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

Original Date:  April 30, 2017

Revised Date: January 3, 2022

Sunset Review Date: December 31, 2025

Approved by: Frank Ordway, Chief of Staff


Purpose 

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

  • Children and youth help in identifying and assessing their safety, permanency, and well-being.
  • Parents or guardians can provide reassuring information about how their children or youth are doing, provide caseworkers with information to help monitor parental progress with services and case goals, shorten children or youth’s length-of-stay and help achieve permanency more quickly.
  • Out-of-home caregivers provide opportunities to monitor children or youth’s safety and well-being, identify support and training needs to encourage placement stability, promote permanency, and provide caseworkers with information they can share with parents or guardians.

Scope

This policy applies to CW 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

Title 42 U.S. Code § 624 Payments to States

Policy

  1. Assigned caseworkers must conduct:
    1. Private individual face-to-face health and safety visits every calendar month for children and youth in:
      1. Receiving in-home services and out-of-home care, including when a dependency petition is filed or dependency is established and the:
        1. Court has ordered children or youth to reside in out-of-home placement.
        2. Dependent adjudicated youth is in a Juvenile Rehabilitation Division (JRD) facility.
      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 children or youth are placed under a Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA).
      5. Courtesy supervision.
      6. Voluntary Services, including FVS and FRS.
      7. Child Protective Services or FRS cases open beyond 60 calendar days.
      8. An Interstate Compact on Placement of Children (ICPC).
    2. The first health and safety visit within seven calendar days of a child or youth’s initial placement or any change of placement. Placement of children or youth is not considered a health and safety visit.
    3. Two in-home health and safety visits every calendar month when children age five or younger reside in the home for:
      1. FVS cases.
      2. Child Protective Services (CPS) FAR cases open beyond 60 calendar days. 
      3. An in-home dependency or trial return home for the first 120 calendar days.
    4. Private and individual face-to-face monthly visits with parents or guardians and caregivers.
    5. Monthly contact in-person, whenever possible, with all known parents or guardians.
    6. Individual face-to-face monthly visits to all known parents or guardians involved in a Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA), shelter care, dependency proceedings, or voluntary services including FVS, CPS FAR open beyond 60 calendar days, or FRS, unless the parents are deceased or their rights have been terminated.
  2. Other qualified DCYF employees may, in place of the assigned caseworker, conduct health and safety visits and monthly visits with parents or guardians and caregivers, but must not conduct more than four visits per year, with no two visits occurring consecutively. This does not apply to youth in a JRD facility.
  3. CW employees must follow DCYF Administrative policies when applicable:
    1. 6.02 Access to Services for Clients and Caregivers who are Limited English Proficient (LEP)
    2. 6.03 Access to Services for Individuals with Disabilities

