Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing is a client centered counseling form that assists the practitioner in eliciting behavior change. Clients are helped in exploring and resolving ambivalence. Motivational interviewing is more focused and goal directed, which sets it apart from other methods in which therapists attempt to influence clients to consider making changes.

Motivational interviewing has a wide variety of applications and has been used in areas of substance abuse, health coaching, mental illness, problematic gambling, parenting, coaching, classroom management, intervention for behavior change and dual diagnosis.

Steps of Motivational Interviewing:

  1. Engaging: the process of establishing a working relationship based on trust and respect. The client should be doing most of the talking, as the counselor utilizes the skill of reflective listening throughout the process. Both the client and counselor make an agreement on treatment goals and collaborate on the tasks that will help the client reach those goals.

  2. Focusing: the ongoing process of seeking and maintaining direction.

  3. Evoking: eliciting the client's own motivations for change, while evoking hope and confidence.

  4. Planning: involves the client making a commitment to change, and together with the counselor, developing a specific plan of action. 

Interaction techniques used with Motivational Interviewing include open questions, affirmation, reflective listening, and summary reflections.

Open Questions: invite people to tell their story.

Affirmations: Build confidence in one’s ability to change. They also recognize strengths and behaviors that can lead someone to change.

Reflective Listening: Three types of reflective listening allow for rapport building, building trust and fostering motivation to change. The three types of reflective listening include repeating/rephrasing, paraphrasing and reflection of feeling.

Summary Reflection: Summarizing assists with ensuring that there is clear understanding between the speaker and listening.

 

Homeless Resource Center. 2007. https://www.homelesshub.ca/resource/motivational-interviewing-open-questions-affirmation-reflective-listening-and-summary

Plan of Safe Care- Infants Exposed to Prenatal Substance Use 

Purpose: The Plan of Safe Care for Infants Affected by Prenatal Substance Use (CFOP 170-8) provides guidelines for ensuring mothers, infants (under age one) and family members receive supports to prevent negative outcomes associated with an infant’s prenatal exposure to substance abuse such as controlled substances, misuse of controlled substances or alcohol. All infants and mother’s affected by prenatal substance exposure shall be referred to a home visitor program (e.g., Healthy Start, Healthy Families, etc.) or family support program (e.g., high or very high-risk assessment score) for development of a Plan of Safe Care and care coordination. 

All Infants who have been affected by substance abuse and determined to be ‘Unsafe’ and are involved with case management, judicial or non-judicial, must have a Plan of Safe Care assessment and implementation.

Important Note: A Plan of Safe Care is not the equivalent of a safety plan.  A Plan of Safe Care may identify child safety and risk issues within the family, but a safety plan is the only vehicle for implementing specific protective actions.  A Plan of Safe Care is intended to facilitate a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach to responding to the needs of the entire family.   

Child Protective Investigators: Investigators will be responsible for determining if a Plan of Safe Care is in place or has been offered. If a family has a case plan, the Case Manager will be responsible for completing the Plan of Safe Care. 

Case Manager Responsibilities:  It is the child welfare professional’s responsibility to determine if a Plan of Safe Care had previously been offered to the mother and other caregivers and, if not, re-assess the need for a plan to be implemented and monitored. Upon case transfer, the case manager will evaluate existing Self Care Plans for effectiveness, identify challenges/barriers and monitoring requirements. 

Case managers shall review the pre-birth assessments when newborns are added to the household in existing cases to ensure relevant components of a Plan of Safe Care are being addressed or have been addressed by the existing case plan.  

Case managers shall also review the Plan of Safe Care components to ensure that all identified needs for the mother and infant are met by the initial case plan.   

Plan of Safe Care Components to be assessed in FFA-Ongoing and/or Progress Updates: 

1.       Mother’s Substance Use and Mental Health Needs: substance use history, mental health history, treatment history, medication assisted treatment history and referrals for services. 

2.       Infant’s Medical Care: prenatal exposure history, hospital care (NICU), length of stay, diagnosis, other medical or developmental concerns, pediatric care and follow up, referral to early intervention and other services. 

3.       Mother’s Medical Care: prenatal care history, pregnancy history, other medical concerns, screening and education, follow-up care with OB-GYN, referral to other health care services. 

4.       Family/Caregiver History and Needs: prior involvement with child welfare, child safety or risk concerns, parent-child relationship, family history, living arrangements, current support network, current services, needed support/services. 

 The Plan of Safe Care is a mandatory ongoing assessment process for CPIs and CMs that requires integration into all Family Functioning Assessments and Progress Updates.

Child Placement Agreements

What are Child Placement Agreements?

•       Child Placement Agreement means that a Caregiver and a Child Welfare Professional have agreed upon specific care expectations for a child in out-of-home care whose behaviors or circumstances require additional supervision or safeguards.

Who needs a Child Placement Agreement?

•       A Child Placement Agreement needs to be created when there are concerns suspected or dependable information that a child has any of the following:

§  Severe self-harm

§  Problematic sexual behavior

§  Victim of sexual abuse

§  Victim of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

§  Juvenile sexual abuse

§  Behavior(s) that are a significant threat to others

What is the difference between the 2 types of Child Placement Agreements?

•       Care Precautions are considered the least restrictive type of agreement. The requirements are intended to be in place for a short period of time until more information is known about the child. Once more information is known, the child’s placement requirements can be modified as necessary.

•       Behavior Management Plans are needed for children who have demonstrated any of the following behaviors within the past twelve months:

§  Juvenile sexual abuse

§  Behaviors that are a significant threat to others

Who creates Child Placement Agreements?

•       CBC Case Manager will create the Child Placement Agreement with the Caregiver and child and complete document in FSFN.

Who are our local qualified assessors?

•       CPT, CPC, Therapist, Psychiatrist, Psychologist

How are Child Placement Agreements monitored?

•       A Lead Agency POC consult is required within 24 hours of determining that a Child Placement Agreement is needed to help determine which type of plan is necessary.

•       Child Placement Agreements will be reviewed by the Lead Agency POC and the Case Manager Supervisor after development to ensure it keeps the child or other children in the home safe. 

