Children's Administration, Department of Social and Health Services
Children's Administration, Department of Social and Health Services
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Practices and Procedures Guide

4300. CASE PLANNING

This section contains procedures for case planning and case review. Legal mandates for case plans are included in the CA Case Services Policy Manual, chapter 4000. Details on requirements to comply with federal funding mandates are contained in the Operations Manual, chapter 11000.

43022. Outside Communication for Children in Out-of-Home Care

Purpose Statement Evaluate child safety and support to caregivers when determining outside communication with parents, relatives and other important people to the child in out of home care.
Laws

RCW 13.34.136

Policy
  1. Children in out-of-home care must have reasonable access to uncensored communication with parents, relatives, and other people important to the child.
  2. Communication restrictions must be based on a pending investigation or an identified child safety issue and be addressed in a court order or service plan.
  3. Child safety issues must be addressed prior to allowing the child to participate in any communications with parents, relatives or people important to the child.
Procedures
  1. Notify and collaborate with the child (if age appropriate), child's out-of-home caregiver, parent(s), relative(s) and important people to the child to develop the child's communication plan. Communication may include:
    1. Private telephone calls;
    2. Mail and gifts;
    3. Electronic communication (E-mail and other electronic social networking avenues such as Facebook, My Space and Twitter). Access to electronic communication is based on reasonable caregiver or social worker discretion and on electronic device availability.

    Note: Visitation occurs per 4254. Parent-Child-Sibling Visiting Policy

  2. Discuss with caregivers any court orders or service plans that restrict the child's contact with family, relative or important people to the child. Limited or censored communication could include:
    1. Opening and reviewing mail for appropriate child related content.
    2. Opening gifts to determine age appropriateness.
    3. Monitoring of email or phone calls for appropriate child related content.
    4. Determining age appropriate use of social networking sites, including limitations.

      Note: Allowing children access to electronic communication as described above is based on reasonable caregiver discretion and on electronic device availability.

  3. Inform caregivers on social networking websites regarding children in out-of-home care must not include:
    1. Child's name
    2. Identify the child as being a foster child.
    3. Discussion about case specific information about the child or the child's family
  4. Inform caregivers if there are safety reasons why unidentified photos may not be posted on the caregiver's social networking site(s).
  5. Discuss communication planning with the child and caregiver during monthly visits.
  6. Conduct when needed, a Shared Planning Meeting if communication needs to be limited or censored due to safety concerns.
  7. Document the child's communication plan and any decisions to limit a child's communication in the electronic case file.
Cultural Considerations

Family Centered Approach:
The way CA staff engages the family (or fails to engage the family) can directly affect the willingness of the family to work with other members of the department. The level of trust and integrity established between the agency and the family often has a direct relationship on the child being able to remain/reunify with his/her family. Everyone who meets the family needs to build positive relationships.

For example:
The definition of family varies from group to group. While the dominant culture has focused on the nuclear family, African Americans define family as a wide network of extended family, non-blood kin and community. Native American Indian families traditionally include at least three generations and multiple parental functions delegated among aunts and uncles, as well as grandparents and cousins. Different cultural groups also vary in their traditional practices and views of adoption.

Determine if there are cultural considerations that need to be addressed as part of the planning process, for example, obtaining information about protocols, such as, how to approach a family, use of a cultural elder, matriarch or patriarch or the need for a culturally appropriate support person.

See Also

4254. Parent-Child-Sibling Visiting Policy

2440 Service Agreements Policy

4301 Shared Planning Policy

ISSP Guide

4302A. Educational Services and Planning: Early Childhood Development, K-12 and Post-Secondary

