Appendix I: Individual Analyses of State Policies
Family Foster Care
Policy and Procedures Manual
Does the policy address foster care as a separate type of investigation?
Is kinship/relative care addressed in the policy?
- Yes. Foster care is included in the broad policy for out-of-home investigations, but a separate discussion relates to investigations in county foster homes.
What agency/unit is mandated to conduct the investigation?
- The policy clearly states that it does not address reports when the children live with a relative.
Is there a team approach? Who is on the team?
- The Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS), Division of Family Services, Children's Services Programs conducts the investigation.
- Investigations are conducted by a specialized unit, the Out-of-Home Investigations Unit (OHI).
- OHI investigates all county foster homes in which any legal status "1" children (county has custody?) are in the home, even if the child is not the child who is reported. In those cases in which biological children are reported and a legal status "1" child is also in the home, the investigation is done by OHI staff.
- OHI is responsible for investigations of all out-of-home settings including, but not limited to, county foster homes. As noted above, homes where children live with relatives are excluded.
- Law enforcement agencies become involved in conducting joint investigations in cases of sexual abuse or serious physical abuse.
- When a report is filed on behalf of a child placed in the home of a private child-placing agency, a licensing unit becomes involved. The OHI investigator coordinates a joint process.
What are the key activities of agency staff?
- In DSS homes, the investigation is not conducted as a joint investigation. County staff clearly have responsibilities regarding placement and removal, and the investigator is to stay in contact throughout, but no joint activities are defined.
- Initiates investigation and views/interviews reported children and other children within the time frames noted below;
- Notifies "custodian" of the investigation;
- Arranges for necessary examinations for the child including a "SAFE Exam," and physical or psychological examinations as needed;
- Determines the safety of victim and all other children within the household (no specific safety assessment process or form is referenced);
- Contacts local county about pending investigation and provides information to help the county decide whether children in the home need to be removed. The investigator can only provide information; it is clearly stated that the investigator must not direct or give opinions to the county as to whether or not to remove a child;
- Maintains contact with the appropriate county worker throughout the investigation;
- Notifies public and private school liaisons (in two specific counties) of all foster home reports if the child is of school age;
- Sends completed investigations to county office (with the assistance of Central Office clerical staff);
- Notifies parents of the reported child and the alleged perpetrator of the results of the investigation; and
- Provides a copy of investigation to the local county office.
What time frames are identified?
- Are responsible for making the decision as to whether children should be removed; and
- Are asked to make face-to-face contact with the victim within 24 hours, if the OHI cannot do so.
What decisionmaking processes are described?
- The investigator initiates the investigation within 24 hours of receipt of the report by contacting "the person making the report, parent, or other knowledgeable persons and/or victim to assure the safety of the victim."
- The investigator conducts a face-to-face interview with the victim within 24 hours of the receipt of the report and with other children in the home within 72 hours of receipt of report.
- The investigator files paperwork to explain "good cause" for the need to extend the investigation if it is not completed by the 30th day. Supervisory approval is needed for the investigation "to be placed on delayed conclusion."
Is the CPS/licensing interface clear?
- Information sharing and cooperation occur between the investigator and county staff.
- A clear distinction is made as to who has the responsibility to make decisions whether children should be removed. The investigator can provide information, while not giving direction or opinions, to county staff regarding removal. County staff weigh the information and are responsible for removal decisions.
What actions are taken regarding the reported child(ren) during the investigation?
- When the report is filed on a foster home licensed by a private agency, a joint investigation is completed by the investigator and a representative from the licensing agency.
- The county informs the licensing unit of report when accepted for investigation.
- A copy of the completed Child Abuse and Neglect (CAN) report is sent to the county licensing unit.
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 investigator determines their safety and provides information to the county; county personnel make the determination of whether it is safe for the children safe to remain in the home.
- No formal safety assessment tool is identified.
What supports are provided to foster parents throughout the process?
- The child's "custodians" are notified of the investigation "as soon as possible."
- If a conclusion is delayed, notification letters are provided to custodian after 70 days and to the "perpetrator" after 90 days.
- A "Foster Parent Review" process in one particular county is mentioned.
- No other "fair hearing" process is mentioned.
The word "perpetrator" is used throughout the source documents. Perhaps this term is meant to refer only to the time period after the investigation is completed and probable cause is found, but its use is not clear. No specific safety assessment tool or process is described. The point is strongly emphasized that the investigator is not to give directives or opinions to the county worker regarding whether to remove children. Apparently, this emphasis is to make it clear that the county must have this responsibility. In other states, the investigators make recommendations even when the actual responsibility for removal lies elsewhere.
Back to Top Printer-friendly Page Contact Us