•       The Child Placement Agreement will be reviewed in the 90 day staffing(s)with all participants in attendance along with information reported in the Progress Update

•       Discussions will occur during monthly consults/supervision between the Case Manager and the Case Manager Supervisor.

•       Case Manager will monitor during monthly home visits via discussions with the Caregiver and the child (if age appropriate).

•       Lead Agency POC will attend 6 month staffing(s) unless required to attend a staffing sooner.

What is the process for obtaining information from a qualified assessor?

When a Behavioral PLAN is developed

•       A referral will be made by the Case Manager for an assessment to be completed within the 45 days of initial placement or after determination Behavioral Plan is required.

•       If the child is being considered for a modified or terminated plan then a qualified assessor will be used to review the current plan and behaviors to determine if the plan can be terminated. This process will be completed by the Case Manager.

•       A qualified assessor is not needed for Precaution Plan.

What is the protocol for children being placed with respite care provider?

•       The respite care provider will be made aware during the time arrangements are made by placement that the child has a Child Placement Agreement. The plan will be developed/modified to meet the respite home environment by the Case Manager.

•       If there are no changes to the existing plan then the respite provider will be entered into the FSFN system and a new plan will be printed and brought with the Case Manager to be signed at the time of placement.

What is the protocol for terminating a Child Placement Agreement?

•       For previously created SAR’s a discussion will occur between the Case Manager, Case Manager Supervisor, Lead Agency POC and the Caregiver to determine if the plan is still needed.

•       Precautionary Plans require a consult with the Lead Agency POC, Caregiver, Case Manager, and Case Manager Supervisor to review whether the plan can be terminated.

•       Behavioral Plans require a qualified assessor to complete documentation that the Behavioral Plan is no longer required. Upon receipt of the document by the qualified assessor a consult should be held with the Lead Agency POC, Caregiver, Case Manager, and Case Management Supervisor and any other party needed to discuss terminating the Behavioral Plan or developing a Precautionary Plan.

No plan should be terminated without the appropriate documentation and discussions occurring.

Child Abuse Prevention Month

April has been designated Child Abuse Prevention Month since 1983

Child Abuse Prevention Month is an annual observance dedicated to raising awareness and preventing child abuse. President Jimmy Carter designated the first Child Abuse Prevention observance in the United States. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan formally established April as the Child Abuse Prevention Month. President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation in 2016 stating that "During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we recommit to giving every child a chance to succeed and to ensuring that every child grows up in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment that is free from abuse and neglect.

The Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is the agency charged with supporting communities in providing programs and services to protect children and strengthen families. It states that for National Child Abuse Prevention Month, communities should rededicate themselves to being supportive of families, and play an active role in preventing child abuse and neglect as well as taking positive action to promote child and family well-being. It has also been reported by the Children’s Bureau that in the United States, approximately 646,000 children were victims of child abuse or neglect and another 1,500 children died from abuse or neglect in one year. The majority of child abuse cases result from conditions that can be prevented through community programs, systems, support and interventions.

The Child Abuse Prevention Initiative is an opportunity for communities across the country to keep children safe, provide the support families need to stay together, and raise children and youth to be happy, secure, and stable adults. During the month of April, there will be many visual reminders to call awareness to this issue in our community such as blue ribbons and blue pinwheels. There are several events scheduled throughout our circuit during the month of April. Below is a list of organizations hosting the various awareness events in our area.

April 2019 Events Hosted By

  • Manatee Children's Services

  • Child Protection Center

  • Centerstone

  • Circuit 12

  • ELC, Healthy Start Manatee, DOH & Tobacco Free Manatee

  • Child Protection Center

  • Desoto County BOCC

  • City of North Port - Morgan Center

  • Sarasota YMCA Safe Children's Coalition

  • Manatee County Sheriff's Office

Home Visits with Children

What is the purpose of a Home Visit? The purpose of a home visit is to assess the safety and well-being of the child, as well as, address concerns and needs of the child and/or caregivers, determine appropriateness of the placement, and provide the caregivers the support and inform the progress of the case. 

When must a Home Visit be done?

·         Initial face-to face (FTF) contact with the child and caregiver is to occur within two working days after the case is accepted for services at the child’s current place of residence. 

·         When a child is in Shelter Status FTF contact shall occur every seven days.  (Shelter Status=legal status that begins when the child is taken into protective custody of the department and ceases when the court: grants custody to a parent and/or after disposition of the petition for dependency.)

·         Once the child has been Adjudicated Dependant (after Disposition) by the Court, FTF contact is required with each child a minimum of once every twenty five days in the child’s current residence. FTF contacts must occur more frequently when the child’s situation dictates more frequent contact as assessed by the case manager and the case manager supervisor.

·         At least once every three months the case manager will make an unannounced visit to the child’s current residence. 

·         Once a child in run away status returns, a FTF home visit should take place immediately in order to assess the child’s mental/physical state and gain insight into the reason he/she ran away. 

Expectations/Guidelines of a Home Visit:

·         Meet with the child and caregivers in their current residence.

·         Speak with each child individually, alone and away from others, to assess child’s adjustment, progress, needs and/or concerns and overall well-being.

·         Examine the child for cleanliness, health, and signs of injury, abuse and/or neglect.

·         Evaluate the home environment for appropriateness and safety.

·         Discuss concerns and/or needs with the caregiver and provide referrals for services.

·         Discuss stages of change and progress and/or concerns with services.

·         Inform the caregiver and child (if age appropriate) of upcoming court hearings, staffings, etc.

·         Obtain updates and copies of the child’s medical, dental and mental health records, appointments, procedures, prescriptions and dosage.

·         Obtain updates and copies of the child’s educational records and progress (if age appropriate).

·         Observe interactions between the caregivers/family members and the child.

·         Obtain updated photographs of the child using the Mindshare mobile application.

·         Review and sign the Child Resource Record at each home visit to ensure that information is current.

·         Follow up on previous concerns or referrals with caregiver and/or the child.

·         Discuss how visitation is going with parents/siblings.

