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  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 6: Out-of-Home Placement and Services
6-6 Group Home Placement Requirements for Children Ages Twelve And Under
Out-of-Home Placement and Services
6-6 Group Home Placement Requirements for Children Ages Twelve and Under
Reference Points
Overview
Background
Who Needs Approval
Case Plans and Approvals
Subsequent Director Approvals
How to Access Approval Form in CWS/CMS
Procedures for Requesting Group Home Placement Approval
Requirements for Other Children/Youth in Group Home Placements
Other Reference


Reference Points
Effective Date: 10/28/2013
Last Updated: 04/04/2014
 Legal Basis:
Popup Window

California Department of Social Services (CDSS) All County Letter (ACL) #13-87:  Changes to the requirements for placement in group homes for children ages twelve and under with the passage of Assembly Bill 74

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Welfare and Institutions Code (W&IC): Section 11467(c)(2) 

Popup Window Welfare and Institutions Code (W&IC): Section 361.2
Popup Window Welfare and Institutions Code (W&IC): Section 16010.8
Popup Window Welfare and Institutions Code (W&IC): Section 16501.1(c)(1)
 Non CWS/CMS Forms:
MS Word Initial Hearing Recommendations
 CWS/CMS Forms:
PDF GH_001Group Home Approval (Director Request for Approval for Group Home Placement for Children Ages Twelve and Under)
PDF Case Plan


Background  

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.

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Overview  

Prior to the passage of AB74, approval for placement of this age group was required by the caseworker's supervisor. With the passage of AB74 when placing a child age 12 and under in a group home, the county must have placement approval from the Director or Deputy Director of the child welfare agency or probation department.

Additional amendments to this requirement include that a child under the age of six who is being placed in a group home must have a case plan that indicates the treatment is not only specialized, but also short-term and intensive.

It is the intent of the Legislature that no child or youth in foster care reside in group care for longer than one year.  This includes children and youth placed in a licensed community care facility licensed as a group home (including placement through a Regional Center) or temporary shelter care facility. 

All children in need of out-of–home care are to be placed in the least restrictive, most family like setting consistent with their best interests and special needs. 

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Who Needs Approval  

There are two groups of children that need approval for placement in group homes:

  • Child age six and under
  • Child age six to twelve

Child Age Six and Under:

At the Initial Hearing:

  • If group home placement is sought at the initial hearing, the court must find that placement in a group home is necessary to secure a complete and adequate evaluation, including placement planning and transition time.
  • Placement shall not exceed 60 days unless:
    • A case plan has been developed, and
    • The need for additional time is documented in case plan, and
    • Approval has been given by the DFCS Director or Deputy Director.

Case Plan Reminder:

State Regulation 31-210 provides that within 30 calendar days of the in-person investigation (i.e., first face-to-face contact with the child (victim) or initial removal, or by the date of the dispositional hearing, whichever comes first, the social worker must complete and sign the case plan.

 At Disposition or later:

  • The case plan must:
    • Indicate that placement is for providing short-term, specialized and intensive treatment to the child.
    • Specify the need for, nature of, and anticipated duration of the treatment.  
  • The DFCS Director or Deputy Director has approved the case plan.
  • Length of Placement shall not exceed 120 days unless:
    • Progress is being made toward implementing the case plan that identifies the services or supports necessary to transition the child to a family setting;
    • Circumstances beyond the County’s control have prevented the County from obtaining the services or support within the timeline documented in the case plan, and; 
      • The need for additional time is documented by the social worker; and
      • The extension has been approved by the DFCS Deputy Director or Director;
      • Extension is good for 60 days, and every 60 days thereafter the same approval process must be followed.

