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In Home/Out of Home Care > Placement Disruption/Replacement > Grievance Review Regarding Removal from a Foster Family Home

Seven Day Prior Written Notice to Foster Parents of Intent to Remove a Child and Grievance Review Regarding Placement/Removal of a Child from a Foster Home

0100-502.52 | Revision Date: 05/09/18

Overview

This policy reviews the grievance procedures when the decision is made to remove a child from a foster home or for placement disagreements.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Policy

Notification of Intent to Terminate Placement

Grievance Process

Representatives

Procedure

The Decision is Made to Remove a Child

CSW Responsibilities

Grievance Process Regarding the Pending Removal or the Placement of a Child

CSW Responsibilities

CSW Responsibilities

GARM Bureau Liaison Responsibilities

ARA/SCSW/Case-Carrying CSW Responsibilities

Review Agent Responsibilities

Director’s Responsibilities

The Complainant or their Representative Requests Case Information

CSW Responsibilities

GARM Bureau Liaison Responsibilities

Review Agent Responsibilities

Approvals

Helpful Links

Attachments

Forms

Referenced Policy Guides

Statutes

Version Summary

This policy guide was updated from the 04/20/16 version to update the Grievance Review Hearing procedures, change the Grievance Reviewer assignment from the Regional Administrator to the GARM Bureau Liaison, and to provide the current contact information for the submittal of Grievance Review Hearing Requests and the Grievance Review Information line phone number.

POLICY

Notification of Intent to Terminate Placement

Every effort should be made to resolve disagreements regarding placement/removal of a child from a foster home.  The case-carrying CSW should use the office chain-of-command to resolve issues. If removal is necessary, notice to the caregiver is required in many situations.  If there is a dispute with a caregiver, the CSW must advise the complaining party of the grievance process and refer them to their SCSW or Regional Administrator (RA) for a resolution.  Objection to removal of a child from a prospective adoptive home is subject to a different process.

 

In the event that resolution is not reached through communication, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has established a grievance process to review complaints from foster parents (including FFA certified homes), parents, legal guardians and children regarding the placement or removal/replacement of a child from a foster home.

 

Foster parent(s) must be given at least seven (7) calendar days advance notice of intent to remove a child, and informed that they have the right to request a grievance review, per CDSS MPP Division 31-440. 

 

However, notice is not required if one or more of the following conditions exist:

 

  1. The child is in immediate danger.

 

  1. A court has ordered the child’s removal.

 

  1. Adverse licensing or approval actions have occurred that prohibit the foster parent(s) from continuing to provide services.

 

  1. Removal of a voluntarily placed child is made or requested by the child’s parent(s)/guardians.

 

  1. The child is removed from an emergency placement.

 

* Los Angeles County is electing not to use a signed waiver of notice, as specified in Section 31-440.2.22.

 

As best practice, as much advance notice as practicable should be provided to foster parents to allow for proper planning and every effort should be made to resolve any disagreements regarding placement/removal of a child from a foster home.  If such a disagreement cannot be resolved, the case-carrying CSW should use the office chain-of-command, advise the complaining party of the grievance process and refer to the Government Accountability and Risk Management (GARM) Bureau Liaison for a resolution when appropriate.

Grievance Process

Generally, a Grievance Review must not be granted if any of the listed exceptions in CDSS MPP Division 31-020.2.21 through 25 or MPP 31-440.21 through .25 exist.  However, the existence of an exception may depend on the procedural status of the case within the court system, actions by other agencies and/or voluntary actions by the caregiver.  The exceptions are as follows:

 

  1. The child is in immediate danger.

 

  1. A court has ordered the child’s removal.

 

  1. Adverse licensing or approval actions have occurred that prohibit the foster parent(s) from continuing to provide services.

 

  1. Removal of a voluntarily-placed child is made or requested by the child’s parent(s)/guardian(s).

 

  1. Removal of a child or modification of services resulting from an administrative review panel determination.

 

  1. Removal of a child for direct placement into an adoptive home.

 

  1. Any complaint regarding only the validity of a law or of a statewide regulation.

 

  1. Any complaint regarding an issue for which a state hearing is available as specified in Welfare and Institutions Code Sections 10950 through 10965.

 

  1. A complaint by an approved or licensed caregiver that a specific child was not placed in their home (i.e., approval or licensure do not entitle the caregiver to the placement of a specific child or children).

 

* Los Angeles County is electing not to use a signed waiver of notice, as specified in Section 31-440.2.22.

 

Once the GARM Bureau Liaison has determined the grievance may be allowed, the child cannot be removed or replaced pending the outcome of the Grievance Review Hearing, unless the child is in immediate danger of emotional or physical harm.  This grievance process does not substitute the State Fair Hearing proceedings.

Representatives

The Complainant may choose to have a Representative.  The Representative may be a family member, friend, foster parent association member, attorney or any other person of the Complainant’s choosing.