Purpose Statement Ongoing educational progress is vital to support early childhood development and school success for all children in the care or custody of Children's Administration (CA).
Laws
  • RCW 74.13.550 Child Placement
  • RCW 28A.150.510 Transmittal of Education Records to DSHS
  • RCW 28A.225.010 - Attendance mandatory - Age - Exceptions
  • Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008
  • PL 112-34 The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act
  • http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/pi1109
  • McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
  • Policy
    1. Children and youth who enter out-of-home placement have the right to remain at the school they were attending when they entered care, whenever it is practical and in the best interest of the child. (RCW 74.13.550).
    2. The ongoing educational needs of children in out-of-home care must be addressed with the child and caregiver(s) at the time of each placement change.
    3. Each child in out-of-home placement must have a long range educational plan that is updated at least every six months and attached to the Court Report. The request and receipt of academic records must be documented in the Court Report.
    4. CA must facilitate planning for post-secondary education of children in out-of-home care.
    5. All children birth to three who may exhibit a disability or developmental delay must be referred to the appropriate early intervention agency.
    6. All children 3 to 18 years of age with a developmental concern must be referred to the Child Find program or to the local school district for an assessment.
    7. Identify an Educational Liaison for children and youth grades 6-12 at shelter care and subsequent dependency review hearings that meet any one of the following requirements:
      1. Parental Rights have been terminated
      2. Parents are unavailable because of incarceration or other limitations
      3. The court has restricted contact between the youth and parents
      4. The youth is placed in a behavioral rehabilitative setting and the court has limited the educational rights of the parents.
    Procedures
    1. File long range educational plans with the court at least every six months. The education plan must address any physical, emotional, or behavioral issues that impair the child's learning abilities. The plan should be reviewed with each placement change.
    2. Coordinate with child's school district:
      1. For child to remain enrolled at the school they were attending when they entered care whenever it is practical and in the best interest of the child.
      2. To confirm child is enrolled and attending school within three days of out of home placement.
      3. To request any missing academic (or medical) records required for school enrollment within 10 business days.
      4. To notify the child's existing and new school of any out-of-home placement changes
      5. To advocate with the school system for appropriate services to meet the child/youth's academic and social-emotional needs.
      6. To request updated records and education information as needed when there is a change in schools, change in out-of-home placement and at the end of each school year.
      7. To pay any unpaid fees or fines due by the youth to the school or school district.
      8. To notify all legal parties when a school disruption occurs; and
      9. To document factors that contributed to any school disruptions.
    3. Refer children:
      1. Birth to three with identified disabilities to an Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) Lead Family Resource Coordinator. The referral must also be discussed with the child's parents/caregivers.
      2. Age 3 to 18 years with developmental concerns to a Child Find Program or the local school district for an assessment.
      3. With an identified education concern to an Education Advocacy Program.
      4. To appropriate programs within two working days after a concern has been identified.
    4. Collaborate with ESIT and the child's caregiver to enroll the child in appropriate services and develop the Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP).
    5. Provide the child's out of home caregiver with copies of necessary school records including IFSP, Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plans.
    6. Provide copies of all education records to foster youth age 15-18 years as defined in 43103 Services for Youth 15-18.
    7. Monitor and document academic progress and test scores to make sure the child/youth is prepared to progress to the next grade level and/or obtain credits to graduate.
    8. Involve youth in post-high school planning including options for post-secondary education and career/vocational training.
    9. Assist youth transitioning from foster care in obtaining documents and information they will need regarding their personal history, identity, education, physical and mental health, as defined in 43103 Services for Youth 15-21.
    10. Document education information on the Child Information and Placement Referral Form (DSHS form 15-300) and in the FamLink Education Pages.
    Forms and Tools
    See Also
    Resources

    Birth to Three

    • Disability and developmental delay resources are Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies hotline at (1-800-322-2588) or through the ESIT web site

    General Advocacy

    Post-Secondary Education

    Suggested Practice Tips
    1. Children's early development research shows that windows for learning begin from birth to three and three to five. The clear link between early brain activity and brain development provides the building blocks for life-long learning and function - including entering school ready to learn and families learning of local resources for current and future needs. When there is a diagnosis of a disability or developmental concern at birth, or soon thereafter, early intervention results in greater developmental gains for a child.
    2. Placing children in their community of origin and not changing schools is always the first priority. Always consider the child's best interest before relocating the child to another school.
    3. Give the school the assigned social worker's contact information on the enrollment form (list as a second parent) in addition to the caregiver's so that the school report cards and other information will be sent directly to the assigned social worker for review and for documentation in the case file.
    Effective Date Initial:     Revised: 7/28/2013 Approved by: Jennifer Strus, Asst. Secretary

    4303. Case Plans

    1. See Child Safety Section policy for Family Assessment and Case Plan information.

    4304. Scope of Reasonable Efforts

    The Adoption and Safe Families Act requires that reasonable efforts be made to prevent placement of a child in out-of-home care and reasonable effort be made to achieve timely permanency for a child who is placed in out-of-home care. For children protected under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), active efforts must be made. (See Indian Child Welfare Manual, Chapters 5 and 14 for detailed information.)

    1. Unless the child is determined to be unsafe and an in-home safety plan cannot be used, the social worker is expected to make the following reasonable efforts to prevent placement:
      1. A determination of what services would assist the family in addressing issues identified safety threats in the assessment with the involvement of the parent in determining those services and activities.
      2. Develop a written case plan with the parent with specific time-lines for demonstration of the parent's progress and specific behavioral indicators of that progress toward alleviating parental behaviors that contribute to the safety concerns and risks for the child.
      3. Consider the following in developing the case plan:
        • Cultural issues
        • Availability of planning and services offered in the native language and culture of the family
        • Distance of the family from services and transportation available
        • Financial ability to pay for services on the part of both Children's Administration and the family.
      4. Regular review of case plans. The review of the service should include progress made, changes needed in the plan, resistance to the case plan and alternative approaches such as court action that may be needed.
    2. If, due to present or impending danger to the child, it is not feasible for the social worker to make the above reasonable efforts prior to placement, the social worker is expected to offer services to the family, as provided in section 43051, in an attempt to eliminate the need for placement, with focus on the identified safety threats that prevent the child's safe return home, unless aggravated circumstances exist.
    3. In addition to making reasonable efforts to prevent out-of-home placement, the social worker is expected to make reasonable efforts to achieve timely permanency for the child if out-of-home placement becomes necessary.
    4. Reasonable efforts to return the child home continue until the court has:
      1. Terminated parental rights;
      2. Determined aggravated circumstance exist excusing the department from providing reasonable efforts;
      3. Established a guardianship or entered a third party custody order; or
      4. Determined that a long term care agreement is in the child's best interest and a written agreement has been signed by the caregiver, CA, the parents and the child.

