TIP OF THE WEEK

When to Leave Kids Home Alone

Is this child old enough to begin staying home alone?   When older children are placed in situations of independence that they can handle, it can help them learn responsibility.  However, asking too much too soon is dangerous and holds consequences for the child and the parent.  Children left unsupervised or in the care of young siblings are at increased risk for accidental injury and behavioral and academic problems. 

Inadequate supervision is a parent/caregiver leaving a child without adult supervision or arrangement appropriate for the child’s age or mental or physical condition, so that the child is unable to care for the child’s own needs or another’s basic needs or is unable to exercise good judgment in responding to any kind of physical or emotional crisis.  There is no age stated in Florida Statute at which a child can be left unattended or alone.  There are also no established timeframes for how long a child can be left alone.  These are primarily parental decisions and, as such, each situation must be assessed individually, focusing on:

  • Specific child, caregiver, and incident given child’s age, maturity, developmental level, or mental or physical condition;

  • Child’s ability to care for own needs or another’s basic needs; and

  • Child’s ability to exercise sufficient judgement in responding to any physical or emotional crisis.

Florida does not have a law about the age children can be left home alone, but instead expects parents to take all of the circumstances into account when deciding what level of supervision is needed.  Parents and caregivers should begin leaving children home alone progressively—for a short time initially and stay relatively close to home in case needed.

The National SAFE KIDS Campaign recommends that children not be left alone before the age of 12.  Many other children will not be ready until later than that.  Also, experts caution that older siblings are generally not ready for the responsibility of supervising younger children until the age of 15 or older.

Following are some questions to consider before making this important decision:

  • Is my child comfortable, confident and willing to stay home alone?  

  • Does my child consistently follow my rules and guidelines?

  • Has my child demonstrated good independent judgment and problem-solving skills in the past?

  • Is my child able to stay calm and not panic when confronted with unexpected events?

  • Does my child understand the importance of safety and know basic safety procedures?

  • Can my child lock and unlock the doors and windows of our home?

  • Is there an established routine for when he or she is home alone, with defined responsibilities and privileges?

  • Is our neighborhood safe?

  • Do we have neighbors that my child and I know and trust?  

To help ensure a child’s safety when staying at home alone, follow these safety tips:

Does this child know how to call 911?  Also, place all emergency numbers (doctor, hospital, police department, fire department, poison control center, emergency medical services) and the phone number of a friend or neighbor in a visible place and/or programmed into a cell phone.  Make sure your child knows your fire escape plans.  Remind your child to get out of the house immediately if the smoke alarm sounds and to call the fire department from a neighbor’s house. Show your child where the first-aid kit is and how to use the items in it.  Prepare a snack or meal for your child in advance, preferably one that does not need to be heated.  Tell the child where you will be, how you can be reached, and when you will return home.  Also set ground rules for:

  • leaving the house                                                                       

  • having friends over

  • cooking

  • answering the phone/door

  • using the Internet

  • checking in with you

Runaway Debriefing 

When a child under our care runs, there are many high risk factors impacting the child’s safety and well-being. Our job is to try and protect the children we serve as best we can. It is critical to comply with Florida Administrative Code (FAC) 65C-30.019 which requires the Case Manager to complete an interview (debrief) with the child within 24 hours of the child’s return. When a child is recovered, time is of the essence in gathering information to help us better assess the child’s needs and possible placement options. 

Case Managers use the “Runaway Debriefing Form” to document interview with child.  FAC also requires a photo be taken every time a child is recovered from a run episode.  

The information gathered from the debriefing interview is used to determine the child’s need for further services, to assess safety and well-being concerns, to determine high risk behaviors, and to identify potential placements and/or assess the need for a change in placement. Case Managers must complete this form while interviewing the child – the child is not supposed to fill the form in. The Debriefing is meant to be a process of in-depth communication with the child to let the child know we do care about that child’s wants and needs, to help the child feel safe and feel like we are listening to him/her. If the child has medical or other immediate needs, the Case Manager is to schedule appointments prior to leaving the child. The Case Manager and the child develop an action plan for the child to be available to attend the appointments. This may help prevent this child from running again in the future.

Debriefing forms are reviewed by the Quality Management Specialist (missing person POC) for timeliness and trends. Information is tracked and used to determine areas we can improve systemically, as well as possible ways to better serve the individual child (especially frequent runners). It is critical that all items within the form are completed thoroughly to ensure that we get a better picture of how to assist each child.

There is a section at the end of the Runaway Debriefing form for Case Managers and the child to use to detail the needed follow up tasks. These follow up tasks should have deadlines associated with them, and should incorporate the child’s wants and needs.  Most of the time children run to feel like they have some control in their lives and to be with friends. If we are able to get the child to work in cooperation with the team the child’s friends can be assessed and, when possible, cleared for overnight contacts. Working in cooperation with the child helps us in providing Normalcy for the child.

Taking the extra time to show the child we care and to have discussions with the child about the run factors noted in the Debriefing interview will assist us in better serving the child. When possible, the Case Manager can fill the form in after the conversation has taken place so the child feels they have the Case Manager’s undivided attention during the interview.  Afterwards, the Case Manager can review what was written in the form with the child to verify accuracy and obtain the child’s signature.

Conditions for Return

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

 Once all five questions are answered with a “Yes” 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?

Example:

Case Info: Fred and Wilma’s home is near being condemned because of the physical structure, faulty wiring and unhealthy living conditions. There is no heat and the plumbing is inadequate. The couple is mildly developmentally disabled and makes poor choices about use of money and care of home.

