During a crisis, parents may feel they have no alternative but to place their children in out-of-home care and seek assistance from the Children’s Division. Conversely, parents may leave their children temporarily with relatives or friends, who in turn request the Children’s Division to make other arrangements for the children’s care. Generally, the parent/caretaker’s request is the result of one of the following:
- Inadequate resources to meet the child’s needs i.e., food, clothing, shelter, medical care.
- Death/loss or serious health problem of one or both parents/caretakers.
- Parent/caretaker fears that he/she will seriously abuse/neglect child.
- Parent/caretaker is unable to cope with or manage child’s behavior.
When the Children’s Service Worker is contacted by a parent/caretaker with a request for an out-of-home placement, the following steps should be taken:
- Advise parent/caretaker the Children’s Division cannot accept the child for placement without an order to do so issued by the family/juvenile court.
- Assess whether the safety of the child will be in jeopardy if he/she remains in the care of the parent/caretaker.
- Advise parent/caretaker of services and/or resources available to prevent out-of-home placement.
- Offer Intensive In-Home Services (IIS) and other appropriate services to family.
- Immediately, if requested by the family or within 24 hours, the Children’s Service Worker arranges a meeting with the family. During this meeting the worker explains his/her role to the family. He/she will work with the family to resolve issues which lead to their request for out-of-home placement of their child by discussing the following topics with the family which will begin the family assessment process:
- Reason for request and what is likely to occur if the child remains in the home.
- The expectations of the family of an out-of-home placement.
- The child’s behavior or the family situation that is necessitating placement.
- Special cultural, ethnic, religious, and/or handicapping factors which need to be considered in placement.
- Positive characteristics about the child that will contribute to a successful placement.
- Logistical issues such as locations of potential placements, how often and what type of visitation will occur, who will be in charge of initiating family contacts with the agency, and what other types of contact will occur.
- How the child/family will function when the child’s return is appropriate and when this is anticipated.
- Issues raised by the impending separation – feelings of loss and separation.
- By the time this point is reached, the worker will have established rapport with the family and fully explored the reasons for placement. Again, the worker will address whether alternative services can be offered to avert the out-of-home placement. This offer of alternative services will hopefully be aided by the family’s thoughtful evaluation of topics “1 – 8” to help determine if an out of home placement is the best solution to their needs.
If the family accepts alternate services, resources within the family and community which may alleviate the current situation and would prevent out-of-home placement such as IIS, crisis nursery, family arranged care, intensive counseling are provided to the family and appropriate treatment planning occurs.
If placement is necessary, the Children’s Service Worker explains to the family if their child is placed in care and becomes a ward of the family/juvenile court, they will be expected and encouraged to become involved as a member of a Family Support Team (FST) that is responsible for decisions regarding the care of their child and the treatment plan for their family.
This introductory contact between the Children’s Service Worker and family is the foundation for establishing a team with common purpose and goals. The family should be given every opportunity to be an active and vocal member of the team. The family’s participation will vary based on their level of trust and comfort and sense of investment or ownership in the team’s activities and goals. Initially the parents may feel defensive and hesitant to discuss their family with unfamiliar persons. Trust and comfort on the part of parents can be developed by:
- Allowing the parent/child to state their views.
- Acknowledging the parent knows the child best and can accurately describe his/her unique characteristics and needs.
- Asking the parent/child to identify what type of placement is best suited to the child’s needs, interests and preferences.
- Allowing parent to identify natural helpers and community resources which would benefit the family.
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 Children’s Service Worker explains the family (parents/child) will be a member of a Family Support Team.
- The Children’s Service Worker also explains the format and procedural rules for the team meetings.
- The family Children’s Service Worker explains to the family all team members have responsibilities and provides them with a copy of their “Rights and Responsibilities.”
Related Subject: Section 1, Chapter 2 Roles and Responsibilities of the Parents and Their Children
The Children’s Service Worker explains to the family that one of their responsibilities is continued financial support for their child. The parents will also be given a Financial Statement for Parents, CS-99, to complete and return at the 72-hour team meeting.
- The family Children’s Service Worker requests the parents complete a written statement of the reasons they are requesting placement of this child.
- The family Children’s Service Worker shall contact the supervisor with the information gathered in the interviews. The worker and supervisor may jointly determine whether it is necessary to request immediate protective custody of the child. Upon the determination immediate protective custody is necessary for the child’s safety, the worker or supervisor shall request that law enforcement, physician or juvenile officer see the child to authorize 24-hour protective custody. If emergency placement is not necessary or within 24 hours of protective custody being taken, the worker submits a written request to the family/juvenile court stating the reasons legal custody is being requested. The parents’ written statement(s) requesting placement is attached.
- The Children’s Service Worker shall give the parent/caretaker the Child/Family Health and Developmental Assessment, CW-103, to complete and bring to the 72-hour meeting along with the child’s birth certificate, immunization records, social security card, and special school information.
- The Children’s Service Worker shall arrange to meet with the family prior to the 72-hour team meeting to begin the NCFAS G+R (intake fields) and Child Assessment and Service Plan, CS-1.
- The Children’s Service Worker explains to the family (parents and child(ren)) the necessity for a court hearing, the court process, and the actual placement process.
- The Children’s Service Worker makes arrangements with the family for the placement of the child.