DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

  DFCS Online Policies & Procedures

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Handbook 10: Contacts and Visitation
10-2  Contact Waivers
Contacts and Visitation
10-2  Contact Waivers
Reference Points
Overview
Emergency Response, Early Intervention and Dependent Intake
Voluntary Family Maintenance and Informal Supervision
Court-Ordered Family Maintenance
Family Reunification
Court Ordered Permanency Planning
Voluntary Permanency Planning
Requesting a Contact Waiver
Social Work Supervisor Approval of Contact Waiver
CWS/CMS Documentation
Documenting Contact for Youth on Runaway Status and Placed through ICPC
Placement Change
Attempted Contacts
Other References


Reference Points
Effective Date: 5/1/06
Last Updated: 11/15/11 - Update in progress
 Legal Basis:
PDF California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Manual of Policies and Procedures (MPP) Division 31-320, 31-325.3, 31-33.1-.2
Popup Window Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) § 16516.5 and 16516.6
PDF All County Information Letter (ACIN 1-34-07: Recording Social Worker Contacts in CWS/CMS
 Non CWS/CMS Forms:
MS Word Family Maintenance Contact Waiver (SCZ 1335A)
MS Word Family Reunification Child Contact Waiver (SCZ 1335)
MS Word Family Reunification Parent Contact Waiver (SCZ 1335P)
MS Word Permanent Placement Child Contact Waiver (SCZ 1334)
 CWS/CMS Forms:
bullet Case Plan Management Section: Case Plan
bullet Service Management Section: Contact Notebook


Overview   Exceptions to contact requirements can be requested when certain conditions in the child's placement are met, primarily those conditions are based upon the stability of the child in his/her current foster care setting and the effectiveness of the services provided to meet the child's needs.  The criteria for the exceptions can be found in State Division 31 regulations.  Specific waiver forms, related to the various programs under which the child is receiving services, outline the specific conditions under which a social worker is permitted to have less frequent contact with a child or parent.  Waivers must have signed supervisory approval to be in effect and are valid for a maximum of 6 (six) months.  The waiver information must also be documented in the CWS/CMS Case Plan.
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Emergency Response, Early Intervention and Dependent Intake  
Social Worker and... Frequency and Exception Criteria

Child

  • Unfounded Allegations

After the initial face-to-face contact with each alleged child victim, if the Emergency Response social worker assesses that the allegations are unfounded, no further contact is required. 

  • Best practice may indicate the need for additional contact(s) with the child, parents or collateral service provider.
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Voluntary Family Maintenance and Informal Supervision  
Social Worker and...
Frequency and Exception Criteria

Child

After the initial visit within the first week of case assignment and one more visit during the first 30 days, visits may be reduced to 1x (once) every two calendar months, if ALL the following criteria are met:

  • Child has no severe physical or emotional problems caused or aggravated by remaining in the home, and
  • Child is visited at least once a week by a non-departmental Systems of Care (SOC) provider or public health nurse who is providing services pursuant to the case plan, and there is verbal or written agreement with any such service provider that he/she will provide contact reports to the social worker, and that ageement is documented in CWS/CMS Contacts.
    • The social worker has ensured that verbal and written reports are documented in CWS/CMS, and
  • Written supervisory approval has been obtained, using the Family Maintenance Contact Waiver (SCZ 1335A).

Parent or Legal Guardian

After the initial visit within the first week of case assignment and one more visit during the first 30 days, visits may be reduced to 1x (once) every two calendar months, if ALL the following criteria are met:

  • Parent or guardian has no severe physical or emotional problems that affect his/her ability to parent the child, and
  • Parent or guardian is visited at least once a week by a non-departmental Systems of Care provider or public health nurse (PHN) who is providing services pursuant to the case plan, and there is documented agreement that the SOC provider or PHN will provide reports to the social worker, and
  • The social worker has ensured that verbal and written reports are documented in CWS/CMS, and
  • Written supervisory approval has been obtained, using the Family Maintenance Contact Waiver (SCZ 1335A).
 

