Safety model frequently asked questions

Certification and Foster Parent Issues

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Question: Is there a form for certifiers to use at the 180 day contact visit to confirm safe environments? 


Answer: While some staff feel forms are helpful reminders to what they should be doing on these home visits, the OSM Implementation team made a decision to not create more forms for the field to use until we could figure out exactly what might be most helpful. 


It is best to direct staff to the procedure manual to guide practice for these visits.  For this specific issue, please review the following sections of the procedure manual for additional information on the purpose and content of the 180 day visits required of certification staff.
Chapter 7, Section 5, pg 2 (assessment interview)
Chapter 7, Section 6, pg 4 (180 day visits)

Question: Certification for a pre-adoptive family usually hasn’t had to continue once Adoption Assistance has been approved and an adoptive family case number has been assigned. During the training, it was reported that certification continues until finalization, rather than until Adoption Assistance is in place. The person went on to say “we have always closed foster care and not required certification once Adoption Assistance was set up based upon an inter-office memo from Salem.”


Answer: Yes, this is a change in practice. In the past the practice was to close the foster care certification once Adoption Assistance was in place, as long as criminal history and Child Welfare checks were completed annually. Now, all pre-adoptive families must remain certified until adoption finalization.

Question: What is required for Foster Parent “Orientation” Training? Is there a set curriculum?


Answer: Foster parent orientation assists the family in learning the basic skills expected in foster parenting, as well as agency rules and procedures. Orientation includes at a minimum, the following topics:
  • What to anticipate when considering foster parenting;
  • The certification process and home study;
  • Who’s who at DHS, communicating with DHS staff and getting answers to your questions;
  • The rights of a parents who’s child is in the legal custody of DHS;
  • A child’s medical coverage and who can authorize medical treatment;
  • Early intervention services and educational services for children in DHS custody;
  • Car seats;
  • Visitation planning for children, their siblings and parents;
  • Consent for out of state travel;
  • Risk management;
  • Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect When a foster parent is the focus of a report of child abuse or neglect;
  • Sibling planning for foster care and adoption;
  • On going training requirement.

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Question: Can a District Manager choose to trump policy and require that requests by foster parents to allow foster children go hunting or target shooting be approved or denied by Program or District Managers rather than by the caseworker?


Answer: Policy does require approval by a District Manager or designee for a foster child to use a firearm. Certification rule requires the foster parent request approval from their caseworker who must then receive approval from the District Manager or Designee, as outlined in the Guardian and Legal Consents Policy. The intent of this wording is to clarify this is something foster parents must get permission prior the child engaging in any activities related to shooting a gun. See policy below:
  1. Service Delivery Area (SDA) Manager or Designee. The SDA Manager or Designee may exercise the Department’s consent authority to any action to which the Physical Custodian or Services Worker may consent. In addition, the SDA Manager or Designee may exercise the Department’s authority to consent to the following actions with respect to children serviced by the SDA;
  2. Emergency medical care and/or surgery, to include anesthesia;
  3. Major medical and surgical procedures that are not extraordinary or controversial, to include anesthesia;
  4. Admission to a state training center for the retarded, or to SAIP (Secure Adolescent Inpatient Program), SCIP (Secure Children’s Inpatient Program), or a private hospital for purpose of psychiatric treatment;
  5. Registration in special schools, including private or alternative schools;
  6. Application for driver’s training, permits and license;
  7. Interstate travel and international travel;
  8. Examination by law enforcement agency (e.g., polygraph, interrogations without a warrant, etc.).
  9. Use of firearms for purpose of recreational hunting, target practice, and/or Hunter Safety Course.

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Question: How is the expedited certification process different from the old provisional certification process?


Answer: Similar but different. The revised rules give the specific actions that must be completed PRIOR to issuing a certificate. The new expedited Certificate of Approval process provides workers with very clear requirements. The care giver is considered to be fully certified with a 90 day certificate. In additional to general requirements prior to issuing a 90 day certificate the certifier must have face to face contact with all members of the household; if this is not possible the certifier must get supervisory approval to delay the completion of this task for one week. Written District Manager approval must be obtained when an applicant for a child specific Certificate of Approval applies through an office other than the office in the county in which the family resides.

Question: Is there a time limit for respite care before the need to do background checks goes into effect? For example a 48 hour rule?


Answer: Respite Care is defined as a formal planned arrangement to relieve a certified family’s responsibilities by a person temporarily assuming responsibility for the care and supervision of a child or young adult. Or a person providing assistance comes into the home of the certified family to care for a child or young adult in the care and custody on the agency. All respite providers are required to have a criminal and a Child Welfare back ground check. Respite care is defined by function rather then strictly length of time with a child.
Please refer to policy which describes in detail the differences between babysitters and respite providers.


The new policy, explains the use of babysitters and respite providers, and normal childhood activities, as well as process for each. If they are a respite provider as outlined in policy, a criminal history and CW check must be performed and approved before respite begins.


