Ongoing and Substitute Care
Question: On an open case where there is an in home, ongoing safety plan, and children are removed due to a new safety threat and analysis concluding that children are not safe and substitute care is necessary, should another CSM occur?
Answer: No, and here is why. The purpose of the CSM is to develop the safety plan. If we need to change from an in-home to an out-of-home safety plan, we are modifying the existing safety plan, not developing a new one. This doesn't mean a family meeting might not be very appropriate at this time for a variety of reasons, but NOT to develop a new safety plan. There is an existing safety plan and, we are modifying that plan with the least intrusive intervention available to manage child safety.
Question: What is more important to have documented: Court-ordered Conditions for Return or Expected Outcomes? Court-ordered services ordered by the judge using OSM?
Answer: There is little value in debating which of these is more important. They each serve a very important, and unique purpose and should be included in the orders of the Court whenever possible.
That said, we are fully aware that DHS staff, Judges and other community partners involved in the juvenile dependency system currently do not necessarily understand how the OSM can positively impact the functions of the Court. The OSM is fairly commonly viewed as simply new ways for DHS to say things that have nothing to do with the court processes. Nothing could be further from the truth.
To that end, there is currently a Legal Issues Workgroup, with members representing DHS, the Attorney General’s office, District Attorneys, Juvenile Department, the Juvenile Court Improvement Project, parent and child attorneys and others. The intent of the group is to provide tools and training to move all of Oregon’s child safety partners (DHS, courts, CRBs, CASA’s, attorneys, etc.) toward the best practices in child safety intervention which are the foundation of the OSM.
Some critical points to share when discussing the inclusion of Conditions for Return and Expected Outcomes in court orders:
Conditions for Return guide decision-making regarding whether substitute care is still necessary or an in-home safety plan is possible. The most important point for Courts and other partners to understand and accept regarding Conditions for Return is that parents don’t have to be able to keep their children safe on their own (or complete services) in order for an in-home safety plan to be possible. Well-crafted Conditions for Return ensure children will safety return home with safety services and do not remain in substitute care any longer than absolutely necessary to keep them safe.
Expected Outcomes are clearly described case goals for the parents to achieve. They are a description of the increased Protective Capacities managing the identified Safety Threats. They are the “bar” that doesn’t move (unless new safety threats are identified during the case). Clearly described Expected Outcomes inform decision-making on the appropriateness of services (i.e., what is really needed (and working) to effectively assist the parent in making the necessary change). Expected Outcomes document the goal against which we measure parental progress/lack of progress in increasing the ability to safety parent their child. Measuring parental progress toward reaching Expected Outcomes informs case closure, or moving to the concurrent plan. The most important single point to help courts and community partners recognize about Expected Outcomes is true change is what is needed to achieve sustainable child safety. The Court simply ordering lists of services to complete and measuring progress only through review that those services were completed does not necessarily produce or measure true change - - it produces and measures compliance with Court orders.
Question: What should a worker do if they are several months into a case, have completed their PCA and have determined the expected outcomes but begin to identify a diminished protective capacity that they were not previously aware of? Since Expected Outcomes should not change, how should they deal with the diminished protective capacity that they are now better aware of? Would it be appropriate to add an expected outcome? As an example: What if we learn that a parent has a significant mental health issue which leads to (contributed to) one or more of the identified safety threats?
Short answer: Learning a parent has mental health issues (or addiction issues, or significant cognitive impairment, etc.) after the diminished capacities have been identified does not change the originally identified diminished capacities. It better informs us what types of services and supports will be needed to help the parent increase those diminished capacities. Said another way -- mental health issues, drug/alcohol issues, etc. are NOT diminished capacities in and of themselves - - they are underlying reasons why capacities are diminished.
Longer explanation: Although, for a variety of reasons (i.e., lack of available information, lack of cooperation on the part of the parents, lack of adequate understanding about the protective capacities, etc.) it is theoretically possible for the worker to misidentify which of the protective capacities are diminished, and are causing the identified safety threats during their initial protective capacity assessment, it is actually highly unlikely.
If the worker, during the initial PCA, is able to, at a minimum, determine the diminished protective capacity is behavioral, cognitive or emotional (or some combination of the three), the chances of an entirely new and different diminished capacity being identified (and perhaps a new Expected Outcome becoming necessary) is quite remote.
What is much more likely is, during the course of intervention with the family, the worker identifies additional factors to more thoroughly understand or explain exactly how and why the identified diminished capacities have resulted in the safety threat and an unsafe child. For instance, using the example in your question: “What if we learn that a parent has a significant mental health issue which leads to (contributed to) one or more of the identified safety threats?”
What is really happening is we are learning more about why one of the identified parental protective capacities is diminished. We are not learning of an entirely new diminished capacity.
Example: So, if the originally identified diminished capacities were:
Behavioral (parent doesn’t demonstrate impulse control; parent doesn’t take action; parent doesn’t set aside his/her own needs in favor of the child, etc.) and/or
Cognitive (parent doesn’t articulate a plan to protect the child, parent is not reality oriented, parent doesn’t have accurate perceptions of the child, etc.) and/or
Emotional (parent is unable to meet their own emotional needs, parent is not tolerant as a caregiver, parent does not display concern for the child and the child’s experience, etc.)