 

If the Representative requests information, only that information relevant to the grievance and that pertains to the Complainant may be shared with the Representative.  Information regarding the child or third parties is confidential and may not be shared.  The out stationed county counsel or the assigned trial county counsel should be consulted for advice on confidentiality laws.

 

Prior to DCFS releasing information to a Complainant’s Representative and/or for the Representative to be allowed to participate at the Grievance Review Hearing, the Complainant must sign and date a DCFS 4161-R.

 

At the Grievance Review Hearing, the Review AgentThe Review Agent conducts the Grievance Review Hearing. In accordance with CDSS Manual of Policies and Procedures (MPP) 31-020.511-.513, the Review Agent is a staff or other person not involved in the complaint; neither a co-worker nor a person directly in the chain of supervision of any of the persons involved in the complaint unless the Agent is the Director or Chief Deputy of the county; knowledgeable of the field and capable of objectively reviewing the complaint. The Review Agent for Los Angeles County, DCFS is the Manager, Appeals Section. will require the Representative to sign a DCFS 4161-C and DCFS 4161-R if these are not already on file.  If the Complainant’s Representative is an attorney, the Review Agent will postpone the hearing (for not more than ten (10) calendar days) and set a new hearing date at which County Counsel will be present.

Back to Policy

PROCEDURE

The Decision is Made to Remove a Child

CSW Responsibilities

  1. Unless the child’s situation warrants removal without prior notification, as stated in the section Notification of Intent to Terminate Placement:
  1. Provide notice to the caregiver in writing, at least seven (7) calendar days prior to the expected removal/replacement date.
  1. Notify the caregiver of her/his right to request a Grievance Review hearing by attaching the DCFS 4161 and 4161-I to the DCFS 489-3.
  1. Notice can be delivered in person or by first class mail; however, the law requires additional time be allowed when service of notice is made by mail.
  1. If placement is in California, add five (5) days to the notice requirement.
  1. If placement is in another state, add ten (10) days to the notice requirement.
  1. If placement is in another country, add twenty (20) days to the notice requirement.

 

  1. If the court is terminating permanent placement services:
  1. Provide the caregiver with written notice using the DCFS 489-3 to explain the court order.
  1. Provide the child’s parent(s) or legal guardian(s) with a copy of the DCFS 489-3.

 

  1. Document all contacts, including provision of DCFS 489-3, 4161, and 4161-I in the Contact Notebook.

Back to Procedure

Grievance Process Regarding the Pending Removal or the Placement of a Child

Removals:

 

If the Government Accountability and Risk Management (GARM) Bureau Liaison has determined the grievance may be allowed, the child may not be removed or replaced pending the outcome of the Grievance Review Hearing, unless the child is in immediate danger of emotional or physical harm.

CSW Responsibilities

  1. File copies of the completed DCFS 489-3, including any attachments, in the Placement folder.

 

  1. Refer the Complainant to the Grievance Review Information Line at (833) 782-0173 for a pre-recorded informational message.

  2. If the CSW is given a completed DCFS 4161, notify the SCSW and forward the document to the GARM Bureau Liaison.

  1. Completed DCFS 4161 forms may be dropped off for submittal to the GARM Bureau Liaison at 425 Shatto Place, Los Angeles, CA 90020 or may be submitted via Facsimile to (213) 427-6154 or through e-mail at GRrequest@dcfs.lacounty.gov

 

  1. Following the Review Hearing, receive and review copies of the DCFS 4161, the Review Agent’s written summary, and the Director’s or his/her designee's final decision.
  1. File them in the Placement folder.
  1. Discuss the Director’s or his/her designee's final decision with the SCSW, ARA, and/or RA and implement the decision.

 

Placements:

CSW Responsibilities

For placement disagreements that are not resolved within the office chain-of-command, the CSW must:

 

  1. Explain to the Complainant that (s)he has the option of requesting a Grievance Review Hearing by submitting a DCFS 4161 to the GARM Bureau Liaison within ten (10) calendar days of being notified of the intended removal/replacement of the child.

 

  1. Provide the Complainant with a DCFS 4161-I.

  2. Refer the Complainant to the Grievance Review Information Line at (833) 782-0173 for a pre-recorded informational message.

  3. If the CSW is given a completed DCFS 4161, notify the SCSW and forward the document to the GARM Bureau Liaison.

 

  1. Completed DCFS 4161 forms may be dropped off for submittal to the GARM Bureau Liaison at 425 Shatto Place, Los Angeles, CA 90020 or may be submitted via Facsimile to (213) 427-6154 or through e-mail at GRrequest@dcfs.lacounty.gov

 

  1. Document all contacts including provision of the DCFS 4161 and 4161-I in the Contact Notebook.

 

  1. Following the hearing, if applicable, receive and review copies of the DCFS 4161, the Review Agent’s written summary, and the Director’s final decision.
  1. File them in the Placement Folder.
  1. Discuss the Director’s final decision with the SCSW, ARA, and/or RA and implement the changes.

