Family Support Services Cases
Answer: Yes, a new 307 needs to be opened and completed. The assessment related to the reasons/eligibility/needs, etc. to receive FSS is important and it is more than just a matter of it having the same REFO (service code) and being simpler to do. Any individual seeking Family Support Services needs to apply and the caseworker assesses the current circumstances of the individual or family independently of a decision reached through a safety assessment concluding that a child is safe. The assessment can only happen by doing a Family Support Services intake and following the procedures related to assessing the needs of the individual/family.
There are very limited reasons for opening a Family Support Services case. Please refer to administrative rules I-B.2.3.1, Family Support Services, and Chapter Six, Section 1, B of the Procedure Manual, for eligibility criteria.
Briefly, Family Support Services cases NEVER have an unsafe child, and include the following eligibility criteria: circumstances that allow a Voluntary Placement Agreement, a Voluntary Custody Agreement, ILP Services to an eligible former foster child, post legal guardianship or legal adoption services to a family, in-home family support services (eligible under specified criteria) and services to pre-adjudicated delinquents when ordered by the court.
Answer: We have two types of voluntary cases in which a child is placed in substitute care. These are the Voluntary Placement Agreement and the Voluntary Custody Agreement. As you know, the requirements for these services include having a SAFE child. The specific requirements for these two types of agreements are in the Family Support Service rules as well as the rules for each type of Agreement.
There are also very limited circumstances in which a family can request voluntary services when the child remains in the home. Again, these circumstances are very limited and outlined in I-B.2.3.1. A child welfare program manager always approves voluntary services.
I-B.2.3.1 Family Support Services
Voluntary Placement Agreement
Voluntary Custody Agreement
Whenever it is determined that the child is UNSAFE, at the conclusion of the CPS assessment, then child welfare must intervene. There is no question or doubt about that. If the child is unsafe, we must intervene.
Now, there are several ways we could intervene. We are required to intervene with families in the least intrusive means. In the scenario where we have an unsafe child, but the family is being very cooperative, the child is able to remain in the home, the family agrees with our intervention and the worker believes court involvement is not necessary, then yes, we can work with these families in a cooperative way. This is not a voluntary case. It is not voluntary in that the Department will intervene to manage child safety. If the family were to decide that they no longer wanted our intervention or didn't want to cooperate with an on-going safety plan, or follow through with actions or services necessary for sustainable change, then we would need to involve the court system to oversee our interventions and the family’s responsibility to change conditions, behaviors or circumstances that resulted in the child being unsafe.
What if there is still a safety threat in the case and an "unsafe" child? Does an agreement need to be signed and does the program manager have to approve these types of voluntaries?
Answer: First, if the court dismisses custody, but the Department continues working with the family through an in-home safety plan (that is, there is still an identified safety threat, a parent who cannot or will not protect, an unsafe child, and the parents want to work with the agency), yes we continue to work with the family. Yes, the family would sign a 304 Service Application. The family would also sign the case plan (as is supposed to happen in ALL cases, and would sign the safety plan and any current action agreement. A program manager does not need to approve this type of child welfare case when the parent is willing to continue to work with the Department on resolving issues that leave a child unsafe.
Second, even when the Department does not seek court intervention and opens a case following a CPS assessment/safety analysis that determines the child is unsafe, the family also needs to sign a 304 Service Application. In these cases it is critically important the worker explain to the family that although the family has made a voluntary decision to work with DHS without court intervention, the intervention services provided by the Department are not voluntary (i.e., it is not an option to participate or not) and, if the family cannot or will not work cooperatively, DHS must seek court intervention to ensure and manage the child’s safety.
Third, if there is not an unsafe child, and the family is seeking services after court dismissal, the family would need to meet one or more of the criteria for a Family Support Services case. Those criteria are described in administrative rule. Program Managers approve the request for voluntary services. And under these criteria, yes, the family signs a 304 Service Application, case plan and the service agreement.
Eligibility For Family Support Services
(1) A parent, legal guardian, caregiver, or former foster child is eligible for family support services if the requirements of one of the following subsections are met:
(a) A parent or legal guardian requests out-of-home placement of a child due solely to the emotional, behavioral, or mental disorder or developmental or physical disability of the child, as described in Child Welfare Policy I-B.1.3.1, "Voluntary Placement Agreement", OAR 413-020-0060 to 413-020-0090.
(b) A parent or legal guardian requests that the Department take temporary
custody of a child due to conditions described in Child Welfare Policy I-B.1.3, "Voluntary Custody Agreement", OAR 413-020-0000 to 413-020-0050.
(c) A former foster child eligible to receive Independent Living Program (ILP) services requests those services.
(d) A parent or legal guardian requests post adoption or post legal guardianship services in connection with an adoption or legal guardianship that occurred through the Department.
(e) A parent, legal guardian, or caregiver requests assistance with a child in the home, and all of the following paragraphs apply:
(A) Other community resources have been utilized and determined to be ineffective.
(B) Members of the extended family and other responsible adults who are well known to the child have been explored or utilized and determined to be unsafe, unavailable, unwilling, or ineffective as support for the family.
(C) The parent, legal guardian, or caregiver is temporarily or will be temporarily unable to fulfill parental responsibilities due to a diagnosed medical or mental health condition.
(D) The inability of the parent, legal guardian, or caregiver to fulfill parental responsibilities is temporary and immediate; and will be alleviated with short term services or short term services will transition the family to community services.
(E) A Child Welfare program manager approves the request for voluntary services.
(2) Service eligibility requires the full and ongoing cooperation of the parent, legal guardian, caregiver, or former foster child in:
(a) The determination of need;
(b) The preparation of the family support services case plan; and
(c) The monitoring of the family support services case plan.
(3) If the Department determines that funds for family support services are unavailable, the Department will not provide services for those who are eligible for services under subsection (1)(e) of this rule.
(4) The Department must provide family support services when a court has ordered the Department to provide services to a pre-adjudicated delinquent.