4250. Placement Out-of-Home and Conditions for Return Home

Approval:  Connie Lambert-Eckel, Assistant Secretary 

Original Date:   

Revised Date:  July 1, 2018 

Policy Review: July 1, 2021


Purpose 

Provide direction to Children’s Administration (CA) staff on:

  • Determining when to place a child in out-of-home care.
  • Providing a placement that is most aligned with the child’s best interests, and safe, stable, and least restrictive in close proximity to the parent and the child’s school when possible.
  • Identifying what conditions must change for a child to return home.
  • Required safety, permanency and well-being activities.
  • Active and reasonable efforts for timely reunification.

Scope

This policy applies to Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

Laws 

RCW 13.34.020  Legislative declaration of family unit as resource to be nurtured—Rights of child.

RCW 13.34.030  Definitions

RCW 13.34.040  Petition to court to deal with dependent child—Application of federal Indian child welfare act.

RCW 13.34.050  Court Order to take a child into custody, when - Hearing

RCW 13.34.060  Shelter care—Placement—Custody—Duties of parties.

RCW 13.34.067  Shelter care—Case conference—Service agreement.

RCW 13.34.130  Order of disposition for a dependent child and placement with Relatives, foster family home, group care facility or other suitable person, placement of and Indian child in out-of-home care, and contact with siblings.

RCW 13.34.145  Shelter care—Hearing—Recommendation as to further need—Release.

RCW 13.34.260  Foster home placement, parental preferences and foster parent contact with birth parents encouraged.

RCW 13.34.270  Child with developmental disability—Out-of-home placement—Permanency planning hearing.

RCW 13.34.062  Shelter Care – Notice of custody and rights

RCW 13.34.067  Shelter care—Case conference—Service agreement.

RCW 13.34.130  Order of disposition for a dependent child, alternatives—Petition seeking termination of parent-child relationship—Placement with relatives, foster family home, group care facility, or other suitable persons—Placement of an Indian child in out-of-home care—Contact with siblings.

RCW 13.38  Washington State Indian Child Welfare Act

RCW 26.44  Abuse of Children

RCW 26.44.190  Investigation of child abuse or neglect - Participation by law enforcement officer

RCW 74.13.350  Children with developmental disabilities—Out-of-home placement—Voluntary placement agreement.

RCW 74.14A.020  Services for emotionally disturbed and mentally ill children, potentially dependent children, and families-in-conflict. 

RCW 74.15.020  Definitions

RCW 74.15.090  Licenses required for agencies.

PL 114-95  Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965

Multi-Ethnic Placement Act (MEPA) 1994 Interethnic Adoption Provisions of the small Business Job Protection Act of 1996; Section 1808: “Removal of Barriers to Interethnic Adoptions”

