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Appendix 6000-2: DFPS Discipline Policy

CPS October 2017

Discipline of children placed in verified foster homes and pre-consummated adoptive homes must conform to specific policies and procedures. Staff must share the following policies and procedures concerning the discipline of children in care with all foster and pre-consummated adoptive parents and with those individuals who desire to be foster and adoptive parents.

Required Agreement

All foster parents, pre-consummated adoptive parents, potential foster or adoptive parents, other adults living in the home, and intermittent alternate care providers must agree to and adhere to the DFPS discipline policies and procedures.

Foster and pre-consummated adoptive parents and CPS staff must not give permission to any person or entity, including schools (see below), to discipline a foster or pre-consummated adoptive child in ways that are not consistent with this policy.

DFPS Discipline Policy Form (2410)

Foster or pre-consummated adoptive parents sign and date Form 2410 Foster Care and Adoption Discipline Acknowledgement to signify that they understand and agree to the policy. They must sign the form during the study process, at each reevaluation, and any time another adult begins living in the home.

Corporal Punishment in Schools

A school cannot be prevented from using corporal punishment, but if a foster or pre-consummated adoptive parent is asked to consent to a school policy that includes corporal punishment, she or he must refuse.

If a caregiver becomes aware that a school intends to use corporal punishment to discipline a child in DFPS conservatorship, the caregiver must notify the caseworker so that CPS can attempt to intervene and convey the compelling reasons against this form of punishment.

General Requirements for Discipline

Physical discipline may not be used on a child in any DFPS foster home or pre-consummated adoptive home. Discipline must be constructive and educational in nature. Correction must be fair, reasonable, consistent, and related to the specific misbehavior. Foster and pre-consummated adoptive parents must communicate to the child in a manner so that the child understands:

  •   what the child has done wrong;

  •   why the discipline must occur;

  •   the full extent of the discipline (how long the discipline is in effect or what has to occur to end the discipline period); and

  •   what is considered to be appropriate behavior (this should be done in the form of discussion with the child).

Discipline must be individualized and related to the child’s specific misbehavior, age, developmental level, previous experiences, reactions to previous discipline, and any other relevant factors. Time-outs must be supervised by an adult and have reasonable periods of approximately one minute for every year of the child’s age.

The foster and pre-consummated adoptive parents and CPS staff must develop appropriate discipline methods for each child placed in the foster or adoptive home. CPS staff must provide the foster or adoptive parent with alternatives to physical discipline.

Definitions

Emergency Situation

An emergency situation is defined as a situation in which:

  •   it is immediately necessary to restrain, seclude, or administer emergency medication to a child to prevent imminent:

  •   probable death or substantial bodily harm to the child because the child overtly or continually threatens or attempts to commit suicide or serious bodily harm; or

  •   physical harm to others because of threats, attempts, or other acts the child overtly or continually makes or commits, and preventive, de-escalation, or verbal techniques have proven ineffective in defusing the potential for injury. These situations may include aggressive acts by the child, including serious incidences of shoving or grabbing others over their objections. These situations do not include verbal threats or verbal attacks.

Restraint

Restraint is the use of physical force alone, the use of a device, or the use of emergency medication to assist a child in regaining control. This includes personal restraint, chemical restraint, and mechanical restraint.

Chemical Restraint

Chemical restraint is the use of any chemical, including pharmaceuticals, through topical application, oral administration, injection, or other means, solely for the purpose of immobilizing a child or sedating a child as a mechanism of control. Chemical restraints are prohibited.

Mechanical Restraint

Mechanical restraint is the application of a device for the purpose of restricting the free movement of the whole or a portion of a child’s body to control physical activity. Mechanical restraints are prohibited.

Personal Restraint

Personal restraint is the application of physical force, including escorting, without the use of any device for the purpose of restricting the free movement of the whole or a portion of a child’s body to control physical activity.

Seclusion

Seclusion is placing a child, for any period of time, in a room or other area where the child is alone and is physically prevented from leaving by a locked or barricaded entryway.

An intervention that restricts a child to a room that involves a caregiver placing his or her body between the child and the exit from that area (for example, standing in the doorway of a room) is not seclusion because the child is not alone.

If a caregiver uses physical force or a physical barrier to restrain a child or prevent a child from leaving, the intervention becomes a

  •   personal restraint; or

  •   seclusion.

Time Out

Time Out is a procedure used for the purpose of behavior modification that involves:

  •   restricting a child to a designated area, including his or her room; but

  •   not physically preventing the child from leaving by locking or barricading the entryway. A caregiver may close a door or stand in an entryway to enforce the time out, as long as the door is not locked.