When the worker identifies, during the course of implementing the case plan, the parent has underlying issues such as mental illness, chemical dependency, significant cognitive deficits, etc. the additional information allows us to focus our intervention (and the actions and activities with the parents and service providers) on the most appropriate supports and services to assist the parent in increasing the diminished capacities causing the safety threats and their ability to sustain child safety subsequent to our intervention.
Final comments: It is imperative that we always clearly address, to the best of our professional ability, the reality of what is leading to lack of child safety, and not allow ourselves to be frozen in false situations just because we don’t want to “move the bar.” If “the bar” isn’t accurate, it needs to be moved. So, if there really is a need for an entirely new Expected Outcome in order to clearly describe what needs to be in place for the parent to safely parent the child in a sustainable way, then we need to do what is needed to add that Expected Outcome. We should do so during the course of our work with parents. Expected outcomes are not written as an exercise to complete a form, but a part of engaging the parents in understanding and agreeing to work on outcomes for change.
And, of course, if there is an entirely new and different safety threat identified during the course of working with a family during an ongoing case, a new 307 must be opened, assessed and a new Safety Analysis conducted in relation to the new Safety Threat. Then, if the safety analysis concludes the new safety threat needs to be added to the case, it is very likely one or more additional Expected Outcomes will emerge from our work with the family.
Question: Should workers be determining Conditions for Return on APPLA and Perm foster care cases when the Agency has been relieved of providing services to the family? This question particularly comes up if the parent has not been in contact with the Agency or the child for some time. Or, is it appropriate for them to write "Not Applicable" in regard to C4R on these types of cases?
1) An order terminating parental rights is entered by the Court; or
2) A child whose parents have signed voluntary relinquishments is placed in their approved adoptive placement.
Federal and statutory requirements related to APPLA cases require the Department to continue to make efforts at achieving a more permanent placement for all children on APPLA plans and justify through compelling reasons why a more permanent permanency plan is not available for this child. The Department must be able to describe at each annual review the compelling reason a more preferred permanency plan such as reunification, adoption or guardianship, is not feasible, so it is appropriate to continue to include all of the Case Plan components related to the parents (safety threats, protective capacities, expected outcomes, conditions for return, etc.) and to maintain an appropriate level of contact with them (such as visitation with the child, periodically sending a new letter of expectations, or inviting them to communicate with the Department regarding their current circumstances) to continually reassess the possibility of reunification, adoption or guardianship with a relative, etc. The consultants and coordinators are available for staffing these types of cases, and as part of the ongoing OSM implementation each District’s management staff will be working with the consultants and coordinators to determine the best use of their time.
Question: How do community partners and the work they do fit into Oregon Safety Model?
Answer: Community partners will continue to work with the Department, and with families as they have always done so. However, because the Oregon Safety Model, when fully implemented, provides the Department with an understanding of what is uniquely occurring within the family, the Department will also be able to focus the intervention provided by community partners. Rather than simply asking a parent to engage in a particular service and relying upon the provider to decide, in a vacuum, what the service is intended to accomplish, the Oregon Safety Model allows all of us to focus on specific, observable outcomes from particular services, and a consistent way to measure progress and appropriateness of services. Providers need to know the specific expected outcomes and exactly which diminished capacity(ies) they are addressing in services to the parents.
For community partners and service providers working with the child, each can engage in meeting the child’s identified needs and supporting the child during a very difficult time.
Question: In the last section of the Action Agreement, it states: "List the behavioral, cognitive and emotional changes that demonstrate enhanced parental protective capacity as observed, or evidenced by: (Examples may include: professional assessments, observed behavior by family and community members, demonstrated by, etc.)" This language is similar to a prior section of the Action Agreement that asks what expected outcomes will be addressed by the action agreement and therefore, appears redundant to some workers. What, exactly, is this last section asking for? Is it asking for the worker to document changes as they are observed in order to document evidence of change? Or, is this where the worker is supposed to be documenting what they expect to see, or more to the point: how the parent will demonstrate that they have met the expected outcome?
Answer: That section of the agreement is about measuring the changes and is intended to document clearly for the parent they will need to demonstrate the changes in their protective capacities related to the expected outcomes. It is intended to document the point that the parent will need to demonstrate changes that will be noticed by many persons in their life - - not simply participate in services in compliance with what they think DHS or the court wants/orders them to do.
So the section is more about by whom and how the changes related to the increases in diminished capacities (and therefore the expected outcomes) will be observed and measured rather than a restatement of the expected outcomes themselves.
For instance, a statement in that section could read: "The parent will be observed consistently putting their children's needs ahead of their own by DHS staff, extended family members, their family, mental health therapist, their children and others." (In that example, failure to put their children's needs ahead of their own would, of course, be one of the parents' diminished protective capacities leading directly to the identified safety threats.)
Answer: Although we do not have authority to require non-legal "parents" to participate in a PCA or to engage in services or reach expected outcomes, it is good practice to engage the entire family structure as much as possible in addressing the reasons for DHS involvement. If the non-legal parent has been or, it appears, will be serving in a parental role, including them as much as possible in addressing the safety threats can be critical to achieving sustainable child safety.
