6610 Services to the Child's Family When the Child Is in Substitute Care

CPS November 2003 September 2007

This item has been edited for style and clarity only. Policy has not changed.

After a child is placed in substitute care, services to the child's family vary depending on the status of the case.

This section discusses the family services that are provided when:

  ·  family reunification is the permanency goal and parental rights have not been terminated (see 6611 Family Services When Family Reunification Is the Permanency Goal); and

  ·  DFPS obtains permanent legal custody without termination of parental rights (see 6612 Family Services When DFPS Obtains Permanent Legal Custody Without Termination of Parental Rights).

If parental rights have been terminated, family services are no longer provided.

This section also discusses:

  ·  maintaining contact between the family and the child (6613 Maintaining Contact Between the Family and the Child); and

  ·  providing additional medical, psychological, and psychiatric information to the adoptive family, if the child has been placed in adoption (6614 Providing Additional Medical, Psychological, or Psychiatric Information to the Adoptive Family).

See also:

6123.1 Services to the Parents (with reference to the brochure While Your Child is in Care)

1510 General Eligibility Criteria (regarding the laws governing CPS services to families)

1514 Administrative Reviews of Client Complaints

1515 Fair Hearings Parents (regarding a parent’s right to address service concerns with the court)

1516 Clients With Limited English Proficiency

1517 Clients With Communication Disabilities

6611 Family Services When Family Reunification Is the Permanency Goal

CPS November 2003 September 2007

When the permanency plan for a child in substitute care is to reunite the child with his or her family, CPS works with the family to reduce the risk of abuse or neglect so that the child may return home and live safely for the foreseeable future.

See:

3110 Philosophy, Goals, and Objectives,

6123.1 Services to the Parents (regarding services at the time of removal).

For guidance on the actions taken by a worker assigned to a family, see:

6611.1 Contact With the Family

6611.2 Conducting Visits With the Family

6611.3 Review the Family Service Plan

6611.4 Initiate the Reunification Process

6611.5 When a Child Is Returned

6611.51Providing Services After a Child Is Returned

6611.52 Maintaining Contact with Families When Children Are Returned Home

6611.53 Conducting Visits With the Family When Children Are Returned Home

Assess the Family

Assess the family's functioning in order to understand the issues that have placed the child at risk. Identify family strengths and outside resources that may help the family resolve those issues.

Develop the Family Service Plan

Using the results of the assessment, engage the family and develop the family service plan in concert with the parents and children as specified in 6422 The Family's Service Plan and 6430 Case Plan Review.

Arrange for appropriate parent-child visitation. See 6613 Maintaining Contact Between the Family and the Child.

Provide Assistance

Within the limits of available resources and CPS's authority under the law, ensure that CPS provides services to help the family complete the tasks specified in the Family’s Service Plan. Initial services must be scheduled no later than the 14th day that a child is in care.

CPS staff must document in the child's service plan these reasonable efforts to help the family pursue reunification as a permanency goal.

See:

6421 The Child’s Service Plan

1517 Clients With Communication Disabilities

1516 Clients With Limited English Proficiency (LEP)

Provide Health Insurance Information

Provide the family with information on Texas Health Steps and local reduced-cost insurance programs for children, such as CHIP, if needed.

Maintain Contact

Maintain at least monthly contact with the parents. In addition, maintain monthly contact with the children who remain at home after one or more siblings have been placed in substitute care while the case is in temporary legal status in order to continue to assess risk and safety factors, unless the supervisor approves a reduced frequency of contact.

Note: If the department obtains permanent managing conservatorship (PMC), staff are not required to continue the contact.

Review the Family Service Plan

Review the Family Service Plan periodically to determine whether the issues placing the child at risk have been sufficiently resolved for the child to return home safely. See Item 6430 , Case Plan Review, for details.

Prior to the Initial Permanency Hearing, evaluate whether to:

  ·  reunite the child with the family;

  ·  continue providing services with a view towards reuniting the child with the family on or before the 12th month; or

  ·  select another permanency-planning goal.

For details about the Initial Permanency Hearing, see Item 5352 , Permanency Hearings.

