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3500 Family Reunification Services (FRS)

3510 Purpose of FRS

CPS February 2008

CPS provides reunification services to families immediately before and after a child returns home from substitute care.

The purpose of family reunification services (FRS) is to support the family and the child during the child’s transition from living in substitute care to living at home.

The three levels of family reunification services are:

  •  regular;

  •  intensive early; and

  •  intensive.

The level of service a family receives is determined by the degree of risk in the home.

Any reunification services may be provided by CPS, directly, or through service providers under contract with CPS.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.703

Reunification services do not include the services CPS provides to families over the general course of a child’s stay in substitute care, even though those services are usually directed toward family reunification.

For additional information on services directed toward family reunification when a child is in substitute care, see:

6212.1 Family Reunification

6420 Family Services When Family Reunification is the Permanency Goal

6493 Family Reunification

Workers’ FRS Roles

In some areas of the state, the child’s substitute-care worker provides services to the family over the course of the child’s stay in substitute care, and the FBSS worker provides the services described in 3500 Family Reunification Services (FRS) when the child is about to return home.

In other areas of the state, the substitute-care worker provides the services described in this section, at the discretion of regional management.

See the following for information about specific actions:

6212.1 Family Reunification

6212.5 Selecting the Permanency Goal

3590 Removing a Child From the Home After Reunification

2500 Removing a Child From the Home

6410 Services to the Child’s Family When the Child Is in Substitute Care

6493 Family Reunification (services provided immediately before and after a child returns home from substitute care)

3521 The Discharge Planning Meeting and Home Visits

3520 Regular Family Reunification Services (R-FRS)

CPS February 2008

Who Receives Services

Families whose children are returning home at the end of their stay in substitute care may receive regular reunification services.

Objectives of Services

Regular reunification services provide support to the family and the child during the child’s transition from living in substitute care to living at home.

The services:

  •  ensure a smooth transition by helping the family and child prepare for and adjust to the child’s return;

  •  help the parents build on the family’s strengths and resources to minimize the risk of abuse or neglect; and

  •  enable the family to ensure the child’s safety without CPS assistance after the case is closed.

Eligibility

A family may be eligible for services if:

  •  at least one child has been removed from the home;

  •  the parents have a reasonably stable living arrangement;

  •  the parents are working to complete goals listed on the family service plan; and

  •  a target date has been set for the child to make his or her transition to the home, or the transition process has begun.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.703(1)(A)-(C)

See also:

3521 Discharge Planning Meeting and Home Visits

3522 Case Staffings

6521 Medical Consent

3521 The Discharge Planning Meeting and Home Visits

3521.1 Assessing Safety and Reviewing the Family Plan

CPS June 2011

Before the child returns home, the substitute care worker must assess and document in the monthly evaluation;

  •  the family’s ability to function; and

  •  the threats to the child’s safety, if the child returns home.

The worker makes the assessment in part by reviewing:

  •  whether anything pertaining to the child’s vulnerability has changed;

  •  whether safety threats to the child are now managed or controlled;

  •  the progress the family has made toward making the necessary changes to protect the child from threats to the child’s safety;

  •  the child’s needs; and

  •  the family’s ability to meet the child’s needs.

The worker may consider conferring with the program director and the child safety specialist, as needed, to:

  •  determine whether a Family Group Conference would benefit the family; and

  •  plan for the family’s more complex needs.

3521.2 Scheduling a Discharge Planning Meeting

CPS September 2011

The discharge planning meeting takes place 30 days before a child’s scheduled return home from substitute care. The caseworker has the option of holding a Family Group Conference with the child or youth, the parents, and family members, in place of the discharge planning meeting, when used within specified time frames and for the purposes of planning a child’s return home. See 6273.1 Family Group Conferences.

To schedule a discharge planning meeting, the caseworker follows the guidelines explained in this item. (When children are returned home with fewer than 30 days to plan, the caseworker makes every effort to follow the guidelines below.)

The caseworker schedules the discharge planning meeting and invites all parties involved in the case.

