Appendix I: Individual Analyses of State Policies
Family Foster Care
Division of Family Services Policy No. 1004, Institutional Abuse/Neglect Intake
Division of Family Services Policy No. 1150, Institutional Abuse/Neglect Investigation
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?
- Foster care is included in the definition of out-of-home care settings. In the procedures manual, no distinctions are made for activities when conducting an investigation in a foster home.
- In Policies No.1104 and No.1150, a limited effort is made to distinguish some specific screening and investigative activities when the investigation is of maltreatment in a foster home.
What agency/unit is mandated to conduct the investigation?
- No language addresses placements with kin or relatives.
Is there a team approach? Who is on the team?
- The Department of Services for Children Youth and Families Institutional Abuse Unit have this mandate.
- Law enforcement involvement is mandated when the investigation involves a "violation of the criminal code per the Child Abuse Protection Act of 1997."
What are the key activities of agency staff?
- Yes, there is a team approach. The Institutional Abuse investigator is expected to conduct a "joint investigation" with the assigned foster care coordinator if both child abuse and neglect and licensing standards issues occur.
- Law enforcement personnel are included when criminal behavior is investigated.
Division of Family Services (DFS) report line:
Institutional Abuse supervisor:
- Screens the report; and
- Assigns the report to the Institutional Abuse supervisor when appropriate.
Institutional Abuse investigator:
- Assigns the investigation to an Institutional Abuse investigator;
- Notifies the appropriate regulatory body of the report and investigation; and
- Reports potential licensing violations to the Foster Care coordinator when the report does not meet standards for abuse/neglect.
Foster Care supervisor:
- Notifies the assigned Regional Foster Care Unit supervisor;
- Informs the foster parent who is the "alleged perpetrator" of the report and the investigation;
- Follows standard investigation procedures, as defined in general investigation policy;
- Interviews all children in the home;
- Interviews foster parents, including the alleged perpetrator;
- Takes immediate action to ensure the safety of children assessed to be at risk (e.g., removing children from foster home);
- Discusses the investigation with the Foster Care coordinator;
- Provides the investigation outcome report letter to the foster parent perpetrator;
- Distributes findings to the Institutional Abuse File, Office of Children's Services (OCS) director, the state's Regional Director, DFS Placement program manager, and Foster Care Unit supervisor;
- Notifies DFS caseworkers when he/she "discovers significant information that would affect service delivery to a child/family active with DFS;"
- Assures that the investigation report is not placed in the alleged victim's case record or the case record of other children placed in the home;
- Assists the appropriate "Regulatory Body" with a corrective action plan; and
- Sends the investigation outcome letter to the alleged perpetrator as well as information on the Department's Appeal/Fair Hearing Process.
Foster Care coordinator:
- Notifies caseworkers, who have other children placed in the home, of the investigation outcome.
- Assists in a joint investigation when child abuse and neglect as well as foster care standards issues exist.
- No guidance is given on the activities that the foster care coordinator will take.
After-Hours DFS caseworker:
- Participates in an interview of the child if it is felt that the presence of the more familiar worker will increase the child's comfort;
- Documents in the child's case record that the home is under investigation and that the child in the case is an alleged victim (FACTS progress note);
- Documents the outcome of investigation in FACTS case record; and
- Notifies the child's parents of the report and investigation.
What time frames are identified?
- Responds in urgent situations to address the safety needs of children; and
- Yields responsibility for the investigation to the Institutional Abuse investigator on the next working day (Does not interview the perpetrator or witnesses).
What decisionmaking processes are described?
- The DFS caseworker is required to make immediate contact when a child needs medical care that is not being provided, is seriously injured, or is at "continued risk of harm."
- When there is any injury to the child, the DFS caseworker is required to make contact within 24 hours.
- No other time frames are noted.
Is the CPS/licensing interface clear?
- The standard of proof is "preponderance of the credible evidence."
- No decisionmaking forums are identified.
What actions are taken regarding the reported child(ren) during the investigation?
- It was not clear who the "regulatory body" was in foster care cases.
What actions are taken regarding other children in the home?
- The investigator assesses safety and removes the child if it is found that the child is in an unsafe situation.
- No formal safety assessment tool or protocol is identified.
What actions are taken to protect the rights of foster parents throughout the process?
- The investigator assesses safety and conducts a removal if necessary.
- The investigator notifies responsible DFS caseworkers of the investigation and any safety concerns regarding children for whom they have case responsibility.
What supports are provided to foster parents throughout the process?
- The investigator notifies the foster parents of the report.
- The investigator interviews the foster parents.
- Foster parents are informed, in writing, of the outcome and of their right to the fair hearing process.
- The investigation is not filed in the child's family case record.
Investigations of allegations in foster homes receive fairly minimal treatment. No mention is made of support for foster parents during the process. The material on investigations in foster care contains little discussion of group decisionmaking processes or of how to work with the foster family when the report of maltreatment is either unsubstantiated or substantiated.
- Delaware Procedures for Institutional Abuse Investigations, an extensive manual, primarily describes activities to be conducted when investigating maltreatment in a residential facility.
- Delaware State Senate Bill No. 170 outlines the state's response to child maltreatment. No specific language was noted in regard to investigations of maltreatment in foster homes.
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