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Contacts & Visitations > Contact Standards & Requirements > Contact Requirements and Exceptions

Contact Requirements and Exceptions

0400-503.10 | Revision Date: 05/02/19

Overview

This policy reviews the face-to-face contact requirements for Emergency Response, Family Maintenance, Family Reunification, and Permanent Placement.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Policy

Children in Out-of-Home Care

Children Residing Out of State

Nonminor Dependents

Purpose of Required Contact

Contact with the Child -- Referral Investigations

Continuing Services -- Continuing Services

Contact with the Parent/Legal Guardian

Contact with the Out-of-Home Care Provider

Contact with Service Providers

Collateral Contacts

Contact Requirements

Emergency Response

Attempted Contacts on Emergency Response Referrals

Court Family Maintenance

Family Reunification/Permanent Placement

Case Transfers

Child Care Facility

Documenting Contacts

Family Engagement Efforts

Procedure

A Family is Not Seen at the Initial Contact on a Referral

ER CSW Responsibilities

ER SCSW Responsibilities

Obtaining a Parent/Guardian Contact Exception

CSW Responsibilities

SCSW Responsibilities

A DCFS Supervised Child is Receiving Child Care from an Unlicensed Provider

CSW Responsibilities

Documenting Contacts

CSW Responsibilities

Approvals

Helpful Links

Attachments

Forms

Referenced Policy Guides

Statutes

Version Summary

This policy guide was updated from the 02/25/16 version to provide additional clarification regarding referral investigations and home visit requirements.

POLICY

 

More than 50 percent of monthly visits with a child placed in a group home or a licensed, certified, or approved foster home must take place in the child’s home or placement. The CSW must inform the child that they can request a visit outside the home or group home.  If a child requests to have a visit outside the home, that visit will not replace the visit in the home. Face-to-face contacts with either the child and/or parent outside of the home should be the exception, rather than the rule.

 

Visits held outside the home or group home require that the contact and the next scheduled court report state:

Children in Out-of-Home Care

During visits with children placed in group homes or foster homes, including the homes of relatives and extended family members, CSWs are required to have a private discussion with the child outside the presence and immediate vicinity of the parent/caretaker. The contents of these discussions are not to be shared with the caretaker unless:

 

The fact that this private discussion took place must be documented in the Contact Notebook.

 

It is the CSWs responsibility to monitor that the home continues to be free from safety hazards and meets the basic safety needs of the child.

 

If there are new individuals in the home or someone new is having significant contact with the child, the CSW must inform the RFA CSW/SCSW and conduct a Live-Scan and CLETS on the individual(s). RFA CSW/SCSW information may be obtained through CWS/CMS.

 

If the results of these clearances indicate a crime other than a minor traffic violation and the conviction(s) cannot be exempted, he/she must leave the residence or the child should be removed from the home.

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Children Residing Out of State

California is a participant in the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) and therefore has reciprocal relationships with states and territories governing the protection and support of children placed across state lines.

 

The California sending agency must document in CWS/CMS all reported visits made to a California child by caseworkers in a receiving state. No visits are required by the California-based agency if all of the following apply:

 

Children are not to be placed in an out-of-state group home prior to approval and certification by the CDSS Out-of-State Placement Policy (OSPP) Unit.

 

Agencies receiving out-of-state children for placement in California are responsible for complying with the visit and reporting requirements specified in the ICPC.

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Nonminor Dependents (NMD)

Monthly visitation and service requirements apply to NMDs placed both in- and out-of-state. Counties may request courtesy supervision through the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) for nonminor dependents who are attending college or residing in an appropriate out-of-state placement.

 

However, not all states will accept an ICPC request or provide services/supervision for children in foster care beyond age 18. All efforts must be made to make arrangement for the supervision of NMDs, even if it requires contracting with a private agency in another state. Visits must be face to face; video conferencing and Skyping are not considered acceptable methods for conducting monthly visits.

 

CSWs must contact the ICPC unit at (213) 765-2680 prior to placing a NMD out-of-state or recommending that a foster youth be placed out-of-state as a NMD in order to verify how the monthly contacts can be completed.