Child Age Six to Twelve:

At Initial Hearing:

  • If a group home placement is sought at the initial hearing, the court must find that the placement in a group home is necessary to secure a complete and adequate evaluation, including placement planning and transition time. 
  • The placement shall not exceed 60 days unless:
    • A case plan has been developed, and
    • The need for additional time is documented in the case plan and
    • Approval has been given by the DFCS Director or Deputy Director

At Disposition or later:

  • The case plan must:
    • Indicate that placement is for providing short-term, specialized and intensive treatment to the child.
    • Specify the need for, nature of, and anticipated duration of the treatment.
  • The DFCS Director or Deputy Director has approved the case plan.
  • Length of group home placement shall not exceed six (6) months unless:
    • Progress is being made toward implementing the case plan that identifies the services or supports necessary to transition the child to a family setting;
    • Circumstances beyond the County's control have prevented the County from obtaining the services or support within the timeline documented in the case plan, and
    • The need for additional time is documented by the social worker;
    • The extension for continued placement has been approved by the DFCS Director or Deputy Director;
    • The extension is good for 60 days, and every 60 days thereafter the same approval process must be followed.
 
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Case Plans and Approvals  

Case Plan Approvals

  • The Department of Family and Children's Services Director or Deputy Director must approve case plans for:
    • Children 6 and under at Initial Hearing
    • At Disposition for children under the age of 12
  • Case plan approval by the Director or Deputy Director is not needed for
    • The Initial hearing (unless the child is age 6 and under)
    • Children over the age of 12 receiving Family Reunification Services
  • Case plan splitting:
    • The child that is placed in a group home will need to be split from the sibling’s case plan.
       

Note:

The case plan must include a mental health history along with a treatment

plan by the providerthat includes a response and or progress made in treatment.

 
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Subsequent Approvals  

 Subsequent approvals must be obtained at:

Pre- Disposition:

  • Any time a child up to the age of 12 remains in a group home for more than 60 days approval must again be obtained every 60 days so long as a group home placement continues.

At or after Disposition:

  • Any time a child under age 6 remains in a group home for more than 120 days placement approval must again be obtained every 60 days so long as a group home placement continues.
  • Any time a child age 6-12 remains in a group home for more than 6 months approval must again be obtained every 60 days so long as group home placement continues. 

Group Home Approval Chart:

Age of Child
Stage of Case
Court Approval
Director's Approval
Maximum Duration
Under 6
At disposition or later
Needed for initial placement.
Needed for initial placement, and for each extension
120 days.  May obtain extensions with Director’s approval of 60 days at a time
Under 12
Before Disposition

Court must find that placement is necessary to secure a complete and adequate evaluation, including placement planning and transition time

Needed to extend the placement beyond 60 days 
60 days, unless Director’s approval of case plan is obtained
Ages 6 to 12
At disposition or later
Needed for initial placement
Needed for initial placement and for each extension

6 months.  May obtain extensions with Director’s approval of 60 days at a time

Ages 13 to 18
All stages of the case
Needed for initial placement
Not needed
No limit
Age 18 to 19
Non-minor dependents
Not needed, but group home placement is prohibited once youth graduates from high school, or turns 19, whichever occurs first;  except for category 5 youth
Not needed

Until graduation from high school, or turns 19 whichever occurs first.  For category 5 kids, may extend an additional 90 days only as a transition to the appropriate system of care

Ages 19 to 21
Non-minor dependents
Not needed 
For category 5 youth only, 90 days as a transition to the appropriate system of care.  No extensions possible

 

Below is a table of the requirements for placement in a group home, when a child twelve and under is in temporary custody: 

Placement Criteria
Initial Placement
Extension Criteria
Approval Level

Placement is necessary to secure a complete and adequate evaluation, including placement planning and transition time.

Shall not exceed 60 days Case plan has been  developed and the need for additional time is documented in the case plan and has been approved

Child Welfare Director

or

Child Welfare Deputy Director

                                                                                                                                                                     

Below is a table display of the requirements for placement in a group home, when the child has been declared a Dependent.

Age
Placement Criteria
Initial Placement
Extension Criteria
Approval Level
0-5 Placement for purposes of providing short-term, specialized and intensive treatment

Shall not exceed 120 days

1. Case plan indicates:

  • The county has made progress toward or is actively working toward implementing the case plan that identifies the services and supports necessary to transition the child to a family setting; and
  • Circumstances beyond the county’s control have prevented the county from obtaining those services or supports within the timeline documented in the case plan; and
  • Additional time is needed pursuant to the case plan and has been approved.
 

