The Children’s Service Worker will be assigned immediately, according to local procedures.
Within 24 hours of the child being taken into protective custody, the intake worker and the Children’s Service Worker will meet the parents and child and initiate the NCFAS G+R. If it is not appropriate to have the child and parents together, the worker shall meet with each party individually. All parents should be given the opportunity to be involved in the assessment process. It is important to assess each parent to obtain a thorough understanding of the family functioning. The worker shall provide and explain to the parents the Handbook for Parents of Children in Alternative Care, CS-304, during this meeting.
The purpose of this meeting is to provide the parents/caretakers and child with as much information as possible about what will be happening with their child and to engage them in the decision-making process. The Handbook for Parents of Children in Alternative Care, CS-304, is intended to assist staff in providing this information to parents.
Continuous parental involvement, including all parents, throughout the child’s placement is significant in early and successful reunification. It is important to remember the majority of families do not voluntarily seek assistance from the Division. The family may view the Children’s Service Worker as an unwelcome intrusion into their life. The family’s perception may manifest itself in a wide range of behaviors, i.e., defensiveness, hostility, resistance, and ambivalence. It is imperative the worker examine the underlying cause of the behavior and understand the family’s reactions may be normal in view of the circumstances. The worker should try to put themselves in the family’s position and think about how they might react in similar circumstances.
Related Subject: Section 7 Chapter 19 Parental Behavior/Ambivalent
- The Children’s Service Worker explains his/her role as helper to the family. The worker will initiate the NCFAS G+R. The worker will assist the family to identify and resolve those issues which lead to the out-of-home placement of their child by discussing:
- Each child’s specific vulnerabilities
- Identified threats of danger and how they operate within the family
- The caregiver’s protective capacity which was insufficient or diminished in controlling the threat of danger
- Safety information collection and safety analysis should center around the 6 safety questions:
- What was the nature and extent of the maltreatment?
- What circumstances accompanied the maltreatment?
- How does the child function day-to-day?
- How does the parent discipline the child?
- What are overall parenting practices?
- How does the parent manage his/her own life? (See the CD-162)
- The needs of individual family members
- How the family has managed up to the time of intervention including what worked and what did not work
- Their perception of their cultural identity
- Resources available to the family and
- What must change before the child can safely return home? This does not mean the safety decision is “safe”, but rather what in-home safety interventions may be put in place to assure that the child is safe. How can the family transition from an out-of-home safety plan to an in-home safety plan?
This introductory contact between the Children’s Service Worker and family is the foundation for establishing a team with common purpose and goals.
As with any other team member, the parent and child must feel that they are a part of the solution rather than simply complying with the mandates of others.
- The family Children’s Service Worker explains the family (all parents/child(ren)) will be members of a Family Support Team (FST). He/she explains that the purpose of the team is to assist the family to determine their strengths and needs and what type of plan is necessary for the child to return home. He/she explains team membership and individual roles and responsibilities with the team as follows:
- Family (all parents/child(ren)) – To inform other team members of the individual strengths and needs of family members. To assist in the identification of resources which compliment rather than duplicate family actions.
- Children’s Service Worker – To assist the family to identify issues which contributed to the child’s out-of-home placement and access resources needed to address those issues. To facilitate team meetings and coordinate the treatment plan.
- Children’s Service Supervisor – To assist the family worker and family to identify issues of concern and resources needed to address those issues.
- Resource Provider – To provide for the child’s day-to-day care, assist the parent in resuming care for their child(ren), serve as possible role model/mentor to parents, and inform the team of the child’s needs, accomplishments, and behavior.
- Treatment Providers – To provide treatment for the parents and/or child(ren) and advise the team of the parents’ and/or child(ren)’s response to the treatment.
- Guardian Ad Litem and/or CASA – To represent the legal rights and best interest of the child(ren) in court proceedings.
- Parent’s Attorney – To represent the legal rights of the parent in court proceedings.
- Juvenile Officer – To represent the family/juvenile court and interpret the law and expectations of the court for the parent and child and other team members.
- School Personnel – To provide an appropriate education for the child and advise the team of the child’s level of functioning in the educational system.
- Natural Helper (Individual selected by the parent) – To advocate for and assist parent in accessing needed resources.
All members of the FST should be invited to attend meetings. However, not all members will attend each meeting.
The family (parents/child(ren)), Children’s Service Worker, and resource provider shall serve as core members of the team. All meetings should be scheduled at the convenience of the youth and the family. All FST members make recommendations to the court through the family worker.
- The Children’s Service Worker explains the format and procedural rules for the team meetings which include the following:
- Each team member will have an equal voice and opportunity to share their views and ideas.
- Decisions regarding the family and child will be mutually agreed upon by the FST. There may be times when not all team members are in agreement. In those situations, the team will have to make a recommendation based upon what is in the child’s best interests.
- The first meeting of the team will occur within 72 hours of the child being placed in protective custody. At the 72 hour meeting the team will develop the initial treatment plan (FST-2) which will cover the first 30 days after the child(ren)’s placement in out-of-home care. A second meeting will occur within 30 days of custody at which time the team will develop the Child Assessment and Service Plan, CS-1. Subsequent meetings may be limited to core team members and will be held every 30 days or more often if necessary, until the adjudication hearing is held and as necessary thereafter. The purpose of these meetings is to assess progress and to determine if:
- Initially, what plan is necessary to effect the changes needed for the child to return home
- Revisions to the treatment plan necessary to meet the needs of the family or
- The parents have successfully fulfilled the treatment plan and are prepared to resume proper and safe care of their child.
Every effort shall be made to schedule the meetings at a time and location accessible to the parents and the youth. However, if the parents or the youth refuse to participate, case plan development and/or reviews should continue by the other core team members at a minimum and the worker should document the refusal in the case narrative.
- The Children’s Service Worker continues the assessment process by:
- Listening to the family’s perception of the presenting problems/issues
- Obtaining information regarding the family’s history, perceived boundaries, strengths, and weaknesses through the use of genograms, culturagram, ecomaps, timelines, and other assessment techniques utilized in the NCFAS G+R
- Determine the special needs of the child including:
- Unique characteristics including endearing qualities, talents, hobbies, personality traits
- Health conditions, allergies, or other factors that would require special consideration in placement of the child
- The child’s school, grade placement, and level of functioning or special service needs and
- Special cultural, ethnic, and/or religious factors that need to be considered in placement. The family should be asked if they are of Native American heritage because of the special requirements that may apply due to the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 P.L. 95-608.
Related Subject: Section 4 Chapter 19 Special Populations – Native American and Refugee
- The Children’s Service Worker shall begin the process of filling out the Child/Family Health and Developmental Assessment (CW-103), attachments A and B, and Financial Statement for Parents of Children in Alternative Care (CS-99) at the time of initial contact with the family. The worker should continue to gather information for the CW-103 during subsequent visits with the family until the form is complete. The resource provider is given a copy of the CW-103 and updated as information becomes available.
- The Children’s Service Worker shall arrange to meet with the family, including all parents, prior to the 72-hour team meeting to continue the assessment process.
- The Children’s Service Worker shall continue to evaluate each parent’s progress toward resolving issues which contributed to out-of-home placement.
Related Subject: Section 4 Chapter 4 Selection of Placement Resource and Placement Options