 

Because placement options for NMDs may involve roommates, CSWs must remain flexible in scheduling visits so as to respect the NMD’s privacy while still meeting the federal requirement of visitation in the place of residence.

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Purpose of Required Contacts

Contact with the Child -- Referral Investigations

The purpose of social worker contact with the child during a referral investigation is to determine the following:

 

 

 

 

 

Contact with the Child -- Continuing Services

The purpose of social worker contact with the child is to assess the safety and well-being of the child and to achieve the following:

Contact with the Parent/Legal Guardian

The purpose of the social worker contact with the parent/guardian is to:

Contacts with the Out-of-Home Care Provider

The purpose of the social worker contact with the out-of-home care provider is to:

Contact with Service Providers

CSWs are to have ongoing contact with any other professional working with the child, parents/guardians, and out-of-home care provider who can provide insight on the needs or progress of the family.

 

The purpose of this contact is to:

Collateral Contacts

CSWs are to make necessary collateral contacts with persons having knowledge of the condition of the children that will help in understanding the nature and extent of the alleged child abuse/neglect, and in the ongoing assessment of the risk to, and safety of, the child. Residents within the family home should be interviewed, (but are not to be solely considered as collaterals) in the disposition of a referral or to assess for safety as part of ongoing case management.

 

Examples of pertinent collateral contacts include:

 

Child aged 0-59 months

  • If applicable, at least one professional service provider (licensed day care provider or pediatrician)

School Age Child

  • Educational professionals

Referrals with open cases or history of open cases or referrals

  • Current or previous CSW(s)

Other examples

  • Neighbors, Teachers, Physicians, Therapists, Parole Officers, etc.

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Contact Requirements

Emergency Response

 

Contact With

Contact Requirement

Child

At least one (1) in-person contact with each child/youth is required, regardless of allegation conclusion, if the referral is going to be closed.*   

  • If the referral remains open for longer than thirty (30) days from the initial contact, a minimum of one (1) additional in-person contact is required every thirty (30) days thereafter. More frequent contact may be necessary to ensure child safety and well-being.  These visits should always include a private interview with the child.

 

 If the referral will be promoted to a case, the following requirements apply:  

  • A minimum of two (2) contacts (including the initial in-person response) with the child(ren)/youth are required when the case plan has been completed within the first 21 calendar days of the initial in-person contact with the child/youth.
  • A minimum of three (3) face-to-face contacts (including the initial in-person response) are required when the case plan is completed between 22 and 29 calendar days from the date of the initial in-person contact with the child/youth. 

Parent/ Guardian/

Caregiver

At least one (1) face-to-face contact is required in the first thirty (30) days.*

  • If the referral remains open for longer than thirty (30) days from the initial contact, a minimum of one (1) additional in-person contact is required every thirty (30) days thereafter. More frequent contact may be necessary to ensure child safety and well-being.  These visits should always include a private interview with the child.

 * Child abuse investigations must be completed within thirty (30) calendar days of the initial face-to-face contact.  

 

When a referral is going to be closed after only one (1) in-person contact, the CSW and SCSW must have a case conference within three (3) business days to discuss the investigative work plan and next steps. SCSWs must document the details of the case conference, work plan, and rationale for closure with one (1) visit in the CWS/CMS Contact Notebook (i.e., select "Consult with Staff Person" as the Contact Purpose, select "Staff Person/Staff Person" as the Contact Party Type, click the + sign to add Participants and change the Select Participants/ParticipantDPSS term for person receiving services. Type drop-down menu to "Staff Persons," and select the specific staff members involved).

 

If any barriers to timely closure of a referral arise during the investigation, they should be immediately discussed with the SCSW and documented by the Supervising Children's Social Worker (SCSW) in CWS/CMS.

 

If a referral has not been closed within the required thirty (30) day period, additional follow-up actions (including, but not limited to, additional contacts, interviews, phone calls, documentation gathering to justify the disposition, etc.) should be discussed in a case conference with a SCSW. (This case conference must be docmented in CWS/CMSby the SCSW.) Since not all referrals will require the same investigative steps, in light of the flexibility allowed by the Individualized Investigation Narrative, CSWs and SCSWs should use sound social work practice and critical thinking skills in determining any remaining actions needed to conclude the investigative process. A work plan should be updated a minimum of every thirty (30) days, or more if the initial work plan requires modifications.