·         Assess and discuss the Safety Plan in effect with the current participants, their role in the plan and the safety management techniques being utilized to determine if the current safety plan is still effective.

·         Document where the child sleeps and who (if applicable) sleeps in the bedroom with the child.

·         Document home visit information in FSFN or the Mindshare mobile application (which uploads to FSFN) within 48 hours of the FTF visit occurring.

The Americans With Disabilities Act

In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law by George H.W. Bush. Since 1990, the ADA has undergone a few changes. The Americans with Disabilities Act is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. The ADA also requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, and imposes accessibility requirements on public accommodations. The Americans with Disabilities Act includes five titles that cover a variety of provisions:

Title I: Employment

A covered entity shall not discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability. This includes the job application process, interview, hiring, advancement and discharge of employees, job training and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment. Covered entities include employers with 15 or more employees.

Title II: Public Entities/Public Transportation

Public entities, such as school district, municipal, city or county and at state level are unable to discriminate against persons with disabilities who seek access to services and programs offered by said entity. Title II also covers public transportation and requires the provision of paratransit services by public entities that provide fixed route services. ADA also sets minimum requirements for space layout in order to facilitate wheelchair securement on public transport.

Title III: Public Accommodations/Commercial Facilities

No individual may be discriminated against on the basis of disability with regard to goods, services, facilities or accommodations by anyone who owns, leases or operates a place of such accommodation. All new construction after July 1992 must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). Provisions also include the modification of pre-1992 existing structures to modify in accordance with the ADAAG. Service animals are also covered under this Title.

Title IV: Telecommunications

All telecommunication companies within the United States must create functionally equivalent services for consumers with disabilities, specifically those who are deaf or hard of hearing, or have speech impairments.

Title V: Miscellaneous Provisions

Title V discusses technical provisions and that nothing in ADA can amend, override or cancel anything in Section 504. This Title also includes provisions on anti-retaliation or coercion.

    

Requesting a Social Security Card for a Child in Licensed Foster Care

Prior to requesting an actual social security card, see if you can obtain the original from the parent or prior caregiver. There is a limit of 10 cards a person may get (replacements) in their lifetime, and no more than 3 a year. Requesting duplicates may use up all these replacements prior to the child turning 18.

Only a ‘Proper Applicant’ is able to apply for the child’s social security card.  Proper Applicants ranked in highest to lowest priority are:

Ø  Court Appointed Legal Guardian

Ø  Parent (natural, adoptive or step) with custody of the child

Ø  Administrator of the child’s estate

Ø  Sibling, Grandparent, Aunt or other relative with custody of the child

Ø  A State Agency (DCF) that has custody of the child.

Ø  CBC (An individual who applies on behalf of the child and can establish relationship / responsibility but has no legal custody).

A policy change with the Social Security Administration prevents community partners from requesting social security cards for children under their supervision and requires a representative from DCF to request the card.  Shaneka Stringer is our CBC’s liaison at DCF who can apply for a Social Security Number or Social Security Card for children in licensed foster care or children in adoption agencies.

The CBC staff must provide the following information.  All original documents must be submitted to DCF with your request to the department.  The Social Security Administration will not accept copies. The original documents which need to be included in each packet are:

1.)   A completed SS-5 form (available on the Social Security website www.ssa.gov) Line 16 must be filled out with the CBC’s information and Line 17 must contain an original signature by DCF liaison. Copies or missing information will not be accepted by Social Security.

2.)   A Medical / Shot record that contains the child’s name and date of birth. The record must contain an original wet signature of the doctor or nurse. Any copy of a signature will not be accepted by Social Security.

3.)   The youth's original Birth Certificate

4.)   A Certified Copy of the signed Court Order showing that the state has custody of the child. The certified stamp and signatures must be originals.  A copy will not be accepted by Social Security.  AND

5.)   The reason for the card request (duplicate, new)

Documents must be sent CERTIFIED MAIL. Please be sure to include your name and return mailing address. The original documents and Social Security Card will be mailed back to you. Once Social Security accepts the packet, it could take between 3-4 weeks. Be sure to send a copy to ASK before giving the original to the child/custodian.

Mail completed packets to:

Department of Children and Families

Office of Economic Self Sufficiency

Attn: Shaneka Stringer

9393 North Florida Ave

Suite 100, Room 102

Tampa, FL 33612

For all others, the Caregiver or RTI youth needs to visit the Social Security Administration Office.

All children in out-of-home care are required to have their original social security card prior to turning 18.

Office of Inspector General Reporting

Within each Office of Inspector General, there are two distinct functions: audits and investigations.

The audit function is an independent, objective assurance and consulting activity designed to add value and improve the agency’s operations or operations funded by the agency. In carrying out the audit responsibilities, the Inspector General reviews and evaluates internal controls to ensure fiscal accountability of the agency. Audits are conducted in accordance with professional auditing standards.

In carrying out the investigative duties, the Inspector General initiates, conducts, supervises, and coordinates investigations designed to detect, deter, prevent, and eradicate fraud, waste, mismanagement, misconduct, and other abuses in government. Each Inspectors General Office also conducts investigations pursuant to the Whistle-blower’s Act (Sections 112.3187-112.31895, Florida Statutes).

Reportable Incidents:

  • Inappropriate employee acts or omissions that result in client injury, abuse, neglect or death;

  • Fraud;

  • Theft;

  • Breaches of confidentiality by an employee, unless inadvertent and self-reported;

  • Falsification of official records;

  • Misuse of position or state property, employees, equipment/supplies for personal gain/profit.

  • Failure to report known or suspected neglect or abuse of a client;

  • Improper expenditure or commitment of public funds;

  • Contract mismanagement;

  • Computer related misconduct;

  • Any violation under §435, F.S., Title XXXI, Employee Screening, that would result in disqualification from client contact duties;

  • Any other wrongdoing that would be a violation of statute, rule, regulation or policy.

