DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 10: Contacts and Visitation
10-1 Contact Requirements
Contacts and Visitation
10-1  Contact Requirements
Reference Points
Overview
Purpose of Contacts
Emergency Response and Dependent Intake
Voluntary Family Maintenance and Informal Supervision
Court-Ordered Family Maintenance, Family Reunification and Permanency Placement
Child at the Children's Shelter
Child in a Group Home or Community Care Facility (CCF)
Child Placed Out-of-State
Child in a Non-Dependency Legal Guardian Home
Child's Whereabouts Unknown
Contact Waivers
Attempted Contacts
Other References


Reference Points
Effective Date: 5/1/06
Last Updated: 11/15/11
 Legal Basis:
PDF California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Manual of Policies and Procedures (MPP) Division 31-320, 31-325.3, 31-330.1-2
Popup Window All County Letter (ACL) 09-11: Monthly Caseworker Visits with Foster Children
Popup Window Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) § 16516.5 and 16516.6
 CWS/CMS Forms:
bullet Services Management Section: Contact Notebook


Overview  

The contact requirements outlined in this chapter are mandatory under state regulations and are subject to the Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS) and State compliance review.  The standards set forth establish the base line for documentation and are not meant to limit the level of documentation necessary to verify that the safety of a child and/or the quality of life of that child has been adequately assessed.

Documentation in CWS/CMS of the contacts must be completed in order to be considered in compliance with State regulations. Further, the social worker's plan for required contacts with children, parents, and substitute care providers must be documented in the case plan.  The terms "visitation" and "contact" are used interchangeably, as defined in California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Manual of Policies and Procedures (MPP) Division 31.

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Purpose of Contacts  

The purpose of contacts between the social worker and the child are to:

  • Verify the child's location;
  • Monitor the child's safety;
  • Assess the child's well-being;
  • Assist the child in maintaining his/her religious and ethnic identity;
  • Acquire information needed to assess the effectiveness of the current service plan;
  • Monitor the child's progress toward meeting his/her goals;
  • Establish and maintain a relationship between the child and the SW, which will provide the child with continuity and a stability point;
  • Obtain input from the child about his/her wishes for the future;
  • Keep the child informed and discuss with the child any future placement plans and progress in placement, if appropriate.

Note: All mandatory contacts with children, parents, legal guardians, out-of-home caregivers and collateral contacts must be recorded in the CWS/CMS Contact Notebook.

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Emergency Response and Dependent Intake  
Social Worker and the... How Often and/or When

Child

  • One (1) visit with the victim (child(ren) is required, including the initial in-person contact, if the case plan is completed within 10 days of the initial in-person contact with the child.
  • Two (2) visits with the victim child(ren) are required, including the initial in-person contact, if the case plan is completed within 10-21 calendar days of the initial in-person contact with the child.
  • Three (3) visits with the victim (child) are required, including the initial in-person contact, if the case plan is completed between 22 and 29 calendar days after the initial in-person contact with the child.
  • At least 1 (one) in-person response with each victim child is required, if the allegations are determined to be unfounded.
    • Further interviews may be required.
  • See OPP Chapter 2-3: Conducting an Emergency Response Assessment for a list of all required contacts during an Emergency Response assessment.

Parent or Legal Guardian

  • At least 1 (one) in-person contact with all parents or legal guardians who have contact with the child.
    • If the allegations are determined to be unfounded, a contact with another adult who has information regarding the allegations can be substituted for contact with the parent.
An adult (including parent) who has information regarding the allegations
  • At least 1 in-person contact, if the parent is not or cannot be contacted, when the allegations are determined to be unfounded.
    • The referral must be closed within 29 days of the initial contact with the child, or a case plan must be developed for ongoing child welfare services.
Minor siblings of the victim living in the same home as the victim
  • At least 1 in-person contact with each sibling, when the allegations are determined to be inconclusive or substantiated.
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Voluntary Family Maintenance and Informal Supervision  
Social Worker and the... How Often and/or When

Child

  • First visit to occur within the first week of case assignment.
  • Two (2) visits (includes initial visit) during the first month of VFM or IS services.
  • Monthly, after the first month, unless an assessment is made that more frequent contact is necessary.