Policy

  1. Decision to Place
    1. If the Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) caseworker is considering out-of-home placement for a child, they must:
      1. Discuss with a supervisor.
      2. Conduct a Family Team Decision Making (FTDM) meeting prior to placing a child in out-of-home care or within 72 hours of placement.
      3. Contact the tribe if a child is a member or eligible for membership in a federally recognized tribe from Washington state per the Indian Child Welfare (ICW) Policies and Procedures Chapter 5 Child Protective Services for Indian Children policies.
    2. DCFS caseworkers must seek removal of a child from the home if one of the following apply:
      1. A child is in present danger or at imminent risk of harm and the protective action plan cannot maintain the child safely in the home of their parent or legal guardian.
      2. A safety threat is identified for the child while in the care of their parent or legal guardian, and either:
        1. Reasonable efforts to prevent the placement have failed including offering or providing services, or removing the  person(s) or environmental threat from the home rather than the child.
        2. A safety plan cannot adequately control or manage the safety threat.
        3. Law enforcement (LE) has placed a child in protective custody and transferred custody to CA with a signed Child Custody Transfer DSHS 10.157.
    3. If a physician or administrator of a hospital or similar institution believes a child would be in imminent danger if released to their parent and has placed the child under a hospital hold, the DCFS worker must follow the Hospital Hold policy.
    4. If a child in the care and custody of CA, is placed in licensed or unlicensed care, and they are in present danger or there is a safety threat, CA staff must follow Placement Moves policy.
    5. If a biological, adopted or guardianship child of a licensed provider is in present danger or there is a safety threat and legal authority is needed to remove the child:
      1. DCFS staff must contact LE to assess for protective custody.
      2. DLR staff must contact LE or DCFS.   
    6. Refer children with a developmental disability to Developmental Disabilities Administration when they are being considered for out-of-home placement and there is no alleged child abuse or neglect.
  2. Legal Authority
    1. Before placing a child in out-of-home care, CA must have legal authority to assume the care and custody of the child through one of the following ways:
      1. A Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA), signed by a parent or legal guardian who has custody of the child when it is anticipated the child will safely return to his or her parent or legal guardian within 90 calendar days. If there is reason to believe the child is an Indian child, follow Indian Child Welfare (ICW) Policies and Procedures Chapter 6 Casework Activities for Court Proceedings policy.   
      2. A LE officer has placed the child in protective custody and signed the Child Custody Transfer DSHS 10.157.
      3. A hospital administrator or physician has exercised a hospital hold and signed the Child Custody Transfer DSHS 10.157.
      4. A court entered an order in either a dependency case or Child in Need of Services (CHINS) case that authorized placement of the child in the care and custody of CA.
      5. A court has authorized the department to take custody of the child through a Motion for Order to Take Child Into Custody (aka “pick-up order”).
    2. If there is a safety threat to the child and the child’s safety cannot be managed in the parent’s care, the caseworker must seek legal authority for a placement even if the parent has arranged an alternate for placement beforehand. 
    3. If non-parental custody is pursued by the parent, the caseworker must:
      1. Continue to assess child safety and risk of the child.
      2. Obtain legal authority for the placement if there is a safety threat to the child that cannot be managed in the parent’s care.
    4. Caseworkers do not provide legal advice to parents, legal guardians, or non-parental custody.
  3. Placement
    Caseworkers must:
    1. Take the following steps if a child is placed in out-of-home care.
      1. Obtain a signed copy of the Child Custody Transfer DSHS 10-157 if LE places a child in protective custody, and upload the signed copy in FamLink and file in the case record.
      2. Ensure that the custodial and non-custodial parent know that their child has been taken into custody as soon as possible, and provide a completed Temporary Custody Notification form DSHS 09-731 and a copy of the Parent’s Guide to Child Protective Services (CPS).
    2. Follow the Dependency Petition Process policy to petition the court for legal authority to remove the child and request a shelter care hearing occur within 72hours of the removal of the child.  Children placed under protective custody by LE may remain in the temporary care and custody of the department for 72 hours, excluding sat sun and holidays. A shelter care hearing must be held within 72 hours or the child is returned to their parent’s care.
    3. Follow ICW Policies and Procedures when there is reason to believe the child is a member, or the biological child of a member and eligible for membership, in a federally recognized tribe.
    4. Follow the Limited English Proficiency (LEP) policy when a parent, legal guardian, or child has limited English proficiency.
    5. Notify the appropriate foreign consulate and follow the Notification to Foreign Consulate policy if a child is a citizen of another country and is placed in out-of-home care.
    6. Follow the Placement Moves policy if a child is being moved from one out-of-home placement to another.
    7. Follow the Placement – Intensive Resources and Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children policies if placement out-of-state is being sought.
  4. Placement Setting
    Caseworkers must:
    1. Place the child with a licensed caregiver only if an approved kinship caregiver or suitable adult is not available. Licensed out-of-home placement includes:
      1. Licensed family foster home
      2. Licensed group care facilities
    2. Contact the local office placement coordinator or placement desk to locate a licensed caregiver. Preferences such as family constellation, sibling relationships, ethnicity, and religion should be considered when matching a child to a foster home. Race, color, or national origin of the foster parent or child must not be the basis for any delay or denial of placement.
    3. Identify kinship care or licensed placements that are:
      1. In the child’s best interest and in consideration of their safety, permanency, and well-being needs, including:
        1. The least restrictive setting available.
        2. In close proximity to the parent.
        3. Keeping the child enrolled in the school they were attending when it is practical and in their best interest.
        4. Keeps the child enrolled in the school they were attending when it is practical and in their best interest. If necessary to maintain to maintain the child’s enrollment, the caseworker must also conduct transportation planning, and complete and provide the School Notification Form DSHS 27-093 to the school.
        5. With siblings unless it is one of the exceptions described in the sibling section of this policy.    
        6. The least likely to result in placement moves.
      2. In accordance with ICW placement preferences  when there is reason to believe the child is a member, or the biological child of a member and eligible for membership, in a federally recognized tribe.
      3. In consideration of a placement with a previous caregiver if a child returns to out-of-home care and:
        1. The caregiver is available, willing and able to meet the child's needs, and
        2. Placement with that caregiver is in the best interest of the child.
    4. If there is a conflict about a placement setting, the child’s placement should be made based on what is in their best interest. 
    5. Contact a designated crisis responder to request a mental health assessment if a child is placed in out-of-home care and requires placement in a mental health in-patient setting.
    6. Not use any secure detention facilities as a placement setting for children in out-of-home care.
    7. Refer the child and family to service providers or community resources as needed and available, and as court-ordered. This includes referring a child or youth with complex behavioral health needs for Wraparound with Intensive Services (WISe) screening per the WISe policy.  
    8. Follow Notification of Court Hearings and Information Sharing with Out-of-Home Caregivers policy.
  5. Siblings
    ​Caseworkers must:
    1. Place siblings together. Siblings are only placed separately when approved by the caseworker’s supervisor and area administrator (AA), and at least one the following circumstances applies:
      1. A child is admitted into detention, a psychiatric hospital or a residential treatment facility in order to meet the child’s unique and individual needs.
      2. Placement of a sibling makes another person, including their sibling, unsafe. If this occurs, the sibling who poses the safety concerns will be moved.
      3. A sibling with a physical, emotional or mental condition requires specialized services in order to accomplish specific therapeutic goals that cannot be met in the placement with their siblings. If this applies, the sibling is only placed apart from their siblings until the therapeutic goal is accomplished.
      4. An abusive relationship between siblings exists and therapy is not effective.
      5. A suitable relative is available and placement with them is in the child’s best interest.
      6. A court order prohibits CA from placing siblings together.
      7. Other extraordinary circumstances that are approved by the assigned supervisor and AA.
      8. Arrange sibling visits, if siblings are not placed together per Parent, Child, and Siblings Visits policy.
    2. Determine communication between the child placed in out-of-home care and their parent per Outside Communication for Children in Out-of-Home Care policy.
    3. Continually assess placing siblings together if siblings are placed separately, and place together if the conditions requiring separation end.
  6. Kinship Care
    ​Caseworkers must:
    1. Contact the Relative Search Unit within 30 days of out-of-home placement and follow Notification of Court Hearings, Providing Reports to Court, and Information Sharing with Out-of-Home policy. The Relative Search unit will complete the Relative Search Tracking form DSHS 10-544 with all relatives identified.
    2. When placing with kinship caregivers, follow:
      1. Placements with Unlicensed Relatives or Suitable Persons policy.
      2. Home Study policy.
      3. Kinship Care: Searching for, Placing with, and Supporting Relatives and Suitable Other Person policy.
    3. While the Relative Search unit is searching and notifying relatives, continue to inquire and notify all adult relatives within 30 calendar days after the child is removed from the custody of the parents using the Relative Notification Letter DSHS 15-330
  7. Follow Licensed Foster Care and Kinship Care policy when placing with children in licensed care.
  8. Medical Information and Care
    ​Caseworkers must at the time of placement or as soon as possible:
    1. Obtain the child’s medical, dental and immunization history from the child’s parent or legal guardian or medical and dental providers.
    2. Provide the caregivers the following:
      1. Placement Agreement form DSHS 15-281
      2. Voucher for Interim Pharmacy and Medial Services for Foster Children.
      3. Caregiver Authorization DSHS 10-454 and Child Information and Placement Referral DSHS 15-300 forms.
      4. For children, birth to one year, the Infant Safe Sleep Guidelines DSHS 22-1577.
    3. Follow Health Care Services for Children In Out of Home Care policy to ensure children receive routine and necessary health care.
    4. Immunizations
      1. If a child has not had immunizations, and the parent or legal guardian does not want their child immunized, caseworkers must:
        1. Refer the parent or legal guardian to RCW 28A.210.090 Immunization program—Exemptions and
        2. Contact the local assistant attorney general (AAG) to discuss whether a court order for immunizations is needed.
      2. When a child has not had their recommended immunizations, caseworkers must verify the child is taken to a health care provider for immunizations.
      3. Verify a child’s recommended immunization are kept up to date.
    5. Provide caregivers with the child’s known physical, behavioral and dental health care history per the Information Sharing with Out-of-Home Care policy.  
  9. Vital Statistics, e.g., Birth and Death Certificates and Social Security Cards
    ​Caseworkers must at the time of placement or as soon as possible thereafter:
    1. Obtain a copy of the child’s birth certificate and social security number or card from the parent or legal guardian.
    2. CA staff have only read-only access to electronic records from WA state vital records registry to verify:
      1. Birth Certificates
      2. Death Certificates
      3. Marriage Certificates
      4. Divorce Certificates