GARM Bureau Liaison Responsibilities

Prior to Hearing:

The GARM Bureau Liaison must receive the DCFS 4161 from the Complainant at least two (2) business days prior to the expected date of removal/replacement of the child.

 

  1. Upon timely receipt of the DCFS 4161, immediately contact the Regional office/ Specialized program to request that they complete and return the 7-Day Grievance Review Case Summary Sheet (written summary) and provide a due date and time.



    The written summary must be received by the GARM Bureau Liaison the first business day after the DCFS 4161 is received by the department.


  2. Immediately upon receiving the completed written summary review it to be sure the grievance is warranted. See section Grievance Process to determine if a listed exception to the review exists. A decision whether to hold or not hold a grievance hearing is to be made on the same business day the completed written summary is received.
  1. If the grievance cannot be allowed:
  1. Within ten (10) calendar days,provide written notice to all involved parties explaining the reason for the denial to a Grievance Review, including the exception.
  1. Maintain a copy of the denial notice on file for at least one (1) year.
  1. If the grievance can be allowed:
  1. Send written directions via email to the Regional Administrator (ARA), Supervising Children's Social Worker (SCSW), and case-carrying Children's Social Worker (CSW) to postpone replacement of the child.
  2. Immediately upon deciding that a hearing is warranted, select an RA pursuant to the rotation schedule.
  3. Send an email to the RA informing that they have been identified as a Review Agent and attach the DCFS 4161, written summary, and a Grievance Review Packet.
  4. Request notification from the RA of the scheduled Grievance Review Hearing Date.

Post Hearing:

  1. Immediately upon receipt, forward the RA's written recommendation to the Director for review and signature.

  2. Ensure that the Director's final written decision is issued within five (5) calendar days of the completion of the Grievance Review Hearing.

  3. Upon receiving the Director's final written decision, send a copy of the Director's final written decision to each party of the review, including the case-carrying CSW, the Complainant, every Representative of each party, and the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) at:

 

California Department of Social Services

Child and Youth Permanency Branch

744 P Street – MS 8-13-73

Sacramento, CA 95814

 

  1. Request from the Review Agent all documents and physical evidence presented at the Grievance Review Hearing.

  2. Retain all Grievance Review Hearing records for at least one (1) year from the date of the Director's final written decision.

ARA/SCSW/Case-Carrying CSW Responsibilities

Immediately upon notification by the GARM Bureau Liaison that the Grievance Review Hearing Request form (DCFS 4161) has been received:

 

  1. Postpone replacement of the child while the Grievance Review process is pending.

  2. Complete the 7-Day Grievance Review Case Summary Sheet (written summary).

  3. Obtain ARA Approval and signature on the written summary. A copy of the completed written summary will be provided to all participants of the Grievance Review Hearing.

  1. Return the approved written summary to the GARM Bureau Liaison via email at GRrequest@dcfs.lacounty.gov by the due date and time specified.

  1. If notification is received that a Grievance Review Hearing will be taking place, prepare to attend the hearing.

 

  1. Taking the case file to the hearing is not permitted.

Review Agent's Responsibilities

A Regional Administrator selected by the GARM Bureau Liaison must serve as the Review Agent to hear the Grievance Reivew.  However, this cannot be the Regional Administrator of the case-carrying CSW or Regional Administrator within the same office or Service Bureau.

  1. Immediately upon receiving the Grievance Review Packet from the GARM Bureau Liaison:

    1. Review the written summary for potential conflicts-of-interest. Should you feel one exists, please consult the Social Services County Counsel overseeing the Grievance Review Hearing process.

  2. No later than two (2) business days after receiving the Grievance Review Hearing Packet calendar the hearing and send written notice to the Complainant using form DCFS 4161-N.

    The hearing must be scheduled no less than eight (8) business days from receiving the packet.

  3. Written notice of the hearing must be sent to the Complainant no less than five (5) business days before the hearing. Send the DCFS 4161-N, stating the date, time and location of the Grievance Review, using certified mail with return receipt requested to the Complainant.

  4. Send the GARM Bureau Liaison notice of the hearing date, time, and location via email and notify the CSW, SCSW, ARA, and RA of the hearing date, so they can prepare to attend.

  5. Determine if the Complainant is represented by an attorney. If represented, contact the assigned advice County Counsel for Social Services for further instructions prior to the Grievance Review Hearing.