For example, if the long-term non-legal parent subjects the legal parent to domestic violence, successfully engaging the offending non-legal parent in making changes related to their violent and controlling behaviors is much more likely to result in long-term, sustainable child safety than solely focusing on the non-offending legal parent keeping their child safe from their partner.
Another example of how including a non-legal parent can contribute to sustainable child safety in the case would be when the legal parent has significant cognitive deficits impairing their ability to safely parent. If the non-legal parent is more cognitively capable, but is currently unaware of the ramifications of their partner's deficits, he or she will not have the awareness to adequately supplement the legal parent's deficits. By engaging both the legal and non-legal parent in education and skill development, and especially in understanding the legal parent's specific deficits related to parenting, sustainable child safety is much more likely than by solely focusing on increasing the knowledge and abilities of the legal parent.
That said, the legal obligation to safely parent the child always rests solely with the legal parents, and they are the only one(s) included in the Case Plan (333) and "official" Action Agreements, etc. There is nothing prohibiting DHS from working the exact same case processes with others serving in a parenting role, including assessment of protective capacities, establishing Expected Outcomes, Action Agreements, etc. However, when doing so, it is important to be very clear with the legal and non-legal parents that the non-legal parent has no obligation to engage with us in any of these processes and if they choose not to do so, the obligation on the part of the legal parent could include protecting the children from the non-legal parent.
It may also be helpful to know, the Department has recently submitted a request for a legal opinion to our AAGs regarding the legal parameters of a step parent in a child welfare case. We are waiting for a response from their office.
Question: In some counties the petition is resolved at day 30 at a Settlement Conference, right around the same time as the completion of the PS assessment and the Child Safety Meeting occurring. Because of this, some workers are experiencing the need to be prepared for Jurisdiction and Disposition at this time, which is undermining efforts to conduct a thorough and accurate protective capacity assessment. In these situations the case plan is created without the benefit of having the information necessary to ensure the identification of appropriate change strategies and outcomes, as the worker is focused on ensuring they have the 333 and Action Agreement complete in time for court. So, as we are in this education process with the courts and our partners, including the use of new language and concepts, while at the same time falling back on old way of doing business in order to meet deadlines, we seem to risk losing credibility in regard to the benefit of this practice framework and the very tangible experience of workers and the court alike seeing the benefits play out in a case. Workers are feeling frustrated that they are not able to complete the Protective Capacity Assessment as it should be completed and they are looking for ways to resolve the problem.
Answer: There is a workgroup in the Department focusing on clarifying language in our petitions. There is also work being done working with the courts in their understanding of a safety model. I would encourage Districts/branches who are struggling with their local courts to contact Jan Slick and see if the Department can assist the local courts in understanding the safety intervention model.
Practically, it is not possible to come to a thorough understanding of the behaviors, conditions and circumstances of the family with completing the protective capacity assessment. That assessment allows us to understanding why things are occurring as they do, and what interventions would best serve the family in making the changes to sustain child safety.
In your meetings with the District management, we would encourage discussions with the court in understanding child welfare practice under a safety model. Once the court gains an understanding of the importance of comprehensive assessments, we increase likelihood that early court hearings will result in judgments that will support continued assessment and case planning (referrals to A&D assessment, psychological assessment, for example).
It is nearly impossible for a worker to complete any Action Agreement with out having completed the case plan with the family. The case plan comes first, and that comes with agreement with the family on what must change. It should also include an OFDM if a child is in substitute care, so family members can engage in the process of planning change, and engaging in meeting the safety and permanency needs of the child early in the case. The agreement to engage in any services should be based on both the family’s understanding and the worker’s understanding of what the family is willing to do to change. The Action Agreement is a result of the agreement to the case plan.
Question: What kind of questions should a caseworker ask of the treatment provider to assess the progress of a parent?
Answer: We are all responsible for making sure that all providers are fully informed about the identified Safety Threats and how they are manifesting within the specific family. All providers should be given both of these documents (Oregon Safety Threats Guide and the Protective Capacity Reference) and have a discussion with a caseworker or DHS manager to gain an understanding of the causal effect of the protective capacities on child safety/lack of safety. The type of analysis provided by the PCA is very familiar to many providers and provides a common language and framework for goal-setting for the services to be sure they are focused on increasing the specific protective capacity the parent needs to regain child safety, rather than just being left up to the provider to do whatever they usually do with clients.
Providers can be crucial in assisting a worker (during the initial PCA as well as throughout the ongoing evaluation of changes in protective capacity) to identify which diminished capacities are directly leading to the identified safety threats and which enhanced capacities can be built upon to help achieve safety. The Oregon Safety Threats Guide and the Protective Capacity Reference both contain a goldmine of language to be used when creating referrals for assessments and services, when seeking input from a provider as to a parent’s progress, and in determining the appropriateness of a particular service.
For example, instead of simply asking a provider how the parent is doing, by using the Protective Capacity Reference the worker could ask if the provider has observed anything that would indicate the parent is better able to meet their own needs in a healthy way (or manage their impulses, or recognize and act upon their protective role - - or similar statements related to any of the other diminished capacities that led to the safety threats in that particular family.)
Question: On older child welfare cases where parents are no longer involved, should workers put in the diminished and enhanced protective capacities from back when the worker last had contact with the parents (maybe with assistance from relatives or collaterals) or should the worker just select N/A within the PCA section? Some are TPR's some not, if not should we be doing an absent parent searches...? That seems somewhat counter productive.