If any of the following persons cannot attend, the caseworker obtains their input before the meeting:

  •  Parents (mother and father)

  •  Extended family members and fictive kin

  •  Child’s caseworker

  •  Worker’s supervisor

  •  Foster or kinship caregiver

  •  Child or youth

  •  Child’s attorney ad litem

  •  Child’s guardian ad litem

  •  Parents’ attorneys

  •  CASA volunteer (the child’s court-appointed special advocate)

  •  Family reunification supervisor, if different than the substitute care supervisor

  •  Reunification services caseworker, if one has been assigned and is different than the substitute care caseworker

3521.21 The Caseworker’s Duties at a Discharge Planning Meeting

CPS September 2011

During a discharge planning meeting, the participants:

  •  establish a timetable for the child’s return;

  •  establish a plan to ensure the child’s safety in the home;

  •  arrange for the parents and the child to have additional extended visits before the child’s return;

  •  specify other activities that must take place before the child’s return;

  •  gather information for updating the family service plan;

  •  review and gather any additional information needed to update relationships in the Family Tree (see 1432 Family Tree);

  •  identify the child’s and the family’s specific needs and challenges related to the transition;

  •  identify the strengths, protective capacities, resources, and services the family must have and use to meet those needs, both before and after the child’s return;

  •  assign tasks that the participants must complete, both before and after the child’s return;

  •  seek support from the foster or kinship caregivers in preparation for the child’s return;

  •  prepare the foster or kinship caregivers and the child for their separation;

  •  decide how to enable the foster or kinship caregivers to stay in touch after the child returns home, if they choose to do so;

  •  discuss the parents’ and the child’s feelings and concerns about the family’s reunification; and

  •  consider and provide for any court-ordered provisions related to the child’s return.

3522 Case Staffings and Reviews

CPS June 2011

Before holding a case review, the worker must obtain input about the parents’ progress from all relevant service providers.

90-Day Reviews

After the child or youth returns home, the Reunification Safety Services worker and supervisor must review the family service plan every 90 days from the date of the child’s return.

The supervisor must read the case record before each 90-day review.

Six-Month Review

The worker and supervisor must review the family service plan consistent with 3400 Working With Families to Develop an FBSS Plan, within 180 days from the child’s or youth’s return home. The child or youth, the parents, and family members are encouraged to participate in the six-month review.

The worker may consider holding a Family Group Conference to review the Family Service Plan. See 6273.1 Family Group Conferences and 3470 Reviewing an FBSS Case.

If the family members cannot attend the six-month review, the worker and supervisor (at minimum) must meet to:

  •  assess the family’s progress and the safety of the child;

  •  discuss whether to close the case; and

  •  develop a new service plan, if the worker and supervisor decide that the case must remain open.

In addition to asking the child or youth, the parents, and family members to participate in the six-month review, the worker may invite the program director, service providers, and anyone else involved in the case to participate.

Continuing Services

At the end of the six-month review, the worker and supervisor may continue the family’s services if:

  •  safety threats exist and the parents do not have the capacity to control the threats; or

  •  the family appears capable of controlling the safety threats, but needs additional assistance to do so; and

  •  CPS is the only available source of the assistance the family needs.

Subsequent Staffings

If the case remains open after the six-month review, additional staffings must be held every 90 days. A clear, realistic plan for closing the case must be established at each staffing. The program director must review and approve the plan for closure that is established at each staffing that is held after the six-month review.

Cases Open for Nine Months or Longer

If a case remains open for nine months or longer, the caseworker must refer the family for a Family Group Conference. The referral for the conference must be a part of the plan for closing the case that is established at the ninth-month review and staffing. See 3340 Family Group Decision Making – Applying FGDM to an FBSS Case.

3523 Making Face-to-Face Contact

3523.1 Home Visits Before a Child Returns Home

CPS March 2009

Home visits must be well-planned and focused.

