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6500 Family Reunification

6510 Initiating the Reunification Process

CPS August 2017

If the issues that made the child unsafe or at risk appear to be sufficiently resolved for the child to return home safely, the caseworker must:

  •   conduct a Family Reunification (FRE) staffing;

  •   initiate services to support the child and the family during the child’s transition from living in substitute care to living at home;

  •   complete a safety re-assessment of the home;

  •   recommend that the court authorize the child to return;

  •   update the Family Strengths and Needs Assessment (FSNA); and

  •   update the family service plan no later than 30 days after the child returns home.

The court must approve the child’s return to the parents before returning the child home. This must be documented and entered in the case file.

6511 Reunification Staffing

CPS August 2017

When considering transitioning a child from substitute care back to a parent’s home, the caseworker must:

  •   develop a transition plan; and

  •   conduct a reunification staffing with the conservatorship program director. 

At the reunification staffing the caseworker and program director conduct a review of:

  •   the parent’s progress in demonstrating significant behavior changes and addressing the dangers that led to the child’s removal;

  •   the safety assessment; and

  •   any services that the family needs to mitigate risk and support reunification.

6520 When a Child Is Returned

CPS February 2017

When CPS conducts home visits or has any contact with children who have been returned home, CPS must follow court orders and the Fourth Amendment requirements concerning entry into the home and transportation.

6521 Providing Services After a Child Is Returned

CPS February 2017

After a child has returned home, CPS provides up to six months of supervision to:

  •  ensure that the family is safely caring for the child; and

  •  offer support services.

During this time, CPS retains conservatorship.

When a child returns to his or her family from substitute care, the child’s caseworker must:

  •  supervise the placement;

  •  provide support services to help the child and the family adjust to the child’s return;

  •  ensure that the family’s service plan includes plans and a deadline for terminating CPS conservatorship; and

  •  evaluate the family plan of service every 90 days.

The caseworker’s involvement with the family may last as long as six months after the child’s return. However, as soon as it is clear that the child can live safely at home without CPS assistance, the caseworker must ask the court to dismiss CPS conservatorship.

Staff must document reunification services in the family reunification stage (FRE) stage of service in IMPACT. The only exception is when at least one child transitions home and at least one child remains in substitute care. In that instance, staff must document contacts and services in the family substitute care stage (FSU) stage of service. Once all children return to the home, staff must open the FRE stage of services.

See 1124 Definition of Stages of Service.

6530 Maintaining Contact with Families When Children Are Returned Home

6531 Initial Visit

CPS February 2017

The caseworker must visit the child no later than two working days after the child returns home.

6540 Conducting Follow-up Visits With the Family When Children Are Returned Home

CPS February 2017

The caseworker must make face-to-face contact with the child at least weekly for the first eight weeks after the child is returned home. However, the supervisor or program director may approve and document less or more contact after reviewing the circumstances.

After the first eight weeks, CPS must visit children, at a minimum, on a monthly basis in the child’s home. Ordinarily, the frequency of contact decreases after the first eight weeks as the family and child adjust to their reunification. The caseworker visits must be well-planned and focused on issues relevant to case planning and service delivery to ensure the safety, permanency, and well-being of the children.

Staff must follow the contact policy in 6411 Contact With the Child and its subitems.

6541 Preparing for the Visit

CPS February 2017

To prepare for the visit with a child after the child has been returned home, the caseworker must:

  •  review the Family Service Plan for expectations and progress;

  •  contact collaterals and service providers to review progress, if appropriate;

  •  review any other notes or materials necessary to be familiar with the child’s current needs and the family’s progress; and

  •  review any information that may need to be provided to the family.

6542 Conducting the Visit

CPS February 2017

The caseworker must talk with each child and parent separately and together. The separate conversations are important as they allow the child or parents to bring up concerns that they might not share in front of others.

During the monthly or more frequent visits, the child’s caseworker must discuss with the child and parents the progress in addressing the Family Service Plan since the last visit. The caseworker asks them about what has gone well, what are the problems or difficulties, and how have they handled these. The caseworker asks them about their use of family and community support and resources, as needed. The caseworker reviews expectations and progress in addressing the Family Service Plan.

6542.1 During the Visit

CPS February 2017

During the Visit with the Child

During the visit with the child, the child’s caseworker must ask about and discuss the:

  •  child’s safety;

  •  child’s thoughts and feelings about being back with the family;

  •  child’s interactions with other children in the home;

  •  child’s school situation;

  •  child’s health, growth and development, racial and ethnic identify development; and

  •  services that have been provided.