Suspected or confirmed allegations must be reported to the IG within two (2) business days of discovery. The report can be filed by letter, fax or email. Failure to report may be deemed a violation of § 60L-36.005, Florida Administrative Code. The standards of conduct require employees to exercise due care and reasonable diligence in the performance of job duties, to protect state property from loss or abuse, to maintain high standards of honesty, integrity and impartiality, and to place the interest of the public ahead of personal interests.  Any violation of these standards will result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

The IG will determine the violation type, whose jurisdiction the incident falls under and assign it to that Regional Office for investigation. Then the Regional IG investigates and prepares an Investigative Report that details the findings. The Investigative Report Summary is reviewed by the Inspector General and approved. The Summary report is redacted and posted on the IG website.  Any recommended actions or corrective actions are followed up on by identified agency.

All employees are expected to fully cooperate with any investigation or audit conducted by the IG. Refusal to fully ooperate constitutes employee misconduct pursuant to Rule 60L-36.005(3) and (4), Florida Administrative Code, and will result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

For more information please see the CFOP or the IG website at www.dcf.state.fl.us/admin/ig . The Inspector General can be contacted via email at IG_Complaint@myflfamilies.com or by phone at (813) 375-3922.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

According to the Mayo Clinic, “even the best-behaved children can be difficult and challenging at times. But if your child or teenager has a frequent and persistent pattern of anger, irritability, arguing, defiance or vindictiveness toward you and other authority figures, he or she may have oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).”

Symptoms Include: Angry and irritable moods, argumentative and defiant behavior and vindictiveness.

There are three levels of ODD: mild, moderate and severe.

Causes: There is no determined cause of ODD. However, researchers indicate that likely genetics and environment play a role in the disorder. Children can have a natural disposition or temperament and possibly neurobiological differences in the way nerves and the brain function. From an environmental stand point, problems with parenting that may involve a lack of supervision, inconsistent or harsh discipline, or abuse or neglect.

Researchers have identified several risk factors that may contribute to the development of ODD:

  • Temperament — a child who has a temperament that includes difficulty regulating emotions, such as being highly emotionally reactive to situations or having trouble tolerating frustration

  • Parenting issues — a child who experiences abuse or neglect, harsh or inconsistent discipline, or a lack of parental supervision

  • Other family issues — a child who lives with parent or family discord or has a parent with a mental health or substance use disorder

  • Environment — oppositional and defiant behaviors can be strengthened and reinforced through attention from peers and inconsistent discipline from other authority figures, such as teachers

Possible issues surrounding ODD:                                          Co Occurring Disorders:

  • Poor school and work performance                      - ADHD

  • Antisocial behavior                                                 - Conduct disorder

  • Impulse control problems                                         - Depression

  • Substance use disorder                                           - Anxiety

  • Suicide                                                                        - Learning and communication disorders

Diagnosis must come from a professional who completes a thorough psychological evaluation with a child. This is necessary due to symptoms of ODD also being common with other illnesses.

Treatment modalities include: parent training, parent-child interaction therapy, individual and family therapy, cognitive problem-solving training and social skills training.

Mayo Clinic. (2019). Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/oppositional-defiant-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20375831

In-Home Safety Analysis and Conditions for Return

Question #1:

The parents/legal guardians are willing for an in-home safety plan to be developed and implemented and have demonstrated that they will cooperate with all identified safety service providers.

Willing to accept and cooperate refers to the most basic level of agreement to allow a Safety Plan to be implemented in the home and to participate according to agreed assignments. Caregivers do not have to agree that a Safety Plan is the right thing nor are they required liking the plan; plans are not negotiable in regards to the effectuation of the plan.

Conditions for Return and Use of an In-Home Safety Plan:

CFR statements associated with a caregiver’s lack of acceptance and willingness to participate in developing an in-home safety plan should reflect what would be different in comparison to what was determined to be the justification for why an in-home safety plan could not be used.

Question #2:

The home environment is calm and consistent enough for an in-home safety plan to be implemented and for safety service providers to be in the home safely.

Calm and consistent refers to the environment, it’s routine, how constant and consistent it is, its predictability to be the same from day-to-day. The environment must accommodate plans, schedules, and services and be non-threatening to those participating in the Safety Plan.

Conditions for Return and Use of an In-Home Safety Plan:

CFR statements associated with the home environment should reflect what would need to be different in comparison to what was determined to require an out-of-home safety plan.

Question #3:

Safety services are available at a sufficient level and to the degree necessary in order to manage the way in which impending danger is manifested in the home.

Safety Management Services are dependent upon the identified impending danger threat. Available refers to services that exist in sufficient amount. Access refers to time and location. Accessible services are those that are close enough to the family to be applied and can be implemented immediately.

Conditions for Return and Use of an In-Home Safety Plan:

CFR statements associated with the sufficiency of resources should reflect what would need to exist in comparison to what was determined to be the justification for an out-of-home safety plan. See the previous examples related to the justification for an in-home safety plan as a reference point for considering possible Conditions for Return related to sufficient resources.

Question #4:

An in-home safety plan and the use of in-home safety management services can sufficiently manage impending danger without the results of scheduled professional evaluations.

This question is concerned with specific knowledge that is needed to understand Impending Danger Threats, caregiver capacity or behavior or family functioning specifically related to Impending Danger Threats. The point here is the absence of such information obviates DCF’s ability to know what is required to manage threats. Evaluations that are concerned with treatment or general information gathering (not specific to Impending Danger Threats) can occur in tandem with In-Home Safety Plans.

Conditions for Return and Use of an In-Home Safety Plan:

CFR statements associated with a caregiver’s capacity should reflect what would need to be different in comparison to what was determined to be the justification for why an in-home safety plan would be insufficient.

Question # 5:

The parents/legal guardians have a physical location in which to implement an in-home safety plan.

Physical location refers to (1) a home/shelter exists and can be expected to be occupied for as long as the Safety Plan is needed, and (2) caregivers live there full time. Home refers to an identifiable domicile. DV or other shelter, or friend or relative’s homes qualify as an identifiable domicile if other criteria are met (e.g., expected to be occupied for as long as the safety plan is needed, caregivers live there full time, etc.).