 

Contact requirements are the minimum and visits should be completed as frequently as necessary to ensure the parent, child and caregiver's safety and well-being.

 

Attempted Contacts on Referrals

Prior to closing a referral where attempts to locate the family have been unsuccessful, CSWs must clearly document that all reasonable efforts have been made to locate the family.  All viable leads must be followed-up on and attempts to locate the family should be made as indicated below at different times of the day and night.

 

Referral Response Time

Second Attempt

Additional Attempts

Immediate*

Within twenty four (24)** hours of the first attempt

Until face-to-face contact is made or until all possible resources have been exhausted.

Five (5) Day*

Within three (3) business days of the first attempt

At least once a week until face-to-face contact is made or until all possible resources have been exhausted.

 

*If a reliable source states that the child will not be available for a period of time (e.g., child is on vacation) an attempt to see the child must be made within one (1) business day following the childs anticipated return.

 

**When additional attempts cannot be made because the following day is a weekend or holiday, the SCSW must obtain approval from the ARA to forward the referral to ERCP or obtain approval to downgrade the next attempt to the next business day.

Court Family Maintenance

Contact With

Time Frame

Contact Requirement

Child

First 3 Months

At least two (2)face-to-face contacts every 30 days

Child

After first 3 months

At least one (1) face-to-face contact a month

Parent/ Guardian

First 3 Months

At least two (2) face-to-face contacts a month

Parent/ Guardian

After first 3 months

One (1) face-to-face contact each month

 

Exceptions:

 

  1. Following the initial three (3) months, contacts with Parent/Guardian can occur once every two (2) months if all of the following apply:

 

  1. Only one face-to-face contact is required up to every six (6) months in either of the following cases:

 

For Voluntary Family Maintenance contact requirements, please refer to the Court Family Maintenance and Voluntary Family Maintenance.

Family Reunification/Permanent Placement

 

While monthly face-to-face contact with parents may not be necessary if Family Reunification is terminated, contact with parents should continue to meet the current circumstances of the case (e.g., regular visitation, plan for contact in permanency, helping the child reach their permanency goal, etc.).

 

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Manual of Policies and Procedures allows visitation exceptions for children in out-of-home care. However, to ensure the safety of children, the Department has decided not to utilize and approve face-to-face exceptions for children receiving FR or PP services.

 

Contact with

Contact Requirement

Child or NonminorDependent (NMD) residing in out-of-home placement with relative, foster family or legal guardian.

  • At least one face-to-face contact each calendar month.

 

Nonminor Dependent (NMD)A current dependent child or ward of the juvenile court, or a nonminor under the transition jurisdiction of the juvenile court, who: has attained 18 years of age while under an order of foster care placement by the juvenile court; is in foster care under the placement and care responsibility of the county welfare department, county probation department, Indian tribe, consortium of tribes, or tribal organization; is participating in a transitional independent living case. Defined by WIC 11400(v). residing in a Supervised Independent Living Placement (SILP)SILP is a supervised and approved placement that is part of the Extended Foster Care program. SILP is a flexible and the least restrictive placement setting. It can include: an apartment (alone or with roommates); shared living situations; room and board arrangements; room rented from a landlord, friend or relative, or former caregiver; or college dorms..

  • At least one face-to-face contact each calendar month.

 

Child or NMD residing in group home or Community Treatment Center.

  • At least one face-to-face contact each month with at least a two-week time frame between visits.

Child or NMD residing out-of-state.

  • Visitation requirements same as for in-state placements; however, ICPC may be utilized. Contacts by receiving agency to be documented in CWS/CMS.

Child residing in home of non-dependency legal guardian.

  • If child is receiving permanent placement services, is in placement with a legal guardian and dependency has been dismissed, or the child has never been a dependent, one face-to-face contact every 6 months is required.

  • Cases may only need a private face-to-face visit every six (6) months, but may require a work plan to identify more frequent contact if the child has special or unique needs or the circumstances of the case change.  The work plan must be documented in the CWS/CMS Contact Notebook.