Answer: The OSM is not completely transferable to cases that have been open for several years. Additional training will be provided when a revision of the APPLA rules, which are incorporating Permanent Foster Care as a type of APPLA, early in 2009. The legal advice that we've received from our AAGs, and are writing into the revised rule, is quite a bit different than our practice has been in the past, as far as evaluating all higher forms of permanency every year, which includes Return to Parent. I don't know what our obligation is at looking at Return to Parent with an APPLA plan, if parental rights have been terminated. We are seeking an answer to that specific question from our AAGs as well. That being said, and knowing this is a guideline and we'll get more training out there soon, the following information may be helpful.
If there is a TPR, at this time, do not document parental protective/diminished capacities. We will likely get additional information or further clarification from our AAGs on this issue. We have had cases where a child in an APPLA – Permanent Foster Care plan did reconnect with the parent who has made significant changes, the court vacated the TPR order and the child was reunited with the parent.
For cases where parental rights have not been terminated, we need to be able to identify some protective/diminished capacities, because in order to argue that return to parent is not an option (or to argue that it is an option), they need to be addressed. We might not have many, and if a parent has disappeared, that would be a significant diminished capacity. You might want to document something like, "not enough information, as parents’ whereabouts are unknown and all attempts at contact have not had successful results." Use extreme caution when trying to piece together enhanced/diminished protective capacities from old history or collaterals, because it is our assessment and working relationship with the parents that assists us in identification of these capacities. We need to be honest in our documentation and not just write in the narrative to have something in the boxes. If the parents are engaged at all, even in just visits, we can identify something.
I would not search out parents if the ONLY reason for the search is to identify enhanced/diminished protective capacities. We need to make case planning decisions that are in the best interests of the child. That said, we might have cases in which searching for a parent is helpful. Consult with your supervisor, or seek the assistance of a foster care coordinator in staffing the case, to use a "reasonable standard" on some of these older cases, where there is not a single a right or wrong approach.
Question: How do community partners and the work they do fit into the Oregon Safety Model?
Answer: Community partners will continue to work with the Department and with families as they have always done so. However, because the Oregon Safety Model, when fully implemented, provides the Department with an understanding of what is uniquely occurring within the family, the Department will also be able to focus the intervention provided by community partners. Rather than simply asking a parent to engage in a particular service and relying upon the provider to decide, in a vacuum, what the service is intended to accomplish, the Oregon Safety Model allows all of us to focus on specific, observable outcomes from particular services, and a consistent way to measure progress and appropriateness of services.
For community partners and service providers working with the child, each can engage in meeting the child’s identified needs and supporting the child during a very difficult time.
Question: In policy l-B.1 (Monitoring Child Safety) 413-080-0055 1(a) states "The caseworker must have contact with the following individuals a minimum of once every 30 days:" (B) Face-to-face contact with the child's parents or legal guardians in the home of the parents or legal guardians;" So, in a case where a child is placed with the mother and the father and mother are not in a relationship and live separately, does the worker have to have the face to face contact with the father every 30 days in the father's home to meet policy? Or, can the worker have the face to face every 30 days at any location to meet policy? Was the specific statement that the contact be in the home directed to the contact with the parent who has the child placed with them?
The importance of the face to face visit is to monitor the child's safety, and the caseworker is using the face-to-face contact to manage the in-home safety plan. In doing so the caseworker assesses safety and may take one of several actions described in sections (3) - (6) in OAR (413-080-0055).
Questions a caseworker always wants to answer include:
- Is the in home safety plan sufficient to manage the child's safety (Procedure Manual, Ch. 3 Sec. 4. A.)?
- Have there been changes in the parent's protective capacity that would indicate a less intrusive safety plan is appropriate?
- Have the identified safety threats been mitigated by other events or circumstances?
Or, on the other hand, if safety is not adequately managed, what revisions in the safety plan are necessary to manage safety? (Ch. 3 Sec. 4 C.)
Question: What are Conditions for Return, when are they developed, and where are they documented?
Answer: Conditions for Return is an “environmental statement” more than a statement about people and what they must do. It is a statement about behaviors, conditions or circumstances that must exist within a child’s home that would allow a child in substitute care to return home. Conditions for Return focus on the specific circumstances that must be in place in the child’s home as criteria for reunification rather than on the parent’s completion of treatment, change services. or Expected Outcomes prior to reunification.
In the Oregon Safety Model, discussion of Conditions for Return occurs during the Child Safety Meeting. When a child is removed as a Protective Action during the CPS assessment, there is no need to identify Conditions for Return. However at the conclusion of the CPS assessment, when the safety analysis indicates an In-Home Safety Plan is not possible and the Child Safety Meeting results in an Out of Home Safety Plan, a statement of the Conditions for Return is essential.
When development of case-specific Conditions for Return is completed, they are documented in the initial Case Plan. Conditions for Return should also be included as part of a dispositional court order.
When determining whether Conditions for Return have been met, consider the following questions:
- Can a sustainable In Home Safety Plan be put in place?
- Is the parent willing and able to support the In-Home Safety Plan?
- Is the parent willing to continue working toward the Expected Outcomes?
Also refer to the Procedure Manual, Chapter III, Section 5 F- Page 30 on Determine Conditions for Return.
Question: Does the adoption worker need to have 30-day face to face contact with a child who has been placed in a pre-adoptive home when a licensed adoption agency is supervising the adoptive placement?
Answer: Yes. The transition to an adoptive home can be a very stressful time for a child and for the adoptive family. The Department is responsible for monitoring child safety for every child in the Department's custody, including children in adoptive placements, until the adoption is finalized, and the child is no longer in the custody of the Department.
Question: How many Action Agreements do you need?
Answer: If we are working with a parent toward reunification, there should be a current Action Agreement (or Letter of Expectations if the parent is unwilling to engage) for each legal parent. The first Action Agreement should be created very shortly after the creation of the first Case Plan (333) and is a subset of the Case Plan.
Action Agreements should focus clearly on a small part of the overall actions, activities and services that will be needed to reach the Expected Outcomes in the Case Plan.
In most cases there will be a series of Action Agreements that are updated regularly to keep a clear focus for everyone involved (caseworker, clients, providers, etc.) on what the parent is currently working on.
Question: Do I need to complete more than one 333 if children’s circumstances in a case are different?
Answer: In most cases, one 333 will be sufficient. The caseworker should narrate any special circumstances to fit the facts of the case (i.e., if one child in the family is in DHS custody and another is not, the worker may use the various narrative boxes in the 333a to describe the specific circumstances for each child).
However, there are times when separate 333s or Case Plans will be needed. Separate 333s should be completed in the following circumstances:
- in cases where there are children with VERY different case plans, placements and/or circumstances (i.e., one child is in permanent foster care due to extreme special needs and another is on a trial home visit); and
- in cases where there is a dangerous/ violent parent and providing case plan information to this violent/dangerous parent about the other parent(s) of the case would put them at risk of harm.
Question: I am having trouble closing a case in FACIS. Can you help?
Answer: To close a case the Ongoing Safety Plan (safety plan) must first be closed. The worker needs to deselect any identified safety threats still identified in the safety plan and explain how they have been resolved or are no longer an issue. FACIS won’t allow a case closure until all safety threats are deselected & explained.
To close a safety plan:
- open case, select the “plans & services” tab on right side of notebook
- click on top tab titled “safety plans”
- from the dropdown list, select “change in family/child condition”
(This replaces case closure selection.)
- hit the “review” button that will be bold and the new safety plan review screen will be displayed
(If the “review” button is grayed out, the safety plan is already closed.)
- deselect all the safety threats
(Change highlighted selections to white by clicking on each threat.)
- delete or modify the old safety plan narrative to include:
- reasons the safety plan is closing,
- how identified safety threats have been mitigated,
- description of how children are now safe,
- include their whereabouts if not in home.
- click the “save/close” button
- select “review” to send for supervisor review
- Supervisors can approve the safety plan from the notebook by clicking on the “safety plan” tab, then highlighting the safety plan waiting for approval, entering the date approved, and clicking on “save/close” and “complete.” Supervisors may edit “Pending Safety Plan Reviews” either via their workload or by accessing the case directly.
Question: I often have trouble entering and modifying information in safety plans. Any suggestions?
- All safety plans need to be reviewed by the worker every 30 days. If no changes are made to the safety plan, the worker should not select the “modify” button, and click the “save/close” and “complete” buttons. Safety plans that are reviewed without change do not go to the supervisor for approval.
- To modify the language on a safety plan, select the “modify” button on the new safety plan review page.
- All safety plans that are modified should be sent to the supervisor for approval. FACIS sends an email message to the supervisor that the status of the safety plan review is awaiting approval.
- The safety plan in the 333 will not update until approved by the supervisor and the 333 form refreshed. The 1149 safety plan will never pull into the 333 case plan, nor will a safety plan created in case notes.
If a supervisor is closing the safety plan and writing the closing safety plan narrative, they enter the approval date in the top left hand corner of the screen and select “save/close” and “approve.”
At times there is a delay from the time a safety plan is closed until the case plan can be closed. This may be up to 24 hours. If the case won’t close after the safety plan is closed, wait until the next day & try again.
The Safety Plan tab in GAP is only for entering the safety plan. It is not intended for any other type information when closing a case at the end of the CPS assessment. Enter the initial safety plan in this section after the Child Safety Meeting. Information for this section can be cut & pasted from the 1149 safety plan created during the Child Safety Meeting. Both the safety plan in GAP and the 1149 safety plan will initially be the same.
The initial safety plan entered into the Safety Plan tab in GAP will be transferred to the Safety Plan tab in FACIS used for review of the safety plan.
Question: On cases where we have approval to move to the concurrent plan, the 333's still have a section for conditions for return. Do we fill anything in there or just say that we are not looking at return home as the plan? As we know, we still work with parents even after we move to the concurrent plan until that plan is finalized. Are we required to continue to let them know what possible conditions for return would be?
Answer: Here's a reply to your question regarding "Conditions for Return". Based upon the excerpt from Chapter 3, section 11 of the Procedure Guide quoted below we would still continue to make reasonable efforts to return the child, and continue to offer "Conditions for Return."