Conditions for Return and Use of an In-Home Safety Plan:

CFR statements associated with a caregiver’s residence should reflect what would need to exist in comparison to what was determined to be the justification for an out-of-home safety plan.

Conditions for Return

 ü  The Conditions for Return describe what must exist or be different with respect to specific family circumstances, home environment, caregiver perception, behavior, capacity and/or safety service resources that would allow for reunification to occur with the use of an in-home safety plan.

ü  Impending danger threats do not have to be reduced or eradicated in order for children to be reunified with their families if an in-home safety plan can sufficiently control the threat.

ü  What is necessary for children to return to their families is the establishment of well-defined circumstances within a child’s home that mitigates threats to child safety.

ü  The basis for Conditions for Return is the In-Home Safety Analysis and Planning section of the Family Functioning Assessment and Progress Update and the five questions located there.

ü  Conditions for Return are the explanations of how a “No” to Safety Analysis questions can be changed to a “Yes”.

ü  Once all five questions are answered with a “Yes” the reunification process must begin and the child must be returned to the home with an In-Home Safety Plan.

The 5 In-Home Safety Analysis Questions

1.    Are the parents willing and cooperative?

2.    Is the home environment calm and consistent enough?

3.    Are sufficient safety services available?

4.    Can danger be managed without professional evaluations? (i.e.- psychological)

5.    Do parents have a residence/stable home?

ü  For each In-home Safety Analysis Question to which you answer “No” there must be a Condition For Return. Each Condition For Return should have two parts.

o   The first part (A) should begin with:

“An in home safety plan is not possible because…” Explain why

o   The second part (B) should begin with:

“In order for an in home safety plan to be considered…”Explain what would make it safe for the child in the home specifically

ü  After all of the Conditions For Return, the following statement should conclude this section: 

“An in-home safety plan will become an option after the determination is made that the child’s safety, well-being, physical, mental and emotional health are not endangered by being placed in the home.”

The conditions for return must be addressed and discussed at all staffings and hearings

Placement Changes

 

Often, children involved in the system have to move placements due to a variety of circumstances. There are many factors to consider- will the child be moving from relative/non-relative to relative non-relative, relative/non-relative to foster care or foster care to relative/non-relative.

Relative/Non Relative to Relative Non-Relative Placement

OR

Foster Care to Relative/Non-Relative Home

 

  1. Complete a home study and background check on the proposed home.

  2. Complete an affidavit for Modification of Placement (MOP) and submit to CLS.

  3. Notify the parents and GAL (if applicable) that a motion to move the child(ren) has been filed and to contact their attorney if there is an objection.  

    1. Once the MOP is approved, the child can be moved to the new home.

    2. Be sure to collect the child(ren)’s belongings, Child Resource Record(s), Medication(s)*, Medication Administration Record Log(s) to provide to the new caregivers.

    3. Update Safety Plan and review with new caregivers.

  4. Once the child has moved, complete an edit request in SCC Portal to reflect the new placement information and include all demographic information of the caregivers.

  5. Complete a Progress Update to reflect the child’s new placement.

  6. Complete a new Relative Caregiver Communication Form and submit to RevMax.

Relative/Non-Relative Home to Foster Care

  1. Attempt to find another relative/non-relative for placement. If none are available, discuss with Operations the need for the child to be moved into foster care.

  2. Complete a placement intake packet (J:Drive> CBC Forms in Alpha Order> Placement Intake Form).

  3. Send Placement Intake Form to county specific Placement Coordinator (Siobhan Hardcastle for Manatee or Shmir Corzine for Sarasota/Desoto).

  4. Complete an affidavit for Modification of Placement (MOP) and submit to CLS.

  5. Notify the parents and GAL (if applicable) that a motion to move the child(ren) has been filed and to contact their attorney if there is an objection. 

    1. Once the MOP is approved, the child can be moved to the new home.

    2. Be sure to collect the child(ren)’s belongings, Child Resource Record(s), Medication(s)*, Medication Administration Record Log(s) to provide to the new caregivers.

    3. Update Safety Plan and review with new caregivers

  6. Once the child has moved, complete an edit request in SCC Portal to reflect the new placement information.

  7. Complete a Progress Update to reflect the child’s new placement.

Child Exit Survey (CES): Complete a CES if the child was in a foster home for 30 days or more and is over the age of 5 within 5 days of move.

*For movement in medications, complete the Medication Inventory (J:Drive > CBC Forms in Alpha Order > Medication Inventory)

Missing Children: Efforts to Locate

Imagine if your child, mother, dog/cat- anyone who is important to you- went missing. How diligently would you try to locate them when it is someone close to you? When trying to locate our children that we serve who have runaway or gone missing, we must use the same (or more) diligence to locate them. There are many hostile and dangerous environments on the streets or with a parent who has absconded with a child and time is of the essence when making diligent efforts to locate the child and bring that child back into a safe environment. We are the life supports for the children we serve and child safety is our number one priority.

Case managers are required to make diligent and ongoing efforts to locate missing children within specific time during the period of time that they are missing. The first attempt must be completed within the first 24 hours of the child being reported missing. After the 24 hour time frame has elapsed, the Case Manager must make at least one attempt to locate the child every 7 days until the child is recovered.

Examples of Efforts to Locate the Child (this list is by all means not all-inclusive and are only examples of various avenues to explore in attempting to locate a child):

  • Contacting the child’s parents and other relatives

  • Contacting the child’s cell phone

  • Contacting the child’s school

  • Contacting the child’s place of employment

  • Contacting the child’s friends  

  • Contacting the child’s therapist or other service providers

  • Contacting former placements

  • Contacting the child’s JPO or DJJ worker

  • Contacting Hospitals

  • Check locations that the child has been known to frequent

  • Check activity on the child’s social media sites (Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc)

In addition to completing efforts to locate, the Case Manager must also maintain contact with the Law Enforcement entity assigned. Although this communication is required, it is not to be used as an “effort to locate.” The Case Manager should provide Law Enforcement with any additional information that may be useful in locating the child, as well as any updates regarding the efforts that the Case Manager has made to locate the child.