During the Visit With the Parent

During the visit with the parent, the child’s caseworker must ask about and discuss the parent’s:

  •  thoughts and feelings about having the child in care returned;

  •  thoughts and feelings about caring for children in the home;

  •  progress in addressing the issues and expectations in the Family Service Plan;

  •  the parent’s use of family and kinship resources and support systems;

  •  difficulties, if any, in completing the requirements of the Family Service Plan and any assistance or services that CPS might provide that could help them complete the requirements; and

  •  desire to make any needed changes in the Family Service Plan.

The caseworker helps the child and parent with adjustment issues as needed. The caseworker observes the interaction of the parent and child.

If the caseworker identifies a danger during the family reunification stage (FRE) case, the caseworker must immediately take protective action.

If the situation can be addressed immediately, then the caseworker must develop a safety plan with the family after discussing the situation with the supervisor and the attorney representing CPS.

If the situation requires the caseworker to orchestrate the plan to secure safety for the child, the caseworker must contact the supervisor immediately for guidance.

A caseworker must never complete a Parental Child Safety Placement (PCSP) on a child who has been returned home but remains in CPS conservatorship.

6543 Assessing the Visit

CPS February 2017

Both during and after a visit with a child or family, the caseworker must assess:

  •  the parent’s ability, willingness, and effort to address the issues identified in the Family Service Plan;

  •  the safety of the children that may be in the home;

  •  the parent’s interaction with any children that may be in the home;

  •  the parent’s ability, willingness and efforts to care for such children in the home and meet their needs, particularly safety needs; and

  •  the children’s progress and ability to protect themselves.

6544 Following Up

CPS February 2017

As follow-up to a monthly visit, the caseworker must:

  •  ensure that any identified needs of the child are addressed;

  •  ensure that any identified needs of the family are addressed; and

  •  revise the service plan as needed.

6550 Tasks Required Before Closing a Case with a Child in the Parent’s Home

6551 Dismissal

CPS February 2017

Before asking for dismissal from the court, the caseworker must complete a safety reassessment on the home. After the supervisor approves the reassessment, the court dismisses DFPS as the child’s managing conservator.

When DFPS is dismissed as conservator, staff must update the Legal Status within 24 hours of dismissal.

The caseworker must notify eligibility staff of the dismissal as conservator within seven days of dismissal.

The caseworker must end-date the child’s placement in IMPACT with a reason for removal that is consistent with the reason the case is closing.

6552 Closure

CPS February 2017

If ongoing services are not needed, or not feasible, the caseworker must:

  •  assess risk to the child to ensure the child’s safety;

  •  file any paper documentation in the case record;

  •  complete a Closing Summary under each stage of service;

  •  close each IMPACT stage;

  •  submit the IMPACT stages and case record for supervisory approval; and

  •  notify contracted providers of services to the child and family that the case is being closed.

When the case is being closed, the caseworker must copy and return the following documents and items, if not previously done at discharge, to the child’s parents, guardians, or conservators, or to the child himself, as appropriate:

  •  the child’s original birth certificate;

  •  the original Social Security card;

  •  photographs;

  •  the child’s clothing and toys;

  •  a copy of the final court order (the family’s attorney should provide a copy to them; however, ensure the family receives a copy of the court order before closing the case);

  •  school records, including the last report card;

  •  medical and dental reports, exams and logs;

  •  the child’s immunization record;

  •  the child’s psychological evaluation (when appropriate);

  •  the original Medicaid card (valid until the end of the month the child leaves care);

  •  medication (if the prescription is near empty, a current refill is necessary so the family will have time to make an appointment with a physician to get the prescription refilled.); and

  •  the Texas Health Steps Brochure.

Ensure that the new caregiver knows how to secure Medicaid for the child or assist him or her in doing so. Provide the family with information on local reduced-cost insurance programs for children, such as CHIP, if needed.

6553 Approval

CPS February 2017

The caseworker must submit the closed IMPACT stages to the supervisor for written approval to close the case. For information on supervisory options when reviewing and approving case actions in IMPACT see 1433 Supervisory Approval Process in IMPACT.

Refer to Appendix 6000-1: Discharging Children from Substitute Care for further information and a checklist to use when discharging children from substitute care.

Texas Health Steps information can be found in the Medical Services Resource Guide, under Texas Health Steps.

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