Appendix I: Individual Analyses of State Policies
Family Foster Care
Policies and Procedures
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 homes are included in a category with family group homes and family shelters. Separate policy statements address reports and investigations in private child care agencies and private residential schools.
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?
- State Office for Services to Children and Families (SOSCF) and/or law enforcement must assess and investigate all reports of child abuse.
- It is not clear under what circumstances law enforcement would be involved in the process.
What are the key activities of agency staff?
- Yes. The team consists of the CPS worker and the certification worker. The CPS supervisor and the Certification supervisor are also important. Consultative or monitoring roles are described for "branch manager," designated CPS consultant, and Central Office foster care staff. Children's Service Workers are provided information during and after the process. "Consulting foster parents" are available to provide support to the foster parent during the process.
CPS Worker: The focus of the CPS worker is the assessment of the allegations and protection of the children currently placed with the foster family. The CPS worker:
- Immediately determines the risk to children in the home;
- Convenes a meeting with certifier, appropriate workers and supervisors, etc., in high-risk or "sensitive situations" (re: public relations);
- Screens the report to determine if the allegation meets the standards for maltreatment. If the report does not meet the threshold for a CPS investigation but does represent a "certification issue," then the CPS worker convenes a meeting with the certification worker, service workers, and supervisors who have children placed in the home to discuss the issues;
- Promptly gives notification of a report and investigation to the certifier and workers who have responsibility for children placed in the home;
- Notifies law enforcement "when appropriate" and conducts joint assessment with law enforcement representative;
- Notifies foster parents as soon as possible that the assessment is in process and informs them of the nature of the allegations. Fully describes the assessment process; and
- Sends copies of the CPS report to the child's case file, certifier's file, designated protective services consultant, branch manager within 10 days of completion.
CPS supervisor and Certification supervisor:
- When notified of CPS allegations, freezes referrals to the foster home and notifies foster parents in writing;
- Discusses results of the investigation with the CPS worker and Certification supervisor within five working days of receiving the CPS assessment;
- Contacts and debriefs the foster family if the report is unfounded;
- Consults with the CPS worker, appropriate supervisors, and, if necessary, branch manager to plan an appropriate response when the report is determined to be founded or "unable to determine;"
- Completes the "Foster Home Report Guide" and sends copies to the foster home file, foster parent, and branch manager; and
- Remains available to foster parents throughout the process
- Provide oversight and consultation as appropriate.
Designated CPS consultant:
- Has overall managerial responsibility;
- Is responsible for the decision to revoke a foster home certification according to designated policies; seeks attorney general's review if appropriate.
Central Office Foster Care staff:
- On the request of Branch staff, provides consultation and keeps a log of all foster care abuse allegations received and all outcomes.
Consultant foster parent:
- Consult, as appropriate, and meet at least annually with designated CPS consultants to discuss the log of referrals and assessment outcomes.
What time frames are identified?
- Provides support and advocacy for the foster parents who are the focus of the investigation.
What decisionmaking processes are described?
- The investigator is to take "immediate action" to determine the safety of the child(ren) placed in the home.
- No specific time frames are provided for investigation activities.
- Other time frames noted have to do with notifications and actions by investigator and certifier that follow the completion of the report.
Is the CPS/licensing interface clear?
- The policy emphasizes coordination of activities; strong communication, collaboration, and consultation; and the use of supervision throughout.
- The Branch manager has overall responsibility for management of the investigation process and takes the responsibility to revoke foster home certification if necessary.
- When certification issues exist, a meeting is held with the investigator, certification staff, and children's service workers.
What actions are taken regarding the reported child(ren) during the investigation?
- Yes. It is a collaborative process throughout.
- Guidance is given on how to handle situations where the standards for a CPS investigation are not met but certification issues may exist.
- The Branch manager is responsible for decisions regarding foster parent licensing.
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 reported child(ren)'s service worker is notified immediately.
- Children remain in the home during the investigation unless an individual risk assessment leads to a decision by the Branch management to remove the child. Removal occurs when children are considered to be at high risk of abuse and neglect and there is no way to assure child safety; or when there are other serious concerns such as pressure being placed on the child to recant.
What supports are provided to foster parents throughout the process?
- Foster parents are promptly given notice of the report and allegations.
- Foster parents are provided with a copy of Foster Home Report Guide prepared by the Certification worker.
- The Purpose section makes a strong statement concerning the need to effectively communicate with and provide support to the foster parents.
- The certification worker is available "as a resource person, but will be unable to discuss the specifics of the assessment."
- Foster parents are advised of their option to have a consulting foster parent involved during assessment. The role of the consulting foster parent is to offer emotional support to the foster parent(s) and offer general information regarding what can be expected during the assessment process.
Oregon has one of the most developed policies for investigations in foster homes. The policies include strong collaboration, clear roles, and a major emphasis on providing support to foster parents throughout the process.
- Oregon submitted a section of their Foster Parent Handbook that provides a full description of what foster parents can expect during the investigatory process (consistent with the policy manual) and how to minimize the risk of allegations of maltreatment.
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