Please remember that documentation of these efforts to locate and communication with Law Enforcement should be entered into FSFN within 48 hours.

Critical Junctures

 

A Critical Juncture is any change to a family’s circumstances which has the potential to impact the safety of a child. Therefore, a Critical Juncture necessitates a re-assessment of the family.  A new Progress Update will be created in FSFN at a minimum every ninety days from the approval date of the Ongoing Family Functioning Assessment OR the approval date of the last Progress Update. A new Progress Update will be created sooner when fundamental decisions are being made for the children, or when Critical Junctures are occurring that necessitate a formal re-evaluation of protective capacities and child needs. Such times include but are not limited to the following Critical Junctures:

  • When safety management has resulted in a decision to remove a child from home.

  • At the birth or death of a sibling.

  • Upon the addition of a new family member, including intimate partners.

  • Before changing the case plan to include unsupervised visits.

  • Before recommending or implementing reunification as Conditions for Return are met.

  • Before a recommendation for case closure.

  • When case has been dismissed by the court.

The case manager shall seek a supervisory case consultation to review case dynamics when case circumstances include any of the following. The case consultation will determine if a Progress Update should be completed prior to the 90 day period based on the discretion of the supervisor.

  • When significant changes in family members’ and/or family circumstances warrant a

          review and possible revision to the safety plan and/or case plan, such as a change

          to unsupervised visitation.

  • When an emergency change in a child's out-of-home safety plan placement is

 needed.

  • When the children and/or caregivers are making little or no progress toward the

established outcomes and/or an immediate change in the case plan is needed.

  • After any review (i.e., judicial, administrative, State, or County QA) recommends or

directs that changes be made.

  • At receipt of a new investigation or report of domestic violence in the home.

Supervisory case consultation will be required at Critical Junctures in the development and updating of Family Functioning Assessments; safety planning and safety monitoring; and case planning and progress assessments.

Legal - Courtroom Presentation

Court Preparation 

When attending and testifying in court it is extremely important to present confidently in order to have positive outcomes.  Many times we allow ourselves to get pulled into unnecessary courtroom drama that diminishes or reduces our effectiveness when testifying.  The tips noted below were provided by Children’s Legal Services (CLS) to help us in being better prepared for courtroom situations.   

Integrity–noun –

1.  adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

2.  the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.

If we have integrity in our dealings with each other, the families we serve, the providers and the courts we will be effective in accomplishing our goals.  All parties to the cases we work are critical members of the team – if one person on the team is resistant it delays progress of the whole. 

CLS believes there are 3 “P’s” that allow us to maintain our integrity when testifying in Court:

Ø Preparedness:

§  Make sure you have detailed notes (maybe on index cards)

§  Know your case well (If you are “covering” you still must know the case.)

§  Communicate with your attorney BEFORE the day of court

§  Review the file- maybe develop a timeline

§  Dress for success- Court is a formal event.  Dress in professional attire!

Ø Promptness:

§  Be on time to all meetings, staffings, court etc. – or a little early

§  Ensure court documents are provided within time frames for legal for review, file and disseminate.

§  If things have changed since the original document was submitted, be sure to write an addendum and have it available as early as possible (or notify CLS of any immediate changes).

Ø Professionalism/Credibility:

§  Presentation is everything- respond to Judge only; do not argue, answer questions of parent attorney, parent or GAL directly;

§  Use honesty and integrity in all communications and interactions

§  Avoid in courtroom spats, interrupting, excuses, blaming and defensiveness

§  Present evidence and testimony that is relevant and CONCISE

§  Avoid negative body language or emotions (rolling eyes, facial expressions, head shake, etc.)

§  Speak with confidence avoid saying “I think”, “I believe”, “in my opinion” etc.

§  It is OK to say “I don’t know” and to advise you will get the requested information ASAP.  Make sure to specify a time-frame when the information will be provided to the court.

§  Treat everyone with respect. Say “sir” or “ma’am” when responding to others

 Remember: A detailed and concise written document can avert many questions and confusion. 

Don’t forget to use your courtroom voice- the Judge wants to hear you!

Educational Inter-agency Agreement - Circuit 12

An Educational Inter-agency Agreement (EIA) was developed to effectively address educational, developmental or other disabilities, job training and employment issues by including all parties who are involved with a child in the dependency case planning process including Desoto, Manatee & Sarasota School Boards (SB), Department of Children & Families (DCF), Safe Children Coalition (SCC), Manatee County Sheriff’s Office (MSO), Career Source (FW), Agency for Persons with Disability (APD), and Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).

SCC case management staff notify all appropriate parties at the time of case planning development and case plan review, including DJJ and APD staff who have a child actively receiving their services.  Through substantive information sharing and communication between parties; education and employment outcomes for the youth we serve will improve. Some of the key elements in Circuit 12’s EIA are as follows:

Educational Stabilization:

  • The SB shall enroll youth in state care who have previously been enrolled in Florida public School immediately even if they do not have all necessary paperwork.

  • Foster parents have the authority to enroll children in their care for school. The “Placement Letter” provided by SCC is sufficient documentation for a foster parent for enrollment and to participate as a “guardian” on behalf of foster child.  Parents may use this letter to maintain child in current school for School Choice program.

  • SCC will provide authorization to foster parents and case workers to provide permission for youth to participate in school clubs, after school activities, sports, and social events.

Transportation:

  • The SB or DCF/SCC will make every effort to provide school transportation for students in out-of-home care when it is deemed in their best interest to attend a school outside of their attendance zone of the out-of-home care location.

  • For student who meet the McKinney Act definition, the SB must provide transportation to the school of origin for the remainder of the year when in the student’s best interest.

  • DCF/SCC will retain the responsibility to coordinate temporary transportation for students to and from school during the time that the SB transportation is being arranged.

Sharing Information/Documentation:

  • SCC will provide the SB a monthly updated list of children in out of home care residing in licensed settings actively enrolled in school and their location and notify SB of changes.

  • The SB will provide youth attendance records and quarterly academic transcripts to CMs upon request.