Procedures

  1. Requirements for Health and Safety Visits with Children and Youth
    Assigned caseworkers must complete the following activities during health and safety visits with children and youth:
    1. Assess for present danger, per the Child Safety policy.
    2. Observe and document all of the following:
      1. How children or youth appear developmentally, physically, and emotionally.
      2. How parents or guardians and caregivers and children or youth respond to each other.
      3. Children or youth’s attachment to their parents or guardians and caregivers.
      4. The home environment, when the visit occurs in the home where children or youth live. This includes notifying the licensor if there are any changes to a licensed foster home, such as new family members.
      5. Infants’ sleeping environment to verify it meets the safe sleep guidelines, per the Infant Safety Education and Intervention policy.
    3. Meet with verbal children or youth in private, separate from other children and youth, parents or guardians, or out-of-home caregivers, either in the home or another location where they are comfortable. For children or youth who:
      1. Are developmentally disabled and able to communicate, but non-verbal, follow the DSHS 7.02 Equal Access to Services for Individuals with Disabilities Administrative policy.
      2. Speak a language other than English, follow the DCYF Administrative 6.02 Access to Services for Clients who are Limited English Proficient policy.
      3. Have a disability and are able to communicate, but are non-verbal, follow the DCYF Administrative 6.03 Access to Services for Individuals with Disabilities policy.
    4. Discuss and document the following with verbal children and youth:
      1. Whether they feel safe in their home or placement.
      2. Their needs, wants, and progress.
      3. How family time and visits with siblings are going.
      4. Their 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. Their 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. Their interest in participating in EFC and provide written information about the program.
    5. Confirm that each child or youth capable of reading, writing, and using the telephone has a business card with their 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.
    7. For children or youth who are placed in out-of-home care, conduct the majority of health and safety visits in the home where they reside. If assigned caseworkers must visit children or youth in another location, document in a case note the reason and benefit gained.
  2. Requirements for Visits with Out-of-Home Caregivers
    Assigned caseworkers must:
    1. Conduct individual face-to-face monthly visits with out-of-home caregivers.
      1. Visits with children or youth and caregivers may occur during the same monthly visit.
      2. Location of monthly visits may vary.
    2. Conduct an unannounced monthly visit with caregivers in randomly selected homes.
      1. DCYF must randomly select no less than 10 percent of the caregivers currently providing care to receive one unannounced face-to-face visit in the caregiver’s home per year. The unannounced visits are randomly selected in FamLink.
      2. Caregivers who receive an unannounced visit through the random selection process one year will not receive an unannounced visit the following year.
      3. Assigned caseworkers must conduct the unannounced visit within 30 calendar days of receiving the automated notification from FamLink.
      4. 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.
    3. Complete all of the following activities during both scheduled and unannounced visits:
      1. Discuss the children or youth’s well-being and permanency goals.
      2. Observe the children or youth’s 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 SIL settings.
      4. Identify any support or training needs.
      5. Inquire about family time and the child’s or youth’s visits with siblings and how the child or youth is responding.
      6. Discuss any normal childhood activities children or youth are participating, or are interested, in and how they maintain their community or cultural connections.
      7. Discuss any requests to significantly change the children’s 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 or guardian, the tribe if the child or youth is legally free, or court. This does not apply to youth in EFC.
      8. Share the parent’s or guardian’s interest in children’s or youth’s care and requests for their participation in normal childhood activities.
  3. Requirements for Monthly Visits with Known Parents or Guardians
    Assigned caseworkers must:
    1. Conduct the majority of visits in the homes of parents or guardians.
    2. Conduct monthly visits that include:
      1. A location for the visits that is conducive to open and honest conversations.
      2. Sufficient time to address a needs assessment and visitation.
      3. A quality discussion that focuses and addresses issues related to case planning including conditions for return home, appropriate services, and goal achievement.
    3. Discuss and document all of the following during visits with parents or guardians, except for youth in EFC:
      1. Case planning, service delivery, and goal achievement.
      2. Progress made to eliminate or manage the identified children or youth safety threats.
      3. Barriers to needed services and consideration of additional or different services.
      4. Discuss housing stability, such as where the parents or guardians are living and how long they can remain in their current home.
      5. Permanency planning for children or youth.
      6. Family time and sibling visits, if applicable.
      7. Review of children’s or youth’s interest and participation in normal childhood activities.
      8. Requests to significantly change a child’s 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 parents or guardians, the tribe if children or youth are legally free, or court.
    4. Continue requesting visits with parents or guardians when they decline or refuse to participate. If parents or guardians:
      1. Actively refuse requests by verbally or submitting in writing that they are not interested in having monthly visits:
        1. Verify with them that they still decline.
        2. Continue to attempt monthly contact until parental rights have been terminated or another permanent plan is achieved.
      2. Passively refuse requests through their actions or inactions, make at least one attempt monthly to contact them either face-to-face, by phone, or through correspondence until parental rights have been terminated or another permanent plan is achieved.
  4. For youth residing in a JRD facility, assigned caseworkers must:
    1. Contact the JR counselor on a monthly basis by phone or in-person and address the following:
      1. Treatment progress
      2. Case planning
      3. Discharge planning
    2. Coordinate schedules with the JR counselor and youth at a time most appropriate to the youth’s treatment program and school schedule, when possible.
  5. Coordination with Tribes
    Assigned caseworkers must contact the Indian child or youth’s:
    1. Federally recognized tribe to discuss and plan how to involve them in the monthly visits.