    4305. Permanent and Concurrent Planning

    Purpose Statement

    Permanency planning starts at first contact with the family. Permanency planning continues until a permanency goal is achieved.

    Concurrent planning provides for timely reunification services while anticipating and preparing for an alternate permanent plan.

    Laws
    Policy
    1. A permanency planning goal must be identified for all children in out-of-home care no later than 60 days from the Original Placement Date (OPD) per 4301 Shared Planning by following the:
      1. Shared planning process in the 4301 Shared Planning policy
      2. Indian Child Welfare Manual (ICWA) 10.30 (E) ICW Manual for all Indian children
    2. CA's written report to the court must identify a permanent plan to the court that includes how the department is working towards securing a safe, stable and permanent home for the child. The report must address the following:
      1. Primary and alternate permanent plans being pursued concurrently. Permanent and alternate plan options only include:
        1. Return of home to the child's parent, guardian or legal custodian
        2. Adoption
        3. Guardianship
        4. Third party/non-parental custody
      2. Reasonable efforts to return the child to his/her birth/adoptive parents
      3. How the permanency plan is in the best interests of the child
      4. How the agency has worked toward securing a safe, stable and permanent home for the child as early as possible.
    3. Long-term foster or relative care is not a permanent plan. It is only considered when other permanent plans are not in the best interests of a child. The plan provides continued foster/relative care until the child reaches the age 18.
    4. CA must consider a permanent plan that allows the parent to maintain a relationship with the child when a parent:
      1. Is sentenced to a long term incarceration
      2. Has maintained a meaningful role in the child's life, and
      3. It is in the child's best interest.
    5. Citizenship and immigration status of the child should be determined early in case and should be re-confirmed prior to establishing a permanent plan per 4211 Foreign Consulate
    Procedures

    Plan:

    1. Utilize shared planning when making permanency planning decisions for children in out-of-home care according to timelines in 4301. Shared Planning policy. Any changes in a permanent plan require a new shared planning meeting.

      Staff permanent plans with supervisor.

    2. Determine the best interest of the child by considering:
      1. The child's wishes and long-term goals
      2. Medical issues
      3. Age of the child
      4. The child's connections to their identity, affiliations to their community, tribe, church, school, religious/spiritual beliefs, relatives and friends
      5. Long term needs of the child
      6. Emotional ties and development needs and how these can be met through the identified permanent plan
    3. Document:

    4. Document the primary and alternate permanent plan on both the shared planning page and the Permanency Planning page in FamLink.
    5. Document in case plan reasons permanent plan is in the best interest of the child.
    6. Document reasons for separation from siblings (if applicable) in the FamLink visitation plan (Permanency Plan detail tab)
    7. Permanent Plans:

    8. Identify a primary and alternate plan from the following options:
      1. Always consider Return Home as the primary permanent plan for a child when all the following conditions are met:
        1. Aggravated circumstances do not exist.
        2. It is likely the child will return home per 43051 Reasonable Efforts to Return a Child Home policy.
        3. The plan is in the best interests of the child.
        4. The child (as age and developmentally appropriate) has been consulted regarding the potential benefits and risks of the return home.
        5. Safety threats are eliminated or can be managed or controlled in the family home.
      2. Consider Adoption per 4540. Adoption Services policy when a child is unable to return home and when all the following conditions are met:
        1. The child was removed from parents and is dependent.
        2. Parental rights will likely be terminated by the court or relinquishment has been or will be accepted by both CA and the court.
        3. Reasonable efforts were provided to the parent(s) to safely reunify the child to their care. The parent(s) have not made sufficient and timely progress in addressing the parental deficiencies that brought the child into care and this is documented in the case file.
        4. The plan is in the best interests of the child.
        5. Aggravated circumstances may exist.
        6. The child has been consulted about the permanent plan when age appropriate. Children over the age of 14 must sign consent for the adoption.
        7. The child and sibling are in the same placement and the permanent plan is adoption for that sibling.
        8. The prospective adoptive apparent has an approved adoptive home study per 5330 Family Home Study policy.
      3. Consider Guardianship or Third Party Custody when the following conditions are met:
        1. The child was removed from the parents as a Voluntary Placement Agreement or the child is a dependent of CA or Tribe.
        2. A determination is made through the shared planning process that it is not in the best interests of the child to pursue reunification or adoption.
        3. The plan is in the best interest of the child.
        4. The proposed caregiver has the ability to meet the child's special needs without CA case management and social worker support and:
          1. Can make a commitment to parent the child until adulthood
          2. Has a significant relationship with the child
          3. Has an approved family home study per 45274 Unlicensed Placements - Home Study Requirements
        5. The Permanency Planning Benefits and Limitation Matrix has been reviewed with the proposed caregiver.
        6. The child and sibling are in the same placement, the permanent plan is third party custody or Title 13 Guardianship for that sibling and one of these plans is also in the best interests of this child.
        7. If the child is considered an Indian as defined in the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act and the:
          1. Tribe(s) is involved and requesting a guardianship or third party custody; or
          2. If a guardianship subsidy is being requested the child and prospective guardian must meet R-GAP eligibility requirements.
        8. The child (as age and developmentally appropriate) has been consulted regarding the potential benefits and risks of the permanency plan and the child has stated preference for the identified plan
        9. An attorney is appointed if the child is legally free.
      4. All guardianships must also meet the requirements of 4340 Guardianship Policy are met.
    9. Consider Long Term Foster or Relative Care Agreements when all the following conditions are met:
      1. The child was removed from the parents and is dependent.
      2. A determination is made through the shared planning process that it is not in the best interests of the child to pursue reunification, adoption, guardianship or third party custody.
      3. The child's special needs require a high level of financial and agency support, including case management that cannot be met in an adoption, third party custody or Guardianship.
      4. The plan is in the best interest of the child and the child needs the stability offered with this living arrangement.
      5. Compelling reasons per 43061 Compelling Reasons section must be reviewed at every court hearing and the court must find that the compelling reasons still exist and are documented in FamLink.
      6. The child has made a significant connection to the caregiver and has been placed with the family over six months.
      7. The Permanency Planning Benefits and Limitation Matrix has been reviewed with the proposed caregiver.
      8. The child (as age and developmentally appropriate) has been consulted regarding the potential benefits and risks of the permanency plan and the child has stated preference for the identified plan.
      9. Children over the age of 14 capable of giving consent agree to sign consent for the long-term foster care agreement and are aware of the potential benefits/risks of other permanency plans.
      10. An attorney is appointed if the child is legally free.
      11. The caregiver:
        1. Makes a commitment to care for the child until the age of 18 or 21 if applicable.
        2. Shows an ability to meet child's special needs.
        3. Demonstrates the understanding that the child remains in the custody of CA and under CA's control and further demonstrates an ability to cooperate with CA in shared planning for the child.
        4. Agrees to enter into a long term foster care or relative care agreement approved by the court.
        5. Signs a Long Term care Agreement for Foster Parent or Relative Caregivers DSHS 15-322.
        6. The Regional Administrator signs the Checklist for Approval Long Term Agreement for Foster Parents or Relative Caregivers DSHS 15-323.
    Effective Date Initial:     Revised: 7/28/2013 Approved by: Jennifer Strus, Asst. Secretary

    43051. Reasonable Efforts to Return a Child Home

    1. Scope of Reasonable Efforts
      Following placement of the child in out-of-home care, the social worker must offer reunification/preventive services to the family to try to eliminate the need for placement. See section 4304 above for the overall scope of reasonable efforts.
    2. See Child Safety Section policy for Safety or Family Assessment and Case Plan information

    43051A. Trial Return Home

    Purpose Statement Support parent(s) and child(ren) to achieve a safe and successful transition home and permanent reunification.
    Laws

    RCW 13.34.136

    RCW 13.34.130 2.(c)

    Policy
    1. Follow requirements outlined in the Reasonable Efforts to Return a Child Home policy (43051) prior to requesting a trial return home or when the Court orders the child's immediate return home.
    2. Prior to a dependent child returning to the home of a parent a background check must be completed on all adults living in the home.
    3. A trial return home must not exceed 6 months in duration, unless ordered by the court.
    4. Identify and assess all caregivers of the child for services related to the safety of the child, and:
      1. Recommend the caregiver participate in the identified services.
      2. Notify the court of any service recommendations made to the caregiver during a regular review hearing.
      3. Promptly notify the court if a caregiver fails to engage in or follow through with the recommended services.
    Procedures
    1. Provide ongoing assessment of potential child safety threats during the monthly health and safety visits. Update the Safety Plan with the family if safety threats are identified. Health and safety visits requirements are outlined in the (4420 policy).
    2. Update the Comprehensive Family Evaluation based on the family's progress and information gathered during the monthly health and safety visit.
    3. Provide the following once the child is placed in the parent's home under a trial return home:
      1. Ongoing safety and risk assessment
      2. Plan for monitoring the child's well-being (may include services and supports identified through CHET screening, Foster Care Assessment Program, or Family Team Decision Making)
      3. Other services identified in a Shared Planning meeting
      4. Revised trial return home plan or complete documentation for case closure.
    4. Consult with the local AAG office (prior to court hearing) and document when it is in the child's best interest to request an extension of the trial return home beyond 6 months.
    5. Recommend dismissal of the dependency when the parent(s) have completed the case plan requirements and demonstrated the ability to safely resume parenting and custody of the child(ren).
    6. Document all trial return home activities and any completed services as required in the electronic case file.

