Appendix I: Individual Analyses of State Policies
Family Foster Care
Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF)
Investigating Allegations of Abused/Neglect in Foster Homes
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 applies to investigations in foster homes.
What agency/unit is mandated to conduct the investigation?
- No language addresses kinship/relative care.
Is there a team approach? Who is on the team?
- The DCYF Investigations Unit located at the state office.
What are the key activities of agency staff?
- A team approach is emphasized. The teamwork involves frequent communication, collaboration, and consultation among the investigator, the licensing worker, and the family service worker.
- It does not appear that joint interviews are held. The investigator has primary responsibility for completing the investigation. Both the family service worker and licensing worker, however, support the investigation process.
Investigative Unit staff:
Family Services worker:
- Determines the level of risk to the child and initiates the investigation;
- Notifies the Licensing CPSW (foster care worker) and/or supervisor or child-placing agency social worker assigned to the foster home that has been reported;
- Consults with the CPS supervisor or Juvenile Services supervisor (JSP) regarding possible removal of children from the foster home;
- Reports severe abuse/neglect, sexual abuse or assault to law enforcement;
- Requests that CPSW or JSP move the children from home if criteria for removal are met;
- Notifies foster parents of the investigation once child(ren)'s safety is assured;
- Interviews child, foster parents, other children, and adults residing in the home, as well as other individuals named in connection with the incident;
- Collects evidence according to standard investigation procedures;
- Determines the investigation outcome and completes the investigation document;
- Within 60 days of the report, notifies the assigned CPSW or JSO and licensing CPSW of the investigation;
- No later than 60 days after the receipt of the report notifies foster parents, in writing, of the outcome of the investigation; and
- Notifies the foster parents and the licensing CPSW if there is evidence of licensing violations or inappropriate treatment of children in the home.
Licensing CPSW (foster care worker):
- Shares background information of the child and/or foster parents with Investigations Unit staff;
- Notifies the child's parents of allegations within five working days of the initiation of the investigation and of the outcome of the investigation upon its completion;
- Moves children when necessary;
- Freezes placements during the investigation;
- Authorizes treatment and/or counseling as necessary;
- Informs supervisor of the outcome of investigation; and
- Provides notification to the court of the outcome of the investigation.
What time frames are identified?
- Informs supervisor of the investigation;
- Provides background information to Investigations Unit staff;
- Makes no recommendations for placement during the investigation;
- Files notification of investigation outcome in foster home record;
- Assists foster parents in preparing a corrective action plan within 30 days of completion of investigation; and
- Revokes foster home license if necessary.
What decisionmaking processes are described?
- Notifications as described above.
Is the CPS/licensing interface clear?
- Collaboration, communication, and cooperative activities are emphasized.
- No formal decisionmaking meetings are specified.
What actions are taken regarding the reported child(ren) during the investigation?
- Yes. Licensing staff are involved in a collaborative way from the beginning, and expectations for communication, information sharing, and addressing concerns are clear.
What actions are taken regarding other children in the home?
- The investigator determines the level of risk and removes the child if: (1) the child has been seriously harmed by a foster parent, (2) the child has not been protected from foreseeable harm by the foster parent, (3) investigation staff determine that a severe level of risk or threat of harm exists for the child, (4) the child requests removal from the foster home, (5) the foster parents request removal of the child, or (6) there is reason to believe that continued placement of the child in the foster home will interfere with the investigation.
What actions are taken to protect the rights of foster parents throughout the process?
- The investigator determines the level of risk to the child and conducts a removal if the child is determined to be in danger.
What supports are provided to foster parents throughout the process?
- Foster parents may request to review the foster home record, consult with an attorney at their own expense, and appeal the finding.
- On request, foster parents can receive a copy of "the out-of-home abuse/neglect reported excluding any information which could identify reporters, victims, and third party information such as police reports and psychological evaluations."
- The policy declares DCYF commitment to "assessing alleged mistreatment of children in foster care in a manner which will be the least intrusive to the foster family while assuring that quality foster care services are being provided to children and their families in the community."
- No clear support roles by any staff are described, however.
New Hampshire has a fairly comprehensive policy specifically addressing investigations in foster homes. The roles of the investigative, family service, and licensing workers are clear and comprehensive. Activities to support foster parents throughout the process are not described. The foster parent has to request a copy of the investigation report.
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