Relief of efforts toward reunification
Continue to offer services to parents throughout the life of the case. Historically, in some courts the caseworker has asked to be relieved of efforts to reunify the child with the parents at the time a permanency plan is changed. In other courts, the court has ordered Child Welfare to be relieved of efforts to reunify the family.
Except in cases where Child Welfare is not required to make reasonable efforts, commonly characterized as ‘aggravated circumstances cases which are described in ORS 419B340(5), the caseworker is not to request relief of efforts toward reunification, even after the court has approved a change in the permanency plan.
Continue to provide reasonable services to the parents after a TPR petition is filed, even if a court enters an order relieving Child Welfare of making reunification efforts. The continuation of reasonable efforts is required by Oregon case law and statutes.
Question: When the child returns home from out of home care, it used to be a 147C was due in 30 days. When a returns home from substitute care, is a 333b due in 60 days?
Answer: The case plan documentation is due every six months. They are reviewed every 90 days. So, the documentation timeline is not based on when the child goes home, but rather the documentation needs to occur every six months.
Question: Per the Narrative Recording Policy, the 333b is to be done when a child in the
custody of DHS returns home. The policy also says: The caseworker must develop a written Child Welfare Case Plan within 60 days of
a child's removal from home or within 60 days of the completion of the CPS assessment, in cases where the child remains in the home of a parent or legal guardian except
in cases described in OAR 413-040-0010(6).
The above does not give a time frame for completing a 333b when a child in our custody returns home? Does the same 60 day time frame apply?
Answer: No, the 60 day time frame does not apply to updating a case plan at the point in time a child in our custody returns home. The case plan is reviewed every 90 days and updated (documented) every 180 days, so when the next 180 day case plan review is required, the caseworker would update the case plan on the 333b.
When a child in our custody returns home, the caseworker is responsible for all the actions required in “Developing and Monitoring the Case Plan” regarding revising the Ongoing Safety Plan. The In-Home Safety Plan must be developed and approved prior to the child's return home, and the caseworker is responsible for confirming the safety of the child the day after the child's return.
The revised In-Home Ongoing Safety Plan will pre-fill into the 333 case plan the next time the caseworker updates the case plan.
One additional thought is that in the previous model we tended to think of a return home just about the time our services and service agreements were completed. In the OSM, we determine a child can return home when Conditions for Return have been met (and these have been already documented in the 333a for the case) and a child can return home with an In-Home Ongoing Safety Plan and safety service providers in place to manage child safety.
Conditions for Return means a written statement of the specific behaviors, conditions, or circumstances that must exist within a child's home before a child can safely return and remain in the home with an In-Home Ongoing Safety Plan.
Question: After a child has moved from one foster home to another, how soon does a caseworker need to see a child in the home? Some thought 3 days, some said 5. I could not find it in the rules.
Answer: This specifically is not in rule. The caseworker is responsible for face to face every 30 days. In terms of good practice, if a child is moving, it would be helpful if the caseworker were involved in that process, and would visit shortly after a move to reassure the child, confirm child safety, answer questions the foster parent may have, etc.
Question: Why are we using the 1149 safety plan form when kids are in subcare placement?" The safety plan written in the case notebook in FACIS covers safety for kids in care, as we understand it.
Answer: The 1149 (Ongoing Safety Plan) is the same document as the Ongoing Safety Plan tab in the assessment in FACIS. The ONLY difference is the signature lines. Although a signature is not required on the Ongoing Safety Plan, having the safety service providers and parents (if willing) sign is ideal because that indicates an acknowledgment (not necessarily agreement) but an acknowledgment of the plan. Rule clearly states the Ongoing Safety Plan is developed in the Child Safety Meeting and is a written document between the parent or caregiver and the department. Thus, the 1149.
Question: How does an ongoing worker close out the Ongoing Safety Plan in FACIS when a case is to be closed?
Answer: Select plan & services tab - select safety plan tab - select reason from drop down box and hit review tab - enter narrative in box in support of case closure - de-select "highlighted" (blue) safety threats by tabbing on them and forward to supervisor for approval.
Question: Can a “tickler” system be created to notify caseworkers and supervisors when 90-day reviews are due? The green bar report currently has a # sign that inconspicuously shows the month one is due if you know where to look for it, but not the exact date. Can a new category appear on the green bar for it specifically?
Answer: The Implementation Team is examining possible ways to support supervisors and caseworkers in tracking dates and deadlines. More to come on this.
Question: How are we handling the policy requirements for returning a child home when the “return” is to a parent in a residential treatment program? Does the caseworker have to meet all of the policy requirements including visiting the facility within the 5 days prior to the return and again the day after? Also, what about when the parent and child leave the treatment facility (hopefully successfully) and return home. Would that be the “real” return home?
Answer: Yes, a child being returned to their parent in a residential treatment program would be considered a return home, and all requirements must be met. If the parent returns to their “real” home with the child after treatment, the caseworker should assess as to when it would be most appropriate to do the home visit.
Question: In “Developing and Managing the Case Plan”, pg 5 of 19, does the whole list of items on that page and onto the next page have to be done within 5 days?
Answer: No. Only the few items listed specifically under the heading requiring completion within 5 days must be done in that time frame. The remaining tasks on page 5 and after must be completed, but not within 5 days.
Question: Please help clarify about safety service providers, as I assume they are the providers that were involved to create the Protective Action. Is that correct?