As long as the permanency plan for a child in substitute care is family reunification, every review of the child's case plan must include an evaluation of the family's progress in resolving the issues that have placed the child at risk.

Initiate Reunification Process

If the issues that have placed the child at risk appear to be sufficiently resolved for the child to return home safely, the worker:

  ·  considers a referral/transfer to a regular, moderate, or intensive Family-Based Safety Service Reunification worker, if appropriate (see Section 3400 );

  ·  conducts a transition planning staffing (see Item 3421 , Transition Planning Session and Home Visits);

  ·  initiates services to support the child and the family during the child's transition from living in substitute care to living at home;

  ·  recommends that the court authorize the child to return; and

  ·  updates the family service plan (must be completed within 45 days after the child returns home).

See discussion on discharging children from substitute care in Item 6721 , Family Reunification.

Provide Family-Based Safety Services During Reunification Process

After a child has been returned home, DFPS provides up to six months of continued supervision to ensure that the family is safely caring for the child and to offer support services as needed. During this time, DFPS keeps legal conservatorship.

For information about family-based reunification safety services provided to the child and the family at the time of the child's return, see Section 3400 , Reunification Safety Services.

Item 3421 , Transition Planning Session and Home Visits, states that the child must be visited within 48 hours of a return to the home. However, if the reunification work is the responsibility of the child's substitute care worker, who is already familiar with the case, the 48 hour visit is not required unless appropriate to the situation.

Reunification services may be provided in either the FRE or FSU stages. For information about using the FRE and FSU stages for reunification efforts see Item 1123 , Definition of Stages of Service, specifically subheadings 4B , Family Substitute Care (FSU), and 5 , Family Reunification (FRE). See also Item 3152.2 , Transfer from Substitute Care to Reunification Safety Services.

The supervisor of the child's worker may transfer responsibility for the appropriate stage (either FRE or FSU) to a specialized reunification worker, if appropriate and available, or the child's worker may continue to work the stage. Use of primary and secondary assignments may be necessary depending on the circumstances of the case.

For further information about the department's family-based safety services, see sections 3100 , Overview, and 3200 , Purchased Services for Families Receiving Family Based Safety Services.

6611.1 Contact With the Family

CPS September 2007 NEW ITEM

Monthly visits must be well-planned and focused on resolving issues of abuse or neglect that resulted in one or more children being removed to ensure the safety, permanency, and well-being of the child. Monthly visits also give the worker an opportunity to address case planning and service delivery.

The amount and type of contacts depends on the children’s and family’s needs. 

Frequency of Contact

The worker maintains at least monthly face-to-face contact with the child’s parents to address case planning and service needs. More frequent contact may be needed, depending on the issues in the case.

The worker maintains monthly face-to-face contact with the children who remain at home after a sibling has been placed in substitute care and the case is in temporary legal status.

Frequency of contact may be reduced if approved by the worker’s supervisor. However, frequency of contact can be reduced in this circumstance only if the risk of maltreatment has been assessed and documented in the file as managed or reduced risk. It cannot be due to workload issues.

Exception

If DFPS obtains permanent managing conservatorship (PMC), staff are not required to continue the frequency of contact with parents and siblings of children in care noted above. See 6612 Family Services When DFPS Obtains Permanent Legal Custody Without Termination of Parental Rights.

6611.2 Conducting Visits With the Family

CPS September 2007 NEW ITEM

Preparing for the Visit

To prepare for the monthly visit the worker:

  ·  reviews the Family Service Plan for expectations and progress;

  ·  if appropriate, contacts service providers to review progress;

  ·  reviews any other notes or materials necessary to be familiar with the child’s current needs and situation; and

  ·  reviews any information that may need to be provided to the family.

Conducting the Visit

The worker talks 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 in the home, the child’s worker discusses with the child and parents the progress in addressing the Family Service Plan since the last visit. The worker asks them about what has gone well, what are the problems or difficulties, and how have they handled these. The worker asks them about their use of family and community support and resources, as needed. The worker reviews expectations and progress in addressing the Family Service Plan.

