Beginning the Assessment
The agency has a responsibility:
- To provide enough information so applicants can make a knowledgeable decision about becoming resource parents.
- To interpret the assessment process as one in which together the resource development worker and the prospective resource providers can determine potential for successful foster or adoptive parenting.
- To convey information to the applicants so they may learn about children they can best serve.
- To share information regarding the selection process and selection philosophy that the agency is seeking a resource family who can best meet the child(ren)’s needs and serve the best interests of the child(ren). Important information to be shared with resource applicants who desire to adopt includes:
- Referral of their written assessment to the local Children’s Division office and agencies when such organizations recruit families for the type of child they can accept.
- A brief outline of the agency’s selection process including informing them they may be asked to participate in an interview with the selection committee and they may refuse this interview without the decision influencing the staffing committee’s consideration of them as a resource for the child.
- A description of the committee and its team effort.
- To convey information and promote discussion between the resource worker and the applicants so that a determination may be made as to the applicant(s)’ ability to parent children who have different cultural needs than the applicant(s).
- To exchange information in such a way the agency and applicants can mutually determine whether or not it is desirable the home assessment be continued.
- To share the importance of training for the effective role of a resource parent.
- To assure compliance with licensing regulations, beginning with sharing a copy with applicants. 13 CSR35-60
- To provide a copy of the Foster Parent Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, RSMo 210.566
- To provide a copy of the Foster Care Bill of Rights, RSMo210.564.
- To review the Resource Parent Acknowledgement and assurances form, CD-108, and obtain signature(s).
- To review the Safe Sleep Practices Form, CD-117. Explain to applicant they must agree to the practices and sign the form.
- To review the Resource Provider Discipline Agreement, CD-119. Explain to the applicant they must agree to the practices and sign the form.
- To provide a copy of the HIPAA Information for Resource Parents, CD-194, and obtain signature(s).
- To review the Notice of Hazards, CD-101 and obtain signatures.
The non-related home assessment must be completed within 120 days of receipt of the application and shall consist of:
- Joint and separate interviews with the applicants, children, and all others in the home. There shall be a minimum of four separate in-home consultations during the pre-service training. The total number of hours spent conducting visits shall consist of at least ten hours.
- Completion of all required pre-service training:
- Introduction to Missouri Foster and Respite Care Provider training, two (2) hours
- STARS Pre-service training, 27 hours
- Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), three (3) hours
- First Aid, three (3) hours
- Psychotropic Medication Management, two (2) hours
- Informed Consent, two (2) hours
- Compliance with the physical aspects of licensing regulations must be determined.
- A minimum of three references, returned.
- A completed Foster Family Profile, CD-56.
- Review FACES screens regarding history with the Division. Begin with Call Case Prior History Search.
- Review appropriate screens to verify prior history of licensure and or contracting as a resource provider.
- Request a report on each adult household member from the Family Care Safety Registry (FCSR). The worker can do one of the following: Access the FCSR on-line with their assigned ID and password (preferred), or
- Call the FCSR at 1-866-422-6872.
- The resource development worker obtains on-line access by doing the following:
- Go to the FCSR home page, www.dhss.mo.gov/fcsr;
- Click on the Forms link;
- Click on the How to Become a FCSR Internet User link;
- Click on the Internet Background Screening Access/Security Request.
- Return the completed document by Fax to 573-522-6981, or by mail to: DHSS/Family Care Safety Registry, PO Box 570,Jefferson City, MO 65102
- In response the FCSR will assign a USER ID number to the resource development worker to be used exclusively for access to the FCSR. The USER ID and instructions on how to do the password and how to run a background screening will be faxed to the worker. This ID and instructions on how to do the password are autonomous from the worker’s current ID and passwords used for logging on to the state computer system, FACES and PROD. The password is on a 30-day expiration cycle and the worker will have to update it every 30 days, just as with the PROD password.Families who do not have Social Security numbers due to their religious practices (i.e. Amish) are not required to register with the FCSR and note of this should be documented in their record and study.
- The address of residence of the resource home will be entered at the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s sexual offender list located on the web at: http://www.mshp.dps.missouri.gov/MSHPWeb/Root/index.html. The address search will determine if a sexual offender is registered as residing at the address of the resource home. A copy of the resulting web page must be placed in the background section of the case file.
- Examine Case.net, the Missouri State Courts Automated Case Management System for any reference to Orders of Protection filed, either for a child or adult. There are limits to the use of Case.net. Case.net is not yet statewide, so will not include all county circuit courts. Also, at this time, public view does not include identifiers such as social security numbers and birth dates; so it is difficult to determine whether the individual for whom you are searching is the same as the one found on Case.net. In locations where Case.net is not yet available, check with the circuit court for any pertinent information, including a record of Orders of Protection filed, both for a child or an adult. For criminal record checks, resource providers must have fingerprint background checks completed using the process outlined in Section 6 Chapter 3 Attachment A. This same process shall be used for Transitional Living Advocates (TLA), and foster or adoptive parents being assessed for the Division through a contracted agency.
- The DSS Inquiry function located on the FACES Home Page is an available tool that may be used for information gathering.
Background checks shall be completed for every applicant and adult household member (age 17 and older). Supporting documentation of each step is to be filed in the licensing record. The same steps are to be followed in the completion of any ICPC assessment as are followed for licensure as referenced in Memorandums CD04-63 and CD07-44. Details regarding all required background checks are located in Chapter 19 of this section.
Except for the specific felony history listed below, a criminal history, child abuse and neglect history, or other review information does not automatically preclude licensure. Staff should determine the relevance of all such findings to child caring responsibilities, and should seek guidance from supervisors. A supervisor must review and evaluate the background information if there is a record of conviction (other than those listed below) and or child abuse and if the decision is to approve the home assessment. The supervisor’s review and decision to approve or disapprove must be documented.
Staff may not approve the application of any person in which a record check reveals that the individual pled guilty or was found guilty of a felony for child abuse or neglect, spousal abuse, domestic violence, a crime against children (including child pornography), or a crime involving violence, including rape, sexual assault, homicide but not including other physical assault or battery was determined by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Staff may also not approve the application of any person who has had a court of competent jurisdiction determine a felony conviction for physical assault, battery, or a drug-related offense within the last five years.
Household members age 17 and older shall disclose criminal history. Consideration shall be made of felony cases where the individual pled guilty, is found guilty and /or convicted of a criminal offense or pled guilty but instead received a suspended imposition of sentence (SIS).
In the unlikely event it is determined the best interest of a child would be served by placement in an unlicensed home, and a court of law has ordered the child placed in the unlicensed home, written approval must be obtained through supervisory lines to the Regional Director. The Regional Director must review the request and, if in agreement, forward with their recommendation to the Deputy Director for Children’s Division for final consideration. Written requests should include a thorough description of the applicant’s situation and why it would be in the child’s best interest to be placed in an unlicensed home. If approved by the Deputy Director, IV-E funding may not be used and the worker will be responsible for notifying the Eligibility Specialist who will ensure that state only funds are used.
If a resource parent commits a felony act as listed previously in this section which results in a conviction or the resource parent admits to committing the act and receives a suspended imposition of sentence (SIS ) federal funds may not be used for foster care maintenance or adoption assistance payments if any of the aforementioned conditions exist. It is imperative that in those circumstances the worker notifies the Eligibility Specialist who will enter the correct fund code for state only funding.
The Assessment Process Includes
Orientation to agency and foster care program, as contained in Specialized Training Assessment Resources and Support (STARS) Pre-Service Training and given through individual interviews. Completion of 27 hours of STARS Pre-Service Training is required of each adult desiring licensure prior to issuance of a license. All adults in the household who will have child care responsibility will be required to attend state approved resource parent training.
During the assessment process, the worker should evaluate the ability of the applicant(s) to read and write at a level necessary to participate effectively in society. The applicant must be able to communicate with the agency, health care and other service providers. The applicant must also be able to communicate with the foster youth in the foster youth’s language.
Obtain a photograph from family of the household members, including pets, if applicable, in front of their home. A household member is any person who regularly lives, shares common area and sleeps in the home. Any individual who is living, sharing a common area and sleeping in the home temporarily for more than two consecutive weeks is considered a household member. ,As this will be used in helping prepare a child for placement, include as much detail as possible. This photograph is to be placed with the Foster Family Profile, CD-56, under separate cover sheet and placed in the front of the Resource Provider record. The family’s photograph and the Foster Family Profile, CD-56, will serve as the Foster Family Profile.
The following forms are to be reviewed with the applicant(s), agreed to by the applicant(s), signed by the applicant(s), placed in the forms section of the resource provider case record, and presented at each re-licensure to be signed and agreed to again.
- Safe Sleep Practices Form, CD-117
- Resource Parent Discipline Agreement, CD-119
- HIPAA Information for Resource Parents, CD-194
- A copy of The Foster Parent Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, RSMo 210.566 is to be provided to the applicant.
- A copy of the Foster Care Bill of Rights, RSMo 210.564 is to be provided to the applicant.
An exchange of information should occur between the resource development worker and applicant that will promote discussion to determine if the applicant is able to parent children who have different cultural needs than the applicant. This is to be done with all applicants and should not be used to discourage an applicant from parenting trans-culturally. Record all information in the assessment.
Determination of Capacity for Foster and Adoptive Parenting
Assessment of Motivation and Attitudes, Including:
- How and why the applicants became interested in becoming foster and or adoptive parents and why they are applying now;
- What are applicants’ experiences with children;
- Reactions of applicants to abusing or neglecting parents;
- Do they understand the significance of the biological parents to the children? Are they willing to work with the child’s biological parents and siblings;
- Are applicants comfortable in accepting both their own and the children’s positive and negative feelings;
- Are children allowed to participate in problem solving in matters concerning their own behavior;
- The reason they are interested in parenting culturally diverse children and the impact of their decision on their family, extended family, friends, and neighbors;
- Assess applicant’s life style, the ability to teach a child coping skills for their cultural heritage and give a child sense of cultural knowledge, pride, and identity;
- Is the applicant family financially stable?
- Applicant has a complete understanding of and examples are documented regarding how they will implement the Reasonable and Prudent Parenting Standard.
Physical and Personality Description, Observations of Applicants’ Family and Individual Functioning
Life History, Including:
- Past relationships with parents, siblings, extended family;
- Significant events, both positive and negative, as described by applicant;
- Prior marital relationships, if applicable. When completing ICPC assessments and home studies and the applicant is a birth parent, determine if an ex parte order or dissolution of marriage order exists which limits or denies custody or visitation rights. If such an order exists, it must be followed by the agency in planning for the child. Determine if the parent or relative has had a criminal conviction of a felony violation of Chapter 566 (Sexual Offenses) or Chapter 568 (Offenses Against the Family) when that child was the victim (courts may not award custody or visitation to a parent who has such a conviction in a proceeding for marriage dissolution, legal separation, or child support).
- Their own nationality and sense of cultural identity, knowledge of other identities, cultures, and the significance of these inter-relationships.
- What are the applicant’s life style and practices, including culture, and leisure activities (13 CSR 35-60.030 6 (D);
- Discuss family interaction, respective roles, openness of communication, decision –making, rules, discipline, stability of marriage including husband and wife, children, and extended family; stability of marriage;
- Discuss family interaction with the community, including school, neighborhood, and larger community;
- What support systems are available to applicants;
- Foster or relative provider’s ability to protect the child from the parent, and ability to maintain contact with the parent and practice co-parenting decision making, where appropriate.
- Discuss family pets and the importance of pets to the child.
Discuss Family Interaction with the Community, Including School, Neighborhood, and Larger Community:
- What support systems are available to the applicants?
- Evaluate the cultural composition of the neighborhoods, including schools, churches, child care centers, and other organizations with which the child would interact. Evaluate with the applicants how these resources can be used to benefit the child’s diverse cultural needs.
The Foster Youth as a Family Member:
- What is of most importance to the applicants in the maintenance of their household routines?
- What behavior in a child is intolerable to them?
- Can applicants set limits but at the same time remain flexible? (Some children respond best to highly structured environments and others need more freedom.)
- What are the applicants’ expectations of a child? (Include personality, achievement, and affect-based response.)
- For how many children do the applicants want to provide care? More if siblings? (Keep in mind the six children limit for resource homes includes all children living in the home, e.g. their own children.)