Required Notifications to the Child

Allowable Discipline Practices

At the time of placement, a foster or pre-consummated parent must provide each child with a copy of the discipline practices allowed in the home by completing and signing Form 2410 Foster Care and Adoption Discipline Acknowledgement. The form is available on the DFPS Intranet, under DFPS Forms — Foster/Adoptive Homes.

Use of Restraints

Age-appropriate explanations of the foster or pre-consummated adoptive home’s use of restraints must be provided to each child at time of placement. The explanations must include:

  •   who can use restraint;

  •   actions used to avoid the use of restraint;

  •   types of restraints used;

  •   the specific kinds of situations in which restraint may be used;

  •   when a restraint must cease;

  •   actions a child must exhibit to be released from a restraint; and

  •   how to report an inappropriate restraint.

Right to Provide Comments

Children must be notified of their right to voluntarily provide comments on any restraint or seclusion that is used. The notification must include an explanation of the process for submitting such comments. The process must be easily understood and accessible.

Allowable Forms of Discipline

Discipline must suit the child’s age, circumstances, and developmental needs. Methods of discipline may include:

  •   establishing routines;

  •   setting reasonable limits;

  •   modeling appropriate behavior;

  •   offering choices;

  •   giving explanations;

  •   repeating instructions;

  •   using time out;

  •   enforcing or permitting logical or natural consequences; and

  •   reinforcing desired behavior.

Additional strategies for managing the child’s behavior should be listed in the child’s service plan as appropriate. Restraints and seclusion may only be used as listed below.

Allowable Uses of Restraints and Seclusion

Only a caregiver qualified in behavior intervention, as defined by the Minimum Standards for Child-Placing Agencies, may administer restraint or seclusion. Additionally, restraint or seclusion only may be administered during emergency situations (see the definition of Emergency Situation, above) after alternative methods have been unsuccessful. No type of restraint or seclusion may be used as a punishment, as a caregiver convenience, or as a substitute for treatment. A personal restraint or seclusion is subject to the following restrictions.

Personal Restraints

Personal restraints may be used only in emergency situations and by trained caregivers.

The exception is the use of short personal restraints (less than one minute in length) to protect a child from imminent danger, to prevent significant damage to property, or to control a tantrum in a public place of a child who is younger than 5 years old. The restraint must end as soon as the danger or behavior subsides.

Supportive Devices

Supportive devices may be used to support a child’s posture or assist a child in maintaining normal bodily functioning. A physician must prescribe the use of a supportive device and the written order must indicate the circumstances under which using the supportive device is allowed.

Seclusion

Seclusion is generally prohibited.

The exception is that, only in homes verified to provide services to children with autistic-like behavior, seclusion may be used:

  •   in emergency situations; and

  •   if ordered by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist.

Documentation of Restraints and Seclusions

Foster and pre-consummated adoptive parents must keep a written record of all restraints or seclusions. This written record must include the:

  •   date and time of the restraint or seclusion; and

  •   the circumstances or specific behaviors that led to the restraint or seclusion.

The foster or pre-consummated adoptive parent must provide a written monthly report to the child’s caseworker and foster home development or adoption worker for inclusion in the child’s and foster or pre-consummated adoptive family’s records.

Prohibited Forms of Discipline and Therapeutic Interventions

Any form of discipline used may not violate any of the specific prohibitions in Minimum Standards for Child-Placing Agencies. Discipline of children must not result in bruises, welts, burns, fractures, sprains, exposure, poisoning, or other types of injuries. Shaking and harsh, cruel, unusual, or unnecessary punishment are not allowed.

Discipline may not consist of withholding food, shelter, visitation, supervision, medical or educational care, other necessities, mail, or special items such as Christmas gifts or birthday gifts.

Threatening the child with loss of placement, name calling or labeling the child, and embarrassing or degrading the child are not acceptable forms of discipline. Any form of restraint or seclusion that is not used in an emergency situation is prohibited.

Prohibited Restraints

The following restraints are prohibited:

  •   Mechanical restraints.

  •   Chemical restraints. Medications that have a secondary effect of immobilizing or sedating a child or modifying a child’s behavior are not considered chemical restraints if administered solely for medical reasons (for example, Benadryl for an allergic reaction or medication to control seizures).

  •   Holding intervention. Holding intervention is sometimes used as a therapeutic approach to promote the child’s ability to bond with others and is not used to hold or restrain a child from harming himself or others. This form of therapy is considered a restraint used in non-emergency situations and, therefore, may not be used as a therapeutic approach with children in DFPS foster or pre-consummated homes, even if recommended by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist.

See also:

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §749 Subchapter K Division 6 Discipline and Punishment

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §749 Subchapter L Emergency Behavior Intervention

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