Impending Danger: The child’s physical living conditions are hazardous and a child has already been seriously injured or will likely be seriously injured. The living conditions seriously endanger a child’s physical health. (This is one of the 11 standardized impending danger threats)

Conditions for Return:

  • Fred and Wilma accept and follow the instructions and guidance of a homemaker safety service provider related to money and home management (Safety Services).

  • The home is sufficiently clean and cared for so that no hygiene problems exist (Calm and Consistent).

  • A plan for proper maintenance and adequate repair to make sure the home is livable day by day (Safety Services).

  • Fred and Wilma set aside money for and make good decisions about the upkeep of their house (Willing and Able).

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

Newborns or Other New Children in the Household

Child welfare professionals are required to assess any child joining a household that is involved in an active investigation or ongoing services case. This includes the birth of a new child in any focus household. The child welfare professional must complete an assessment in any of the following circumstances:

Ø  A child joins a focus household that is under investigation for allegations of abuse, neglect or abandonment or receiving ongoing services.

Ø  A child will be residing in the home of the parent/significant caregiver receiving ongoing case management services. “Resides” means that the child will live in a home on a permanent basis including any timesharing custody agreements

 Checklist Before Baby is Born:

· Pre-birth assessment, completed within six months of the due date via FFA-O or Progress Update.

· Supervisor Consult, to review pre-birth assessment.

· Other Parent Home Assessment, if there is a non-maltreating parent to whom the baby will be released.

· Multidisciplinary Staffing, with the parents, grandparents (if the parent is a minor), GAL, current caregivers, appropriate others. If one parent is non-offending, their OPHA must be done prior to the staffing.

· CLS Staffing, with Case Management (supervisor must be present if CM is not fully certified), GAL, and Lead Agency. Prior to Staffing CM must complete a pre-birth assessment and an OPHA.

 Checklist After Baby is Born / a New Child Enters the Home

· Re-evaluate the current safety plan to determine any need for changes and implement as necessary. This must be done before a newborn is discharged from the hospital.

· CM must inform GAL of any changes made to the safety plan.

· CM must complete an edit request so that the baby can be added to the FSFN case.

· FFA-O or Progress Update must be completed within 14 business days of the child’s birth or a new child arriving.

· Determine need for Child Placement Agreement if there is an out-of-home safety plan in place.

· Re-assess In-Home Safety Analysis Questions and update Conditions for Return as appropriate.

· CLS Staffing, with Case Management (supervisor must be present if CM is not fully certified), GAL, and Lead Agency. Prior to Staffing CM must complete an FFA-O or Progress Update and an OPHA.

 Pre-Birth Assessment

Document pre-birth assessment information in the FFA-Ongoing or Progress Update, whichever is due.

  • Child Functioning. As age appropriate, what are the feelings expressed by the child about having a new baby in home?

  • Adult Functioning.

  • Parenting/Behavior Management.

  • A supervisor consultation will be provided prior to the approval of the FFA-Ongoing or Progress Update to determine if a pre-birth assessment, newborn child assessment, or new child assessment is incorporated.

Post-Birth / Arrival of New Child Assessment

The FFA-Ongoing or Progress Update will provide the following information.

  • Child Functioning / newborn:

Ø  Was the child born full-term?

Ø  Was the newborn within a healthy weight range?

Ø  Was the child substance-exposed at birth? If so, what were the effects?

Ø  What are the ongoing possible effects that the newborn’s parent(s) or caregivers should monitor?

  • Child Functioning / new child:

Ø  Who are the new child’s parents? Why is the new child in the home? How much time is the new child spending in the focus household?

Ø  Has the new child been diagnosed with any special needs or conditions that require special care and/or ongoing medical monitoring?

Ø  Does the child have any behaviors that require a Child Placement Agreement

  • Adult Functioning / newborn  (unless it was already done in FFA-Ongoing or a Progress Update as the result of a pre-birth assessment)

Ø  What are the parent(s)’ current concerns, if any?

Ø   What is the plan for the mother’s post-natal care? Are there any barriers to accessing post-natal care?

Ø  Does mother have any symptoms of “baby blues” or post-partum depression

  • Adult Functioning / new child:

Ø  How has the care of the new child affected daily household routines and responsibilities of significant caregivers in the home?

Ø  Are adults able to provide or access necessary housing and resources to care for the new child?

Ø  Do the parent/significant caregiver have any history that is of concern regarding the safety of the mother or the new child? Is there any history of family violence? If yes, are there any current indicators of family violence or a perpetrator’s pattern of coercive control?

Ø  Does the parent/caregiver have a current or past history of mental illness or substance use disorder?

Ø  Is either parent/caregiver taking prescribed medications for a substance use disorder or other mental health disorder? If yes, who prescribes the medication?

Ø  Is a parent with a prior substance abuse history currently prescribed with pain medication (e.g., mother prescribed Oxycodone because of a C-Section)?

Ø  Is a parent currently receiving mental health or substance abuse treatment?

Ø  Is a parent being drug-tested by a substance abuse treatment provider?

  • Parenting/Behavior Management / newborn

Ø  Were there any concerns raised by hospital staff about the infant and mother-child interactions? Were any concerns raised about siblings or other persons visiting?

Ø  Is there shared agreement among all household members as to how to care for the new child?

Ø  If there is a parent in a separate household, what are the visitation or shared custody arrangements? If the parent is a non-maltreating parent, has a home study been completed and approved?

