4420.Health and Safety Visits with Children and Monthly Visits with Caregivers and Parents

Approval: Jennifer Strus, Assistant Secretary

Original Date: April 30, 2007

Revised Date: October 31, 2016

Sunset Review: October 31, 2020


Purpose 

Face-to-face visits with children who have an open case with CA and regular visits with out-of-home caregivers and all known parents provides opportunity for ongoing assessments of the health, safety, and well-being of children. Regular visits with out-of-home caregivers increase opportunities to monitor child safety, can promote permanency, and provides the worker with information they can share with the parent. Regular visits with parents can provide the parent with reassuring information about how his/her child is doing in placement, monitors progress with services and case goals, shorten length-of-stay and achieve permanency more quickly.  

Scope

This policy applies to CA staff.

Laws

Social Security Act 424(f)

RCW 74.13.031 Duties of department

RCW 74.13.710 Prudent Parent Standards

Policy

  1. All health and safety visits and monthly visits must be conducted by the assigned CA worker or another qualified CA staff. The number of visits conducted by another qualified CA staff is not to exceed four times per year with no two visits occurring in consecutive months.
  2. Children in CA custody, or with a Child Protective Services (CPS) or Family Reconciliation Services (FRS) case open beyond 60 days or receiving family voluntary services (FVS) must receive private, individual face-to-face health and safety visits every calendar month. Additionally:
    1. The first health and safety visit must occur within one week (seven calendar days) of the child's initial placement or any change of placement. Placement of a child is not considered a health and safety visit.
    2. The majority of health and safety visits must occur in the home where the child resides. If the assigned CA worker must visit the child in another location, the CA worker must document the reason and benefit gained.
    3. When children are on an in-home dependency or trial return home all health and safety visits must occur in the home where the child resides. (This requirement does not preclude additional visits outside the home.)
    4. For in-home dependency or trial return cases with children age five or younger, two in-home health and safety visits must occur every calendar month for the first 120 calendar days from establishment of the in-home dependency or trial return home. (One of the two visits may be conducted by a qualified CA staff or contracted provider.)
    5. For FVS cases, with children age five or younger and residing in the home, two in-home health and safety visits must occur every calendar month. (One of the two visits may be conducted by a qualified CA staff or contracted provider).
  3. Out-of-home caregivers must receive face-to-face monthly visits.
    1. CA workers must conduct an unannounced monthly visit with caregivers in 10 percent of randomly selected homes. The caregivers requiring an unannounced visit are randomly selected in FamLink.
    2. Visits with children and caregivers may occur during the same monthly visit.
    3. Location of the monthly visit may vary.
  4. All known parents or legal guardians involved in a Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA), shelter care, dependency proceedings or voluntary services (FVS or FRS) must receive face-to-face monthly visits with the majority of visits occurring in the parent’s home. Unless an exception (outlined in procedures) exists, visits must continue until one of the following apply:
    1. The case is closed
    2. The child becomes legally free.
    3. The court determines that reasonable efforts toward reunification are no longer required
  5. All visits must be documented in FamLink within three calendar days of the visit.

