Appendix I: Individual Analyses of State Policies
Family Foster Care
Report on Residential Child Care Licensing Program (RCCL)
Abuse Investigations in CPS-Verified Foster Homes
Does the policy address foster care as a separate type of investigation?
Is kinship/relative care addressed in the policy?
- Yes, a separate policy is given for foster homes and facilities.
What agency/unit is mandated to conduct the investigation?
- No language in the report addresses kinship/relative care.
Is there a team approach? Who is on the team?
- The State Residential Child Care Licensing Program (RCCL) conducts the investigation.
What are the key activities of agency staff?
- Yes, RCCL staff rely on the CPS foster/adoptive placement (FAD) workers to conduct activities necessary to assure the safety of children. These activities include implementing initial safety plans, placing children, or transporting them to an interview with the RCCL investigator.
- FAD workers are included in the investigation and in the interviews with foster parents and have the role of supporting the foster parents. Including the FAD worker is optional, however, not mandatory.
- When criminal matters are involved, RCCL staff are mandated to report to law enforcement and to work with law enforcement staff.
- In situations in which both foster and biological children are reported, RCCL staff conduct joint investigations with CPS investigators. Clarity is lacking about which worker should take the lead in those joint investigations.
What time frames are identified?
- Initial safety plans are put in place. The plan usually assures that the alleged perpetrator does not have access to the child until an initial assessment of safety can be made. The plan may involve having the foster parent who is the alleged perpetrator leave the foster home or "even having child placement agency staff stay in the home." This appears to be a temporary measure until the investigator can visit the foster home to assure safety. RCCL staff can compel, if necessary, the placement agency to complete the safety plan. The plan could also include removal. The safety plan seems to be a stopgap measure to achieve safety until the investigation commences. Some tension occurs between RCCL staff and CPS staff concerning their interaction around these activities.
- Standard investigative techniques described in the report include interviewing the child victim, collaterals, and the alleged perpetrators. Most interviews are audiotaped. There is close coordination with law enforcement as appropriate.
- Private agencies cannot receive completed investigation reports, although they receive a letter regarding the results. Public agency staff have access to the report on the management information system.
What decisionmaking processes are described?
- On high-risk cases, a 24-hour response is expected. Initial contacts are consistently made within the required timeframes of RCCL policy. The timeframes for first contact in both CPS and RCCL vary by report priority.
- The policy in the RCCL handbook states that the investigation is to be completed by the caseworker in 45 days, and a supervisor is to sign off on the investigation in 60 days. Timeliness in closing the case within 60 days has been an issue for RCCL.
Is the CPS/licensing interface clear?
- RCCL makes investigative decisions.
- CPS makes child placement decisions.
What actions are taken regarding the reported child(ren) during the investigation?
- The licensing agency conducts the investigation. Investigators make CPS determinations and also note any possible issues related to compliance with licensing standards.
What actions are taken regarding other children in the home?
- The RCCL investigator assesses safety of the reported child.
- RCCL does not do formal risk assessment (by using a formal tool). RCCL workers investigate reports and do not assess future risk. Assessment of future risk is the CPS worker's responsibility.
- CPS worker is responsible for addressing the safety needs of reported child.
What actions are taken to protect the rights of foster parents throughout the process?
- The RCCL investigator assesses the safety of other children in home.
- CPS is responsible for addressing the safety needs of other children in the home.
What supports are provided to foster parents throughout the process?
- Alleged perpetrators have access to an administrative review process.
- Alleged perpetrators have access to independent review in a State Office Administrative Hearing.
- The FAD (CPS agency placement worker) participates in the investigation with the primary role of supporting the foster parents through the process.
- Originally, there was a trend to send FAD (placement) workers who did not have responsibility for the foster family, but RCCL advocated for the FAD worker who had a relationship with the family so that they could provide more support.
This information comes from an informative report that reviews a transition, in Texas, from CPS staff investigating abuse/neglect in CPS foster homes to the RCCL staff investigating it. This practice began in 1999. Previously, RCCL was responsible for the investigation of maltreatment in private agency foster homes, while state CPS workers were responsible for CPS-verified foster families. RCCL has 16 investigators who investigate CPS cases and cover regions. They are very experienced investigators who have extensive CPS experience. Foster parent associations advocated for this change because the RCCL process:
Some tension has been suggested, between RCCL investigators and CPS workers, as to whether RCCL investigators should be responsible for risk-assessment activities.
- Uses a higher standard of evidence to support investigations;
- Provides appeals processes within the agency and outside through an independent State Office Administrative Hearing.
- Allows for greater objectivity than when investigations were done by local CPS staff who may have prior knowledge and interest in both the foster home and the reported child.
- The Texas summary primarily addresses state-operated child placing agencies. It does not reflect the state's relationship with private facilities which make up the bulk of the 13,000 placements of children in the state.
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