- If there are birth or adopted children, how do they feel about their parents providing care to foster youth, and has this been discussed thoroughly with them? (At least one interview with children already living in the home is required.)
- How do grandparents view the addition of foster youth?
- Determine applicant’s understanding and knowledge of the development and behavior of children through a discussion of the following general parenting skills:
- Parent structures environment so that it is safe and healthy for the child;
- Parent expresses positive feelings toward the child verbally and physically;
- Parent recognizes and responds appropriately to the child’s verbal and physical expressions of needs and wants;
- Parent consistently uses basic behavior management techniques in dealing with the child;
- Parent consistently uses appropriate techniques to discipline the child and refrains from corporal punishment;
- Parent guides child toward increasing independence;
- Parent behaves in a way that recognizes the immaturity of the child; and
- Parent uses Reasonable and Prudent Parenting Standard for making decision about the foster youth’s participation in activities.
Adoptive Child as Family Member:
- Discuss the type of child desired, and expectations of an adopted child.
- Are all the family members (including extended family) accepting of the plan to adopt?
- How will their routine be affected by an additional child?
- Discuss their acceptance of a child not shaped by them, biologically or socially.
- The willingness and commitment of the family to discuss adoption with the child, and the same with extended family, and community, as appropriate.
- How will they deal with negative community attitudes?
- Determine the applicants’ understanding and knowledge of the development and behavior of children.
- Will the family accept the child’s previous family – visits, phone calls, etc.?
Number of Children Placed in the Home:
Resource homes shall not exceed the number of children in the home as outlined in the licensing rules; a total of six (6) children in the home. However there may be times when providing approval for exceeding the allowable limit may be obtained. Homes exceeding the licensing rules may be granted a temporary exception for the following reasons:
- To allow a parenting youth in foster care to remain with the child of the parenting youth;
- To allow siblings to remain together;
- To allow a child with an established meaningful relationship with the family to remain with the family; and
- To allow a family with special training or skills to provide care to a child who as a severe disability.
- Resource homes with more than two (2) children under the age of two
- Resource homes with more than four (4) children under the age of five
- Elevated needs resource homes with more than four (4) children
- Elevated needs resource homes with more than two (2) children with elevated needs
To request an exception, staff will complete the Resource Home Capacity Exception Approval Form, CD-157. The form must be approved by Central Office prior to the children being placed in the home.
For licensed relative homes, staff must complete and obtain approval using the CD-152.
Additional foster youth shall not be placed in homes granted a capacity exception until such time the home is in compliance with licensing rules capacity limits.
- How were applicants disciplined as children and by whom? Have the applicants recall some of their feelings about these methods of discipline.
- Is the discipline they now use the same as they themselves received? Have they changed their methods, and if so, how and why?
- Do the applicants understand corporal punishment is not allowed
- How do the applicants manage their money?
- What are the family members’ roles in management?
- Do they have income sufficient to support all members of the family?
- What are the applicants’ attitudes toward medical care and good health practices?
- If any household member smokes, discuss the locations and frequency that foster youth will be exposed to secondhand smoke. Refer the family to the required pre-service video. Each resource parent completes the training and receives a one hour in-service training credit using code V113, Secondhand Smoke Exposure. Discuss the resource parent(s)’ plan to talk to foster youth about smoking and modeling healthy choices. Complete the Notification of Hazards, CD-101. Inform the applicant that they will not smoke in the home, in any vehicle used to transport the youth in foster care or in the presence of the youth in foster care. Nor will they allow any guest in their home or vehicle to smoke or smoke in the presence of the youth in foster care. This assurance is captured on the CD-108.
- If there are health problems, how do the household members cope with them? If there is a disability, how do other household members compensate?
- Secure from their physician a health statement for each applicant on the prescribed form CW-215.
- Secure health history for each household member on the prescribed form CW-215.
- Secure health history of hospitalization for either physical or emotional problems for each household member on the CW-215.
- Secure history of treatment for any psychiatric problems for each household member on the CW-215.
- Secure history of treatment for any form of substance abuse, including drugs and alcohol for each household member on the CW-215.
Pursuant to section Section 210.496 RSMo, disability or disease of an individual cannot be the basis for a determination that an applicant is unfit or not suitable to be a resource parent without a specific showing that the disability or disease causes a substantial and significant risk of harm to a child or an inability to be a resource parent.