    43055. Permanency Planning Hearings-Timelines

    Permanency planning hearings must occur:

    1. By the 12th month of placement for all children in out-of-home care even if reunification with parents is the primary plan and the parents are making significant progress.
    2. Within one year of each previous permanency planning hearing as long as the child remains in out-of-home care without a permanency plan being achieved. A child in a long-term care agreement is not considered to have permanency achieved, therefore, permanency planning hearings continue.
    3. If, following 90 days of service delivery after disposition, the parents have failed to make progress or engage in services in resolving the issues that brought the child into care. This may coincide with the initial review hearing which is to be scheduled for in-court review six months from OPD or 90 days from the entry of the dispositional order, whichever comes first.
    4. Within 30 days after the court has determined that reunification services for the family are no longer required in a case with a finding of aggravated circumstances. In those cases, the social worker must identify a primary or alternate permanency planning goal other than reunification with the legal parent(s).

    4306. Filing a Petition to Terminate Parental Rights5

    1. Under Washington law, termination of parental rights is necessary for an adoption of a child. A petition to terminate parental rights is a step toward the implementation of a permanent plan of adoption. Adoption is the preferred permanent plan if a child can not be returned home.
    2. If the parents, after filing of the termination petition, begin to make progress toward a permanency plan of returning the child home, the termination petition may be dismissed at the request of the department or the termination fact-finding hearing may be continued to allow the parents the opportunity to make the changes required.

    43061. Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) - Compelling Reasons

    Purpose Statement Initiate a relinquishment or termination of parental rights (TPR) when it is in the best interest of the child and to support timely permanence.
    Laws

    RCW 13.34.136

    RCW 13.34.145

    RCW 13.34.180

    RCW 26.33

    Adoption and Safe Families (ASFA) Act 1997

    Policy
    1. A petition to TPR must be submitted to the Attorney General's office by the end of the child's 12th month in out-of-home care or sooner, when it is in the child's best interest and meets at least one of the following:
      1. The child is in out-of-home care twelve (12) of the last nineteen (19) months.
      2. The child is determined by the court to be an abandoned child.
      3. The child is in out-of-home care for a period of at least six months since dependency finding.
      4. Aggravated circumstances have been found by the court. The TPR petition must be made within 60 days of this court finding.
    2. A TPR may be considered earlier in the dependency process when the parents have failed to engage in services and the child has been in care for 90 days since the disposition.
    3. A petition for TPR is not required when compelling reasons exist.
    4. Relinquishment of parental rights may be accepted when adoption is in the child's best interest per 1701. Shared Planning. The relinquishment of parental rights of an Indian child must occur before a court judge per 6.85 Indian Child Welfare Manual.
    Procedures
    1. Utilize shared planning when making permanency planning decisions for children in out-of-home care according to timelines in the 1701. Shared Planning policy.
    2. Determine if relinquishment or TPR is in the best interest of the child by discussing the following with the birth parents:
      1. The option of a Voluntary Adoption Plan in accordance with 4540 Voluntary Adoption Plan policy.
      2. The Open Communication Agreement options between the parent and the prospective adoptive family prior to accepting a relinquishment per 4330 Open Communication Agreements
    3. Discuss aggravated circumstances as listed per RCW 13.34.132 with assigned Assistant Attorney General (examples: Conviction of murder of another child, manslaughter or committed felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the child or another child of the parent).
    4. Convene a Permanency Planning Hearing within 30 days after the court determines aggravated circumstances. Identify a permanent planning goal per 4305 Permanency Planning policy.
    5. Determine if compelling reasons exist to not file a TPR. Compelling reasons include, but are not limited to:
      1. Birth parents are making significant progress and reunification (trial return home) will occur within three (3) months.
      2. Birth parent(s) has been accepted and is demonstrating compliance in a dependency treatment court program, long-term substance abuse or dual diagnosis program.
      3. The department has not provided to the child's family such services as the court and the department have deemed necessary for the child's safe return home.
      4. Adoption is not an appropriate permanent plan due to:
        1. The child is over the age of 14 and after a discussion about adoption and other permanency options with the child, the child opposes adoption as a permanent plan.
        2. The child is placed with a relative and after a discussion about adoption and other permanency options with the relatives; another permanency option with the relative is in the best interest of the child.
      5. The court or CA has determined that:
        1. A birth parent is considering relinquishment within a reasonable time to free the child for adoption.
        2. A non-offending parent is pursuing an alternate permanent plan.
        3. A professional assessment of the child determines the child's is unable to remain within a family setting.
      6. The parent is incarcerated and:
        1. The incarceration is the only reason for filing the TPR; and
        2. The court has determined the parent maintains a meaningful role in the child's life.
      7. The child's Tribe is opposed to adoption and has identified another acceptable permanency plan for the child per RCW.
    6. Document compelling reasons in FamLink on the Legal Record, in the TPR Compelling Reasons group box.
    7. Obtain court approval for compelling reasons every 12 months and until permanency has been achieved.
    8. File a TPR when compelling reasons no longer exist.
    9. Document the filing of a TPR referral in FamLink Legal Record.
    Resources
    Effective Date Initial:     Revised: 7/28/2013 Approved by: Jennifer Strus, Asst. Secretary