During the visit with the parent, the child’s worker asks about and discusses:

  ·  the parent’s thoughts and feelings about having the child in care returned;

  ·  the parent’s thoughts and feelings about caring for children that may still be in  the home;

  ·  the parent’s contact and visits with the child in care;

  ·  the parent’s progress in addressing the issues and expectations in the Family Service Plan;

  ·  the parent’s use of family and community resources and support systems..

  ·  difficulties the parent may have in completing Family Service Plan requirements and any assistance or services that the department might provide that could help them in completing those requirements;

  ·  any changes that may be needed in the Family Service Plan.

During the visit with each child, the child’s worker asks about and discusses:

  ·  the child's thoughts and feelings about: living with the family;

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

  ·  the child’s understanding of why CPS is involved with the family;

  ·  the child’s school situation;

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

  ·  services that have been provided;

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

Assessing the Visit

The Child in Care

The worker assesses the parent’s ability, willingness, and effort to address the issues identified in the Family Service Plan that might lead to the child in care being returned to the parent.

The Children With the Parent

The worker assesses the parent’s interaction with any children that may be in the home and assesses the parent’s ability, willingness and efforts to care for such children in the home and meet their needs, particularly those of safety.  The worker assesses the children’s progress and ability to protect themselves.

Documenting the Visit

After each contact, the worker documents observations of and discussions with the parent and such children. Documentation of the family contacts follows the same procedures as for substitute care. See 6930 Documentation Requirements for Substitute Care.

See also 3313 Caseload and Frequency of Face to Face Contact.

6611.3 Review the Family Service Plan

CPS September 2007 NEW ITEM

Review the Family Service Plan periodically to determine whether the issues that placed the child at risk have been sufficiently resolved for the child to return home safely. See 6420 Case Plan Review.

Before the initial permanency hearing, evaluate whether to:

  ·  reunite the child with the family;

  ·  continue providing services with a view toward reuniting the child with the family on or before the 12th month; or

  ·  select another permanency planning goal.

See 5352 Permanency Hearings.

As long as the permanency plan for a child in substitute care is family reunification, every review of the child's case plan must include an evaluation of the family's progress in resolving the issues that have placed the child at risk.

6611.4 Initiate the Reunification Process

CPS September 2007 NEW ITEM

If the issues that placed the child at risk appear to be sufficiently resolved for the child to return home safely, the worker:

  ·  considers transferring the child to a worker in regular, moderate, or intensive reunification, if appropriate (see Section 3400 Reunification Safety Services);

  ·  conducts a discharge planning meeting (see 3421 Transition Planning Session and Home Visits and 6710,  Services Preceding Discharge);

  ·  initiates services to support the child and the family during the child's transition from living in substitute care to living at home;

  ·  recommends that the court authorize the child to return; and

  ·  updates the family service plan no later than 45 days after the child returns home.

See discussion on discharging children from substitute care in 6721 Family Reunification.

6611.5 When a Child Is Returned
6611.51 Providing Services After a Child Is Returned

CPS September 2007 NEW ITEM

After a child has been returned home, DFPS provides up to six months of continued supervision to ensure that the family is safely caring for the child and to offer support services, as needed. During this time, DFPS retains legal conservatorship.

For information about family-based reunification safety services provided to the child and the family at the time of the child's return, see 3400 Reunification Safety Services

Reunification services may be provided in either the FRE or FSU stages of IMPACT.

See:

1123 Definition of Stages of Service, specifically subheadings:

4B Family Substitute Care (FSU)

5 Family Reunification (FRE)

3152.2 Transfer From Substitute Care to Reunification Safety Services

The supervisor of the child's worker may transfer responsibility for the appropriate stage (either FRE or FSU) to a specialized reunification worker, if appropriate and available, or the child's worker may continue to work the stage. Use of primary and secondary assignments may be necessary depending on the circumstances of the case.

See:

3100 Overview

3200 Purchased Services for Families Receiving Family Based Safety Services

6611.52 Maintaining Contact with Families When Children Are Returned Home

CPS September 2007 NEW ITEM

Initial Visit

The reunification worker visits the child no later than 48 hours after the child returns home. Exception: If the child returns home on a Friday, a weekend, or a holiday, the worker must visit the home by the end of the first workday after the child's return.