Ø  How has the care of the new child affected the care and supervision of other children in the home?

Ø  If the new child has special needs, is the parent/caregiver able to address those needs?

Ø  How has care of the new child affected family dynamics or conditions?

Ø  Do the caregivers need additional services or supports?

  • Update the Safety Analysis to determine whether the criteria for an in-home safety plan are met. As appropriate, the case manager will review and update, or create, Conditions for Return.

  • For Progress Updates:

ü  Is the parent/significant caregiver is making progress towards achieving the outcomes in the case plan?

ü  What is the impact of the new child on parent’s ability to continue participation in services.

ü  Describe any changes in the family’s change strategies.

ü  Determine whether any modifications to case plan outcomes, tasks, and services are necessary.

Background Screens

There are different types of background checks.  It is important to ensure the appropriate background screen is requested for the specific case need, based on Florida Statute, and therefore can not be used interchangeably.

Important Note:  Anytime you do a background check for placement, you are to complete the FSFN Unified Home Study, and enter the results of the background check into the FSFN Provider Record. 

1. Local law & abuse checks **NO FINGER PRINTS REQUIRED**

This type of screening is suitable for the following needs:

  • Unsupervised Contact – includes non judicial home

  • Babysitting

  • Case Closure

  • Re-license yearly check for licensed foster home

2. State (FCIC), local law & abuse checks **NO FINGERPRINTS REQUIRED**

This type of screening is suitable for the following needs:

  • Reunification

  • Planned/Emergency Placement youth ages 12-17

  • Adoption (initial & 90 day) /Licensed foster home (initial & 5 year) FDLE youth ages 12-17

3. National (NCIC), State (FCIC), local law & abuse checks

**FINGER PRINTS ARE REQUIRED**

This type of screening is suitable for the following needs:

  • Planned/Emergency Placement or household members of a placement – includes *New* household member to non-judicial home.

    • Non-Custodial Parent

    • Relative

    • Non-Relative

  • **Family-Made Arrangement (No removal / shelter) *Safety Plan*

  • **Safety Provider*Safety Plan*

  • **Initial Adoption – second sets are taken for 90 day re-screen (if warranted).

  • Frequent visitor to placement home (visitor who is in home consistently on a regular basis)

  • **New Licensed Foster home/ 5 year re-screen

  • **Licensed Foster home babysitter-Licensing determines and advises subject to be finger printed.

  • Household member of reunifying household (relative/non-relative **not parent**)

  • Other child safety concern

** Even though placements, adoption, foster care licensing, Family-Made arrangement and Safety Provider background screens all require finger prints- they cannot be used interchangeably due to Florida statue specification guidelines

PLEASE NOTE: All 3 types include out of state criminal checks if the resources are available to BSU for identified state that subject has resided in.

PLEASE PLAN AHEAD!   All requests are given a 2 week turnaround time. Any screens that are needed before the 2 week date must be approved as urgent or emergency by a supervisor, and communicated to BSUHELP through one of the following: phone, email, or face to face.

 

Incarcerated Parents Case Planning

Statutory changes and new provisions enacted by the 2018 Florida Legislature affect our case management responsibilities for incarcerated parents.  Chapter 39 updates include how to engage incarcerated parents, case plan development including incarcerated parents, and offering available services while incarcerated and are outlined below.  

Changes to F.S. 39.621 include:

• When parents are incarcerated or become incarcerated, the Department shall obtain information from the facility where they reside to determine how they can participate in the preparation and completion of the Case Plan and receive services.

• An incarcerated parent must be given the regulations of the facility where he/she resides and the services available at the facility.

• The Department must attach a list of all services available at the facility to the Case Plan. If the facility does not have a list of available services, the Department must note the unavailability of the list in the Case Plan.

• The incarcerated parent must comply with the facility procedures and policies to access services or maintain contact with his/her children as provided in the Case Plan.

• If a parent becomes incarcerated after a Case Plan has been developed, the parties must move to amend the Case Plan if the incarceration has an impact on permanency for the child including, but not limited to:

           − Modification of provision regarding visitation and contact with the child

           − Identification of services within the facility

           − Changing the permanency goal or establishing a concurrent goal

• A parent’s services must be assessed upon release, if the Case Plan has not expired.

• If the parent was unable to participate in services, the Department must include a full explanation of the circumstances surrounding non-participation and state the nature of the Department’s efforts to secure participation.

Case Management responsibilities:

• Case Managers need to coordinate with Children’s Legal Services and other parties to ensure participation of the incarcerated parent in the development of the Case Plan.

• Upon completing the Family Functioning Assessment-Ongoing and developing the Case Plan Worksheet, Case Managers must send a notification/introduction letter to the parent(s) notifying them of their assignment and contact information.

• Case Managers also must send a letter to the assigned correctional institution introducing themselves and their role and asking the Classification Officer to respond via e-mail with their contact information. The email will be marked “Attention Classification Department”.

• When a parent is incarcerated, Case Managers need to identify the appropriate services and classes for the parent in order to make recommendations to the court regarding tasks that should be included in the parent’s Case Plan. The Florida Department of Correction’s website has information about programs and services that are available, such as mental health treatment, substance abuse counseling, parenting classes, and anger management, and can be accessed at the various correctional institutions by the parent(s).

• Upon obtaining a verified list of available services, Case Managers need to ensure the list is attached to the copy of the Case Plan filed with the courts.

• A copy of the Case Plan must be provided to the incarcerated parent. A copy can be provided via mail, e-mail, or provided through the assigned attorney.