    43065. Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights

    1. The juvenile courts are authorized to terminate parental rights voluntarily (relinquishment) under chapter 26.33 RCW. Social workers must use the forms provided by the Office of Attorney General or county prosecutor, as applicable, relating to relinquishment of parental rights. In order to achieve legal sufficiency it is important to use the most recently revised forms whenever handling a voluntary relinquishment. If out-of-date forms are used rather than the most recent form, the relinquishment may not be legally binding.
    2. Petitions for voluntary termination of parental rights may be initiated for either an unborn or born child. The hearing on the petitions for relinquishment or termination cannot occur until at least 48 hours after the birth of the child or the parent's signing the consent to adoption, whichever is later. See section 43068 below for requirements regarding Indian children.
    3. In considering a petition for termination of parental rights based on a voluntary consent to adoption by a parent, the judge will review whether the consent was genuinely voluntary and whether the termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child.
      1. The social worker must take care to inform the parent that any relinquishment is voluntary throughout this process.
      2. If the parent has an attorney, that attorney must be involved in the legal process for termination of parental rights. When the parent has an attorney, the social worker does not work with a parent to secure a relinquishment and consent to adoption without the involvement of the parent's attorney.
    4. Under a voluntary adoption plan, the department must follow the wishes of the alleged father, birth parent, or parent in identifying an adoptive placement. See the Case Services Policy Manual, chapter 5000, section 5762, and this chapter, section 45404.

    43066. Parents under Age 18

    1. If any parent seeking to relinquish the parent's parental rights is under age 18, or incapacitated if over age 18, or when there is a question about the parent's capacity to voluntarily relinquish, the court must appoint a GAL for that person prior to the relinquishment being entered and before an order to the court. If a social worker learns that a parent is under 18 or of questionable capacity, the worker must seek a hearing to have a GAL appointed for the parent before taking any other legal action to proceed with a voluntary termination.
    2. The GAL for a parent must do an investigation and report to the court concerning whether any written consent to adoption or petition for relinquishment signed by the parent was signed voluntarily and with an understanding of the consequences of the action. RCW 26.33.070

    43067. Opposing a Voluntary Petition

    1. Prior to agreeing to entry of a voluntary relinquishment, the department, through the social worker, must agree that termination of parental rights and adoption is in the best interest of the child. Financial concerns alone are not grounds for a parent to relinquish a child.
    2. The social worker may also oppose a termination petition because no adoptive family is available to care for a child. Other concerns, such as the child's support of the adoption case plan and the family's use of services available to correct parental deficiencies, may also be considered.

    43068. Indian Children

    1. Permanency Planning Case Staffing-If the child is identified as an "Indian child" per Appendix A, and is required to have a LICWAC staffing the child must have a LICWAC staffing to establish a permanency goal no later then 60 days from the original placement date. (Refer to Indian Child Welfare Manual 10.15.)
    2. Active Efforts-If the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) protects the child, the social worker must continue active efforts toward reunification with the child's parents or Indian custodian, if any, until the court terminates parental rights. See Appendix A for the definition of "Indian Child."
    3. Compelling Reasons-The fact that the Tribal/State agreement defines the child as Indian and the child's involved Tribe or Canadian First Nation does not concur with the filing of the petition or with adoption as the permanency plan for this child may be a compelling reason not to file a termination of parental rights petition. Compelling reasons not to file a termination petition must be made on a case by case basis considering the individual circumstances of the child and family
    4. Termination of Parental Rights to a Native American Child
      1. Special procedures apply when handling the voluntary or involuntary termination of a Native American child. The social worker must refer to the Indian Child Welfare Manual.
      2. Petitions for voluntary termination of parental rights may not be initiated for an unborn Indian child. The hearing on the petitions for relinquishment or termination cannot occur until at least 10 days after the birth of the child or the parent's signing the consent to adoption.

    4307. Voluntary Placement Agreement

    Purpose Statement A Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA) safely supports a time-limited plan for a short-term removal and placement in out of home care for a child who cannot remain safely in the parents' or legal guardian's home.
    Laws

    WAC 388-15-037

    WAC 388-25-0050

    RCW 74.13.031

    RCW 71.15.020(2)