        ​This information cannot be provided externally via screenshots or printouts as verification of birth, death, marriage, divorce or for school enrollment purposes.

    3. If the parent or legal guardian does not have or refused to give the child’s birth certificate or social security card, take the following steps:
      1. Request a Washington state vital records at the Department of Health website. Follow regional protocols to pay for Vital Statistics Records.
      2. For out-of-state birth certificates, follow the individual state’s protocol. To pay for out-of-state vital statistic records complete the following:
        1. Verify the fee required and the address of the state’s vital statistics agency.
        2. Provide the following information to their supervisor:
          1. The type of record/information requested.
          2. The amount needed to pay for the record.
          3. The name and case number (if applicable) of the individual for whom the record is requested.
          4. The CA address to which the vital statistics agency should mail the record.
        3. Obtain written approval from their supervisor.
      3. If the child does not have a social security number or card, cards may be obtained through the Social Security Administration (SSA). Ensure efforts to locate a social security card are exhausted before ordering a new card because SSA limits the number of cards issued in a lifetime.
    4. If the birth certificate is from a foreign country, ask a U.S. embassy or foreign consulate in the birth country to determine where official birth records are kept and how to apply for a birth certificate.
    5. Provide licensed and unlicensed caregivers with the child’s social security number and a copy of the child’s birth certificate as soon as this information is obtained. 
  10. Conditions for return home must be identified when a child is placed in out-of-home care or when updating a Comprehensive Family Evaluation (CFE). Conditions for Return Home are defined as what must happen for a child to return to their parent or legal guardian. Conditions are not based on the completion of a case plan.
  11. Safety, Permanency and Well-Being Activities
    ​Caseworkers must:
    1. Complete a safety assessment at key points in the case per the Safety Assessment policy.
    2. Complete the Concurrent TANF Benefits/Family Reunification Notice of Removal from TANF Home form DSHS 15-362 within seven calendar days of a child placed in out-of-home care per Concurrent TANF Benefits policy.
    3. Refer children who are expected to remain in the care and custody of CA for 30 or more days to a Child Health and Education Tracking (CHET) screen. The referral must be made immediately after initial placement to ensure the CHET screen can be completed within 30 days of the child’s original placement date (OPD).
    4. Refer the child and family to service providers or community resources as needed and available, and as court-ordered. This includes referring a child or youth with complex behavioral health needs for a Wraparound with Intensive Services (WISe) screen per WISe policy.
    5. Complete a Family Assessment within 45 days of Family Voluntary Services or Child Family Welfare Services case assignment.
    6. Follow Health and Safety Visits with Children and Monthly Visits with Caregivers and Parents policy.
    7. Coordinate visits between parents and siblings per Parent, Child, and Sibling Visits policy.
    8. Follow Outside Communication for Children in Out-of-Home Care policy.
    9. Complete and provide the School Notification form DSHS 27-093 to the school and follow the Educational Services and Planning Early Childhood Development K-12 and Post-Secondary policy.
    10. Make active and reasonable efforts to reunify the family.
    11. Make active and reasonable efforts to achieve timely permanency, including identifying the child’s permanent plan within 60 calendar days of OPD.
  12. Documentation
    CA staff must:
    1. Document a child’s placement in out-of-home care in FamLink within three calendar days of placement.
    2. In an ICW specific case note in FamLink, document efforts  taken to discuss placement preference with the parents and the tribe when there is reason to believe the child is a member, or the biological child of a member and eligible for membership, in a federally recognized child according to Chapter 7 Indian Child Welfare Policies and Procedures.
    3. Describe the following information in FamLink.
      1. Reasonable efforts to prevent the removal or to reunify the family, including a description of the services that were offered or provided. If there is reason to believe the child is a member, or the biological child of a member and eligible for membership, in a federally recognized tribe, describe the active efforts made to prevent removal or to reunify the family, including a description of the services that were offered or provided.
      2. Reasons why the child was placed in out-of-home care.
      3. Efforts to support the child in placement.
      4. Child’s routine and special needs related to their:
        1. Safety
        2. Mental health status
        3. Medical status
        4. Culture
        5. E.   Education
        6. Religion
    4. Document efforts to place siblings together, including:
      1. Any exceptions or other reasons why siblings could not be placed together as it applies to each child on the Siblings/Incarcerated Parent tab in the FamLink Visit Page.
      2. Supervisor approval when siblings could not be placed together.
    5. Document the Conditions for Return Home, and reasonable efforts to reunify the family in the safety assessment or FamLink case note.
    6. Verify a copy of the dependent child's birth certificate and social security number is in the case record.
    7. Document that the completed CIPR form DSHS 15-300 was provided to the caregiver by uploading into FamLink a:
      1. Signed and dated copy of the form; or
      2. Copy of the email sending the completed form to the caregiver.

Resources 

On the Intranet

  • Notification to Parents form DSHS 16-219
  • Child Custody Transfer DSHS 10-157
  • CPS Temporary Custody Notification form DSHS 09-731
  • Consent form DSHS 09-412
  • Relative Notification Letter DSHS 15-330