Appendix I: Individual Analyses of State Policies
Family Foster Care
Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF)
Child Protective Investigations: Special Investigations
Does the policy address the investigation of allegations of maltreatment in foster care as a distinct investigatory process?
Is kinship/relative care addressed in the policy?
- Yes. A separate policy section is provided for investigations in Department of Children and Families (DCF) foster homes. A separate policy section, Reports of Abuse or Neglect Concerning Private Facilities and Agencies, discusses special issues related to investigations in private agency foster homes. Guidance primarily addresses cooperation with the private agency and the licensing unit. Separate guidance is also provided for conducting investigations in foster families supervised by other state agencies.
What agency/unit is mandated to conduct the investigation?
- Relatives' homes that are licensed or certified are included in the policy. No special direction is provided for conducting investigations in the homes of relatives.
Is there a team approach? Who is on the team?
- The DCF Regional Office is so mandated, where the investigation is assigned to the "designated regional investigator."
What are the key activities of agency staff?
- The investigator is responsible for "coordinating activities" with social workers who have the responsibility for the placement of children in those homes. The goal of the coordination is to assess the safety of children living in the homes.
- Family and Adoptive Services Unit (FASU) staff members have some responsibilities during the process. The FASU is the regional foster care unit.
- No language addresses conducting a "joint investigation" or conducting "joint interviews."
- When the foster family is licensed by a private agency, DCF conducts the investigation of abuse and neglect and informs the private agency of the findings for follow-up.
Regional investigator: The regional investigator adheres to "established investigative procedures" and the following additional procedures:
FASU program supervisor:
- On receipt of the report from the screening unit, the investigator notifies the FASU program supervisor of the allegation.
- On completion of the investigation, the investigator forwards the investigation report to the FASU program supervisor, regional administrator, and director of Child Welfare Services.
- If the investigation involves a family providing care through a licensed private agency, then a copy of the investigation is sent to the private agency for follow-up.
- If the child who is reported is in a foster home licensed by a private agency and is in the custody of the Department, then the investigator notifies the executive director, the Department staff, and the child's parents.
- At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator notifies the licensed family and FASU staff of the findings.
FASU staff person:
- When a report of abuse or neglect is received by FASU, the supervisor places the foster family "on hold" for further placements and notifies the FASU support and placement staff of the referral.
- After a substantiated investigation, the program supervisor prepares a recommendation to the regional administrator concerning any proposed licensing action, such as limitations to the license, revocation, or a decision not to renew the license.
DCF social workers who have responsibility for children placed in the home:
- FASU notifies the foster family that the family has been placed on hold. This notification cannot take place "prior to the completion of the contact with the family by the investigator" and cannot include details of the allegation.
- FASU support social worker offers support to the family during the investigation process.
- The assigned FASU support worker confirms that all CPS workers who are assigned to children in the home have been notified of the allegation and the outcome of the investigation.
Private agency executive director and staff: When the report involves a family that is providing care through a licensed private agency, these persons:
- The investigator of the report notifies staff of the report and of any concerns regarding child safety.
- Social workers are responsible for collaborating with the investigator to address the safety of children placed in the home.
What time frames are identified?
- Ensure the child's immediate safety, obtain basic information from the child that relates to the allegation;
- Take any actions necessary to ensure immediately the safety of the child;
- Notify the child's parents of the allegation and investigation;
- Obtain an emergency medical examination and needed medical care for the child, when appropriate (no specific guidance is provided on determining when a medical appointment or treatment is necessary);
- Cooperate with the investigator by making all records, documents, foster or adoptive parents, or staff members available to ensure a complete investigation;
- Freeze placements into the foster family "depend[ing] on the effect of the allegation on the facility's or agency's mandate and the safety and well-being of children and staff."
What decisionmaking processes are described?
- Investigations are to be completed within 30 days.
Is the CPS/licensing interface clear?
- On completion of a substantiated investigation, "a conference should be held among the involved staff, supervisors, and managers to determine if any or all of the other children should be removed on the basis of the investigative findings."
What actions are taken regarding the reported child(ren) during the investigation?