For an adoptive resource applicant the preferred age differential between the children placed for adoption and the adoptive parent(s) is such that the adoptive parent(s) can be expected to rear the child to adulthood.
When the above standard cannot be met by an adoptive resource applicant, inquiry must be made about the family’s willingness to obtain commitment from other immediate or extended family members to rear the adopted child to adulthood.
- Discuss employment history with applicants.
- If both are employed, what are the child care plans for foster youth and natural children?
- Secure from employer a statement verifying employment and job performance, using the Employee Reference Questionnaire, CS-101c.
- Inform that care of foster youth shall not be combined with regular, part, or full-time care of other children or with other service or business conducted in the home without written approval of the division.
- What are the applicants’ religious preferences, practices and attitudes?
- Would children placed in the home be allowed to pursue their own religious beliefs?
Children in the Home:
- What is the applicant’s educational preference (i.e. public school, home-schooling, private schooling)?
- What is the school history of each child in the home?
- What are the applicant’s thoughts on the importance of education on a child’s future?
- What is the development and adjustment to school of each?
- At least three references unrelated to the applicant must be provided with the Personal Reference Questionnaire, CS-101f. If the family has children, provide a School Reference Request, CS-101e to each child’s teacher.
- How long have they known the family and in what capacity?
- What are the references’ opinions of the applicants’ relationship with each other and the stability of their marriage?
- What is the reference’s opinion of the applicants’ ability to parent their own children, as well as a foster youth?
- If names for adult children no longer residing in the home were submitted in Section II on the Foster Adopt Home Assessment Application, CS-42, the worker may mail each one a CS-101f to provide an opportunity for comment.
The Home and Environment:
- Structure of environment to ensure safety and health of child
- Description of home and surroundings
- Proper lighting and ventilation
- Screen doors and windows
- Interior doors designed to permit opening of a locked door from the outside in an emergency
- Space for indoor play
- Access to outdoor play space
- Outdoor play space fenced if, in the judgement of the division, potential hazards suggest the necessity for such protection
- Mobile homes shall have an exit at each end of the home, lattice or solid skirting and be securely anchored by cable to the ground
- There shall be no surveillance cameras in areas of the home that violate the privacy of the foster youth, e.g. bathrooms and dressing areas
- If there is a swimming pool, hot tub, or spa, confirm and document:
- A barrier on all sides
- Access to the pool must have their methods of access through the barrier equipped with a safety device, such as a bolt lock
- Swimming pools must be equipped with a life saving device, such as a ring buoy
- If the swimming pool cannot be emptied after each use, the pool must have a working pump and filtering system.
- Hot tubs and spas must have safety covers that are locked when not in use.
- Sleeping Arrangements
- Foster children shall not sleep in any building, apartment, or other structure which is separate from the foster family home; nor shall any foster child be permitted to sleep in an unfinished attic, in an unfinished basement, or in a hall or any other room which is normally used for other than sleeping arrangements.
- Foster children shall not be permitted to sleep in finished basement bedrooms or in bedrooms above the second floor of a single family dwelling unless suitable provision has been made for heating, ventilation, and humidity control and all exits from these bedrooms have been approved by the division.
- At night a responsible adult shall sleep within call of the foster children.
- Foster children of the opposite sex, who are six (6) years of age or older, shall not sleep in the same room. The best interest of the child in terms of safety and appropriateness must be considered with the age of any child.
- Foster children shall not sleep in the bedroom of an adult age twenty-one (21) years and older.
- Each foster child under age two (2) shall have a separate bed and there should be no co-sleeping or bed sharing with Foster Parents or any other household members..
- Each bed or crib shall be of a size as to insure comfort of the foster child, shall have a firm mattress or an orthopedic supportive surface, in good, clean condition with waterproof covering, if needed, and suitable covers adequate to the season.
- Foster children two (2) years of age or older shall not sleep in the bedroom of the foster parents except for special temporary care, such as during a child’s illness. Foster children should never sleep in a bed with foster parents.
- Each foster child over two (2) is provided with a safe sleeping space including sleeping supplies such as a mattress and linens, as appropriate for the child’s needs and age and similar to other household members. The abuse and neglect history of each child should be taken into consideration before allowing them to share a bed with another child.
