Department for Community Based Services

Standards of Practice Online Manual

4.35 Reunification, Including Extended Visitation, Case Planning and Transitional Supports to Families and Children

Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Department for Community Based Services
Division of Protection and Permanency
Standards of Practice Online Manual
Chapter:
Chapter 4-Out of Home Care Services (OOHC)
Effective:
5/26/2020
Section:
4.35 Reunification, Including Extended Visitation, Case Planning and Transitional Supports to Families and Children
Version:
5

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Legal Authority/Introduction

 

LEGAL AUTHORITY:

 
 

Introduction

 

Placement moves can be a stressful time for children and caregivers. If a placement move is necessary, thoughtful and purposeful planning is required to ensure the transition occurs with the least disruption. All placement moves (except those that pose an imminent risk) require a written plan to address transition. Open communication and engagement with the family and caregiver prepares the parties and allows them to support the child.  Feedback and recommendations from treatment providers should be utilized and incorporated into the written  plan for a placement move.  If a placement disruption/move cannot be avoided or the move is deemed to be in the child’s best interest, for example to achieve permanency, then the below procedures should be followed.  All efforts should be made to avoid a placement disruption whenever possible utilizing family team meetings.

 

Practice Guidance

 
  • As long as the child is on a “trial home visit” with the family and the visit as agreed upon by the SSW and the family is documented on the visitation agreement and signed, it is not necessary to file a petition to remove the child from the home if the visit proves unsuccessful.
  • Trial home visits should be relatively short in duration unless a situation exists that the worker is attempting to preserve the child’s eligibility for state or federal educational opportunities as outlined in SOP 11.16 Independent Living Services, by leaving a child committed who is nearing their eighteenth (18th) birthday. Federal guidelines prohibit a trial home visit exceeding six (6) months without prior court authorization.
  • The prevention plan for a trial home visit should detail conditions that the parent (or others) and child must meet for the child to remain in the home. These conditions can include but are not limited to:
    • Supervision issues;
    • School attendance (if applicable);
    • Substance/drug issues;
    • Daily routine care;
    • Physical/mental health needs; and
    • Following through with in-home services.
 
  • When a child returns home for a trial home visit and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (Cabinet/CHFS) retains legal custody, if the child is title IV-E eligible, the child becomes “title IV-E eligible/not reimbursable” as the Cabinet will not be providing a payment to a placement.
  • For a trial home visitation, the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) Children’s Trust Fund staff will notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) that the child has been placed in the home of the parents. 
  • A written plan to address transition may be documented and disseminated through various methods such as the case plan, a prevention plan, or through email if all parties are included.
 

Procedure

 

Trial Home Visitation

The SSW: 

