Section 211.183, RSMo, requires courts to include a “reasonable efforts” determination in dispositional orders.
The Children’s Division is required to make reasonable efforts to prevent placement and reunify families. Reasonable efforts “may consist of the provision of direct services, financial, or in-kind benefits, or counseling assistance.” Federal IV-E funding for children in foster care is directly affected by the agency’s ability to prove that reasonable efforts were made to prevent the placement and to reunify the family.
The intake worker and the co-investigator (if appropriate) contact all parents/caretakers, advise them of the report; that the child has been taken into protective custody and why; and the specific type of placement of the child (i.e., hospital, CD/juvenile/law enforcement office, relative/kinship placement, or emergency placement).
The intake worker shall request the parents bring at least one change of clothing for the child and any familiar objects which would help the child feel more comfortable or secure in the placement.
The intake worker and co-investigator continue the investigation by interviewing the parents and/or alleged perpetrator per investigative procedures.
The intake worker and co-investigator will identify with the family any resources that exist within the family and community which may provide for the child’s safety and prevent the continued need for out-of-home placement.
According to the law, a fit parent must be given first consideration BEFORE a child is removed from the home, unless there is a factual basis to meet the “imminent danger” standard for removal in §210.125, RSMo, or unless the child is removed by the judge after a petition is filed and a hearing held.
The family should be referred for Intensive In-Home Services (IIS) if at least one of the parents/caregivers is willing/able to participate and the child will be safe in the home with the assistance of IIS.
Related Subject: Section 4 Chapter 1 Attachment C Resources to Prevent Placement
If the child does not remain in protective custody, the family may receive Family-Centered Services (FCS), Intensive In-Home Services (IIS), other services offered by CD, or referrals to community resources. If the family is to receive services within CD, a case will remain open according to specific program guidelines.
Following the interviews with the alleged perpetrator, parents, and family members, the intake worker and co-investigator shall use their professional expertise to make a joint determination regarding a recommendation for continued protective custody, utilizing appropriate supervisory consultation.
Related Subject: Section 4 Chapter 1 Attachment A Assessment of Safety and Risk Factors in Recommending Out-Of-Home Placement
Upon determination that continued protective custody may be necessary, the intake worker and co-investigator shall inform all parents/caretakers of the following:
- Why child is to continue in protective custody
- The child will be placed outside their home on at least a temporary basis and will not return home until his/her safety can be assured
- If applicable, a formal request for legal custody with the family/juvenile court is being filed
- The court may/may not hold a protective custody/detention hearing. The purpose of the protective custody/detention hearing is to determine:
- Whether the parents have been informed of their legal rights
- Whether the petition contains a reason for the court to assume jurisdiction
- Whether the child should remain in placement or be returned to the parent’s physical custody until the adjudication hearing (Supreme Court Rules 111.02 and 111.08)
- Protective custody/detention hearings are automatically held within 72 hours. The local hearing procedures are then explained to the parent.
- If the child remains in the custody of CD, a treatment plan will be developed with the family to address their needs and what will need to be accomplished for the child to return home and
- A Children’s Service Worker will be assigned to assist the family in developing the plan.