4420. Health and Safety Visits with Children and Youth and Monthly Visits with Parents and Caregivers

Original Date:  April 30, 2017

Revised Date: October 31, 2019

Sunset Review Date: October 31, 2023

Approved by: Jody Becker, Deputy Secretary of Children and Families


Purpose 

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance on face-to-face visits with children and youth who have an open case with Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) and regular visits with parents and out-of-home caregivers. Health and safety visits with:

  • Children and youth provide opportunities for ongoing assessments of safety, well-being and permanency.
  • Parents can provide them with reassuring information about how their child or youth is doing in placement, provides caseworkers with information to help monitor parental progress with services and case goals, and can shorten children or youth’s length-of-stay and achieve permanency more quickly.
  • Out-of-home caregiver’s increases opportunities to monitor child or youth safety and well-being, promotes permanency, and provides caseworkers with information they can share with parents.

Scope

This policy applies to DCYF child welfare employees.

Laws

RCW 74.13.031 Duties of department – Child welfare services – Children’s services advisory committee

RCW 74.13.710 Out-of-home  care – Childhood activities - Prudent parent standard

Social Security Act 424(f) Payments to States

Policy

  1. All health and safety visits and monthly visits with parents and caregivers must be conducted by the assigned caseworker or another qualified DCYF employee. The number of visits conducted by another qualified DCYF employee is not to exceed four times per year, with no two visits occurring consecutively.
  2. For youth in a Juvenile Rehabilitation (JR) facility, caseworkers must contact the JR counselor and youth each month and address all of the following:
    1. Treatment progress
    2. Case planning
    3. Discharge planning
    4. Other relevant monthly visit issues
  3. Children and youth in DCYF custody, or with a Child Protective Services (CPS), or Family Reconciliation Services (FRS) cases open beyond 60 calendar days, or receiving Family Voluntary Services (FVS) must receive private, individual face-to-face health and safety visits every calendar month. Additionally:
    1. The first health and safety visit must occur within one week of the child’s or youth’s initial placement or any change of placement. Placement of a child or youth is not considered a health and safety visit.
    2. For children or youth who are placed in out-of-home care, the majority of health and safety visits must occur in the home where the child or youth resides. If the assigned caseworker must visit the child or youth in another location, the caseworker must document the reason and benefit gained.
    3. When children or youth are on an in-home dependency or trial return home, all health and safety visits must occur in the home where the child resides. This requirement does not prevent additional visits outside the home.
    4. For in-home dependency or trial return home cases with children age five or younger, two in-home health and safety visits must occur every calendar month for the first 120 calendar days from establishment of the in-home dependency or trial return home. One of the two visits may be conducted by a qualified caseworker or contracted provider.
    5. For FVS cases, with children age five or younger and residing in the home, two in-home health and safety visits must occur every calendar month. One of the two visits may be conducted by qualified caseworkers or contracted providers.
    6. For youth in a JR facility, the assigned caseworker must:
      1. Determine, on a case-by-case basis, the frequency of the individual face-to-face contact based on the youth’s case needs. Consider the following factors when determining if an individual face-to-face visit should occur:
        1. Youth’s current needs based on consultation with the JR counselor and youth.
        2. Youth’s legal status.
        3. Youth’s involvement with their family.
        4. Youth’s contact with other significant adults in the community.
        5. Youth’s permanent plan and necessary steps to achieve it.
        6. Length of time until discharge, with particular consideration given to the youth’s attendance at the Pre-Release Transition Planning meeting.
      2. Contact the JR counselor and youth on a monthly basis by phone or in-person.
      3. Document contact and efforts to contact the youth’s counselor in FamLink using the “Health and Safety monitoring visit conducted by other agency” code.
      4. Coordinate schedules with the JR counselor and youth at a time most appropriate to the youth’s treatment program and school schedule.
  4. Out-of-home caregivers must receive individual face-to-face monthly visits.
    1. Caseworkers must conduct an unannounced monthly visit with caregivers in 10 percent of randomly selected homes. Caregivers requiring an unannounced visit are randomly selected in FamLink.
    2. Visits with children or youth and caregivers may occur during the same monthly visit.
    3. Location of monthly visits may vary.
  5. All known parents or legal guardians involved in a Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA), shelter care, dependency proceedings, or voluntary services (FVS or FRS) must receive individual face-to-face monthly visits. The majority of visits must occur in the parent’s home, unless an exception applies, which are outlined in the Procedures section. Visits must continue until one of the following apply:
    1. Case closes.
    2. Child or youth becomes legally free.
    3. Court determines that reasonable efforts toward reunification are no longer required.
  6. All visits must be documented in FamLink within three calendar days of the visit.