Special exceptions are allowed for up to once every six months, if the a specific visitation plan has been approved by the SSPM and Deputy Director on the applicable case plan form.

 

For a non-custodial incarcerated parent who is part of the case plan, evaluate crime and length of incarceration to determine if (s)he should be removed from the case plan.

  • NOTE: On a voluntary case, confer with the social work supervisor. If appropriate, remove the parent from the case plan and discontinue visits to that parent.
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Court-Ordered Family Maintenance  
Social Worker and... Frequency and Exception Criteria

Child

The required monthly contacts may be reduced but must occur to no less than necessary to ensure the safety and well being of the child.  to once every two (2) calendar months, if ALL of the following criteria are met:

  • The child has no severe physical or emotional problems caused or aggravated by remaining in the home, and
  • The /or
  • Child is visited at least once a week by a non-departmental Systems of Care (SOC) provider who is providing services pursuant to the case plan, and there is documented agreement that the SOC provider will provide reports to the social worker, and
  • The social worker has ensured that verbal and written reports are documented in CWS/CMS, and
  • Written supervisory approval has been obtained, using the Family Maintenance Contact Waiver (SCZ 1335A).

Parent or Guardian

Contacts may be reduced to once every two (2) calendar months, if ALL of the following criteria are met:

  • The parent/guardian has no severe physical or emotional problems that affect his/her ability to parent the child.
  • Child is visited at least once a week by a non-departmental Systems of Care (SOC) provider who is providing services pursuant to the case plan, and there is documented agreement that the SOC provider will provide reports to the social worker, and
  • The social worker has ensured that verbal and written reports are documented in CWS/CMS, and
  • Written supervisory approval has been obtained, using the Family Maintenance Contact Waiver (SCZ 1335A).
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Family Maintenace  

 Social Worker

 and...

Frequency and Exception Criteria

Child placed with a relative, foster family home, Foster Family Agency home

The required monthly contacts may be reduced but must occur no less than necessary to ensure the safety and well being of the child and, per DFCS policy, no less frequently than once every three (3) calendar months, if ALL of the following criteria are met:

  • No severe physical or emotional problems caused or aggravated by the placement.

  • The child has been in the same placement for at least six months, and the social worker has determined that the placement is stable.
    • At minimum replacement has not been requested; the child is not currently a runaway; and Community Care Licensing has not indicated concern over the supervision being provided.

  • Child has been visited in three of the four most recent consecutive months.

  • ONE or more of the following applies:
    • Child is placed with relatives, or  
    • Child has been placed with a foster parent who has provided continuous care for a minimum of 12 months, or  
    • Child is placed voluntarily and parents or guardians are visiting at least once a month, or  
    • Child is under tow years of age, and less frequent visits would facilitate reunification by permitting more social worker/parent/guardian visits, or  
    • Child is not placed in a group home or community treatment facility.  
    • Child is visited once each calendar month, by one or more of the following:
      • Other social services staff of the county, or
      • Staff of another services agency, or
      • A physician or other health professional.
  • Written supervisory approval has been obtained, using the Family Reunification Child Contact Waiver (SCZ 1335).

NOTE: Services must be pursuant to the case plan, and the social worker must receive and document verbal or written reports in the case.

Child Placed in a Group Home or Community Treatment Facility

Whether in-state or out-of-state, the social worker must visit the child at least once each calendar month, with at least a two-week time fram between visits and document the visits int he child's case plan.

Parent or Legal Guardian

Monthly written or telephone contacts in lieu of face-to-face contacts are permitted, if the case plan contains documentation justifying less frequent visits and the following apply:

  • The parent or guardian is visited once each calendar month by one or more of the following:
    • Other social services staff of the county, or
  • Staff of another services agency, or
  • A physician or other health professional.

NOTE: Services must be pursuant to the case plan, and the social worker must receive and document verbal or written reports in the case.

  • Written supervisory approval has been obtained, using the Family Reunification Parent Contact Waiver (SCZ 1335P).
  • Parent or guardian is not available for monthly visits.
    • The social worker shall send an individually drafted letter or telephone the parent or guardian and document the contact in the CWS/CMS Contact Notebook.