Answer: A safety service provider is a participant in the Protective Action or the Ongoing Safety Plan whose actions, assistance or supervision help a family in managing a child's safety or increasing the protective capacities of the child's parent or caregiver. For example, a safety service provider could be the grandma who is staying with the child after school, so the child has an appropriate caregiver. A safety service provider is any person or service provider who is helping to manage that child's safety.
Question: If DHS does not have custody of a child and the court orders the child home, but we still feel there are safety threats, what do we do for follow up?
Answer: If you are referring to a case where DHS has voluntary custody of a child, the child has been in care for more than 180 days, and the case is now being reviewed by the court, if the court orders that the child be sent home and we feel the child is unsafe, we should contact the Attorney General’s office and consider filing a petition for this child.
If you are referring to a case where the child has been placed in protective custody and, at the shelter hearing we recommend the child remain in substitute care care, but the court orders the child home, it is important that: 1) the worker come to the hearing with a detailed shelter report that supports the recommendation for continued substitute care placement and the worker clearly articulates to the court the reasons supporting continued substitute care placement (sometimes workers are not making a clear recommendation and they are assuming the court is going to support what they want to see occur). We should make this recommendation based on our analysis that the parent is not willing or able to protect; (2) if the court sends the child home, despite our recommendation, but orders us to do voluntary services, we may need to articulate to the court the reasons why we do not believe the child will be safe. In some cases we have contacted the Attorney General’s office to have them review the order.
Question: What if the court dismisses the petition and orders children home later in the case but we still believe there are safety concerns? Should we still conduct the in-home follow up visits and monitor the safety or do we just close the case?
Answer: This question needs to be answered on a case by case basis. Attorney General consultation will need to occur. There are some cases where we absolutely do not believe these children will be safe in the home. Then, there may be others that make us feel uneasy, but when analyzed, the child could be safe in the home. At the same time, if the court dismisses the petition we have NO authority to continue working with this family, especially if the family tells us they no longer want our services, unless the family agrees to work with us, signs a 304 (Service Application) and we develop an in-home safety plan.
Question: Can we do any voluntary CPS placements? If not, what do we do with the current voluntary placements we have that have protective services concerns?
Answer: No, we may not do “voluntary” CPS placements. Those cases which have been opened as voluntaries should be carefully analyzed. We will need to determine if the case should be closed or if a petition should be filed. In this process, always explore the least intrusive intervention that will control the identified safety threats.
Question: If a child is in a placement through Development Disabilities and turns 18, DD has asked that Child Welfare continue to keep the case open and continue to be the child’s legal guardian until the child turns 21. Does this reflect an agreement we have with DD?
Answer: There is no formal agreement with DD in this specific situation, although regionally-based informal processes may develop. In a Voluntary Placement, DHS must close the case at the child’s 18th birthday. In voluntary custody, DHS can continue voluntary custody past age 18 only under circumstances listed in the policy. In Voluntary Custody, the child can withdraw custody after their 18th birthday. If the court is involved, DHS can continue to keep the case open, if the court agrees it is in the best interest of the child. During this time, if the child qualifies for DD services, DHS should be working closely with DD to ensure a smooth transition to adult DD services. If the child qualifies for adult DD services, they can receive these, without DHS having custody. There are benefits to us not being involved sometimes, and sometimes it is better for the child if we retain custody.
Question: If a child is in voluntary custody, how does the court get notified in order to schedule reviews?
Answer: The same way it occurs now, as this is not a change in policy.
Question: We need more information on required reviews of voluntary custody cases, i.e. judicial determinations.
Answer: Federal and state law, including the Adoptions and Safe Families Act (Pub. L. 105-89), requires review of the cases of all children placed in substitute care. The child placed by the Department with a Voluntary Custody Agreement will be scheduled for Citizen Review Board and court reviews pursuant to OAR 413-040-0100 to 413-040-0170.
For a child receiving voluntary custody services past age 18, “the court must determine that continued custody is in the best interests of the young adult and approve the continuation of the Voluntary Custody Agreement every 180 days.”
Question: What is the difference between a Family Support Services Plan and a Service Plan, as discussed in rule I-B.2.3.1 (pg 10)? I thought we were doing away with Service Plans and they are now action agreements.
Answer: A Case Plan must be developed whenever the agency opens a case with a family.
One of the two new Family Support Services Case Plans is used when a family has been determined eligible for Family Support Services.
One of the three new Child Welfare Case Plans is used when a child has been determined to be unsafe and agency intervention is required.
We used to call the documents used by the caseworker and parent to focus services and activities on a limited number of goals from the Case Plan “Service Agreements” no matter what type of case had been opened with the agency. Because of the very different interventions, oversight requirements, purposes, etc. of agency involvement for these two types of cases, the decision was made to customize the forms to follow and support the differences in practice.
So, after we develop either a Family Support Services Case Plan or a Child Welfare case plan we now use Family Support Service Agreements in cases where the family is eligible for Family Support Services, and Action Agreements in Child Welfare cases involving unsafe children.
Question: If we have a child placed in long term therapeutic care in another county, can the worker ask for a courtesy worker to do face-to-face contact or is there a “statewide agreement” that says we don’t do courtesy supervision in cases were a child is in a long term therapeutic setting?