• Case Managers need to familiarize themselves with s. 39.6011 (1)(a), F.S. and HB 281.

Important

The incarcerated parent’s information can be located on the Florida Department of Correction’s website: http://www.dc.state.fl.us/ Click on “Offender Search” to locate their Department of Corrections’ number and the address of the assigned correctional institution.

Information on parents incarcerated outside of the state of Florida can be found using Vinelink at https://www.vinelink.com/#/home

Suicide Prevention

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), every 15 minutes someone in the U.S. dies by suicide. Suicide is not inevitable for anyone. By starting the conversation, providing support, and directing help to those who need it, we can prevent suicides and save lives.

Evidence shows that providing support services, talking about suicide, reducing access to means of self-harm, and following up with loved ones are some of the actions we can all take to help others. By offering immediate counseling to everyone that may need it, local crisis centers provide invaluable support at critical times and connect individuals to local services.  

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. More information on symptoms can be found at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

Some warning signs may help you determine if someone one is at risk for suicide, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these, seek help.

·         Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves

·         Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun

·         Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

·         Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

·         Talking about being a burden to others

·         Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs

·         Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly

·         Sleeping too little or too much

·         Withdrawing or isolating themselves

·         Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

·         Extreme mood swings

Risk factors are characteristics that make it more likely that someone will consider, attempt, or die by suicide. They can't cause or predict a suicide attempt, but they're important to be aware of.

·         Mental disorders, particularly mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and certain personality disorders

·         Alcohol and other substance use disorders

·         Hopelessness

·         Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies

·         History of trauma or abuse

·         Major physical illnesses

·         Previous suicide attempt(s)

·         Family history of suicide

·        Job or financial loss

·      Loss of relationship(s)

·      Easy access to lethal means

·      Local clusters of suicide

·      Lack of social support and sense of isolation

·      Stigma associated with asking for help

·      Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment

·      Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma

·     Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)

90% of the people who commit suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death, most often depression or bipolar disorder.  It is CRITICAL that consistent helpful counseling services are engaged in when someone indicates symptoms of depression or other mental health disorder.

Infant Safe Sleep

Infant Sleep Safety

Making sure a baby is safe when they sleep is important. Babies can suffocate if their airways become blocked by soft objects like blankets, pillows, or other objects. They are also at risk if someone rolls onto them.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep alone, on their backs and in a crib or bassinet that is clear of everything else.

Parents provide many reasons for co-sleeping. It is important to know that co-sleeping is not safe!. Every year many children die due to co-sleeping

Reasons parents give for bed sharing/co-sleeping:

  • ·Lack of separate room

  • ·Lack of crib

  • Convenience – easier to feed baby, easier to check on baby during night

  • Safety – want to be able to see to keep safe

  • Parental comfort – bonding with baby due to lack of time for working parents

  • Depression - mom's suffering from depression increased bed sharing

What does a safe sleep environment look like?

  • Baby asleep alone and on their back

  • In the same room where their parents sleep

  • In an approved crib or bassinet with a firm surface

  • With tightly fitted sheets

  • No bumpers, pillows, blankets, loose bedding, or toys

  • No cords or other objects within baby's reach

What are other safety recommendations?

  • No smoking - during pregnancy or around the baby.

  • Each sleep counts - the same safety rules should be followed during naps as well as bedtime.

  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of SUIDS (Sudden Unexpected  Infant Death Syndrome).

  • Couches, recliners, chairs, and other non-approved surfaces should never be used for a baby to sleep or nap - especially if they are sleeping with a caregiver.

  • Offer a pacifier at each nap and at bedtime. For breastfeeding babies, wait to offer the pacifier until breastfeeding is well-established (at about 4 weeks). Pacifiers should NOT be forced or attached to a baby or a baby's clothing.

  • Don't let baby get too hot during sleep - no more than one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear to be comfortable. Keep the room at a comfortable temperature.

  • Follow your health care provider's guidance on vaccines and checkups

  • Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SUID.

  • Products such as wedges, positioners, monitors, etc. - have not been tested for safety or effectiveness and could possibly cause harm.

  • Give baby plenty of tummy time when baby is awake and supervised.

RESOURCES:  

FL Dept of Children & Families  http://www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/child-welfare/safesleep                                                 American Academy of Pediatrics http://www.aappolicy.org                                                                               National Institute for Child and Human Development Back to Sleep Campaign (Order free educational materials) http://www.nichd.nih.gov/sids/sids.cfm

Independent Living – Age 13 to 17

The primary case manager in coordination with the caregiver is responsible for ensuring youth receives Independent Living (IL) services from age 13 to the child’s 18th birthday.

All teens age 13 or older from the time of placement in shelter status with the Department are eligible and must receive IL Services through their CM.

  • Foster care youth are eligible to receive IL Services.

  • The Primary CM must ensure an IL Referral is completed in FSFN for all children age 13 or older in licensed out of home care.

  • Each youth, if selected, must complete the NYTD survey twice a year.

The CM is responsible for ensuring the youth completes the Daniel Memorial Skills Assessment (DMA) at the required ages.

  • The youth will complete a DMA. CM will submit it to Programs for scoring.

  • The short form DMA shall be completed at ages 13/14 or 15/16 depending on the age upon entering licensed care.

  • The DMA will generate the Life Skills Plan. This plan must be shared the caregiver and youth. DMA will also generate a Life Skills Information Attestation that the youth must sign.

  • The DMA, Life Skills Plan, and Attestation must be filed with the Court each time it is completed.