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Question: If a caseworker has a concern about a foster parent that involves a child on their caseload, does that go in case notes or in foster parent notes in FACIS? For example, concerns from the school that the foster parent is not getting the child to school on a regular basis.


Answer: First, the caseworker examines the information, circumstances and situation through the lenses of confirming the child’s safety. If the concern is specifically in regards to the safety or well-being of the child and a safety threat is identified, the caseworker must: 1) immediately consult with their supervisor to determine any immediate protective action required to assure the safety of the child or young adult; 2) contact a CPS screener and report the identified safety threat to the child or young adult; and 3) document the behaviors, conditions, or circumstances observed in the home and any immediate protective actions in FACIS case notes.
If the child is safe, but the concern is in regard to the care the foster parent is providing or the conditions of the home (again, that do not present a safety threat), information is documented in provider notes in FACIS. The caseworker must also notify the certifier or certification supervisor that information has been put in provider notes regarding the concern within one working day. 413-080-0059 (2) (c) (A)

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Question: What about a foster parent who has a medical marijuana card?


Answer: In some very limited circumstances, an applicant with a medical marijuana card may be approved to be a certified care giver. The assessment should consider the medical diagnosis requiring the use of medical marijuana and answers the following questions:
  • Can the applicant with a medical condition who is using medical marijuana provide for the safety and child well-being?
  • Where and how does the applicant use medical marijuana?
  • What is the plan to ensure a child placed in the home would not have access to or be exposed to any second hand smoke?
  • Does the applicant’s physician have concerns about the applicant’s ability to provide safety and well being for the child?

Question: Can foster parents put a lock on a window?


Answer: Yes. The locked window would qualify as a means of rescue, as long as an emergency responder could gain access to the room by breaking the window.

Question: Does the Crisis Behavior Management Training go over the Incident Reports and Physical Restraint Forms?


Answer: The new Behavior and Crisis Management Training for relative and foster care givers. The broad approach to crisis intervention and prevention focuses on the ability to communicate, listen and connect meaning to behavior. Agency policy related to physical restraint, (which does include the above mentioned forms) completion of behavior logs and Behavior Intervention Plans are included in this training.

Question: Is management approval needed if a foster family is doing respite for another foster family, and they go over their numbers for children in a home?


Answer: No. Certified caregiver #1 needs to get approval from their certifier as to their respite care plans. Certified caregiver#2, who is providing respite care for caregiver #1, is required to notify their certifier of their plans to do respite and if this will put them over the maximum number of children allowed in policy. Thus, both certifiers need to be notified. It is important caregiver #2 notifying their certifier, to ensure the children are placed with a skilled care giver able to manage the specific child(ren) and if the home is temporarily over filled can the provider care for this many children? The certifier may choose not to approve the proposed respite care arrangement if there are safety and well-being concerns.

Question: Does a foster family need to notify their certifier every time they provide respite for another foster family?


Answer: If a certified care giver is planning to regularly provide respite care for another certified care giver - for example every other weekend, the certified care giver should notify their certifier before they begin this scheduled respite care (for example, “I’m providing care every other Saturday from 9-3 for the Smith’s foster children, and I will have one more child than my certificate allows.”). It is not necessary to contact the certifier every time this occurs – unless there is a change in schedule.

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Question: What is the procedure for obtaining management approval on foster home re-openings, when the approval was previously obtained when certified?


Answer: If the foster home was certified within the previous 6 months and their certificate would not have expired there is no need to re-obtain management approval. If it has been over 6 months or the certificate would have expired, updated management approval is required. If the approval requires the Assistant Director’s approval, the same paperwork can be used and you should attach the initial approval and a memo discussing the need to re-open the case.

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Question: When does the requirement for 180 day visits to the foster home begin?

Answer: Certifiers visit certified homes every 180 days based on the certification or recertification date on the caregiver’s Certificate of Approval or 180 days from the last visit. If the certified home is over-filled the certifier visits in the home every 90 days. When these circumstances no longer exist and management has been notified and vacated the over fill approval the 180 day visit requirement is in effect. Visits begin 180 days after the last home visit or at recertification - which ever occurs first.


Question: When does a certifier need to obtain management approval for exceeding maximum number of children and comply with 90 day home visits?


Answer: The certifier must obtain management approval prior to the children being placed which would exceed the number of children allowed in policy. The certifier must begin the 90 day home visit schedule from the date of management approval, and continue until the home no longer is over filled and management approval is no longer in place.


Question: When does the requirement that a family complete 30 hours of training for their 2 year certification period begin?


Answer: The requirement for increased training hours begins with all new certification starting March 20, 2007 and for currently certified families at re-certification. As an example if a family was recertified on March 1, 2007, they would be required to complete 10 hours of training for their one year certification. However, when re-certified on February 28, 2008 they would be required to complete 30 hours of training every two years they are certified.

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