However, if the reunification work is the responsibility of the child's substitute care worker, who is already familiar with the case, visiting within 48 hours is not required unless appropriate to the situation. At least a follow up telephone call is required within 48 hours or within 72 hours if the placement occurred on a Friday. This is consistent with the policy about home visits in 3421 Transition Planning Session and Home Visits.

Ongoing

During the supervisory period when children are returned home, the child’s worker must visit the child and parents at least monthly in the home. The visits must be well planned and focused on issues pertinent to the reunification, case planning and service delivery to ensure the safety, permanency and well-being of the child.  Staff should follow the contact policy in 6511 Contact With the Child and its sub-items, with the following adjustments for the reunification.

Generally, when a child is first returned home, more frequent contact is needed. The amount and type of contacts will depend on the child’s and family’s needs.  Later, the frequency of contact ordinarily decreases, as the family and child adjust to their reunification.

6611.53 Conducting Follow-up Visits With the Family When Children Are Returned Home

CPS September 2007 NEW ITEM

Preparing for the Visit

To prepare for the monthly visit the worker must:

  ·  review the Family Service Plan for expectations and progress;

  ·  contact 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.

Conducting the Visit

The worker must talk with the 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 all those present.

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

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

  ·  the child's thoughts and feelings about: being back with the family; the child’s interactions with other children in the home;

  ·  the child’s school situation;

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

  ·  services that have been provided;

  ·  the Transition Plan, if the youth is 16 years of age or older.

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

During the visit with the parent, the child’s worker asks about and discusses:

  ·  the parent’s thoughts and feelings about having the child in care returned;

  ·  the parent’s thoughts and feelings about caring for children in the home;

  ·  the parent’s progress in addressing the issues and expectations in the Family Service Plan;

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

  ·  difficulties the parent may have in completing Family Service Plan requirements and any assistance or services that the department might provide that could help them in completing those requirements.

If the visit includes assessment, case planning, service coordination, or follow-up to aid the child in accessing medical, social, educational or other services, the worker can claim it as a TCM activity. See the discussion of TCM in 6511 Contact With the Child and 6930 Documentation Requirements for Substitute Care.

Assessing the Visit

The worker must assess the parent’s ability, willingness and efforts to:

  ·  care for the child who has been returned home; and

  ·  meet the child’s needs, particularly those of safety. 

The worker must assess the child’s progress, safety and ability to protect him or herself. The worker must assess the parent’s ability to care for any other children in the home that may not have been removed.

Documenting the Visit

After each contact with the child and parents, the worker must document observations, discussions, and items that need follow-up. Documentation of the family contacts follows the same procedures as for substitute care. See 6930 Documentation Requirements for Substitute Care.

Following Up

The worker must take steps to ensure that any identified needs for the child or support services needed for the family are addressed and to revise the service plan as needed.

6612 Family Services When DFPS Obtains Permanent Legal Custody Without Termination of Parental Rights

CPS September 2007

When DFPS obtains permanent managing conservatorship (PMC) without termination of parental rights, staff continue to provide the services offered during temporary legal custody as discussed in 6613 Maintaining Contact Between the Family and the Child, with the following differences:

DFPS staff:

  ·  do not continue reviewing and updating a family service plan unless family reunification continues to be or later becomes the permanency goal for the child;

  ·  encourage the family to assist in developing and supporting the current permanency goal for the child, which at a minimum involves visitation and payment of child support;

  ·  are not required to continue the monthly face-to-face contact with the parents;

  ·  do not visit the other children who remain in the home unless additional concerns of safety or risk exist; and

  ·  maintain current information about how to contact and locate the parents and keep them informed about the child’s situation.

A family service plan is no longer completed unless family reunification becomes the permanency goal. Staff encourage the family to assist in developing and supporting the current permanency goal for the child, which minimally involves visitation and payment of child support. Staff no longer must visit the other children still in the home unless additional concerns of safety or risk exist.