See:

3120 Types of Family-Based Safety Services

3140 Determining Caseload Size

3114 Constitutional Requirements for Family-Based Safety Services and Family Reunification Cases

After the discharge planning meeting, but before the child returns home, the Family Reunification (FRE) worker makes enough visits to the home to assess:

  •  the family’s progress in completing the tasks and activities assigned in the discharge planning meeting; and

  •  the family’s and the child’s readiness for reunification.

The worker visits the family when the family is alone.

The supervisor and substitute-care worker confer in a staffing to:

  •  determine the level of risk associated with the child’s return; and

  •  set a schedule for home visits, accordingly.

The worker then makes extended visits when the child and family are together to observe and assess the relationship.

Children who are communicative must be interviewed alone and apart from the parents.

Worker Assigned to Family Subcare Stage

During discharge planning, the Family Subcare stage may be assigned to the worker who will be working with the family after reunification, if different than the substitute care worker.

In this case, the worker handling Family Reunification Services documents the discharge planning activities in the family’s stage.

3523.2 Home Visits After a Child Returns Home

CPS March 2009

The Family Reunification worker visits the home again within 48 hours after the child’s return. See 3114 Constitutional Requirements for Family-Based Safety Services and Family Reunification Cases.

Exceptions

If the child returns home on a Friday, a weekend, or a holiday, the worker visits the home by the end of the first workday after the child’s return.

If the reunification work is being handled by the child’s substitute care worker, who is already familiar with the case, a face-to face visit within 48-hours may not be required, unless appropriate to the situation. However, a phone contact must be made. See 6420 Family Services When Family Reunification Is the Permanency Goal.

The supervisor and substitute-care worker confer in a staffing meeting to:

  •  determine the level of risk associated with the child’s return; and

  •  set a schedule for home visits, accordingly.

3523.3 Making Contact 48-Hours After a Child Returns Home

CPS March 2009

The frequency of the worker’s contact with the family after the first 48 hours depends on the family’s needs. The frequency of contact ordinarily decreases as the family and child adjust to their reunification.

At a minimum, the worker sees at least once a month:

  •  each child who is at risk; and

  •  each parent or caregiver who receives services.

The majority of contacts must occur in the home.

Visits must be well-planned and focused, consisting of a combination of:

  •  observing and assessing the relationship between the parent or caregiver and the child;

  •  assessing risk and safety issues pertinent to the imminent risk of removing the child from the home;

  •  interviewing alone and apart from the parents or caregivers children who are communicative; and

  •  reviewing the Family Service Plan.

These actions are critical to assessing a child’s safety, permanency, and well-being, and to evaluating service plan goals.

See:

3120 Types of Family-Based Safety Services

3140 Determining Caseload Size

3114 Constitutional Requirements for Family-Based Safety Services and Family Reunification Cases

When Children Are Unavailable

If other children living in the home are not available during the worker’s visits with the family, the worker must attempt to contact the children monthly.

All children in the home are part of the family system. Children can affect the family’s functioning. Children can provide critical information relevant to a child’s safety or pertinent to case planning and service delivery.

Documenting the Visit

After each contact, the worker documents his or her observations of and discussions with the child and parent. For documentation requirements, see 3329 Documenting Contacts and Visits.

Updating the Service Plan

Within 30 days of the child’s return home, the worker completes a new family service plan.

3524 Terminating Conservatorship

CPS June 2008

When a child returns home after living in substitute care, the family services worker ensures that the service plan includes the court’s deadline for terminating DFPS conservatorship.

The court must terminate DFPS conservatorship no more than six months after the child’s return. See 3600 Special Issues.

3525 Closing the Case

CPS June 2008

See 3710 Closing an FBSS Case for information on case closure, the final meeting with the family, and the closing summary.

See 3320 Face-to-Face Contacts in an FBSS Case for initial face-to-face contacts, and frequency of face-to-face contacts with children and parents, regarding:

  •  importance of face-to-face contacts; and

  •  how to respond to a pattern of unsuccessful attempts to contact children or parents.

See 3481 Documenting Significant Consultations Between the Supervisor and Worker and 3329 Documenting Contacts and Visits.

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