Each time a child is placed in out-of-home care the probability exists for the permanent loss of family relationships and the probability increases the longer the child remains in out-of-home care. The first and greatest investment in time and resources should be made in the care and treatment of children in their own home.
When intervention becomes necessary it should begin with the Children’s Service Worker and family jointly developing a strengths-based assessment. A strengths-based assessment focuses on the family’s strengths through relabeling/reframing behavior rather than focusing on problems. Operating from this perspective inspires hope, reinforces the family’s own problem solving, and encourages family empowerment. The worker’s skill in engaging the family in the strengths assessment will set the stage for a continuing and productive relationship with the family. During the assessment process, the family and the worker will identify all resources available to keep the family intact and prevent out-of-home placement. If the provision of these services, the assistance of natural helpers identified by the family, and other reasonable efforts made by the Division cannot ensure the child(ren)’s safety, a referral for protective custody and placement of the child(ren) is appropriate.
Related Subject: Section 4, Chapter 1, Attachment C, Resources to Prevent Placement
Before recommending out-of-home care the Children’s Service Worker shall thoughtfully examine the following factors which may influence their recommendations:
- Personal standards and biases;
- Knowledge of cultural/racial/ethnic norms;
- The desired outcome for out-of-home care;
- The way the worker views and approaches families;
- The way the worker views the family’s participation in service delivery;
- The way the worker perceives his/her role with families; and
- Willingness to share his/her power with families.
Stop – Re-Evaluate What More can be Done to Prevent Out-of-Home Care
If the Children’s Service Worker believes that his/her personal standards or biases and/or lack of knowledge/experience in a certain area may be unfairly influencing their recommendations, they should consult with their immediate supervisor.
Supervisors are responsible for the ongoing professional training and development of staff. This responsibility includes assisting staff to assess their abilities and limitations and to provide staff the opportunities to enhance their knowledge base and skill level.
If the provision of services and other reasonable efforts made by the Division cannot ensure the child(ren)’s safety, a referral for protective custody and placement of the child(ren) is appropriate. Hence, while the Division places great value on the family unit, the safety and welfare of the child(ren) must be the deciding factor in recommending out-of-home placement.
Related Subject: Section 4, Chapter 1, Attachment A, Assessment of Safety and Risk Factors in Recommending Out-of-Home Placement
Throughout the entire intervention with a family, it is imperative that the Children’s Service Worker explains to the child, in an age appropriate manner, and the parents each step of the process and why each step is happening. This is inclusive of the initial interview during the investigation, plans for placement, placement, treatment planning, permanency planning, court hearings, etc.
The following procedures are to be used as a guide for the Children’s Service Worker in providing out-of-home placement to a child(ren) and family: