Effective Date: 7-2-21
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Section 4 Overview
Section 4 covers the Alternative Care Program. This program pertains to working with families whose children are in the custody of the State of Missouri. This work is complex and can be highly variable from situation to situation. Children’s Division case managers are expected to be familiar with and trained in the entire Children’s Division practice model that includes Signs of Safety, Team Decision Making, Trauma Informed Practice, and the Domains of Well-Being. See Section 1 for information regarding the practice model.
Although no two family situations are the same, a brief discussion of the timelines and flow of an Alternative Care case is below. This is meant to show the overall progression, not stages that must occur in this sequence. Much of this practice is based on the federal law titled the Adoptions and Safe Family Act (ASFA).
Removal – typically, a child is removed from the home and then the case is assigned to a case manager that will work with the family and child throughout the duration of CDs involvement. This workflow is determined at the Circuit level by local protocols.
72-hour Family Support Team Meeting – this is the initial meeting of the Family Support Team (FST).
Protective Custody Hearing – in most circuits, this hearing is the first hearing held to determine if there is enough evidence that the child remains unsafe and cannot return to the home.
Family Assessment – during the first 30 days of a case, the Children’s Service Worker meets often with the family and child to learn about them and assess their strengths and needs by using the Initial Family Assessment to develop the Social Service Plan. This is an important stage to partner with families and learn from them by asking the right questions. This assessment is ongoing and occurs throughout the family’s entire work with the Children’s Division.
30-day FST – at this meeting, case plans and goals are agreed upon by the team members. Assessments and information is shared with the team. Concurrent planning also begins at this time.
Jurisdictional Court Hearing – this hearing is held to determine if there is sufficient evidence that the child was unsafe at the time of removal and the court should establish jurisdiction over the child(ren).
Dispositional Court Hearing – in many circuits, this court hearing is held immediately after the Jurisdictional hearing. In this hearing, the court reviews and approves the case goal and case plan.
60-day FST – this meeting is held to keep the team members updated and to make changes to the case goal and plan as needed.
90-day FST – this meeting is held to keep the team members updated and to make changes to the case goal and plan as needed.
Dispositional Review Court Hearing – this court hearing is made to give updates to the court on progress of the family toward the case goal and case plan. The court can make changes to these items at this time.
6 month FST – this meeting is held to critically look at the progress of the case and determine if the current case goal is appropriate and review what progress has been made on the concurrent permanency plans. This meeting occurs within the first 6 months of the case, and will continue to occur every six months until the case is closed.
Permanency Court Hearing – this hearing held about 12 months after the child(ren) enter custody is where the court receives input from the team and makes a determination on permanency. The court can choose to extend more time for the plan, reunite the family, or determine that the concurrent plan should become the primary case plan.
Permanency Review Hearing – this hearing is held to update the court on case progress.
Different permanency options and activities can lead to other types of meetings and case activities. Refer to the rest of this section for more detail on policies related to Alternative Care.
Note on ASFA:
The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 is a federal law which promotes timely, permanent placements for children in foster care. The primary goal of the legislation is to expedite permanency for children in out-of-home care by setting specific time frames in which the state must act on a child’s permanency plan.
Refer to Section 9 for more information on this federal law.