2. The Child Welfare Director or Deputy Director shall approve the continued placement no less frequently than every 60 days.

Child Welfare Director;

or

Child Welfare Deputy Director
6-12

Same requirements as above

Shall not exceed six months

Shall not exceed six months

Same requirements as above

 

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How to Access Approval

Form in CWS/CMS

 

In order to obtain Director approval to place a child under the age of 12 in a group home the GH_001 Group Home Approval must be signed by the DFCS Director or Deputy Director. 

The GH_001 Group Home Approval is located in CWS/CMS.

To generate the GH_001 Group Home Approval in CWS/CMS: 

1. From the client’s Case notebook, Case Management (Green) Section:

    Click on the + sign under “Open Existing Document - Case” to “Create New Document – Case.

2. Click on the drop-down arrow under “County” and change the category from “State of California” to “Santa Clara”.

 

3.    Scroll down the list and Choose “GH-001Group Home ApprovalClick “OK” to generate the form.

4. The form is generated. 

    Some of the fields are auto-populated and the rest of the information needs to be completed by the

    worker. 

 
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Procedures For Requesting Group Home Placement Approval for Children Ages Twelve And Under      

Receiving, Assessment and Intake Center (RAIC):

When a child at the receiving center is approaching a stay of 14 hours and may need a group home placement the RAIC Manager will email the Director and Deputy Director for authorization to utilize a group home placement. 

The primary social worker will be responsible for following the steps outlined below in the initial hearing.

Protective Custody (PC) Warrant:

When a PC warrant for a child under the age of 12 is being requested and the child/youth will need a group home placement, the social worker will need to also obtain Director's approval to place the child in a group home.

The primary social worker will be responsible for following the steps outlined below in the initial hearing.

Initial Hearing:

Social worker

  1. When it appears that the child may need a group home placement, the primary social worker will need to prepare the following document for court approval:
    • Check the box for CCF in the initial hearing recommendations.
  2. The primary social worker will:
    • Document the child’s placement needs in CWS/CMS case contacts.
    • Complete the CWS/CMS pending case plan, print a copy and send to supervisor as pending approval.
    • Complete the GH_001 Group Home Approval and attach the CWS/CMS pending case plan signed by the supervisor.
    • Submit the GH_001 Group Home Approval and pending case plan to the Executive Assistant to the DFCS Director for approval.
    • Director/Deputy Director will sign the GH_001 Group Home Approval and pending case plan and Executive Assistant will return approved request to social worker.
    • Inform Social work supervisor that the case plan and request has been approved by the Director.
    • File the original copy in the case file.
  3.  
  4. The primary social worker will submit to court a copy of the signed case plan with the initial hearing report.
  5. In the Initial hearing report include:
    • Information to support the finding that placement is necessary to secure a complete and adequate evaluation including placement planning and transition time. 
    • The purpose of the specialized treatment for the child.
    • The need and nature of the specialized treatment and
    • The expected duration of the placement
    • Provide the date it is anticipated that the child will be moved out of the group home.

      Note: The documentation needs to be specific and clear.

  6.  Document all contacts in the Contact notebook.
    • Document that a private conversation took place between the social worker and child when the face to face contact occurs at the group home placement.
  7. If the placement is to exceed 60 days (calendar)
      • Ensure that the initial case plan/court report or case plan/update court report is completed within the required time frame.

  Note:

Whenever a child is placed in a group home each social worker visit with the

child shall include a private discussion between the child and social worker.

 

Social work supervisor:

Approve the pending case plan, using the Director’s approval date, in CWS/CMS once the GH_001 Group Home Approval and pending case plan is signed by the Director.

Disposition:

If disposition does not occur within 60 days of the child being placed in a group home,the primary social worker will need to complete another GH_001 Group Home Approval and case plan approval and submit to the DFCS Director or Deputy Director for approval of group home placement beyond the 60 days. 

Note:

Approval must be obtained every 60 days so long as the group home placement continues. 