    Policy
    1. A Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA) is used in specific time limited circumstances as part of a short-term placement plan for children who cannot safely remain at home. A VPA will not exceed ninety (90) days.
    2. A Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA) is valid when:
      1. Approved by the supervisor.
      2. Signed by both parents/ legal guardians of the child unless unable to locate the other parent/legal guardian.
      3. Signed by the CA representative per WAC 388-25-0050.
      4. Signed in front of a judicial officer of the Tribal Court or Juvenile Court when the child is an Indian child as per ICW 06.50 Voluntary Consent to Placement.
      5. Placement is with a licensed caregiver or relative as defined in RCW 71.15.020 (2) and within the State of Washington.
    3. VPA's may not be used to place a child or youth:
      1. With an "other suitable person" Per RCW 13.34.130
      2. On hospital/medical/physician hold
      3. Outside of Washington
      4. In care when the youth is 18 or older
    4. An FTDM must be conducted before the placement occurs.
    5. Before a child is returned home and upon written or verbal request for termination of the VPA, the social worker must reassess child safety and determine if the child can safely return home. If so the child must be returned to the parent/legal guardian with legal custody as soon as possible.
    6. If a child cannot safely return home, Children's Administration must take immediate steps to request the child be taken into protective custody by law enforcement or file a dependency petition per policy 5700. Juvenile Dependency and Rights of Children and Families.
    Procedures
    1. VPA's are approved by the CA supervisor in the following circumstances:
      1. When a safety assessment is complete and it is determined in-home services cannot control identified safety threats and services can be completed within the VPA timeframe.
      2. After business hours, when a safety threat exists and the child is not placed in protective custody by law enforcement.
      3. When the parent/legal guardian needs temporary care for the child while undergoing medical care/treatment and there are no alternative resources.
      4. When the child's other parent/legal guardian is not immediately available to provide care.
    2. Complete the VPA form (DSHS 9-004B) with all required signatures and upload the form into the FamLink file cabinet. Note: Unless legal custody resides with one parent, which must be verified, a good faith effort must be made to have both parents sign the VPA and the effort documented in FamLink.
    3. Document the following in FamLink:
      1. The child's legal information on the Legal Records page.
      2. Details of child's placement on the Out of Home Placement page.
      3. A request from a parent or legal guardian to end the VPA and return the child home (when applicable) in a case note.
      4. The date, time and location of the child's return to the parent (when applicable) in a case note.
      5. Supervisor approval.
    Forms and Tools
    • DSHS 9-004B
    Resources

    4308. Legal Activity

    43081. Dependency Petition Process - RCW 13.34.030 through 13.34.

    1. The social worker files a dependency petition when it is clear that child safety cannot be managed or controlled in the home and if the parent(s) refuse or are unwilling to immediately make changes adequate to protect the child, or after reasonable efforts have not increased the parent(s) protective capacities.
    2. The Office of the Attorney General or its designee represents the Department in dependency matters and presents the evidence supporting Department petitions alleging dependency or seeking the termination of a parent and child relationship. In Class 1-9 counties the Attorney General may contract with the prosecuting attorney of the county to perform duties of the Attorney General.
    3. If a child is alleged to be dependent and if a child's health, safety, and welfare will be seriously endangered if he/she is not taken into custody, a service worker must file a petition and request a court order that the child be taken into custody. If the court enters such an order, the court may direct a law enforcement officer, a probation counselor, or a CPS official to take the child into custody. RCW 13.34.050
    4. The social worker is required to testify at the first shelter care hearing as to notice given to the parents.
    5. The social worker must refer to the ICW Manual when working with American Indian/Alaskan Native children.

    43082. Juvenile Court Hearings and Reports

    The service worker may be required to submit written reports, attend, and present testimony at court hearings. See the CA Case Services Policy Manual for detailed legal requirements.

    43083. Compliance with Court Orders and Liability Protection

    1. CA staff must make good faith efforts to comply with all court orders.
    2. In cases where it is not possible to comply, with a court order, despite staff's best efforts, the social worker must promptly consult with the worker's supervisor and legal counsel to explore alternatives. If compliance is not possible, the worker must take steps to obtain a modification of the order. If the parties will not approve an agreed order of modification, the worker and legal counsel must schedule the matter for a hearing as soon as possible so that the situation can be brought to the court's attention and DCFS can request that the order be modified.
    3. Employees are eligible for liability protection and may seek legal representation through the Office of the Attorney General, consistent with the provisions of DSHS Administrative Policy 18.63.

    4309. Court Report and Health and Education Record

    43091. Court Report

    1. When a child is in out-of-home care, the social worker must complete or update the report to the court in the following timeframes.
      1. The first report to the court is due no later than 10 working days before the dependency Disposition hearing or by the 60th day of the placement episode of a child (whichever date occurs first). The second report to the court is due by the 180th day of placement, and periodically thereafter at six month intervals.
      2. If the report to the court is completed earlier than required, the next report to the court is due no later than six months from the date of the last one completed.
      3. The report to the court shall include screening results and case plans to address the child/youth's multiple needs.
    2. The report to the court must be submitted in the following situations:
      1. For all court disposition, permanency planning, and review hearings.
      2. To obtain approval to place a child in Behavior Rehabilitation Services, formerly called group care.
      3. For Shared Planning and administrative reviews.
      4. For citizen reviews.
      5. For tribal or Local Indian Child Welfare Advisory Committee (LICWAC) staffing, as appropriate and as defined in the ICW Manual.
    3. The report to the court must be developed after consulting, in person if possible, with the parents of the child, and, if developmentally appropriate, with the child. Following completion of the case plan, the social worker's supervisor must approve and sign each report to the court. The social worker must provide a copy of the report to the court to the parent(s) if the parent(s) whereabouts are known.
    4. The child's report to the court contains information that is important for the child's caregiver to know so that the caregiver can provide appropriate care to the child. The child's report to the court must be shared with the child's foster parent, relative caregiver, or pre-adoptive parent(s).
    5. Document in the Court Report for an incarcerated parent the following:
      1. How the parent participated in case planning
      2. What treatment services and resources are available in the facility that meet the parent's individual needs
      3. Visitation schedule or reasons why visitation is not appropriate with the incarcerated parent
    6. The child's caregiver must preserve the confidentiality of information contained in the child's court report. A social worker who becomes aware of a breach of confidentiality must discuss this with the caregiver, the social worker's supervisor, and the licenser. The social worker and supervisor may decide to use another strategy to provide the caregiver with all information pertinent to providing appropriate care for the child. The social worker must document the alternate strategy for sharing information in the child's electronic record.
    Effective Date Initial:     Revised: 10/20/2013 Approved by: Jennifer Strus, Asst. Secretary