  • These visits should always include a private interview with the child and caregiver, regardless of when the case has been without jurisdiction.
  • This visitation schedule is to be reflected in the case plan.

  • A minimum of one (1) monthly telephone contact is required.

Child or NMD whose whereabouts are unknown.

No visits required if ALL of the following apply:

  • Child has an approved case plan and is a dependent of the court.
  • Court has been informed of the child’s absence.
  • CSWs continue to document all efforts to locate the child and it is confirmed and documented in the case record every thirty (30) days that the child’s whereabouts remain unknown.
  • The Contact Visitation Waivers field on the Case Management Services Page shows that the child’s whereabouts are unknown.

Parent/Legal Guardian

  • One (1) face-to-face contact every calendar month, including with incarcerated parent who is part of the case plan.
  • Additionally, contact is to be maintained with the correctional counselor.

Parent/Legal Guardian who is unavailable for monthly visits.

  • CSW must complete the DCFS 670, an individually drafted letter or telephone the parent or guardian at least once a month.

Parent/Legal Guardian whose whereabouts are unknown.

  • No visits required if due diligence report is filed with the court.

 

Parent/Legal Guardian not part of the case plan.

  • No visits required.

Out-of-Home Caregiver

  • At least once every six (6) months with written or telephone contact at least once a month.

 

Exceptions:

 

  1. Monthly written or telephone contacts with the parent/guardian are sufficient in lieu of face-to-face contacts if all of the following apply:

 

  1. For court-supervised or voluntary cases, visitation with the parent/legal guardian can occur once every six months if the visitation schedule has been approved on the case plan or court report form by the court or by the ARA, RA and Bureau Chief.

Case Transfers

 

Face-to Face Contact With

Time Frame

Purpose of Contact

Parent/Caregiver

Maximum of 15 calendar days prior to electronic transfer of a case.

To verify the assigning address.

Child/NMD

Within 15 calendar days prior to electronic transfer of a case.

To assess safety and risk level of the child.

Family

10 calendar days from electronic assignment of a transferred case.

New CSW to introduce self to family and provide services.

Child Care Facility

Complete a face-to-face contact with the child at the child care site within thirty (30) days of learning of the child care arrangement and once every six (6) months thereafter as one of the monthly contact requirements.

 

DCFS-supervised children (court and non-court) cannot remain in an unlicensed, non-license exempt child care facility.  The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Community Care Licensing (CCL) licenses child care facilities.  If a CSW discovers a child under DCFS supervision is receiving regular child care (more than four (4) hours one day per week), a determination must be made that the child care provider has been licensed or is license-exempt.  Health and Safety Code Section 1596.792 lists all license-exempt facilities.

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Documenting Contacts

All contacts, including attempted contacts (i.e., face-to-face, telephone, letter, e-mail, etc.) must be documented in CWS/CMS within three (3) business days of the date the contact took place (this includes the date of the contact).  Document all observations, not opinions. In situations where a child’s health or safety is a concern the contact should be entered into CWS/CMS immediately. 

 

The standards for documenting contacts provide CSWs with a framework for documenting observations, activities, actions taken, etc. to ensure child safety, reasonable efforts, timely permanency, and compliance with California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Manual of Policies and Procedures (MPP) Division 31 Sections 31-320 through 31-335. The standards are also designed to support CSWs with court reports and provide other DCFS staff with a clear picture of the case so that they can provide appropriate services. Standards are also helpful to Managers and SCSW’s as they ensure that CSWs have:

 

 

The standards set forth in this guide are not meant to limit the level of documentation necessary to verify that the safety and/or quality of life of a child has been adequately assessed.

Family Engagement Efforts

In order to meet the Federal requirement of capturing data for Family Engagement Efforts (FEE), the State has issued a list of family engagement activities which should be captured in CWS/CMS as a Contact, under Associated Services.  The list of FEE and activity definitions is available in ACIN 67-09.

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PROCEDURE

A Family is Not Seen at the Initial Contact on a Referral

ER CSW Responsibilities

  1. Leave a written message and a business card at the location for the client to contact you.

 

  1. Make additional attempts as required by policy.  Document all attempts made to see the family, as required by policy.  If attempts were not made, document the reason why.