Procedures

  1. The assigned CA worker or another qualified CA worker conducts visits on the following cases:
    1. Out-of-home care: including when a dependency petition is filed or dependency is established and the court has ordered that the child reside in out-of-home placement.
    2. Extended Foster Care cases.
    3. In-home dependencies: including dependent children who return home on a trial return home or remain home under the jurisdiction of the court and until dismissal of the dependency.
    4. Voluntary placement cases: when the child is placed under a VPA.
    5. Courtesy Supervision cases.
    6. Interstate Compact on Placement of Children (ICPC) cases. When an interstate compact agreement is made with another state to provide services, the CA worker will request, in writing, the following actions be completed by the receiving state:
      1. Conduct monthly face-to-face visits; and
      2. Submit a written report to CA quarterly on the frequency and quality of the visits. The CA worker will check in by telephone or email monthly and document the contact. Once the quarterly report is received, the assigned CA worker will enter the dates of the monthly face-to-face visits, a summary of the report and respond to any concerns.
        Note: The receiving state may contract with a private agency for monthly face-to-face visits. The reporting requirements are the same.
    7. Voluntary services cases including FVS and FRS.
    8. CPS cases open beyond 60 days.
  2. Requirements for Health and Safety Visits with Children
    The following activities must be completed during the visit:
    1. Assess for present danger per Child Safety Policy.
    2. Observe:
      1. How the child appears developmentally, physically and emotionally;
      2. How the parent or caregiver and the child respond to each other;
      3. The child's attachment to the parent or caregiver; and
      4. The home environment (when the visit occurs in the home where the child lives). If there are changes to a licensed foster home (such as new family members) the CA worker must notify the licensor.
    3. Discuss with the verbal child in private, separate from the parent or out-of-home caregiver, either in the home or in another location where the child is comfortable:
      1. Whether the child feels safe in his or her home or placement.
      2. The child's needs, wants and progress.
      3. How visits with siblings and parents are going.
      4. The child’s connections with siblings and other relatives. For youth 16 and above, this includes discussing skills and strategies to:
        1. Safely reconnect with any identified family members.
        2. Provide guidance and services to assist the youth.
        3. Maintain community and cultural connections
      5. Participation and interest in normal childhood activities.
      6. Case activities and planning such as visits and permanent plan.
    4. Confirm that each child capable of reading, writing and using the telephone has a card with the assigned CA worker's name, office address, and phone number.
    5. Discuss specific objectives outlined in the 43066. Pregnant and Parenting Policy with pregnant and parenting youth.
  3. Requirements for monthly visits with the out-of home caregiver
    The following activities must be completed during the visit:
    1. Discuss the child's well-being and permanency goals;
    2. Observe the child and caregiver relationship and home environment when a visit occurs in the caregiver's home;
    3. Assess the caregiver's ability to provide adequate care and maintain placement stability.
    4. Identify any support or training needs.
    5. Inquire about the child's visits with siblings and parents and how child is responding.
    6. Discuss any normal childhood activities in which the child is participating, or is interested in or maintains his or her community or cultural connections.
    7. Discuss any requests to significantly change the child’s appearance.  Significant changes include, but are not limited to, body piercings, haircuts and changes in hairstyles. Prior approval must be obtained from the parent (Tribe, if child is legally free) or court.
    8. Share the parent’s interest in the child’s care and requests for the child’s participation in normal childhood activities.
  4. The unannounced monthly visit with the out-of-home caregiver must be conducted within 30 days of receiving the automated notification from FamLink.
    1. During the visit the CA worker will complete the same activities (outlined in procedures) for scheduled monthly visits.
    2. When the unannounced visit occurs within the monthly visit timeline, this visit meets the monthly caregiver visit requirement in addition to the unannounced monthly visit requirement.
  5. Requirements for monthly visits with known parents or legal guardians.
    Focus on the following during the visit:
    1. Case planning, service delivery and goal achievement;
    2. Progress made to eliminate or manage the identified child safety threats;
    3. Barriers to needed services, consideration of additional or different services;
    4. Discuss housing stability, i.e.) where is the parent living and how long can they remain in their current home;
    5. Permanency planning for the child;
    6. Child and parent visitation;
    7. Review of a child's interest in and participation in normal childhood activities; and
    8. Any requests to significantly change the child’s appearance. Significant changes include, but are not limited to, body piercings, haircuts, and changes in hairstyles. Prior approval must be obtained from the parent (tribe if child is legally free) or court.
  6. Coordination with Federally Recognized Tribes
    The assigned CA worker:
    1. Contact the child's Tribes to discuss and plan how to involve the Tribes in the monthly visits. Documents the contact and plan in the case notes.
    2. Contact non-federally recognized tribes when a parents wants the Tribe’s involvement and has signed a release.
  7. Documentation
    The assigned worker or another qualified CA worker who conducted the visit must document health and safety visits in case notes within three calendar days of each visit in the following manner:
    1. Use the following codes for visits and attempted visits for all children
      1. Health and Safety Monitoring Visit (CA Social Worker).
      2. Health and Safety Visit with Child (Attempted). *Use to document efforts to conduct the health and safety visit. An actual visit must take place for compliance with policy.
      3. Health and Safety Monitoring Visit (Conducted by other agency) for:
        1. FVS cases where a contracted provider conducts the visit.
        2. For out-of-state ICPC cases where another agency conducts the visits.
    2. When allowed, a visit by a CPA worker does not relieve CA workers from completing their monthly visits. Both visits must be documented in FamLink.
    3. Use the following codes for visits with out-of-home caregivers:
      1. Monthly Caregiver Contact (in-person) for each child (on a case) who requires a visit.
      2. Unannounced Assigned CA Worker Monthly Visit (randomly selected visit)
        1. Unannounced Health and Safety Visit; or
        2. Unannounced Health and Safety Visit Attempted.
    4. Document caseworker visits with each parent for each child on a case who requires a visit. Select and use the following parent visitation activity codes::
      1. Visit-SW Parent (Mother).
      2. Visit-SW Parent (Father).
      3. Visit-SW Parent (Attempted).
  8. Monthly Visit Exceptions
    1. CA workers will use and document only the following visit exceptions on the Extension/Exception Page in FamLink:
      1. The mother or father’s whereabouts is unknown after performing ongoing diligent efforts as per Guidelines for Reasonable Efforts to Locate Children and/or Parents (DSHS 02-607) & 5750 Shelter Care Policy to locate them.
      2. A parent was located and indicated no interest in being involved in the child's life or refuses to have contact with the agency.
      3. Visits between the CA worker and the father or mother is contrary to the child or CA worker safety.
      4. Parental rights for the mother or father were terminated with no plan for parental involvement.
      5. Father or mother is deceased.
    2. Supervisors must approve the visit exception within three (3) calendar days of social worker's request and discuss during Monthly Supervisory Case Reviews, per policy.

Resources

Caregiver Guidelines for Foster Childhood Activities

CA Caseworker Monthly Visits with Out-of Home Caregivers (Available on CA Intranet)

CA Caseworker Health & Safety Visits with Child (Available on CA Intranet)

Monthly Visits with Parents Desk Aide (Available on CA Intranet)

Travel Quick Reference Guide (Available on CA Intranet)