  • CM will provide the Caregiver with the Independent Living Trainings/Progress Report for the Court form. Caregiver will track the Life Skills Plan trainings provided to the youth. CM will collect this form quarterly for purposes of reporting to the court.

  • The CM shall have monthly discussions with the youth and caregiver as to life skill needs and the Caregiver's responsibility to provide for life skill needs. This discussion shall be documented in FSFN.

Case Plans:  When appropriate, for a child who is 13 years of age or older in Out of Home Care, a written description of the programs and services that will help the child prepare for the transition from foster care to independent living. For youth 14 years of age and older in Out of Home Care, Case Plan will be developed in consultation with the child.  Child may choose up to two members of the case planning team who are not the foster parent or caregiver.  FSFN documentation must include notification to child regarding choice to choose two members of the case planning team and that child's caregiver was included in the development/implementation of the case plan.

  • The youth must be aware of their case plan tasks and must receive copies of all case plan and judicial review documents.

  • DMA areas of identified needs, school staffing outcomes/educational and career plans as well as Staffing recommendations are incorporated into the youth’s Case Plan.

  • The Case Plan is reviewed and updated at least annually and it includes specific tasks that describe the youth’s “Life Skills Plan” to learn and acquire the needed skills identified in the DMA.

  • Document services needed and who/where they will be obtained from, along with a timeframe to initiate the services, the frequency of the services and the timeframe to complete the services.

  • Describe positive behaviors the youth has exhibited that reflect the youth’s abilities.

  • Document the consequences for non-compliance with the IL agreed upon services and of the youth’s misconduct if it should occur.

  • Document a plan for developing and maintaining relationships with appropriate supports for the youth within the family or community.

Judicial Reviews:  All youth 13 years of age or older must have their IL progress documented in the JRSSR. 

  • The JRSSR should cover all of the areas outlined in the case plan and contain the key elements required by Florida Statute 39.701.

  • All DMA and other IL service related documents must be attached to the JRSSR.

Credit Checks: Annual credit check must be completed on all children in Out of Home Care 14 years of age and older. 

Education:  CM is responsible for monitoring the youth’s academic status, referring youth for needed educational services, and documenting youth’s progress and educations changes in FSFN. 

Placement Factors to Consider

Appropriate placement matching begins prior to the child’s placement. When a child is unable to be safely placed with a parent, the most appropriate available out-of-home placement must be chosen after considering a variety of factors.

Factors that MUST be considered for placement:

§  Age

§  Gender

§  Gender expression

§  Sexual orientation

§  Sibling status

§  Special physical, educational, or developmental needs

§  Alleged type of abuse, neglect, or abandonment

§  Community Ties

§  School Placement

§  Ability for potential caregivers to meet the child’s needs

The Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 and the Interethnic Adoption Provisions of the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996, P.L. 104-188, require that every placement decision for children in the care or custody of the department be made without regard to the race, ethnicity, color, or national origin of the child or the adult with whom the child is to be placed.

A child-placing agency has the obligation to place each child in the most suitable setting according to that child’s individual needs, taking into account maintenance of the child’s school stability and the capacity of the placement to meet the child’s needs, and the needs of any other children already placed in that setting. No child shall be denied services by any child-placing agency or out-of-home caregiver based on race, religion, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation.

A Placement Assessment must be completed when a child is initially removed.  Additional Placement Assessments should be completed as determined by the Community Based Care (CBC) Lead Agency. The Placement Assessment helps determine the level of care needed for each child placed in out-of-home care to ensure the most appropriate placement is selected on behalf of the child. When the needs and preferences of the child are assessed, Child Welfare Professionals are then able to make the BEST possible match for the child.

In determining the best placement setting, assess if the child has any:

─ Medical, developmental, and/or mental health needs

─ DJJ involvement

─ Court order placement requirements

─ Siblings

─ Educational needs

─ Placement preference and activities, hobbies, etc., that the child is involved with

The Placement Assessment is designed to determine the level of care, not to determine if the child should be placed with a specific individual. For example, it helps determine if the child can be in a relative/non-relative setting, but it does not determine if a specific relative/non-relative is appropriate. It is the Unified Home Study that assesses if an identified potential caregiver has the ability to safely care and meet the identified needs of the child.

Incident Reporting

All employees of Safe Children Coalition Agencies and contracted vendors are to comply with CBC Policy 100.005a – Incident Reporting, for incidents involving CBC employees and clients.  The incident report does not replace existing abuse, neglect and/or exploitation reporting requirements through the Florida Abuse hotline at 1-800-96ABUSE (1-800-962-2873).  Incident Reports must be submitted within 1 business day of gaining knowledge of the event.  Information can be updated in a subsequent report if additional information is obtained.  Case Managers are responsible for entering a FSFN note documenting the completion of the incident report, details of the incident, notifications and needed follow up within 2 business days of incident report.

Reportable Incidents:

·         Altercation/Fight/Disruptive Behavior – A physical confrontation occurring between a client under supervision and another individual, resulting in one or more clients or employees receiving medical attention by a licensed health care professional.

·         Runaway/ Elopement – The unauthorized absence beyond 4 hours for a child under supervision.

·         Theft/Vandalism/Damage – The loss of property due to damage that is significant and non-accidental.

·         *Client Injury or Illness – A serious illness of a client that is determined to be life threatening by a licensed health care professional or is the result of apparent abuse and/or neglect or a serious medical condition of a client requiring medical treatment by a licensed health care professional (i.e. surgery, stitches, dog bite, hospitalization).