 

  1. Complete a search on the following databases to verify the address or to obtain other possible addresses of the family:

 

  1. Contact the following individuals if known or any other individual that may assist in locating the family:

 

  1. Contact/search additional community resources, such as:

 

  1. Send a registered letter (e.g. DCFS 670) to the parents at their last known address.

 

  1. Document all efforts made to locate the family in the Contact Notebook, including but not limited to the following:

 

  1. If new information is obtained regarding the whereabouts of the family, follow-up on all leads and document all actions completed.

 

  1. If the family is not located, consult with the SCSW to discuss any further appropriate actions.

 

  1. Close the referral as inconclusive when all reasonable efforts have been unsuccessful to contact the family.

ER SCSW Responsibilities

  1. Review the referral to ensure that the above steps were completed.  Close the referral if appropriate, if not, return to CSW for follow-up action.

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Obtaining a Parent/Guardian Contact Exception

CSW Responsibilities

  1. After determining that a case meets the requirements for a modified visitation schedule, make a face-to-face contact with the parent/guardian to explain the waiver process.

 

  1. Obtain hard-copy documentation of all contacts with the parent/guardian over the past six months from CWS/CMS.

 

  1. Obtain the last status review court report and the last minute order report.

 

  1. Submit the above to the SCSW, along with the DCFS 110.

 

  1. Notify the parent/guardian of whether the visitation waiver is approved and if applicable, inform him/her of the new visitation frequency. Document this contact in the Contact Notebook.

 

  1. If the visitation waiver was approved, update the case plan with the current requirements for face-to-face contacts.

SCSW Responsibilities

  1. Evaluate the appropriateness of modified face-to-face contacts using the following to determine case suitability:

 

  1. Verify that the case is in compliance with state contact exception requirements.

 

  1. Sign the last page of the DCFS 110.

 

  1. If the contact exception is approved, return the case to the CSW with a reminder to update the case plan.

 

  1. If the contact exception is denied, conduct a case review conference with the requesting CSW.

 

  1. Document all cases with approved contact exceptions, as well as all cases for which approval is denied.

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A DCFS Supervised Child is Receiving Child Care from an Unlicensed Provider

CSW Responsibilities

  1. As soon as possible, but no later than one business day after learning of the child care arrangement, report the situation to Community Care Licensing at (310) 337-4333.

 

  1. Inform the parent/foster parent that the child cannot remain in the child care setting unless the provider applies for and receives a license.

 

  1. Within fifteen (15) calendar days of learning of the child care situation, make a face-to-face contact with the child in the unlicensed child care facility to ensure (s)he is receiving adequate care.

 

  1. Inform the child care provider that (s)he must apply for a license within fifteen (15) calendar days of the Community Care Licensing worker’s visit or the child cannot remain in his/her care.

 

  1. Inform the parent/foster parent and child care provider that the child may remain in the facility for the fifteen (15) calendar days that the provider has to apply for a license.

 

  1. If it is determined that the child is not safe in the child care facility, remove the child from the facility and contact the parent/foster parent to pick- up the child. 

 

  1. In the event there are other children in the child care setting immediately contact law enforcement to inform them of the endangering situation.

 

  1. Verify with Community Care Licensing that the child care provider has applied within the fifteen (15) day time frame.

 

  1. If the provider fails to apply for a license within the time frame required or the application is denied, assist the parent/foster parent in obtaining alternate child care.

 

  1. Document all contacts in the Contact Notebook.

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Documenting Contacts

CSW Responsibilities

  1. Complete all state mandatory fields (yellow) in CWS/CMS. Refer to: CWS/CMS Guide -- Creating a Contact for instruction.