Procedures

  1. The assigned caseworker or another qualified child welfare employee must conduct visits on the following cases:
    1. Out-of-home care, including when a dependency petition is filed or dependency is established and the court has ordered the child or youth to reside in out-of-home placement.
    2. In-home dependencies, including dependent children or youth who return home on a trial return home or remain home under the jurisdiction of the court and until dismissal of the dependency.
    3. Extended Foster Care (EFC).
    4. Voluntary placement, when the child or youth is placed under a VPA.
    5. Courtesy Supervision.
    6. Voluntary Services, including FVS and FRS.
    7. CPS cases open beyond 60 days.
    8. Interstate Compact on Placement of Children (ICPC). When an ICPC agreement is approved and a child is placed, courtesy supervision is initiated when the state’s ICPC office is notified.
      1. When children or youth are placed into a Washington State approved home or ICPC home, the assigned caseworker or other qualified DCYF employee will:
        1. Complete the monthly face-to-face visits in accordance with this policy.
        2. Submit a written quarterly report every third month within 10 calendar days of the third health and safety visit.
        3. The quarterly report must cover:
          1. The dates and location of the health and safety visits.
          2. Provide a summary of the observed activities during the visit by following 2 a.- c. of this policy.
      2. When children or youth are placed outside of Washington State, the assigned caseworker will:
        1. Request the health and safety visit by submitting the ICPC Report on Childs Placement Date or Change Placement DCYF 15-093 form.
        2. Submit the form within five business days of placement to headquarters ICPC Unit.
        3. Contact the receiving state courtesy worker by telephone or email monthly to document the date of the health and safety visit in FamLink.
        4. Review the written report, document dates of the health and safety visit, and summarize the report in FamLink.
        5. Respond to the receiving state courtesy worker concerns to address unmet needs and eliminate barriers to permanency, which may include additional services and support.
      3. If the health and safety visits are contracted by DCYF, through a private agency, the reporting requirements remain the same.
      4. For children or youth that are placed in an out-of-state facility based program the caseworker will:
        1. Request courtesy supervision, if the child or youth is placed into a bordering state program with an on-going BRS contract.
        2. Follow the Placement Intensive Resources policy, if the child or youth is placed in an out-of-state program under an Out-of-State Intensive Residential Child Specific Contract (OSIRCSC).
  2. Requirements for Health and Safety Visits with Children and Youth
    The following activities must be completed during the visit:
    1. Assess for present danger per the Child Safety policy.
    2. Observe all of the following:
      1. How the child or youth appears developmentally, physically, and emotionally.
      2. How the parents or caregivers and the child respond to each other.
      3. The child or youth’s attachment to their parents or caregivers.
      4. The home environment, when the visit occurs in the home where the child or youth lives. If there are any changes to a licensed foster home, such as new family members, the caseworker must notify the licensor.
      5. The infant’s sleeping environment to verify it meets the safe sleep guidelines, per the Infant Safety Education and Intervention policy.
    3. Meet with the verbal child or youth in private, separate from the parents or out-of-home caregivers, either in the home or another location where the child or youth is comfortable. For children or youth who:
      1. Are developmentally disabled and able to communicate, but are non-verbal, refer to the DSHS 7.02 Equal Access to Services for Individuals with Disabilities administrative policy.
      2. Speak a language other than English, refer to the Limited English Proficiency policy.
    4. Discuss the following:
      1. Whether the child or youth feels safe in the home or placement.
      2. The child or youth’s needs, wants, and progress.
      3. How family time and visits with siblings are going.
      4. The child or youth’s connection with siblings and other relatives. For youth 16 and above, this includes discussing skills and strategies to:
        1. Safely reconnect with any identified family members.
        2. Provide guidance and services to assist the youth.
        3. Maintain community and cultural connections.
      5. Participation and interest in normal childhood activities.
      6. Case activities and planning such as visits and permanent plan.
      7. Services and activities needed to support transitioning youth for successful adulthood.
      8. Interest in participating in EFC, and provide written information about the program.
    5. Confirm each child or youth is capable of reading, writing, using the telephone, and has a business card with the assigned caseworker’s name, office address, and phone number.
    6. Discuss specific objectives outlined in the Pregnant and Parenting Youth policy with dependent youth who are pregnant or parenting.
  3. Requirements for Monthly Visits with Out-of-Home Caregivers
    All of the following activities must be completed during visits:
    1. Discuss the child or youth’s well-being and permanency goals.
    2. Observe the child or youth and caregiver’s relationship and home environment, when a visit occurs in the caregiver’s home. This does not apply to EFC youth in Supervised Independent Living (SIL) settings.
