Responsibilities of the Children’s Division
As the court-ordered legal custodian of the foster child, the Children’s Division has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the child has the best possible foster care experience and that appropriate long-term plans are made. The agency also has a direct, vested interest in resolution of the problems or conditions affecting the status of the birth family.
Services of the agency which are aimed at supporting or reuniting the family, as well as all available and appropriate community resources, should be made a part of the case plan in an effort to utilize foster care for the least possible length of time.
When efforts to return the child to the birth family are not successful, the agency must move toward a permanent plan for the child, so that the child may be placed for adoption or another permanent plan may be developed.
The Children’s Division responsibilities include:
- To provide well-trained, educated staff who are given the necessary support and training to carry out the job. Training will address “risk management strategies to protect themselves, persons served, and the organization; protocol on recognizing reportable criminal behavior, acquaintances, statutory rape and staff’s duty to warn (COA Standard G7.4.01).”
- To serve as the court-appointed legal custodian for the child;
- To effectively and appropriately communicate information to persons of special needs in a manner that he/she is able to understand;
- To provide the birth parent(s) with support and services and, when appropriate, guidance to other community resources, in an effort to enable them to resume their parental responsibilities or to prevent the use of foster care;
- To assist the birth parent(s) in resolution of conditions or problems which prevent returning the child home;
- To place the child in an approved foster home or licensed child care facility whichever is the least restrictive environment appropriate for that child. The foster home will be selected in view of adequacy to meet the food, shelter, clothing and emotional needs of the child;
- To ensure that foster parents are appropriately trained, provided opportunities for ongoing training and growth and are continually reevaluated;
- To identify and recruit persons who are willing to provide placement to sibling groups in an effort to maintain and preserve sibling and family connections.
- To provide the foster family or facility with sufficient background, needs and characteristics of the foster child as part of pre-placement activities;
- To develop a written case plan, with the birth parent(s) whenever possible, to provide for a timely exit from foster care; and to ensure that all team members are aware of their particular roles;
- To notify foster parents of court hearings relating to the child(ren) placed in their care so they may be heard in court. The Children’s Service Worker should mail a notice of this hearing to the foster/adoptive parent no later than 14 days prior to the hearing. This notification shall be followed up with contact with the foster parent, reminding him/her of the hearing.
- To provide the foster child, birth parent(s) and foster family with the necessary support services to accomplish goals set out in the case plan;
- To work with birth parent(s) and foster parent(s) to see that the child’s emotional needs are met;
- To work with birth parent(s) and foster parent(s) to see that the child’s educational needs are met;
- To conduct regular staffings of the case;
- To provide the necessary medical or psychological services, evaluations, care or treatment needed by the child;
- To ensure that the child has planned regular contact with his/her birth parent(s) or provide services directed to removal or reduction of any barriers to visitation;
- To maintain regular contact with all team members according to the case plan;
- To keep all team members informed of significant changes in status of the case or individual team members;
- To provide educational opportunities in accordance with the child’s potential and in accordance with RSMo 167.031; the child’s educational plan is developed by the Family Support Team (FST). Plans that include private/home schooling require Juvenile court approval;
- To verify that the resource family has filed a signed, written declaration of enrollment with the Recorder of Deeds stating their intent for the child to attend a home school. This verification must be documented in the child’s file;
- To provide whatever supports are required by the placement providers who will “act as the parents” in the educational planning and placement for students with disabilities attending public school.
- For youth in residential facilities, the Children’s Service Worker is to “act as the parent” in making educational decisions until the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education can appoint a “surrogate parent”.
- To provide opportunity for a religious experience with respect for the child’s birth parent(s)’ religion;
- To take the legal steps necessary to free the child for placement in another permanent home when return to the birth parent(s) is not possible;
- To assist the foster parent in the child’s return home, particularly recognizing that the foster parent may grieve the loss of the child.
- To ensure the child is protected from exploitation by the media, public or other agencies.
- Discontinue any service or intervention provided to its families if it:
- Produces adverse side effects such as illness, severe emotional or physical stress, or physical damage; and/or
- Is deemed unacceptable according to prevailing community standards; and/or
- Is ineffective or detrimental in meeting treatment plan goals and objectives.