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  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 6: Out-of-Home Placement and Services  
6-6.1  Assessing Children and Youth in Congregate Care Longer Than One Year
Out-of-Home Placement and Services

6-6.1Assessing Children and Youth in Congregate Care Longer Than One Year

Reference Points
Overview
Group Home Assessment Requirement
How to Document the Assessment
Screen Shot Tutorials
Other References


Reference Points
Effective Date: 10/25/2014
Last Updated: 04/21/2014
 Legal Basis:
Popup Window California Department of Social Services (CDSS) All County Letter (ACL) # 13-86:  Assessing Youth Residing in Group Home Care Longer Than One Year
 Non CWS/CMS Forms:
MS Word
 CWS/CMS Forms:
PDF Services Management Section: Contact Notebook


Overview  

In September 2012 the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) began working with stakeholders to reform the state’s congregate care system, emphasizing that children and families are best served when children live with a committed, permanent, and nurturing family.

Congregate care, when necessary, is best used as a short-term, high-quality intervention that is part of a continuum of care for children and youth. Congregate care in California is no longer a destination, rather, an intervention tailored to meet the needs of the individual child being served.

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has developed a procedure for identifying youth who have been placed in group homes for one year or longer, to determine the need for the continued stay, or if appropriate, to develop a plan to transition to a family like setting. 

The CDSS is mandated to report to the California Legislature on the assessment of each youth placed in a group home for longer than one year and the outcomes of transitional planning for each youth, if applicable. 

Semi-annually, the CDSS will use information contained in CWS/CMS to provide a list of children/youth that have been placed in one or more group homes for the past year.  Each child/youth on the list shall be reassessed to determine whether or not their placement in group home care remains suitable and appropriate based upon their identified needs and strengths.

The assigned social worker is encouraged to utilize existing assessment tools (e.g., the Child and Family Practice Model, etc.) to identify the child’s/youth’s current service needs and strengths.

If the reassessment determines that the child/youth no longer requires a group home placement, the assigned social worker shall develop a plan of transition to a lower level of care that is best suited to meet the needs of the child/youth. The social worker is encouraged to hold a Team Decision Making Meeting to assist in facilitating the proper step down placement.

The lists will identify:

  • Children/Youth that currently have an open foster care episode who have been living in the same group home for over 365 consecutive days.
  • Children/Youth that have been in group home placements with breaks in placement (i.e. AWOLs) and returned to group home placements within the same placement episode for a total stay of 365 cumulative days (or more) when added together. These will include notation of the Total Days in Care and Total Group Home Placements.
 
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Group Home Assessment Requirement  

If a child/youth is in congregate care longer than one year, the assigned social will need to document the assessment or reassessment in the Contact Notebook in CWS/CMS as follows:

  1. The reason for the continued stay; document information as to why continuation in a group home placement is the best alternative available to meet the special needs of the child and
  2. Develop a plan for each child/youth to transition to a family-like setting
    • Document what strategies are being considered to transition the child/youth to a less restrictive level of care.

or 

    3. If the reassessment determines that the youth no longer requires a group home placement, develop and document a plan of transition to a more

        family-like setting best suited to meet the child/youth’s needs. 

 

Note: Existing statutes specifies the placement priorities as:

  • Placement with relatives
  • Non-relative extended family members
  • Tribal members
  • Foster family home
  • Licensed community care facility
  • Group home and residential treatment

 

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How to Document the Assessment  

Social workers will reassess any identified child/youth on their caseload who has been in a group home placement for longer than one year during their next monthly visit.  A list will be distributed monthly to managers and supervisors.

Information gathered at this visit will help determine whether or not the group home placement continues to be suitable and appropriate based on the child/youth needs and strengths. 

Note: This contact will be documented separately from the mandatory monthly contact. 

Social Workers will need to document the assessment, and subsequent reassessments, by entering the following information into the Contact Notebook in CWS/CMS for each child/youth placed in congregate care over one year:

  1. Enter the appropriate start date and end date for the contact.
  2. Contact method should be “in-person”.

    Note: This activity can take place during the monthly caseworker visit.

  3. For the Contact Purpose select “Conduct client evaluation” from the drop down menu.
  4. For “On Behalf of Child” select the child/youth identified on this list.
  5.  Contact Party Type – select “Staff Person/Child”.
  6. In the Narrative dialog box document the following:
    • Begin the narrative with the phrase - “Reassessment of a child/youth in group care”.
    • For those child/youth that it is determined that group care continues to be suitable and appropriate, include information supporting the continued placement needs of the child/youth. This would include:
      • Information as to why continuation in a group home placement is the best alternative available to meet the special needs of the child and
      • What strategies are being considered to transition the child to a less restrictive level of care? 
    • For those children/youth whose reassessment has determined that group care is no longer suitable or appropriate,
      • Include information regarding the plan for transition being sure to include information about when it is expected that the child/youth will transition and where the child/youth will transition to (parent, relative, foster home, or Foster Family Agency with In Home Behavioral Services, Therapeutic Foster Care services).
 

   7. If a transitional plan is developed or changed, then the case plan should be updated as necessary to reflect any changes in services and case plan

       goals. 

 

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Screen Shot Tutorials  

Below are CWS/CMS screen shots to assist with recording the necessary information on the reassessment of each youth as described above.  Completion of these fields will allow CDSS to compile necessary information about these children/youth for legislative reporting.

Assessing Youth Residing in Group Care Longer Than One Year: A Screenshot Assisted Tutorial

1. Click the “+” button to create a new contact from the “Select On Behalf Of Child” Box.

    •  Select the child/youth identified on this list.
    • Click the “OK” button.
     

 

2. Enter the appropriate Start Date and End Date.

 

3. Contact Method should be “in-Person”. (Note this activity can take place during the monthly caseworker visit.)

 

4. For the Contact Purpose select “Conduct Client Evaluation”.

 

5. Click the “+” button on the “Contact Party Type” grid, Select “Staff Person/Child”, Click the “OK” button.

 

6. In the Narrative dialog box, document the following:

  • Begin the narrative with the phrase, “Reassessment of a child/youth in group care”.
  • For those children/youth for whom it is determined that group care continues to be suitable and appropriate, include information supporting the continued placement needs of the child/youth and, if appropriate, the plan to transition youth to a family-like setting.
  • For those children/youth whose reassessment has determined that group care is no longer suitable or appropriate, include information regarding the plan for transition being sure to include information about when it is expected that the child/youth will transition and where the child/youth will transition to (parent, relative, foster home, Foster Family Agency with In Home Behavioral Services or Therapeutic Foster Care services).

 

7. If a transitional plan is developed or changed, then the Case Plan should be updated as necessary.

  • Click the “Existing Case Plan” button to open and update the Case Plan.

 

 

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Other References  
PDF

Agency Memorandum #14-08: Assessing Children and Youth in Congregate Care Longer than One Year

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