  • SCC will ensure that the School Enrollment Form and its attachments (custody letter) is provided to the school liaison for school age children in SCC custody within 72 hours.

  • The SB will provide notice to CM staff when district mandated parental correspondence is released.

  • Subject to being provided appropriate releases, consents and orders from court/legal guardians, current CBHA, psychological, psychiatric, medical evaluations, social work assessments, transitional assessments will be exchanged between the SB and SCC.

  • All requests for student information by SCC will be accompanied by a signed release from parent or a Shelter Order.

Early Intervention/Post Secondary Education/IL:

  • SCC and the SB will work to promote education progress and assist students in acquiring essential independent living skills, including readiness for pursuit of higher education goals and/or employment.  The SB will assist with the education of youth known to the department, as well as, youth adopted over the age of 13, regarding the availability of financial assistance, to include tuition exemptions.

  • DCF, MSO, SCC, SB will engage in collaborative efforts for identifying pre-school age youth who may qualify to ensure that early intervention services are provided. 

Exceptional Student Education (ESE):

  • A surrogate parent will be appointed by the SB or Court for a youth who qualifies as soon as the child is determined to be without a parent who can act for youth with consideration given to individuals who know the child and recommendations made by DCF, MSO, SCC and the courts so the surrogate can follow the education of the youth during entire time in state custody.

  • The CM may refer a child for an assessment.  The CM may not sign as the parent or the surrogate for the consent for an evaluation of an IEP or authorizing participation in program.

Training

  • The SB will offer training to individuals desiring to become educational surrogate parents and will allow Guardians ad Litem (GALs) and foster parents to attend the trainings offered through the SB.

  • The SB will consult with CMs, supervisors, GALs, caregivers or other interested parties at their request regarding the programs available for Exceptional Students

***Terms of this EIA will continue through 6/30/19 and will be reviewed annually.It is available in it’s entirety on the J-drive

Educational Outcomes for Children in Care  

There are consistent and widespread deficits for educational progress or success for our children in out-of-home care.  School age children in foster care commonly experience a number of moves while in out-of-home care.  These changes can significantly impact their school experiences.  Children who change schools frequently make less academic progress than their peers, and each time they change schools they fall farther behind.  These negative effects on academic achievement are also associated with dropping out.

Children who experience frequent school changes may also face challenges in developing and sustaining supportive relationships with teacher or with peers.  Supportive relationships and a positive educational experience can be powerful contributors to the development of resilience and are vital components for healthy development and overall well-being. 

Behavioral problems that children in foster care experience impact their academic success.  Children in foster care experience school suspensions and expulsions at higher rates than non-foster care peers.  It is believed that a failure to address the needs of children in foster care leads to behavioral problems at school.  It is also important to understand the impact of trauma on the lives of our children in care.

Research consistently documents that significant percentages of foster children have special education needs and/or are receiving special educations services.  Research also suggests that children in care who receive special education services tend to change schools more frequently, be placed in more restrictive educational settings, and have poorer quality education plans than their non-foster care peers in special education.  While screening foster youth for special education needs increases those receiving needed services, it is important to focus on those children receiving quality services timely.

Youth in care graduate at relatively low rates as when compared to non-foster care peers.  Studies consistently show that children in foster care tend to experience high levels of grade retention and because of grade retention are more likely to be old for their grade.  This is important because retention and being old for grade are both strong predictors of dropping out of school.  Young people in foster care are less likely to graduate from high school if they experience repeated placement changes. 

Research suggests that college enrollment is more likely when young people are allowed to remain in care until age 21 or receive mentoring services.

Educational Facts from national and multi-states data

Likelihood of being absent from school 2x that of other students

Foster youth who change schools when first entering care 56 – 75%

17-18 year olds in care who have experience 5+ school changes 34%

Likelihood of 17-18 year old foster youth having an out of school suspension 2x that of other students

Likelihood of 17-18 year old foster youth being expelled 3x that of other students

Average reading level of 17-18 year olds in foster care 7th grade

Likelihood of foster youth receiving special education 2.5 - 3.5x that of other students

Foster youth who complete high school by 18 50%

17-18 year old foster youth who want to go to college 84%

Foster youth who graduated from high school who attend college 20%

Former foster youth attain a bachelor’s degree 2 - 9%

We are likely to think about educational achievement of vulnerable children as an issue of the individual child, however, the data above indicates otherwise.  When supported, positive school experiences can help counteract the negative effect of abuse, neglect, and lack of permanency experienced by children and youth in foster care.  A concerted effort by child welfare professionals can lead to significant progress in changing the educational outcomes for children in care.  Advocacy, programs, and interventions can lead to success and influence the deficits above for our children and youth in foster care.

Surrogate Parents for Exceptional Students

Surrogate Parent is an individual appointed to act in the place of a parent in educational decision-making and in safeguarding a student’s rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). According to F.S. Chapter 39 - When a child is placed into licensed out of home care (including Specialized Therapeutic Foster Care and Residential Programs) and has been identified as requiring/potentially requiring ESE services; the GAL, Foster Parent, Surrogate Parent, or other caretaker may serve as the parent for educational purposes if:

  • The students natural parents’ whereabouts or identity is unknown; or

  • A court of competent jurisdiction has terminated the parents’ rights; or

  • There are more than five children in the licensed out of home placement; or

  • The child is entitled by law to a surrogate but does not fit the criteria, will be determined on a case by case basis.

Exceptional Student means any student who has been determined eligible for a special program in accordance with rules of the State Board of Education.  The term includes students who are gifted and students with disabilities who have an intellectual disability including:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder                                          

  • Speech Impairment

  • Language Impairment

  • Orthopedic Impairment

  • Other Health Impairment

  • Traumatic Brain Injury

  • Visual Impairment

  • Emotional or Behavioral Disability

  • Specific Learning Disability Including But Not Limited To: Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Developmental Aphasia

  • Deaf Or Hard Of Hearing Or Dual Sensory Impaired

  • Hospitalized Or Homebound Students

  • Children With Developmental Delays

What are the duties of a Surrogate Parent?