 
  1. Must have a specifically written and agreed upon visitation agreement as outlined in SOP 4.17 Visitation Agreement for a trial home visit for any child in the custody (temporary or committed) of CHFS, or it is considered a return home;
  2. And family establish guidelines for the trial home visits and a prevention plan is negotiated as outlined in SOP 1.8 Prevention Planning, regarding the visitation and includes the following:
    1. A time frame for the transition to occur which allows for frequent and meaningful visitation between the parent and child;
    2. A schedule of visitation dates;
    3. A plan for how the child will be informed of the return home, to include caregivers and therapists when possible;
    4. Any therapeutic recommendations for the transition provided by community partners;
    5. Referrals for in-home services when needed to support the placement or meet therapeutic needs for the child and how the continuity of those services will be ensured during the transition period;
    6. A plan for any future contact with individuals that the child has developed meaningful relationships with while placed out of the home;
    7. A plan for sibling visitation/reunification if the move results in a sibling separation; and
    8. Discussion of upcoming court dates.
  3. Follows procedures outlined in SOP 9.13 Placement for Status Offenders when there is no visitation agreement and the child has been returned to the home of the parent;
  4. Schedules trial home visits when the identified safety concerns in the home have been mitigated family has made the required progress with the task and goals of the case plan and the best interest of the child is reunification with the family and should be:
    1. Time specific;
    2. Outlined on a visitation agreement; and
    3. Agreed upon and signed by the worker, child, family, or other involved parties; and
    4. Written to incorporate therapeutic recommendations from the family and/or child’s treatment provider.
  5. Follows procedures outlined in SOP 4.45 Movement from a Home Placement if the SSW feels it is unsafe or is no longer in the best interest of the child to remain in the home; 1
  6. Follows TWIST procedures to ensure that the child’s placement is accurately captured in the system and if the child is still committed, does not exit the child from out-of-home care (OOHC) even if they are at home;
  7. Moves the child from the DCBS foster or adoptive home or private child care (PCC) foster home/facility and selects “Trial Home Visit” as the reason for the move and the date the child moved;
  8. Does not complete the “Reason Exited from Care” portion of the screens unless the child has been officially released by the appropriate court system; 
  9. Continues to follow all OOHC guidelines as the Cabinet is still the legal custodian of the child when a child in the custody of CHFS is placed in the home on a trial visit or officially placed back in the home; 2
  10. Assures that the child continues to receive a medical card through the children’s benefits worker (CBW) or through family support since the Cabinet still has legal responsibility; 3 
  11. Within forty-eight (48) hours of a child entering a trial home visit, completes the DPP-1279 Information for OOHC Placements Form and notifies the regional CBW and billing specialist of the trial/relative visit or change in placement for any child receiving federal benefits such as supplemental security income (SSI), black lung, SSA survivors (RSDI) or other federal entitlements; and
  12. Will advise the parents to apply for a change of payee for the benefits. 4  
 

The CBW:

 
  1. Will complete and submit the DCBS–173 Benefits Change Notice to the DCBS Children’s Trust Fund Division to request the parent or relative placement become the payee, even if the child is still in the custody of CHFS upon a child’s entry into a trial home visitation. 
 

Procedure

 

Placement Moves

   
Placement move in this section refers to a move between foster homes, a move from foster care to relatives/fictive kin, and/or a move between relative/fictive kin caregivers. 5
   

The SSW:

 
  1. Gathers information and recommendations from community partners, including: therapists, physicians, and school personnel;
  2. Consults with the FSOS regarding the need for a placement move;
  3. Notifies the caregiver and new placement that a move will occur;
  4. Holds a meeting with the parties to discuss and develop a written plan to address transition that includes the following, if applicable:
    1. A time frame for the transition to occur which allows for frequent and meaningful visitation that assists the child’s acclimation to the new placement;
    2. A schedule of visitation dates with the new placement;
    3. A plan for how the child will be informed of the placement move, to include therapists when possible;
    4. Any therapeutic recommendations for the transition provided by community partners;
    5. Referrals for in-home services when needed to support the placement or meet therapeutic need for the child including contact with the managed care organization (MCO) to assist with additional supports and a successful transition;
    6. A plan for any future contact after the transition has occurred;
    7. A plan for sibling visitation/reunification if the move results in a sibling separation; and
    8. Discussion of upcoming court dates.
  5. Assesses the progress and success of the transition through contact with caregivers, the child, and community partners.  Based on this assessment and consultation with the FSOS, changes may need to occur to ensure the transition is in the best interest of the child, which may include modifying the plan for transition; and
  6. Will request a time for a transition to occur to ensure the child's best interest, if the court orders an immediate transition. However, if this request is denied the SSW will contact Office of Legal Services (OLS). 
      
 

Footnotes

  1. This will require court involvement and is different than a trial visit.
  2. The child must continue to be assessed and services provided as they are still considered in OOHC until the appropriate court has released custody and the case is switched to an in-home case plan.
  3. Once the child is released from custody it is the responsibility of the parent to meet these needs. 
  4. The SSA will determine if benefits will continue to the parents. 
  5. For placement moves to an adoptive home, the SSW shall follow the process in SOP Chapter 13  

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