·         Disease Epidemic – Any occurrence of disease that fits the definition of "outbreak" or other health occurrence likely to result in a high level of public interest (this includes environmental threats, as well as actual disease).

·         *Client Death – A person whose life ends who is under supervision (adult or child).

·         *Suicide Attempt – The physical attempt by a client under supervision to cause his or her own death, which results in serious bodily injury requiring medical treatment by a physician.

·         Suicide Threat /Self Injury - The self injurious behavior by a client under supervision to cause harm to his or her own person, which results in superficial bodily injury which may not require medical attention or the verbal threat to cause harm to self.

·         Criminal Activity – Criminal conduct perpetrated by an employee or client which results in an arrest.  With regard to employees, criminal activity is reportable when it occurs while on CBC property or while the employee is representing CBC, which results in an arrest. (ie falsifying records)

·         Child on Child Sexual Battery - Sexual battery by a client on a client or child-on-child alleged incident and ALSO requires a report to the Florida Abuse Hotline.

·         Sexual Assault or Battery – A sexual assault or battery on a client under supervision as evidenced by allegations being made or criminal charges being filed against the perpetrator.

·         Abuse/Neglect/Abandonment/Threat of Harm - Allegations that justify and ALSO requires a report to the Florida Abuse Hotline for an open case. This includes allegations made regarding abuse/neglect/threat of harm, both current and past.

·         *Media Coverage or Potential Media Attention – Any event generating or likely to generate media attention or the threat of media involvement or social media.

·         Other Event – An unusual occurrence or circumstance out of the ordinary such as a tornado, kidnapping, riot, hostage situation, bomb threat or other situation that jeopardizes the health, safety and welfare of clients.

*Critical incidents that must also be reported to DCF no later than 4 hours from discovery.

Steps for Completing an Incident Report:

Incidents should be reported to the agency supervisor immediately upon receiving information.  The incident shall be reviewed with Supervisor and recommendations to ensure child safety shall be discussed with case manager.  The employee shall follow through on all recommendations immediately.

The Incident Report (IR) Form shall be completed electronically the same day as notification or within 24 hours of notification of the incident.  This process may NOT be delayed because the Supervisor is unavailable.

The IR Form should be filled out completely with as much detail regarding the incident as possible. Make sure you indicate the county from which the child is cased, as well as defining relationship (relative care, foster care, vps, etc.)  When incident involves parent or caregiver, make sure child’s name is included in report as that is how IRs are filed, by the child’s name. 

The IR Form should be password protected and saved in the following format: client’s first initial, last name, date of incident and county from which child is receiving services (example: k. steinman 08-07-06 Sarasota).

Copies of the IR Form are transmitted via email to the appropriate distribution list as detailed in the Incident Report Form.

 

 

 

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.

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.

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 support to the caregivers 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 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 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.

Photographs of Children for Identification

One of the most important tools for law enforcement to use in the case of a missing child is an up-to-date, good-quality photograph.  For this reason, all children are photographed using the Mindshare Mobile application then uploaded into FSFN. 

F.A.C. 65C-30.004 details who must be photographed and when as follows:

·        All children under in-home supervision within 15 days after the ESI staffing.

·        All children placed in out-of-home care within 72 hours of a removal episode.

·        Immediately upon return to care, any child who has been on runaway status.

·        All children and sibling groups available for adoption who are required to be registered             on the Adoption Exchange System.

Photographs must be taken monthly using the Mindshare Mobile application. Mindshare will also capture GPS coordinates and a date/time stamp of where and when the photo was taken.

If the parent or caregiver refuses to allow access to the child for purpose of obtaining photographs, diligent efforts to obtain the photograph are documented in FSFN and Children’s Legal Services is contacted to request a Court Order to obtain the photographs.

If the child is to be placed out-of-state a photo is taken prior to the child’s placement and a copy must be provided to the receiving state. The Case Manager requests updated photographs to be provided by the ICPC worker, caregivers or courtesy workers at a minimum of every 6 months for children under age 5 and annually for children age 5 and older.

Photo Requirements:

The individual child photograph should be a recent, head-and-shoulders photograph of the child in which the face is clearly seen. It should be of "school-portrait" quality, and the background should be plain or solid so it does not distract from the subject.

The photograph should be an accurate depiction of the child, not overly posed or "glamorized."  Nor should other people, animals, or objects be in the photograph.

The Primary Case Manager ensures the photograph is taken and properly uploaded into FSFN within 48 hours of when it was taken

Home Safety Checklist

 

§  Are electrical cords intact and away from the reach of children?

§  Are electrical appliances away from a filled tub, sink or running water?

§  Are painted surfaces (including walls and furniture) free from chalking, flaking and peeling, which could indicate the presence of lead-based paint?

§  Are all exterior doors, including pet doors, if applicable, childproofed (latches, high locks or alarms, etc.)?

§  Are all stairways and floor space for walking clear from obstruction and in a non-slippery condition?

§  Is there railing protecting all stairways and elevated landings (top and bottom of stairs)?

§  If there are railing slats greater than 2-3/8 inches apart, are they covered with a piece of wood or hard plastic?

§  Is there a safe place for the child to sleep?

§  If there is a crib, are the gaps between the slats on the crib 2-3/8 inches or less?

§  If there is a child under 1 year of age, is the sleeping area free of soft bedding (including bumper pads), pillows, blankets and stuffed animals?

§  If there is a crib, does the crib sheet and mattress fit tightly to avoid entrapment and suffocation?