- If a decision is made to limit, not to renew, or to revoke the license, the regional administrator takes the following actions:
- Ensures, in conjunction with the foster care staff and the assigned Regional Principal Attorney, the legal sufficiency of documentation to take the licensing action as warranted.
- Officially notifies the family, in writing, of the intention to limit, not to renew, or to revoke their license, and advises them of their right to an administrative hearing.
- When the foster family provides care through a private agency, the investigation report is sent to the private agency with the recommendations. The agency is expected to follow-up.
What actions are taken regarding other children in the home?
What actions are taken to protect the rights of foster parents throughout the process?
- The policy refers to standard investigation procedures.
- Children's social workers are notified of the report and are directed to collaborate with the investigator to assure children's safety.
What supports are provided to foster parents throughout the process?
- The investigator notifies foster parents of the investigation.
- They receive a letter at the conclusion of the investigation stating findings.
- Then FASU support worker reviews the findings with the family.
- They are notified, in writing, of any intention to limit or revoke the license.
- They have access to an administrative hearing for the purpose of a substantiation review and the right to a hearing if their license is limited or revoked.
- The FASU worker is directed to provide support to the foster family. The foster parent liaison from the Connecticut Association of Foster Parents is available to support a family in addition to the support from the FASU support social worker. At the conclusion of an investigation the FASU support worker reviews the findings with the family plus updates the foster family's support plan to update the need for services or training.
Most of the policy has to do with notifications and inclusion of proper parties in the process as well as with related administrative processes. The foster care worker has the role of supporting the foster parents throughout the investigation. Chapter 41 Policy is currently being revised to provide more direction for the FASU support worker. How a "joint investigation" process is carried out is not made clear, other than describing communication and some designated responsibilities given to various staff. For the general activities of the investigation, references are made to the standard investigation procedures, which is part of another section of investigation Policy.
Regional investigators are responsible for the investigation of foster and adoptive homes in private agencies and for coordination with workers from those agencies who are responsible for activities regarding the safety of children in the home. The policy about foster homes in private agencies is merged with the policy for residential facilities. It is not clear how decisions are made regarding closing or limiting those homes, etc.
The material received from Connecticut included a draft of a report by a workgroup addressing the restructuring of the Office of Foster and Adoptive Services. According to the report, Connecticut is considering making some changes to the policies described above. The workgroup's main concern centered on the need to conduct quality investigations while providing adequate support to foster parents during the process.
Therefore, the delicate task of ensuring a quality foster care system and the ability to retain foster parents who might feel falsely accused of child abuse or neglect is a very delicate balance that the agency, hotline, and regional staff have to address on an ongoing basis.
Proposed changes include expanded training for the following groups:
Recommendations addressing key systems issues include:
- Specialized training for investigation staff regarding investigations in out-of-home care;
- Preservice training for new workers concerning out-of-home placement issues;
- Expanded foster parent training regarding avoiding allegations, and their rights during the appeal process (all foster parents would be required to complete the Foster Pride training module, "Managing the Foster Experience"); and
- Extended training for foster care workers on licensing and monitoring issues, as well as on providing support to foster families.
At the time the Connecticut materials were received, these recommendations had not been implemented.
- At the point of intake, a social work supervisor or manager would screen reports of abuse or neglect in out-of-home care and be able to "administratively screen out" reports by using relevant information known within the region. The screened-out cases would be addressed by the foster care licensing/support worker, and the family's need for services would be determined.
- Regulatory concerns would be addressed either by the Division of Licensing or by the foster care unit responsible for licensing the provider. The goal would be to provide consistency around licensing issues.
- A "differential response time" was recommended in these cases, thereby allowing more time to have initial meetings among key staff and to plan for a safe and well-conceived investigation.
- Regional teams would be developed to investigate all CPS reports in both DCF and private agency foster/adoptive families. These teams would receive specialized training.
- A standardized and specialized investigation process would be developed for investigating DCF and private agency foster care providers.
- A foster care worker would have the consistent responsibility for managing follow-up duties postinvestigation.
The State submitted the relevant statute regarding investigation of maltreatment reports. The statute did not include language regarding the investigation of reports of maltreatment in foster homes.
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