Answer: Please refer to the Courtesy Supervision policy as it has not changed:
Some counties have agreements for these kinds of placements, such as the Tri-County agreement in the Portland metropolitan area. Otherwise, it is reasonable to assess how long term the placement will be, and whether it is more appropriate for courtesy supervision, which would usually involve a conversation with the Child Welfare office in the county where the child is residing. If so, follow the steps detailed in the policy.
Question: Who is the educational surrogate if the certified foster parent does not agree to be the surrogate? Can a DHS case worker be the surrogate?
Answer: If the foster parent does not wish to be the educational surrogate, either the school can appoint a surrogate (they should have a list of people who can do this) or the juvenile court can appoint a surrogate. Child Welfare staff can never be a surrogate – this is in law.
Question: When David was going over the voluntary placement agreement, he was very clear in saying that there are three forms that we use, the CF 499, CF496, DHS 415H, my question is do we still use the 498‑Parental Request for Continuation of Voluntary Placement, and the 497 Request for Judicial Determination, for when the voluntary placement is longer than 180 days?
Answer: The two forms you speak about are not mentioned in policy, nor are they mandatory. If local districts decide they are helpful, districts can use them. They have been updated to match language in the rule, and should be on the forms directory.
Question: When completing an Ongoing Safety Plan review or closing a safety plan in FACIS, should only the most recent Ongoing Safety Plan information be in the narrative box? In other words, should all of the prior Ongoing Safety Plan documentation be deleted from that narrative section and only the current Ongoing Safety Plan information remain there?
Answer: Yes. Only the documentation describing the most current Ongoing Safety Plan should be in the narrative section at the conclusion of each Ongoing Safety Plan review, including at case closing. The previous narrative is shown in the narrative box during a new Ongoing Safety Plan review in order to allow the caseworker to simply edit the previous narrative, if possible. The caseworker may, instead, delete the previous narration entirely and enter the new narrative information. All previous Ongoing Safety Plan narratives can be reviewed by clicking on/opening the prior reviews that are saved chronologically.
One of the most important reasons to have only the most current information in the safety plan tab narrative section is that FACIS pre-fills the safety plan information into the Case Plan (333 series) from the most current narrative on the safety plan review tab. So, whatever safety threats remain highlighted and whatever information is in the safety plan narrative at the time of the creation/update of the 333 become the safety plan narration in the 333.
Question: Does a supervisor have to approve every Action Agreement in FACIS?
Answer: Supervisors are not required in rule or policy to approve Action Agreement forms in FACIS, but the system will allow them to do so if they so choose. Otherwise, the form will still remain in the list of forms completed for the case (along with 147s, 333s, 310s, etc.) Just be aware, unless the supervisor approved the form, it will show the form to be in one of the incomplete statuses such as “review” and it would remain possible to modify the form.
Question: I went to close an Ongoing Safety Plan in order to close a case the other day and the before case closure choice was no longer available in the drop-down list. Which reason do I choose from the drop-down list when I’m closing the case?
Answer: Before closing a case, the final safety plan review must occur and be documented. The reason chosen for the final review will most likely be Change in Child/Family Condition. It would, of course, depend on the specific circumstances of the case which reason is most appropriately chosen. The safety plan review narrative must include how the identified safety threats were eliminated or mitigated and other changes in the child or family’s circumstances that lead to sufficiently managing a child’s safety without further department intervention. As in 9.4, version 9.6 FACIS does not validate against any particular reason for closing a safety plan, so removal of the before case closure reason had no impact whatsoever on the ability to close safety plans. Regardless of the reason selected, FACIS should allow users to narrate, deselect safety threats as appropriate, and close safety plans.
Question: Help! Why won’t my safety plan close so I can close the case?
Answer: Here are a few reasons why an Ongoing Safety Plan might not close:
- If you’ve already started an Ongoing Safety Plan review, you can’t change the selected reason for the review (the same as in version 9.4). To select the correct reason for the review and complete the review, you will need to delete the current safety plan review and start a new one with the correct reason selected from the start.
- In approximately 1/50 cases, FACIS does not enable the REVIEW tab as it should after the worker has selected a reason for the review and there are currently highlighted safety threats. If this occurs, contact the Service Desk and explain that you are trying to complete a safety plan review in FACIS and the “review” tab is disabled.
- All of the highlighted safety threats must be deselected before a safety plan can be closed.
Question: Why don’t the new 333 forms pre-fill from prior forms in FACIS like the 147s did?
Answer: The pre-fill function for FACIS forms remains the same as was previously available: no pre-fill, pre-fill from a prior form, and pre-fill from all information available in FACIS. Unfortunately, there are not many fields on the 147 that directly translate to the 333 so, when workers make the initial transition from the 147 to the first 333 in an ongoing case and attempt to pre-fill from the prior 147 to the new 333, there are very limited fields that make the transfer.
Additionally (as it was in 9.4, so it is in 9.6) users cannot copy and paste from a COMPLETED 147 into a new form (they can copy and paste from an incomplete 147 into a new form but not a completed form - FACIS 9.6 did not change in that regard).
Workers may still copy and paste from an INCOMPLETE 147 to a new 333 and may still copy from completed 147s into Word and then from Word into the new 333. Once the information is in the first 333, for future 333s, the pre-fill function will work as usual.