- Separate and accessible drawer space for personal belongings and closet space for clothing shall be available for each foster child.
- Housekeeping standards; free from accumulation of dirt and trash and any evidence of vermin and rodent infestations.
- Special safety considerations and particularly those that relate to foster family home rules.
- Confirmation of safe private water supply
- Working telephone and emergency numbers posted
- Evacuation plan posted
- Every room used for sleeping, living or dining have at least 2 means of exit. At least one shall be a door or stairway providing a means of unobstructed travel to the outside
- No room or space shall be occupied for living or sleeping purposes which is accessible only by a ladder, folding stairs or through a trap door
- In an apartment building where the family lives above the second floor there must be an exit stairway
- Operating smoke detector installed where sleeping areas can be alerted.
- Charged fire extinguisher of at least five pounds near the kitchen area
- Heating appliances do not block escape routes
- Fireplaces, wood stoves, heaters, radiators, or floor furnaces protected as required by local ordinances
- A working carbon monoxide detector in homes with gas appliances
- Ensure flammable liquids, matches, cleaning supplies, poisonous materials, and other hazardous items are stored so as to be inaccessible to children.
- Ensure all medication (prescription, non-prescription, and authorized) and all alcohol, is enclosed in a locked container or cabinet, so as to be inaccessible to children/youth taking into consideration the age and mental capacities of the youth. If the medications are accessible to foster youth, staff must document either a plan for making the medications inaccessible or an explanation of why the medications are allowed to be accessible by foster youth (i.e. a child is moving toward independent living and is learning self-sufficiency skills).
Weapons 13 CSR 35-60.040
Staff must personally view any weapons and their storage to assure compliance with the licensing rules. Staff shall not violate statute 571.500 by requiring a list of the weapons that the resource parent owns or keeps in the home.
- Any and all firearms and ammunition not being carried on one’s person shall be stored in locked secured areas or cabinets with keys or other locking mechanisms so as to be inaccessible to children.
- Firearms and ammunition on one’s person in the presence of a foster child shall be held in a secure holster and not accessible to children subject to the following: No firearms shall be present in any vehicle transporting foster children unless the firearms are: in a locked glovebox, in a locked container, or in a secure holster inaccessible to children, when carried or concealed on a person possessing a concealed carry permit. (An exception will be made for any person transporting a foster child who must carry a weapon as part of their job responsibilities— i.e., law enforcement officers.) No firearms possessed in violation of a state or federal law or a local government ordinance shall be present at any time in the home, on any household member, or in any vehicle in which the children are riding.
- Weapons storage shall be made available for external viewing by Children’s Division staff in order to assure weapons are inaccessible to children.
Using the statements of the applicants, the statements of the references and your own observations, assess and summarize whether these applicants are capable of meeting the needs of and providing opportunities for the healthy growth and development of a child(ren) coming into the custody of the Division. Assess and summarize applicants’ strengths and weaknesses such as:
- Their capacity to make a child a part of the family;
- Their capacity to work with biological parents and make decisions for the foster youth’s participation activities by co-parenting with the foster youth’s parent(s) or guardian(s);
- The capacity to use Reasonable and Prudent Parenting Standards;
- Their capacity to understand and handle problems; and
- Their warmth, love, understanding and ability to foster a FAMILY, not just a child.
Assess and summarize the family, the physical environment and other issues that assure compliance with foster family home licensing rules.
- Selected In as a resource provider for the Children’s Division:
Explain to the applicant the recommendation of their home to be a resource home regarding the number, age and sex of child or children the applicants could best serve to prospective resource parent.
- Selected Out as a resource provider for the Children’s Division:
Explain recommendation if it is to deny an individual or family as applicants, remembering that such a decision should not be a surprise to the applicants. Such a recommendation can be made any time during the home assessment process. Also, remember that the worker should be honest with the applicant regarding the decision, recognizing the applicant’s sensitivity and tolerance.
Selection out of resource parenting services requires the resource development worker to be prepared to provide documentation of facts that support the applicant(s) is not in compliance with Statute, Rule and Policy if the applicant(s) should request a fair hearing to pursue a grievance of the decision.