§  Are all houseplants out of the reach of children?

§  Are all ashtrays out of the reach of children?

§  Are emergency numbers readily accessible?

§  Are knives and other sharp objects out of the reach of children or in a childproofed drawer?

§  Are plastic bags out of the reach of children?

§  Are sharp edges and corners covered (i.e., fireplace, tables, etc.)?

§  Are there safety plugs in all unused electrical outlets?

§  Are hair dryers and curling irons out of the reach of children?

§  Are the iron and ironing board out of the reach of children?

§  Are all chemicals and cleaning supplies stored in original containers? (Some examples of dangerous products include paint thinner, antifreeze, gasoline, turpentine, bleach, insect spray, fertilizer, poison.)

§  Are all chemicals and cleaning supplies stored out of the reach of children or in a childproofed cabinet?

§  Are all vitamins, over-the-counter and prescription medication stored out of the reach of children or in a childproofed drawer/cabinet?

§  Are all alcoholic beverages stored out of the reach of children or in a childproofed cabinet?

§  Are cosmetics stored out of the reach of children or in a childproofed drawer/cabinet?

§  Are curtain and blind cords kept out of the reach of children?

§  If residence is not on the ground floor, is furniture that a child could climb on away from windows, or are there window guards installed?

 FIRE SAFETY

§  Are smoke alarm(s) in working order and located on every floor?

§  Are space heaters in good repair and are they at least 4 feet from clothing, curtains/drapes or any flammable material?

§  Are there two unrestricted exits (windows or doors) that can be used in case of fire? 

 WATER SAFETY

§  Look at all outdoor areas with water (pool, hot tub, retention pond and/or fountain).

§  If there is a door from the house that leads into an area with water, is there an exit alarm or a lock located at least 54 inches above the floor?

  • If there is a barrier around the pool, are large objects outside of the barrier (such as tables, chairs or ladders) far enough away from the barrier to prevent children from using them to climb over the barrier and into the pool area?
  • Is there a latch on the gate that closes automatically (if there is a gate into the area with water)?
  • Is the latch located on the side with the water? Is the latch located at least 54 inches above the bottom of the gate?
  • If there is a window that is accessible to the area with water, is there an exit alarm and/or is the base of the window at least 48 inches from the interior floor?
  • Are toys and objects that may attract children kept out of the water when not in use?
  • Are there life saving devices near the pool such as a hook, pole or flotation device?
  • Are pool chemicals kept away from heat sources and out of the reach of children?
  • Is the property free from containers of water or other fluid left uncovered or accessible to a child (i.e., inflatable “kiddie pool”, buckets, etc.)?

Baker Act Requirements for a Child or Adolescent

Child welfare professionals have specific responsibilities when a Baker Act is initiated on a child or adolescent during an active investigation or while the family is receiving ongoing services, including post placement supervision.  The placement of a child or adolescent in a mental health treatment facility for involuntary examination as authorized by a Baker Act or voluntary admission warrants a thorough assessment or re-assessment of child functioning and the caregiver’s ability and/or willingness to manage the child’s emotional or behavioral challenges.  In order to assess the significance of the event, determine appropriate interventions and provide the level of support needed, it is essential that child welfare professional receive information from all therapeutic providers.

Upon receiving information that a Baker Act was initiated on a child or child was voluntarily admitted for evaluation, the child welfare professional must contact the treatment facility immediately and request information regarding the child’s discharge status.

Child or Adolescent Discharge Pending

If child has not been discharged from facility, child welfare professional must attend any scheduled discharge planning or multidisciplinary staffing (MDT) on the child and invite any other therapeutic providers working with the child or family such as child or family therapist, behavior analyst, school social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist, etc.  The child welfare professional will request these treatment providers review, discuss, and to the extent possible reach consensus on the following issues:

  1. Factors or circumstances that contributed to or resulted in Baker Act;
  2. Recommendations to address any child safety, permanency or well-being needs identified; and
  3. Develop a plan to ensure ongoing therapeutic and placement needs are met.

If the child welfare professional does not agree with any significant recommendations resulting from the MDT staffing or if the team cannot reach consensus developing a plan to ensure the child’s therapeutic or placement needs, the child welfare professional will consult with his or her supervisor and a second level manager within two business days to determine next steps.

Child or Adolescent Has Been Discharged or Staffing Already Conducted

If the child has already been discharged from the facility or the discharge planning conference or MDT staffing was conducted without the child welfare professional, the child welfare professional will:

  1. Immediately attempt to obtain and review the receiving or treatment facility’s discharge plan and/or MDT staffing notes and any recommendations for aftercare;
  2. Schedule a follow-up MDT staffing with all therapeutic disciplines working with the child or family, as soon as possible, but no later then 72 hours from the child’s discharge from the treatment facility; and review discuss and to the extent possible, reach consensus on the follow issues:

Ø  Factors or circumstances that contributed to or resulted in Baker Act;

Ø  Recommendations to address child safety, permanency or well-being needs identified; and

Ø  Develop a plan to ensure ongoing therapeutic and placement needs are met.

  1. For families under court jurisdiction, the child welfare professional will notify the court of the child’s emergency mental health admission.

If the plan to ensure the child or adolescent’s ongoing therapeutic and placement needs differ significantly from any recommendation or discharge planning developed by the treatment facility, the child welfare professional will consult with supervisor and a second level manager within two business days to determine next steps.