Special exceptions are allowed for up to once in 6 (six) months, if the court has approved a specific visitation plan on the applicable case plan/court report form.

For an incarcerated parent who is part of the case plan, evaluate crime and length of incarceration to determine if (s)he should be removed from the case plan.

  • On a court-supervised case, confer with County Counsel.
  •    

No contacts are required, if a parent's or guardian's whereabouts are unknown and a due diligence affidavit has been filed with the court.

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Court-Ordered Permanency Planning  
Social Worker and...
Frequency and Exception Criteria

Child placed with a relative, foster family home, Foster Family Agency home, or legal guardian

Contacts may be reduced to once every three calendar months, if ONE of the following applies and supervisory approval has been obtained:

    1. Child is a dependent of the court, is placed with a legal guardian or in a foster family home and ALL of the following apply:
      • Child has been in the same placement for at least six consecutive months, and
      • Child has no serious emotional problems caused or aggravated by the placement situation, and
      • Social worker determines that the placement is stable, and
      • Out-of-home caretaker is cooperating with the case plan, and
      • Child is attending school, day treatment or licensed day care facility regularly or is being assisted to achieve self-maintenance as specified in a written transitional independent living plan.
         
    2. Child is placed with a relative and ALL of the following apply:
      • Child has been in same placement for at least 6 (six) consecutive months, and 
      • Child has no serious emotional problems caused or aggravated by the placement situation, and
      • Social worker determines that the placement is stable, and  
      • The relative is cooperating with the case plan.
       
    3. Child is visited monthly by at least one of the following:
      • Other social services staff of the county, or
      • Staff or another services agency, or
      • A physician or other health professional.
      • Services provided must be pursuant to the case plan and there must be documented agreement that contact reports will be provided to the social worker. Verbal or written reports must be documented/filed in the case record/case notes.
      • Written supervisory approval has been obtained, using the Permanent Placement Child Contact Waiver (SCZ 1334)

Social worker may have less frequent visits, up to a minimum of once every 6 (six) consecutive calendar months, if the child is in placement with a legal guardian and dependency has been dismissed or the child has never been a dependent.

  • NOTE: An exception cannot be approved solely because a child is placed outside of the county.
Child Placed in a Group Home

Whether in-state or out-of-state, the social worker must visit the child at least once each calendar month, with at least a two-week time fram between visits and document the visits int he child's case plan.

Out-of-Home Caregiver

Monthly contact is not required if ONE of the following applies:

  • The child is placed with a legal guardian, or
  • The child has been placed with the same relative for five years, and there are no problems.

NOTE: This refers only to monthly telephone or written contact. Face-to-face visits continue to be required at least once every 6 (six) months.

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Voluntary Permanency Planning  

In cases in which a non-relative guardianship has been ordered and court dependency is dismissed, services to the child must continue, if the guardian chooses to receive state AFDC-FC funds for the child.  In CWS/CMS, the case status changes from Court Involvement to Voluntary and the Service Component changes to Permanency Planning, if it is not already in that mode.

Social Worker and... Frequency and Exception Criteria

Child
  • Contacts may be reduced to once every six (6)calendar months, if the placement is stable and the child is not experiencing any medical, behavioral, or emotional difficulties, and

  • Written supervisory approval has been obtained, using the Permanent Placement Child Contact Waiver (SCZ 1334).
Guardian

Contacts may be reduced to once every six (6)calendar months, if the placement is stable and the child is not experiencing any medical, behavioral, or emotional difficulties.

 

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Requesting a Contact Waiver  

If the case meets state regulations and social work criteria for modifying contact requirements, the social worker:

  1. Conducts a pre-waiver request contact that will include a face-to-face contact with the child and the caregiver.  
     
  2. Compiles a quality-of-life assessment:
    • Determine that:
      • The child's personal rights are being respected.
      • Any behavior restrictions are appropriate to the child's age, level of maturity and emotional development.
    • Ensure that the child is provided with:
      • Clothing appropriate to his/her age and what is required for special events.
      • The resources necessary to support appropriate peer relations and sports activities.
      • An environment supportive of his/her educational needs and conducive to optimal learning.
     