A Surrogate Parent is expected to:

  • Become familiar with the district’s procedures for providing services to exceptional students.

  • Meet the student.

  • Meet the student’s teacher(s) and others who work with the student.

  • Observe the student’s school day.

  • Become familiar with the student’s background, abilities and disabilities.

  • Participate in IEP, Educational Plan (EP), Academic Improvement Plan (AIP) and other educational meetings

  • Help make decisions about the student’s education.

  • Give or withhold consent for actions proposed by the district, as appropriate.

  • Give permission for field trips, release of records, photographs, etc. to be an appropriate part of the student’s educational program.

  • Ask the school to take actions related to the student’s education.

  • Understand all procedural safeguards available and invoke them as appropriate.

Responsibilities which are not part of the Surrogate Parent:

The following areas are specifically excluded from the Surrogate Parent:

  • Care, maintenance and custody of the child.

  • Residential treatment placement.

  • Identification and evaluation of activities not relating specifically to special education.

Termination of a Surrogate Parent is appropriate when:

  • The child is determined to no longer be eligible for or in need of special education programs.

  • The legal guardianship of the child is assigned to a person who is able to assume the role of the parent.

  • The parent who was previously unknown becomes known, or the whereabouts of the parents that were previously undiscovered are discovered.

  • The child reaches the age of majority and is no longer in need of a Surrogate Parent for educational matters.

The SCC case manager may not sign as the parent or surrogate for a referral for an evaluation for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or as authorizing participation in the program

Educational Records and Documentation

When supported by strong practices and policies, positive school experiences can counteract the negative effects of abuse, neglect, and abandonment experienced by children and youth in foster care. Education provides opportunities for improved well-being in physical, intellectual, and social domains during critical developmental periods and supports economic success in adult life.  A concerted effort in supporting our youth could lead to significant progress in changing the educational outcomes for children in foster care.

To ensure the children served by the Safe Children Coalition (SCC) are having their educational needs met, Case Managers conduct multiple assessments and compile that information in the FSFN Educational Record, FSFN narrative notes, and ASK filing system. Following are assessments/activities that must occur and be addressed and documented in FSFN:

  • School stability

  • Prompt enrollment for school changes

  • Regular school attendance

  • School behaviors

  • Meeting special education needs

  • Support to succeed and graduate

  • Support transitions to college

  • Support for caregivers

Advocating educationally for our youth in the public education system can help close the achievement gap we see with performance of children in care for standardized test performance, high school graduation rates, and post secondary education.

The FSFN Education Record is used to document the education information and education history.  This record is created and maintained by the Case Manager in FSFN for all children receiving educational services such as Occupational Therapy (OT), Speech Therapy (ST), and Physical Therapy (PT). As well as, children in school, daycare, preschool, or being home schooled.

Every time there is a change in educational placement or grade this record is updated within 48 hours of notification. The contents of this record feed directly into the FSFN Case Plan and the FSFN Judicial Review Social Study Summary, therefore it is very important to update with current information.

In addition to the Education Record, the Case Manager must create a narrative note in FSFN each time a record is requested and/or received, when contacts with the school occur, or an educational meeting is attended.  The note should reflect the outcome of the contacts/meetings and detail recommendations that were made.  Information or progress made as to the recommendations and follow ups should also be documented in a narrative note in FSFN.  All educational records and written correspondences received are to be filed in ASK and with the court.

Professional Boundaries

Professional Boundaries

Professional Boundaries are the separation of personal and professional lives.  Blurring of boundaries can bring risks of damages and liabilities for the staff, co-workers, the agency, and the clients served.  Establishing and maintaining professional boundaries is important in the work we do.

How do boundaries become blurred? As Child Welfare professionals, we may play a variety of roles with clients—these include mentors, advocates, teachers, and mediators.  This can easily lead to dual relationships if the worker does not establish and maintain clear boundaries. Dual relationships occur when more than one kind of a relationship is formed between workers and clients or between co-workers.

Dual Relationships and Blurring of Boundaries 

Examples of dual relationships that should be avoided.

Gifts

Ò  Receiving or giving gifts

Favors/Work

Ò  Business and real estate transactions

Ò  Receiving discounts

Ò  Accept volunteer work

Ò  Awarding contracts

Ò  Loans and favors

Special Treatment

Ò  Outside of what all clients would normally have available to them

Ò  Beyond regular job duties

Religion and Politics

Ò  Discussing or promoting religious or political beliefs

Language and Behaviors

Ò  Obscene or discriminatory jokes

Ò  Use offensive conversations, swearing, and make sexual innuendos

Ò  Inappropriate e-mails and text messages

Friendships

Ò  Romantic/sexual or personal relationships

Ò  Visiting homes outside of business

Ò  Date, socialize with, or invite clients to employee’s home

Transport

Ò  Transporting client outside of approved official business

Ò  Allowing client to drive personal vehicle

Ò  Allowing client or family member to drive company vehicle

Personal Information

Ò  Exchange personal phone numbers or share home address

Ò  Calls with clients outside of business

Ò  Self-disclosure

Confidentiality

Ò  Discuss cases and confidential information outside of work

Ò  Access client files and information outside of job duties (HIPAA violation)

Substance Use

Ò  Use alcohol, tobacco, medication, or illegal substances while on duty

Establishing and Maintaining Professional Boundaries 

Keep our staff, agency, and clients safe by establishing and maintaining boundaries.

®     Clarify roles and responsibilities with clients and co-workers up front

®     Create an environment with constructive and open communication

®     Be aware of risks and liabilities

®     Be aware of positions of power versus positions of vulnerability

®     Anticipate and avoid boundary blurring and dual relationships

®      Avoid personal relationships between supervisors and supervisees

®      Avoid socializing with present and previous clients

®      Be aware that perceived boundary violations and dual relationships can be just as harmful

Staff should be familiar with their agency’s policies as they relate to professional boundaries.  Any staff member who violates policy may be subject to disciplinary action.  Employees are expected to immediately report unethical, illegal, or dangerous activities of clients, family members or staff.