custody of the child/children should be discussed with the MultiDisciplinary Team (MDT) and the Courts.b) To provide a permanent substitute living arrangement for the child in foster carewhen reunification is not possible. Such an arrangement may include adoption,placement with relatives, legal guardianship, or another court-sanctionedpermanent living arrangement.c) To aid a child over the age of fourteen (14) to attain independent living skillsnecessary to become a successful adult.1.5Staff RolesMany of the staff involved in providing foster care services for the Department isnot classified specifically as foster care workers. Instead, staff has variousresponsibilities for children who come to the attention of the Department for anynumber of reasons. Regardless of the classification, all of the following staff playa role in assuring that children in the custody of the Department are safe, wellbeing is continuously assessed and promoted and that children achieve theirpermanency plan.Child Protective Services Workera) Problem IdentifierThe worker gathers studies and analyzes information about the child andthe family. The worker also offers help to families in which risk is8

identified, secures the safety of the child, justifies the need for childprotective services intervention and evaluates the causes of risks.b) Case ManagerWhen a child is removed from his home due to an investigation of abuseand/or neglect, the Child Protective Service worker becomes, inessence, a Foster Care worker. As such, the worker is the primary casemanager for the child while the child resides away from his home. Inthis capacity the child’s worker, with the assistance of theMultidisciplinary Treatment Team, assesses the family’s problems andconcerns and develops a detailed, appropriate plan to address theissues for which the child was removed from the home. The worker isresponsible for orchestrating all of the planning, reporting and follow-upactivities related to the case and facilitates the use of agency andcommunity services to assist the child and his family. The worker alsoreviews the family’s progress, maintains accurate documentation andrecords, and advocates for the appropriate, necessary services toaddress the identified issues which lead to the child’s removal.c) Treatment ProviderThe child’s worker works directly with families in helping them to addressthe issues that necessitated removal of their children by learning newways of relating to and being responsible for their children. The workeralso serves as a role model, encourages client motivation and facilitatesproblem solving and decision making on the part of families.d) Permanency PlannerThe child’s worker, with the assistance of the Multidisciplinary TreatmentTeam, develops a detailed plan that addresses the permanency needsof the child. The worker is responsible for ensuring that the servicesprovided to the child and their families, if appropriate, are in coordinationwith the child’s identified permanency plan. In addition, the worker mustalso have a concurrent permanency plan for which services arecoordinated in case the primary permanency plan no longer becomesappropriate.Child Protective Services Supervisora) AdministratorThe supervisor makes decisions on specific case activities, caseassignments and on relevant personnel matters. The supervisor alsoregulates the practice of social workers with foster care cases andensures the quality of practice. The supervisor ensures case activities9

and decisions are congruent with policy, state and federal statutes, andcourt rules. The supervisor serves as a link between workers andcommunity resources and with administrative staffb) EducatorThe supervisor plans and carries out activities related to the professionaldevelopment of employees.c) CoachThe supervisor motivates and reinforces employees in the performanceof their duties.Foster Care Workera) Case ManagerWhen a child is removed from his home, the worker becomes theprimary case manager for the child. In this capacity the child’s worker,with the assistance of the Multidisciplinary Treatment Team, assessesthe family’s problems and concerns and develops a detailed,appropriate plan to address the issues for which the child was removedfrom the home. The worker is responsible for orchestrating all of theplanning, reporting and follow-up activities related to the case andfacilitates the use of agency and community services to assist the childand his family. The worker also reviews the family’s progress, maintainsaccurate documentation and records, and advocates for the appropriate,necessary services to address the identified issues which lead to thechild’s removal.b) Treatment ProviderThe child’s worker works directly with families in helping them to addressthe issues that necessitated removal of their children by learning newways of relating to and being responsible for their children. The workeralso serves as a role model, encourages client motivation and facilitatesproblem solving and decision making on the part of families.c) Permanency PlannerThe child’s worker, with the assistance of the Multidisciplinary TreatmentTeam, develops a detailed plan that addresses the permanency needsof the child. The worker is responsible for ensuring that the servicesprovided to the child, and his family if appropriate, are in coordinationwith the child’s identified permanency plan. In addition, the worker mustalso have a concurrent permanency plan for which services arecoordinated in case the primary permanency plan no longer becomesappropriate.10

Foster Care Supervisora) AdministratorThe supervisor makes decisions on specific case activities, caseassignments and on relevant personnel matters. The super

families. Foster care is intended to be a partnership of all parties involved including the Department, families, children, foster parents, courts, private agencies, and other entities. Foster care for children has been evolving for centuries. By the mid-1800s, family foster care emerged as an effort to rescue children whose parents were

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