    3. Assess the caregiver’s ability to provide adequate care and maintain placement stability. This does not apply to EFC youth in Supervised Independent Living (SIL) settings.
    4. Identify any support or training needs.
    5. Inquire about family time and the child’s visit’s with siblings, and how the child or youth is responding.
    6. Discuss any normal childhood activities the child or youth is participating, or is interested in, and how they maintain their community or cultural connections.
    7. Discuss any requests to significantly change the child or youth’s appearance. Significant changes include, but are not limited to, body piercings, haircuts, and changes in hairstyles. Prior approval must be obtained from the parent, the Tribe, if the child or youth is legally free, or the court. This does not apply to youth in the EFC program.
    8. Share the parent’s interest in the child or youth’s care and requests for their participation in normal childhood activities.
  4. Unannounced monthly visits with out-of-home caregivers must be conducted within 30 calendar days of receiving the automated notification from FamLink.
    1. During the visit, caseworkers will complete the same activities for scheduled monthly visits.
    2. When the unannounced visit occurs within the monthly visit timeline, this visit meets the monthly caregiver visit requirement, in addition to the unannounced monthly visit requirement.
  5. Requirements for Monthly Visits with Known Parents or Legal Guardians
    During visits, focus on all of the following, except for youth in EFC:
    1. Case planning, service delivery, and goal achievement.
    2. Progress made to eliminate or manage the identified child or youth safety threats.
    3. Barriers to needed services, consideration of additional or different services.
    4. Discuss housing stability, such as where the parents are living and how long they can remain in their current home.
    5. Permanency planning for the child or youth.
    6. Family time.
    7. Review of a child or youth’s interest in and participation in normal childhood activities.
    8. Requests to significantly change the child or youth’s appearance. Significant changes include, but are not limited to, body piercings, haircuts, and changes in hairstyles. Prior approval must be obtained from the parent, the Tribe if the child or youth is legally free, or the court.
  6. Coordination with Federally Recognized Tribes
    The assigned caseworker must contact:
    1. The child or youth’s Tribe to discuss and plan how to involve the Tribe in the monthly visits, and document the contact and plan in the case notes.
    2. Non-federally recognized tribes when a parent wants the Tribe’s involvement and has signed a release.
  7. Case Note Documentation
    The assigned caseworker or qualified DCYF employee who conducted the visit must document health and safety visits in case notes within three calendar days of each visit in the following manner:
    1. Use the following codes for visits and attempted visits for all children and youth:
      1. Health and Safety Monitoring Visit (CA Social Worker).
      2. Health and Safety Visit with Child (Attempted). Use to document efforts to conduct the health and safety visit. An actual visit must take place for compliance with policy.
      3. Health and Safety Monitoring Visit is conducted by another agency for:
        1. FVS cases where a contracted provider conducts the visit.
        2. For out-of-state ICPC cases where another agency conducts the visits.
    2. When allowed, a visit by a child placing agency caseworker does not relieve caseworkers from completing their monthly visits. Both visits must be documented in FamLink.
    3. For visits with Out-of-Home Caregivers, use the following codes:
      1. Monthly Caregiver Contact (in-person) for each child and youth (on a case) who requires a visit.
      2. Unannounced Assigned Caseworker Monthly Visit (randomly selected visit) for one of the following:
        1. Unannounced Health and Safety Visit
        2. Unannounced Health and Safety Visit Attempted
    4. Document caseworker visits with each parent for each child or youth on a case who requires a visit. Select and use the following applicable parent visitation activity codes:
      1. Visit-SW Parent (Mother)
      2. Visit-SW Parent (Father)
      3. Visit-SW Parent (Attempted)
  8. Monthly Visit Exceptions with Parents
    1. Caseworkers must use the Extension/Exception page in FamLink to document visit exceptions, for any of the following:
      1. The mother’s or father’s whereabouts are unknown after performing ongoing diligent search efforts as per Guidelines for Reasonable Efforts to Locate Children or Parents
      2. A parent was located and indicated no interest in being involved in the child or youth’s life or refuses to have contact with DCYF.
      3. Visits between the caseworker and the father or mother, is contrary to the child, youth, or caseworker’s safety.
      4. Parental rights for the mother or father were terminated, with no plan for parental involvement.
      5. Father or mother is deceased.
    2. Supervisors must approve the visit exception within three calendar days of the caseworker’s request and discuss the reason for the exception during the monthly supervisory case reviews, per policy.

Forms

Guidelines for Reasonable Efforts to Locate Children or Parents DCYF 02-607 (located on DCYF intranet)

ICPC Report on Childs Placement Date or Change Placement DCYF 15-093

Resources

Caregiver Guidelines for Foster Childhood Activities DCYF 22-533

Caseworker Monthly Visits with Out-of-Home Caregivers (located on DCYF CA intranet)

Caseworker Health & Safety Visits with Child Tip Sheet (located on DCYF CA intranet)