Engaging families in services is critical to achieving permanency. Concerted efforts by the case manager are required to promote, support, and/or maintain positive relationships between the child, parents, and other significant family members. These efforts of engagement are provided on a continual basis and still apply when a parent is incarcerated.
On-going engagement of incarcerated parents or significant family members:
Develop positive relationships between the case manager and the parent.
Maintain family connections with the case manager facilitating correspondences.
Maintain connections with the parent as part of the team.
Enable the parent to participate in decision-making, case planning and coordinate case plan tasks.
When the case plan goal is Reunification or Maintain and Strengthen, face-to-face contact with the parent is required by the case manager at least every 30 days. Best practice is to have the required face-to-face contact with parents in their home to accurately assess risk and to empower the parent. When a parent is incarcerated, the facility is their home. If they are incarcerated locally the case manager must go to that facility to see that parent. If the parent is incarcerated out-of-county but within the state of Florida, an Out Of County (OCS) worker is to be requested for Case Plan Assistance. In that situation, the OCS worker is responsible for seeing the parent face-to-face in the facility every 30 days. It is important to note that although there is an OCS worker assigned, the primary case manager should stay involved and maintain contact with the parent by telephone or letters at least monthly (send it certified for a return receipt), provide the incarcerated parent with self-addressed stamped envelopes so that they can write to the case manager and their child (through the CM), and maintain contact with the parent’s classification officer as to the services the parent is involved in at the facility.
The case manager ensures the parents are provided with reunification services including:
Maintain continued contact with the child through telephone calls, letters and any other reasonable and appropriate method when it is in the best interest of the child.
Work towards a realistic and timely goal.
Identify and remedy the problems that resulted in removal.
Advise the parent of their legal rights and how to contact any court appointed attorneys.
Assist the parent in making changes that will permit a safe reunification upon release.
Ensure the parent is involved in decision-making and case planning processes.
Ensure any time a critical incident occurs involving the child, the incarcerated parent(s) is notified.
Regularly and promptly inform the parent(s) of the child’s health, educational and developmental progress and needs.
Address the possibility of permanent separation.
Discuss child support requirements and obligations.
Contacts are purposeful and focus on the reasons for supervision, progress made and obstacles.
Any service providers working with the parent(s) including the social worker (often called the classification officer) at the facility are communicated with on an ongoing basis to determine the effectiveness of the service in reaching the case plan goal.
Discuss progress and determine action plans when problems arise.
Share pertinent information.
Request timely status and progress reports.
When the case plan goal is not Reunification or Maintain and Strengthen, monthly contacts with the parent are still required, however they do not have to be face-to-face.
The case manager documents all services offered, contacts, attempted contacts, letters sent and received, reports received and findings, and any other case activity in FSFN within 48 hours of the activity occurring.