Child protective investigators are responsible for initiating the MDT staffing for an active investigation not opened for case management services.  Case managers are responsible for initiating the MDT staffing for all ongoing services cases including those with an active investigation (the CPI is required to attend and participate in the staffing)

Home Study UHS - Step to Complete

These are the specific steps which a case manager (CM) must follow when completing the Unified Home Study (UHS) in FSFN.

1.      CM completes a Provider Search in FSFN.  If this potential residence is not already a provider in FSFN, CM will submit a SCC Data Portal Edit Request to create a new provider. If a caregiver is already a provider in FSFN, A Miscellaneous Edit Request to assign the provider to CM will be submitted through the SCC Data Portal.  

2.   CM submits Background Screen Request on all adults and children ages 12 and up residing in the home to the Background Screening Unit (BSU).  CM will have all adults residing in the home call and set up an appointment to complete the LiveScan fingerprinting.

3.    CM prints the following documents to take to the home for which the home study is being completed:

·        UHS Job Aid

·        Reference Request Form (once referrals received - uploaded in FSFN)

·        Firearm Safety Requirements Form (provided, reviewed, discussed & documented ONLY            if  safety issues observed/learned)

·        Water Addendum (provided, reviewed, & discussed)

·        Safe sleep information, if appropriate (provided, reviewed, & discussed)

·        Relative/Non-Relative Caregiver Program information (provided, reviewed, discussed &             documented)

·        Consent to release information (if requested then must be signed & uploaded in FSFN)

·        Receipt of rights and responsibilities (provided, discussed & documented)

·        Receipt of grievance brochure (provided, discussed & documented)

·        Any referrals needed (discussed, provided & documented in FSFN)

4.    CM must follow-up to obtain two (2) personal references.

5.    CM launches the home study in FSFN for the provider created or assigned and enters assessment information.

6.    CM prints completed UHS in FSFN and all potential caregivers review completed UHS prior to signing.

7.    CM then recommends outcome in FSFN and submits to Supervisor for review and approval/denial. 

8.    CM must verbally notify the proposed caregiver of the UHS decision if not selected, within three (3) business days of the supervisor’s decision.

9.    Regardless of the Supervisor’s decision, a copy of the completed, signed UHS must be provided to caregiver within five (5) business days.

10.  CM will upload a copy of the signed UHS (including CM & Supervisor signatures) along with all the attachments above including 911call-out results, sexual predator search result, and two (2) personal references within two (2) business days of receiving signatures.

11.     Send a copy of the UHS and all attachments including the criminal history to Children’s Legal Services (CLS) to be filed with the court.

12.  The original UHS with signatures and attachments goes to the records room to be scanned into ASK.

**Note:  National and state criminal records CANNOT be uploaded to FSFN.  Law requires us summarize the results along with our analysis within the UHS narrative field. The results of these criminal histories also CANNOT be copied and pasted into the home study. 

**Note: If updating a previously completed UHS, attach the addendum to a copy of the previous approved UHS along with all the attachments and submit to CLS.  The original goes to ASK.

**Note:  IF there are NO concerns about firearms safety, you must NOT document ANY information that the caregiver owns firearms according to s.790.335, F.S.

All of the steps above must be completed and the UHS must be approved by the court before a child is placed with the potential caregiver.

Home Study UHS - Relative/Non-Relative

Case management will select Planned Placement home study type for all Unified Home Studies (UHS) completed in FSFN including relative/non-relative home studies.

The child welfare professional will complete a relative/non-relative home study in the following situations:

Ø  Within 45 calendar days of the case transfer of an Emergency Placement home study for a relative/non-relative. The child welfare professional responsible may use the copy feature in FSFN to add and edit as necessary to the emergency placement information.

Ø  Prior to any new planned child placement with a relative/non-relative.

Ø  To update the home study when:

§  There are changes in the composition of the household. This includes placement of additional children.

§  The household location changes.

§  There is a change observed by the case manager in the physical environment that is a significant safety concern.

§  There are significant changes or circumstances that affect the ability of the caregivers to care for or protect the children.

§  To re-screen household members every 12 months.

The child welfare professional will conduct interviews with the caregiver(s), the child(ren) and other persons as necessary to complete and/or update the information.

The child welfare professional must advise the caregiver(s) of specific available supports and resources and their rights and responsibilities including:

Ø  Relative caregiver information

Ø  Non-relative caregiver information

The child welfare professional will document their assessment of all information gathered and the discussion of specific supports/resources available to the caregiver(s) on the FSFN UHS page.

The child welfare professional will launch and print the completed UHS in FSFN to obtain signatures from the caregiver(s) upon review of information documented.

The child welfare professional will determine the recommended outcome of the home study and submit it to his/her supervisor for final approval.

The supervisor will review and then give final approval or denial of the home study.

If the proposed caregiver is not selected, they will be verbally advised by the child welfare professional within 3 business days of supervisor’s decision.  Regardless of supervisor’s decision, a copy of signed home study must be provided to caregiver within 5 business days.

CLS and Judicial Requirements:

           ·          The signature page with all signatures (caregivers, case manager, supervisor) must be uploaded to the UHS page in FSFN.  The child welfare professional will submit a copy of the signed home study with the attachments to CLS to file with the court.  CLS will also be provided a copy of any criminal records obtained.

           ·          The UHS must be provided to CLS in conjunction with any request for placement with the relative/non-relative.

           ·          If not for an emergency hearing, UHS must be provided to CLS for review and filing with the court five (5) business days prior to hearing.

           ·          A current home study must be submitted to the court when a child will be remaining with a relative/non-relative at the time of the disposition hearing.