  6. Conduct the Grievance Review Hearing, to the extent possible, in a non-adversarial atmosphere.

    1. Administer an oath or affirmation of truth with all parties and make sure all testimony is given under oath or affirmation.
    2. Review and hear all evidence introduced by the parties to the hearing.
    3. Make sure all parties and representatives are permitted to examine all documents and physical evidence introduced by parties to the hearing.
    4. Make sure the parties, their representatives, and witnesses, while testifying, are the only authorized persons present during the hearing unless all parties and the Review Agent consent to the presence of other persons

    5. The Review Agent has the authority to extend/ continue the hearing for a period of time, not to exceed ten (10) calendar days, if additional evidence or witnesses are necessary for determination of the issue.

  7. Deliver a written recommendation to the GARM Bureau Liaison for the Director's review and signature within two (2) calendar days after the completion of the Grievance Review Hearing.

  8.  Forward all documents and physical evidence presented at the Grievance Review Hearing to the GARM Bureau Liaison for central filing.


Director’s Responsibilities

  1. Issue a final written decision within three (3) calendar days after receiving the Review Agent’s recommendation from the GARM Bureau Liaison.

  1. Return the signed final written decision to the GARM Bureau Liaison for distribution.

 

Back to Procedure

The Complainant or their Representative Requests Case Information

CSW Responsibilities

  1. Upon receipt of the signed and dated DCFA 4161-R, provide a copy to the GARM Bureau Liaison and file the original in the Placement folder.

GARM Bureau Liaison Responsibilities

  1. Review the DCFS 4161-R and fax it over to the Review Agent.

Review Agent Responsibilities

  1. The DCFS 4161-R and the DCFA 4161-C remain as part of the Grievance Review Hearing records and are retained with those records for at least one (1) year from the date of the Director’s final written decision.

Back to Procedure

APPROVALS

GARM Bureau Liaison Approval

Assistant Regional Administrator Approval

Director's Approval

HELPFUL LINKS

Attachments

Grievance Review Time Frames

7-Day Grievance Review Case Summary Sheet (written summary)

Forms

LA Kids

DCFS 489-3, Notice of Intent to Terminate Placement

DCFS 4161, Grievance Review Hearing Request Form

DCFS 4161 (SP) Grievance Review Hearing Request Form (Spanish)

DCFS 4161-C, Grievance Review: Representative Statement of Confidentiality

DCFS 4161-I, CDSS Grievance Procedure Regulations

DCFS 4161-N, Grievance Review: Notice of Hearing

DCFS 4161-R, Grievance Review: Representative Agreement

Referenced Policy Guides

0100-520.10, Evaluating a Prospective Caregiver

0300-503.25, Removing a Child from the Home of a Prospective Adoptive Parent(s)

Statutes

California Department of Social Services (CDSS) California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 22, Division 6, Chapter 9.5, Section 89400(a) – States that approval/licensure is not an entitlement to placement.

 

California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Manual of Policies and Procedures (MPP) Division 31-020.1 – Requires the county to develop grievance procedures to review complaints from foster parents, legal parents, guardians, and children concerning the placement or removal of a child from a foster home.  All issues are to be resolved in the best interest of the child.

 

CDSS MPP Division 31-020.2 – Lists the circumstances under which a Grievance Review shall not be granted.

 

CDSS MPP Division 31-020.3 – Requires and describes the county’s responsibility to explain the right to a review, to provide a copy of the grievance procedure regulations and to provide assistance in the preparation of the Complaint if assistance is requested or necessary.  Requires and describes the Complainants responsibility to file the required documents, within specified time frames.

 

CDSS MPP Division 31-020.4 – Specifies time frames for the review and notification thereof.

 

CDSS MPP Division 31-020.5 – Specifies how the review shall be conducted and who the review agent shall be.

 

CDSS MPP Division 31-020.6 – Specifies requirements for rendering and dispersing copies of the decision.

 

CDSS MPP Division 31-020.7 – Requires that unless the child is in immediate danger, (s)he shall remain with the caregiver, pending the decision of the county director, when removal of the child from the home is the basis for the complaint.

 

CDSS MPP Division 31-020.8 – Specifies requirements for contents and retention of review records.

 

CDSS MPP Division 31-440.1 – Sets forth the specific requirements and time frames within which the county must provide removal notification to foster parents.  Authorizes the waiver of notice requirements under specific circumstances.

 

CDSS MPP Division 31-440.2 – Lists the conditions under which the county is not required to provide the notice specified in 31-440.1.

 

CDSS MPP Division 31-440.3 – Sets forth the specific requirements for the social worker to provide removal notification to foster parents who are providing permanent placement services when the court terminates permanent placement services.

 

CDSS MPP Division 31-440.4 – Sets forth county responsibility to notify relative(s) or non-relative extended family member(s) when their home does not meet approval standards and advise them that they have access to the grievance procedures and of the time frame for submitting the grievance review request.

 

Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) Section 16507.5(b) – States that approval/licensure does not entitle the caregiver to the placement of a specific child or children.  Placement is based on the child’s needs and best interests.

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