 

  1. Complete the Narrative Section of the Contact Page.  The content of the Narrative will vary depending on the type of services being provided to the family:  Emergency Response, Family Reunification, Family Maintenance or Permanent Placement.  Below are baseline standards that must be documented in the Narrative Section:
  1. Document the purpose of the contact. For example:
  1. All contacts or attempted contacts including the person’s name and relationship to the child or family.
  1. When referring to an individual or entering an individual’s statement, use their name.  In the case of a reporting party or collateral contact, use the individuals name and their relationship to the family.
  1. If the child is non-verbal and/or too young to make a statement, enter the child’s name followed by “The child is non-verbal” or “The child is too young to make a statement.”  Descriptions of the child’s behavior, interactions with others and affect in relationship to their developmental or chronological age are the appropriate substitutes for a verbal statement.
  1. Document if the visit occurred outside the residence.  Explain the reason the visit occurred outside the residence and document the location of the visit (if applicable).
  1. Document whether or not a private conversation took place with the child (if applicable).
  1. If you entered the home:
  1. Describe the home environment including the status of all individuals in the home and the appearance of the home.
  1. Document how consent to enter the home was given in the Contact Notebook. Include whether any other people were present at the time that consent was given.
  1. Describe and detail any prior child welfare history with the family including any child welfare history a parent had as a child (if applicable).
  1. Document any health issues, mental health issues, substance abuse issues, etc. of all family members (if applicable).
  1. Document your assessment of the allegations (if applicable).
  1. Document services, referrals, or interventions offered to the parent, caregiver, or child (if applicable).

 

  1. If the information needs to be edited or additional information needs to be entered after completing and saving a contact, enter the date of the update at the bottom of the narrative section and add the supplemental information.  The original language of the contact must not be altered or modified.

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APPROVALS

SCSW Approval

ARA Approval

HELPFUL LINKS

Attachments

CWS/CMS Guide - Creating a Contact

Forms

LA Kids

DCFS 110, Application for Waiver of Face-to-Face Contact

DCFS 324, Protective Services Subsidized Child Care Referral

DCFS 670, Parent Contact Letter

DCFS Investigation Narrative Template

Referenced Policy Guides

 

0070-548.10, Disposition of Allegations and Closure of Emergency Response Referrals

0070-559.10, Clearances

0070-548.24, Structured Decision Making (SDM)

0080-506.10, Identifying and Arranging Appropriate Services for Children and Families

0100-520.11, Home Approvals Not Meeting Title 22 Approval Standards

0100-520.70, Exemptions for Criminal History Records

0100-525.10, Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)

1000-504.10, Case Transfer Criteria and Procedures

Statutes

Health and Safety Code (HSC) Section 1596.792 – Provides a list of license-exempt facilities.

 

HSC Section 1536.1 – Defines a placement agency and states when a placement agency must report concerns to Community Care Licensing and the responsibilities of CCL to investigate.

 

Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) Sections 16516.5 &16516.6 – Requires that foster children placed in group homes or any licensed, certified or approved foster home be visited regularly by a social worker or probation officer, away from the immediate vicinity of the caregiver(s), and that the contents of the discussion be kept in confidence by the social worker or probation officer, except under certain circumstances such as the child’s consent or the believe that the child may be in danger of harming oneself or others.  Prohibits more than 2 consecutive monthly visits from being held outside the residence, if the visits does not occur in the place of residence, requires the social worker or probation officer to document in the case file and in the court report the location of the visit and the reason for the visit occurring outside the place of residence. The social worker or probation officer is required to advise the foster child that he or she has the right to request that the private discussion occur outside the group home or foster home.

 

California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Manual of Policies and Procedures (MPP) Division 31-002 – “Contact” means contact in person, in writing, or by telephone by a social worker or other person authorized by the Division 31 regulations to make case contacts with the child, parent(s)/guardian(s), out-of-home care providers, and/or other persons involved in the case plan.

 

CDSS MPP Division 31-125 – States requirements for making an in person child abuse investigation.

 

CDSS MPP Division 31-320 – States requirements for frequency, purpose and criteria for Social Worker/Probation Officer contacts with the child.

 

CDSS MPP Division 31-325 – States requirements for frequency, purpose and criteria for Social Workers Contacts with the Parent/Guardian.

 

CDSS MPP Division 31-330 – States requirements for frequency, purpose and criteria for Social Workers Contacts with the Out-of-Home Care Provider.

 

CDSS MPP Division 31-335 – States requirements for frequency, purpose and criteria for Social Workers Contacts with the Other Services Providers.

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