    2. Non-federally recognized tribe when a parent or guardian wants the tribe’s involvement and has signed a release.
  6. Requirements for Interstate Compact on Placement of Children (ICPC) Cases
    1. When children or youth are placed into a Washington State approved ICPC home, assigned caseworkers must:
      1. Complete the monthly face-to-face visits in accordance with this policy.
      2. Submit a written quarterly report to headquarters ICPC every third month within 10 calendar days of the third health and safety visit.
      3. Include the following in the quarterly report
        1. The dates and location of the health and safety visits.
        2. A summary of the observed activities during the visit and following Procedure Section 1. a. through 1. c.
    2. When children or youth are placed outside of Washington State in an approved ICPC home, assigned caseworkers must:
      1. Request health and safety visits by submitting the ICPC Report on Child’s Placement Date or Change Placement DCYF 15-093 form (100B form).
      2. Submit the 100B form to headquarters ICPC Unit within five business days of placement.
      3. Contact the receiving state courtesy worker monthly by telephone or email to obtain the date of the health and safety visit they conducted and document the date in a case note in FamLink.
      4. Upon receiving a quarterly report from headquarters ICPC summarizing health and safety visits, complete the following:
        1. Review the written quarterly report.
        2. Document the dates of the health and safety visit conducted by  the receiving state courtesy worker.
        3. Summarize the report in a case note in FamLink.
    3. Assigned caseworkers must respond to receiving state courtesy workers’ concerns by addressing unmet needs and eliminating barriers to permanency, which may include additional services and support.
    4. If health and safety visits are contracted by DCYF through a private agency, assigned caseworkers must:
      1. Contact the courtesy worker monthly to get the date of the health and safety visit.
      2. Follow the case note documentation requirements in Procedures Section 6.b.
    5. When children or youth are placed in an out-of-state facility-based program, assigned caseworkers must:
      1. Request courtesy supervision if children or youth are placed into a bordering state program with an on-going BRS contract.
      2. Follow the Placement Intensive Resources policy if children or youth are placed in an out-of-state program under an Out-of-State Intensive Residential Child Specific Contract (OSIRCSC).
  7. Cases Requiring More Than One Monthly Visit
    Assigned caseworkers must conduct two in-home health and safety visits every calendar month for:
    1. CPS FAR cases open beyond 60 calendar days and FVS cases with children age five or younger and residing in the home. Contracted providers may conduct one of the two monthly visits.
    2. In-home dependency or trial return home cases with children age five or younger, every calendar month for the first 120 calendar days from establishment of the in-home dependency or trial return home.
      1. Contracted providers may conduct one of the two monthly visits.
      2. These visits must occur in the home where the child resides. This requirement does not prevent additional visits outside the home.
  8. Visit Documentation in FamLink
    Assigned caseworkers or other qualified DCYF employees who conduct visits must document the information obtained, observed, or discussed during health and safety visits with children and youth and monthly visits with parents or guardians and caregivers in FamLink case notes within three calendar days of each visit in the following manner:
    1. For children and youth:
      1. Select the following FamLink codes for visits and attempted visits for each child and youth:
        1. “Health and Safety Monitoring Visit (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.
      2. When health and safety visits are conducted by another child placing agency. Visits by a child placing agency (CPA) caseworker does not relieve assigned caseworkers from completing their monthly visits. Both visits must be documented in FamLink. This includes:
        1. FVS cases where a contracted provider conducted the visit.
        2. Out-of-state ICPC cases where another agency conducts the visits.
    2. For tribes, include:
      1. All contact involving visits.
      2. Plans to involve tribes in monthly visits.
    3. For visits with out-of-home caregivers, select the following FamLink codes, as applicable:
      1. “Monthly Caregiver Contact (In-Person)” for each child and youth on a case who requires a visit.
      2. “Unannounced Assigned Caseworker Monthly Visit” for randomly selected visits or one of the following:
        1. “Unannounced Health and Safety Visit”
        2. “Unannounced Health and Safety Visit – Attempted”
    4. For each parent or guardian for each child or youth on a case who requires a visit:
      1. Select the following visit and attempted visit activity codes, as applicable:
        1. “Parent/Guardian Contact”
        2. “Parent/Guardian Contact (Household Member/Paramour)”
        3. “Parent/Guardian Contact (Attempted)”
      2. Include how contact was made in the dropdown list under the location tab, e.g. in-person, phone, mail, video, text, social media, or other means of contact when the following circumstances apply:
        1. Parent or guardian is out-of-state
        2. Parent or guardian is incarcerated
      3. Select “Parent/Guardian Contact (Attempted)” when parent’s or guardian’s whereabouts are unknown, despite concerted efforts to locate them using the Guidelines for Reasonable Efforts to Locate Children or Parents.
      4. Document parent’s or guardian’s active and passive refusal as described in Procedure Section 3.d. in a FamLink case note and include the following:
        1. Dates and efforts to contact parents or guardians.
        2. Methods of interaction between caseworkers and parents or guardians, e.g. in person, phone, mail, video, text, social media, etc.
        3. The dates parents or guardians requested refusal in monthly contact or case involvement, and the way that request was communicated, e.g. in-person, phone, mail, video, text, social media, etc.

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

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)

Child Protective Services Family Assessment Response policy

Child Safety policy

Courtesy Supervision policy

DCYF Administrative 6.02 Access to Services for Clients who are Limited English Proficient policy (located on DCYF intranet)

DCYF Administrative 6.03 Access to Services for Individuals with Disabilities policy (located on DCYF intranet)

Extended Foster Care (EFC) Program policy

Family Time and Sibling and Relative Visits policy

Family Reconciliation Services policy

Family Voluntary Services policy

Infant Safety Education and Intervention policy

Interstate Compact on Placement of Children (ICPC) policy

Monthly Supervisor Case Reviews policy

Placement Intensive Resources policy

Pregnant and Parenting Youth policy

Prudent Parenting Guide DCYF CWP 0078 publication

Trial Return Home policy

Voluntary Placement Agreement policy