Parents

  • First visit to occur within the first week of case assignment.
  • Two (2) visits during the first month of VFM or IS services.
  • Monthly, after the first month, unless an assessment is made that more frequent contact is necessary.
  • No visits are required, if the parent is non-custodial and not part of the case plan.
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Court-Ordered Family Maintenance, Family Reunification and Permanent Placement  
Social Worker and the... How Often and/or When

Child

At least 1x each calendar month.

The majority of visits with the child in each calendar year must take place in the child's foster home or placement.

  • Each visit must include a private discussion with the child outside the presence and immediate vicinity of the caretaker.
    • The contents are not to be shared with the caretaker unless the social worker believes the child may be in danger of harming him or herself, or others, and the social worker believes disclosure is necessary to meet the needs of the child or the child consents to disclosure.
  • If the child is in child care in a license-exempt child care facility, a visit every six months to the child at that site is required.
    • Post-adoptive placements are not exempt from this requirement.

See exceptions for children placed at a Group Home or CCF.

Parent or Legal Guardian

At least 1x each calendar month.

  • Includes an incarcerated parent, if (s)he is part of the case plan. In addition, maintain contact with the correctional counselor.
  • No visits are required if the parent is not part of the case plan.
  • No visits required if the whereabouts of a parent is unknown and a due diligence report if filed with the court.

Out-of-Home Caregiver

  • In-person contact is required as determined in the child's case plan, but not less than 1x (once) every 6 (six) calendar months.
  • In-person, written or telephone contact is required at least 1x (once) every calendar month.
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Child in a Group Home or CCF  
Social Worker and the... How Often and/or When

Child

At least 1x every calendar month.

  • Each visit shall include a private discussion with the child outside the presence and immediate vicinity of the caretaker.
    • The contents are not to be shared with the caretaker unless the social worker believes the child may be in danger of harming him or herself, or others, and the social worker believes disclosure is necessary to meet the needs of the child or the child consents to disclosure.
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Child Placed Out-of-State  
Social Worker and the... How Often and/or When

Child

No visits required if ALL the following apply:

  1. The child is residing out-of state under provisions of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), and 
  2. The child is receiving services from the receiving state, and  
  3. The receiving state is providing written or verbal reports which are documented at least every twelve months, and  
  4. The child is not placed in a group home.
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Child is a Non-Dependent in a Legal Guardian Home  
Social Worker and the... How Often  and/or When

Child

At least 1x every calendar month.

Social worker may have less frequent visits, up to a minimum of 1x (once) every 6 (six) consecutive calendar months, if the child is in placement with a legal guardian, court dependency has been dismissed or the child has never been a dependent, and the placement is stable with the child showing no signs of medical, behavioral or emotional problems.

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Child's Whereabouts Unknown  
Social Worker and the... How Often and/or When

Child

No visits required if ALL the following conditions apply:

  1. The child has an approved case plan and is a dependent of the court, and  
  2. The court has been informed of the child's absence,  
  3. A missing person's report has been made by the facility caregiver,  
  4. A warrant has been issued by the primary social worker,  
  5. The social worker makes attempts to locate the child and documents those attempts in CWS/CMS Contacts, and
  6. It is confirmed and documented in the case record every 30 days from the date of the initial discovery that the child's whereabouts are unknown.
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Contact Waivers   Social workers must meet State contact requirements or Department contact requirements, if the Department policy requires more frequent contacts than State regulations. However, a Contact Waiver allowing for less frequent contacts may be submitted.  Approval by the social work supervisor is required, prior to beginning a less frequent contact schedule than is listed in the requirements above.
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Attempted Contacts   Attempted contacts do not satisfy the requirements for a contact measure.  For a contact to be considered completed it must be recorded in CWS/CMS as "in-person" with the status of "completed."
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Other References  
bullet2 OPP Chapter 10-12: Contact Waivers
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