  3. Obtains verbal statements from the child regarding all items in #2 above and document the statement in the CWS/CMS Contact Notebook.  

  4. Explains the waiver process to the caregiver and and child.  
     
  5. Reviews the case records, including all relevant collateral contacts and documentation.  
     
  6. Completes the appropriate Contact Waiver form.  
     
  7. Obtains copies of the Judicial Approval for Psychotropic Medication, if applicable, and a copy of the criminal history information for relative and non-relative extended family member caregivers.  
     
  8. Obtains, from CWS/CMS, hard-copy documentation of the past 6 (six) months of face-to-face contacts with the child.  
     
  9. Obtains the last judicial review or permanency planning report and the last minute order.  
     
  10. Submits the packet with the Contact Waiver form and other required documents, to the social work supervisor for approval.
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Social Work Supervisor Approval of Contact Waiver  

To approve a request for a contact waiver, the social work supervisor:

  1. Reviews the packet and evaluates the appropriateness of modified face-to-face contacts, using the CWS/CMS Case Contacts and Case Plan fields to determine case suitability.  
     
  2. Verifies that the case is in compliance with state contact exception eligibility requirements and Department-wide standardized use of the waiver criteria.  
     
  3. Authorizes or denies the waiver and signs the Contact Waiver form. 

  4. Provides an explanation, if the waiver is denied.  
     
  5. Returns the packet to the social worker with the Contact Waiver form.

NOTE: Each approved waiver shall expire on the last day of the 6th (sixth) month following the date the waiver was authorized. Applications for renewals shall be treated as new requests.

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CMS/CWS Documentation of Contact Waivers  

Contact waivers must be documented in the CWS/CMS Case Plan, requiring a case plan update when the waivers are entered.  The effective dates on the hardcopy contact waiver must match the dates in CWS/CMS for the contact waivers.  The date of the social work supervisor's approval signature on the hardcopy must match the supervisor's approval date of the case plan.

The Contact Waiver Type list is located in the CWS/CMS Case Plan Notebook on the Case Management Services page (last page, bottom right corner.)

The state audits contacts as a performance measurement, determining if social workers are seeing children in accordance with state regulation requirements.  To determine if the child should be evaluated for a frequency other than one month, the audit measure checks the frequencies from the Schedule for Services field from the CWS/CMS case plan notebook under SW Planned Contacts.   If that field is blank, it will default to monthly as the required frequency.

 

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Documenting Contact for Youth on Runaway Status and Placed through ICPC  

Because social workers are unable to make monthly contacts directly with youth on runaway status, specific documentation must be entered into CWS/CMS to indicate that the youth is unavailable for contact.

CWS/CMS Instructions for  Excluding Runaway or Abducted Children in Contacts


DFCS policy regarding youth on runaway status is for social workers to make monthly efforts to contact individuals significant to the youth in order to make inquiries that may  possibly lead to information regarding the whereabouts of the youth.   The monthly contacts with these individuals and/or other efforts to locate the youth is documented in a CWS/CMS Contact.

 

Similarly, specific entries must be entered in the case plan for children placed out-of-state through ICPC so that the primary assigned social worker is not expected to make monthly face-to-face contacts.

CWS/CMS Instructions for  Excluding ICPC Children (children placed in another state)

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Placement Change   A visit exception is granted if the conditions set forth in Division 31 are met and is only applicable to the placement home in which the child is placed at the time the exception is approved.  Therefore, if a child's placement changes, the exception is no longer valid and the requirement for social worker visits with the child becomes monthly until a new visit exception is approved.  There is no basis under state regulations for allowing an automatic extension of a visit exception when a child moves.  The social worker must visit the child in the new home and a new contact exception must be reviewed and approved by the supervisor.
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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 as "in-person" with the status of "completed."
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Other References  
bullet2 Contact Requirements
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