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Home > Practice Areas > Family Foster Care > Other Links and Resources

 
 

Appendix I: Individual Analyses of State Policies

Key Factors
Family Foster Care
Agency Policy/Regulations

State of Oklahoma
Department of Human Services (DHS)
Child and Family Services Division
Child Protective Services Programs

Oklahoma Policy 340:75-3-8.1.
Protocol for Addressing Reports
Regarding Foster or Trial Adoptive Homes

Does the policy address the investigation of allegations of maltreatment in foster care as a distinct investigatory process?
  • Yes, this thorough policy specifically addresses investigations of reports in foster or trial adoptive homes.

  • Protocols relevant to all investigations are to be applied to investigations in foster or trial adoptive homes, along with additional interviews and evaluation of case records relating to the foster or trial adoptive home.
Is kinship/relative care addressed in the policy?
  • Kinship homes are identified as one type of foster home. No specific guidance for investigations in kinship homes is discussed.
What agency/unit is mandated to conduct the investigation?
  • An objective and unbiased local Department of Human Services (DHS) child welfare staff person. Out-of-county staff may be used if deemed necessary for an objective and unbiased investigation.

  • The policy does not identify a specific unit with a local office that is responsible for investigations.

  • An assessment may be completed rather than an investigation in limited situations where the abuse or neglect is determined to be less serious.
Is there a team approach? Who is on the team?
  • The policy emphasizes the importance of information and shared decisionmaking throughout the investigation process.

  • Investigators are to collaborate with child welfare workers responsible for the children in placement, the foster or trial adoptive home social worker, all appropriate supervisors, and private agency staff when a child is placed through a private agency.

  • When children in DHS custody are placed in tribal homes, tribal representatives are notified and their cooperation with the investigation is requested.

  • No joint activities are identified.

  • State Office Foster Care, Adoption, Therapeutic Foster Care, and Child Protective Services Program staff are available for consultation.
What are the key activities of agency staff?

Children's ongoing social workers:
  • Remove a child who is determined to be unsafe;

  • Notify the reported child's parents when a child is injured or removed from the placement due to abuse or neglect;

  • Participate in decisionmaking regarding the child's safety and the investigation decision;

  • Ensure that any safety plans are followed; and

  • Immediately notify the child's parents of the allegations and investigation.
Child welfare investigator:
  • Investigates the report and makes the investigation determination;

  • Conducts a safety assessment (using risk factors) at the beginning and the end of the investigation;

  • Collaborates with all parties identified above during the investigation;

  • Notifies the child's caseworker, local supervisor, county director, Child Welfare Field Liaison (CWFL), and the appropriate State Office program area of the report;

  • Follows standard investigation protocols for children placed in tribal homes;

  • Notifies the child's caseworker, the county director, the CWFL, and a representative of the State Office Foster Care or Adoption Program promptly when a child is removed from a trial adoptive home;

  • Develops a safety plan when it is determined that children can safely remain in the foster or trial adoptive home during the investigation; and

  • Shares findings of the investigation or assessment with the foster or trial adoptive parent.
What time frames are identified?
  • Investigations or assessments of reports in foster or trial adoptive homes are to be completed within 10 working days.

  • These investigations are considered to be Priority I responses (immediate) except in limited circumstances.

  • If it is determined that the safety of children in the home can be assured, the investigation may be designated as Priority II with a time frame of no more than three days to initiate the investigation or assessment.
What decisionmaking processes are described?
  • The investigator is responsible for the investigation decision.

  • Decisions regarding removal of children from the foster home are made, whenever possible, by the investigator, supervisor, and the CWFL in collaboration with other parties involved with the child.
Is the CPS/licensing interface clear?
  • The CWFL is included in the assessment process.

  • Investigations that do not meet the standards of child abuse or neglect are referred to foster care staff or adoption staff who will address violations of rules that may exist.

  • Licensing violations are addressed in another policy.
What actions are taken regarding the reported child(ren) during the investigation?
  • Safety assessment is conducted at the beginning and the end of the investigation or assessment.

  • Children are removed when they are found to be unsafe.

  • Safety plans are developed and implemented to assure the child's safety.

  • Safety plans must be discussed and agreed to by the foster or trial adoptive parent(s), the child welfare supervisor, and the CWFL.
What actions are taken regarding other children in the home?
  • Safety assessment is conducted at the beginning and at the end of the investigation or assessment.

  • Children are removed when they are found to be unsafe.

  • Safety plans are developed and implemented to assure the child's safety.
What actions are taken to protect the rights of foster parents throughout the process?
  • Foster and trial adoptive parents are notified of the investigation and the outcome.
  • No other discussion of the rights of foster and trial adoptive parents is included.
What supports are provided to foster parents throughout the process?
  • No discussion of supports for foster or trial adoptive parent is included.
Commentary

This policy very specifically addresses special requirements for the investigation or reports of children in foster or trial adoptive homes. It emphasizes teamwork and group decisionmaking, yet it does not have formal processes to enforce these approaches. Limited information is given on foster parents' rights during the process, and support for foster parents during the process is not discussed. This is a very clear policy that provides good guidance to investigative and ongoing workers.

Supplemental Materials
  • The Oklahoma State Courts Network website (http://www.oscn.net) has two brief articles that provide an overview of the standard investigation process: (1) Prompt investigation of child abuse or neglect and (2) Protection of children: Definitions.



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