 

At or After Disposition (Continuing Cases):

Social worker

The primary social worker will:

  1. Document the child’s placement needs in Contact notebook.
  2. Complete the CWS/CMS case plan, print a copy and send to supervisor for approval.
    • The case plan must indicate that placement is for providing short-term, specialized and intensive treatment to the child and the case plan must specify the need for, nature of, and anticipated duration of the treatment
  3. and

    • The case plan must include a mental health history along with a treatment plan by the provider that includes a response and/or progress made in treatment. 
  4. Complete the GH_001 Group Home Approval and attach the CWS/CMS pending case plan signed by the supervisor.
  5. Document in the Status Review Hearing Report in the current placement section  following:
    • The reason(s) it is necessary to place the child in group home (congregate) care, 
    • The purpose of the specialized treatment for the child,
    • The need and nature of the specialized treatment and
    • The expected duration of the placement.
    • Provide the date it is anticipated that the child will be moved out of the group home.
  6. Note: The documentation needs to be specific and clear. 

  7. Document all contacts in the Contact notebook.
    • Document that a private conversation took place between the social worker and child when the face to face contact occurs at the group home placement.
  8. If the placement is to exceed 60 days (calendar)
    • Get the DFCS Director or Deputy Director approval every 60 days.

 

Child under the age of six in a group home for more than 120 days:

  • Approval must be obtained every 60 days so long as the group home placement continues. 
  • Prior to the 60th calendar day, the primary social worker will submit a GH_001 Group Home Approval and a case plan update, to the DFCS Director or Deputy Director for approval of extended placement in a group home facility.
  • Submit the approved GH_001 Group Home Approval, case plan update, and court report, if applicable, to the social work supervisor for signature for review hearing.

 

Child age 6-12 in a group home for more than six (6) months:

Follow the same procedures as specified above.

 
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Requirements for other Children/Youth in Group Home placements  

Youth ages Thirteen to Eighteen

  • Court approval needed
  • No approval needed by the DFCS Director or Deputy Director for group home placement
  • The case plan must indicate:

    • The needs of the youth that necessitate this placement;

• The plan for transitioning the youth to a less restrictive environment.

• This portion of the case plan must be reviewed and updated at least every six

   months.

Non Minor Dependents (NMD)

  1. Planning
    • As soon as it becomes clear that a foster youth in a group home placement is likely to remain in group home placement on his/her 18th birthday, the group home placement planning process should begin.
    • Consideration for continuation of an existing group home placement for NMD under age 19 may include the need to stay in the same placement in order to complete high school. 
    • After a NMD either completes high school or turns 19, whichever occurs first, continuation in or admission into a group home is

    prohibited, unless: 

    • Treatment to alleviate or ameliorate the medical conditions does not constitute the sole basis to disqualify an NMD from the group home placement.
    • If admission to, or continuation in, a group home placement is considered, the decision to make the placement shall include a youth-driven, team-based case planning process.
    • Youth should be informed of all of his/her options, including, but not limited to continuation in a group home placement.

     

   2. If Group Home Placement is Made

    • The case plan shall consider the full range of placement options and shall specify:
      • Why admission to, or continuation in, a group home placement is the best alternative available at the time to meet the special needs or well-being of the NMD.
      • How the placement will contribute to the NMD’s transition to independent living.
      • The treatment strategies that will be used to prepare the NMD for discharge to a less restrictive and more family-like setting;
      • A target date for discharge from the group home placement.
    • The placement shall be reviewed and updated on a regular, periodic basis to ensure:
      • That continuation in the group homes remains in the best interests of the NMD;
      • To ensure that progress is being made in achieving case plan goals leading to independent living.
       
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Contacts  

Gilbert Murillo, Placement Supervisor

Tel: (408)-501-6842

Email: Gilbert.Murillo@ssa.sccgov.org

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Other References  
PDF Agency Memorandum #14-07: Group Home Placement Requirements for Children Age Twelve and Under
PDF OPP 24-1, Criteria, Definitions, and Forms- Extended Foster Care
PDF OPP 24-5, Placement and Housing-Extended Foster Care
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