    43092. Child Well-Being Health and Education Tracking

    Child Health and Education Tracking (CHET) is designed to identify and organize essential and appropriate information about the well-being of all children in the care or custody of Children's Administration (CA). The purpose is to assess the current well-being, and identify long-term needs of children in CA's care or custody. Well-being factors include physical health; development; social, family and community connections; education and emotional/behavioral health.

    1. At the time of placement, the assigned social worker has primary responsibility to:
      1. Document information regarding the child's well-being on the Child Information/Placement Referral form (DSHS Form 15-300) within the first 24 to 72 hours after placement. See CA Practice and Procedure Manual, chapter 4000, section 4413, B.1.a.
      2. Provide a copy of the Child Information/Placement Referral Form (DSHS Form 15-300) and the placement agreement with the child's caregiver. See CA Practice and Procedure Manual, chapter 4000, section 4413, B.1.a. Once the form has been signed or provided electronically, it must be uploaded into FamLink.
      3. Complete and provide a new Child Information/Placement Referral Form to the caregiver at or before a planned change in placement, or within 24 hours of an urgent placement change. See CA Practice and Procedure Manual, chapter 4000, section 4413, B.1.a. Once the form has been signed or provided electronically, it must be uploaded into FamLink.
    2. Child Health and Education Screening Process
      1. Children under the legal authority of CA, who are expected to remain in care for 30 days or more, are to receive a well-being screening.
      2. The Child Health and Education well-being screening will be completed within 30 days of the child's Original Placement Date (OPD) as required by RCW 74.14A.050.
      3. The screening specialist makes referrals in accordance with the CHET Practice Guide.
        1. The screening specialist immediately notifies the assigned social worker when a CHET required screening tool indicates a mental health referral or when other mental health concerns are identified.
        2. The screening specialist makes a referral for all children birth to three-years-old to an Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) within two working days when a concern about the child's developmental delay is identified during the screening process. Referrals will be made in accordance with each region's ESIT protocol. Children ages birth to three who are under CA's legal authority may also be referred for an ESIT assessment by the assigned social worker any time there is a concern about the child's development. See CA Practices and Procedure Manual, chapter 4000, section 4224 (F).
        3. The screening specialist makes a referral for services to the Fostering Well-Being Care Coordination Unit for all children identified through the Child Health and Education screening process who have complex health needs.
      4. The Child Health and Education Screening Report will be provided to the child's assigned social worker and caregiver within five working days of completion.
    3. Fostering Well-Being Process
      1. The Fostering Well-Being Care Coordination Unit reviews the child's information to determine if the child meets the eligibility criteria for the program. Children under CA's legal authority may also be identified for a health review by the assigned social worker, in consultation with the FWB, or at any time a health concern arises.
    4. Child Well-Being Ongoing Case Management
      1. The assigned social worker has primary responsibility to:
        1. Ensure a mental health referral is made within five working days of receiving notification from the CHET screening specialist that a mental health need has been identified. (Unless the child has already been referred).
        2. Provide ongoing case management, including identification of needs, coordination of services, referrals based on the identified needs of the child, and tracking any necessary follow-up.
        3. Enter and update the child's health and education information in the child's electronic file, excluding health-related information entered by the foster care public health nurse.
        4. Provide copies of all health and education records (in CA's possession) to a foster youth prior to exiting care. See CA Practice and Procedure Manual, chapter 4000, section 43103, F.1.
        5. At the time of placement, provide copies of all health and education records to caregivers, including recommendations and reports resulting from all assessments and screenings. This includes placement changes or when new information is discovered about the child's needs that may help the caregiver make an informed decision about the safety and supervision of the child. See CA Practice and Procedure Manual, chapter 4000, section 4413, B.1.a.
        6. Provide the child's caregiver with the results and recommendations of all of the department's screenings and assessments concerning the child, within five days of receiving reports. This includes but is not limited to the Foster Care Assessment Program (FCAP) assessment and recommendations from the Shared Planning Meeting addressing the CHET screening results.
        7. Update the child's well-being information when updating and sharing the report to the court with the licensed foster parent or relative caregiver.

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