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In Home/Out of Home Care > Placement Establishment > Voluntary Placement

Voluntary Placement

0100-510.21 | Revision Date: 04/18/19

Overview

This policy guide details the proper use of Voluntary Placement Services, which seek to promote child safety without court involvement.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Policy

Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA)  

Voluntary Placement Eligibility

Cases for Voluntary Placement 

Procedure

Initiating a Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA) when a Child is in Need of Out-of-Home Care 

Regional CSW Responsibilities

Regional SCSW Responsibilities

Implementing a Voluntary Placement Agreement

Regional CSW Responsibilities

Initiating a Voluntary Placement Agreement for an Indian Child 

Case-Carrying CSW Responsibilities

Responding to the Out-of-County Move of a Family Receiving Voluntary Placement 

CSW Responsibilities

Approvals

Helpful Links

Forms 

Statutes

Version Summary

This policy guide was updated from the 04/02/15 version to remove references to ASFA and to incorporate changes enacted by SB 1083 (2018).

POLICY

Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA)

Voluntary Placement is a planned and time-limited approach, with the goal of returning children safely to their home without juvenile court intervention. It aims to reach consensus on a safety plan that protects the child and preserves the family. Voluntary Placement promotes family decision-making by specifically encouraging families to do the following:

 

Prior to entering into a Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA) with a parent or legal guardian, the CSW is required to make every effort to keep the family together through the use of Family Maintenance and the Family Preservation Program.

 

ERCP CSWs cannot use Voluntary Placement services. When an ERCP CSW identifies a family that may benefit from a Voluntary Placement Agreement, he/she should instead:

 

The use of Voluntary Placement services is limited to 180 days or 90 days before the minor turns 18 years of age, whichever comes first. The time line begins when the child’s parent(s) sign the SOC 155, Voluntary Placement Agreement-Placement Request.

  1. File a WIC 300 petition
  1. Obtain court findings to remove the child before the conclusion of the 180-day period or 90-day period before the minor turns 18 years of age, whichever comes first

 

The failure to file a petition and obtain a judicial decision before the conclusion of the 180-day period or 90-day period before the minor turns 18 years of age will result in the child being found ineligible for AFDC FC foster benefits, per All County Information Notice (ACIN) 1-74-09. The child may still be eligible for state foster care payments, however.

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Voluntary Placement Eligibility

Inter-County Transfers (ICTs) only apply to cases with court involvement. They do not apply to Voluntary Placement cases.

 

Once it is determined that Voluntary Placement is necessary, a child receiving any of the following services will be considered for Voluntary Placement Services:

 

The parent/legal guardian must retain legal custody of the child during the term of the Voluntary Placement. He/she may, by written authorization, allow the foster parent to make educational and medical decisions for the child.

 

To be eligible for Voluntary Placement services, a child’s case must meet all of the following conditions:

 

If the conditions above are met, the following should also be assessed to ensure that juvenile court intervention is not necessary to protect the child:

 

CSW should consult with the SCSW to determine whether to use Voluntary Placement services.

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Cases for Voluntary Placement

Voluntary Placement should be considered in the following instances in lieu of filing a WIC 300 petition:

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PROCEDURE

Initiating a Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA) when a Child is in Need of Out-of-Home Care

Regional CSW Responsibilities

  1. Explain to the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) the options available to ensure a child’s safety. These options include:

 

  1. Ask the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) if he/she would like to involve faith-based practitioners or other community support persons to help with placement.

 

  1. Inform the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) and child (if age appropriate) that:

 

  1. Whenever possible in the office/Service Planning area (SPA), utilize the CFT approach to determine if Voluntary Placement is appropriate.

 

  1. Consult with the SCSW to determine whether to use Voluntary Placement services.

 

  1. Determine with the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) whether he/she is prepared and willing to do all of the following:

 

  1. Notify the parent that he/she will be referred to the Child Support Services Department (CSSD) to be assessed for child support payment.

 

  1. Meet with the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) and children (if age appropriate) to discuss the reasons for placement.

 

  1. Counsel the child as to what to expect with regard to the placement.

 

  1. Obtain the signature of the parent/legal guardian on all of the following forms:

 

  1. Provide the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) with a copy of all signed forms and the original SOC 155.

 

  1. Take a photograph of each child who is entering Voluntary Placement.

 

  1. At the time of placement, give the placement agencies/caregivers the following:

 

  1. File a copy of the SOC 155 in the Placement Folder.

 

  1. File the original case plan in the Case Activity Recording Folder.

 

  1. Enter the case information into CWS/CMS as follows:

 

  1. Select an appropriate and least restrictive placement.
  1. Request a placement package via the FCSS Automated 280 and submit with a copy of the signed SOC 155 to the Eligibility Workers (EW).
  1. If the selected caregiver is a relative or a nonrelative extended family member, see the procedure for Evaluating a Prospective Caregiver.
  1. If the selected placement is a group home (GH) or Short-Term Residential Treatment Program (STRTP), consult with the ARA before proceeding with placement.
  2. If time permits, arrange pre-placement visits to the placement resources located through CWS/CMS.

 

  1. Arrange for the child’s placement per the procedures for Responsibilities for Placement.
  1. If the child is being placed based on an IEP recommendation for placement, indicate that on the DCFS 280 and send to the Eligibility Worker.

 

  1. Clearly state expectations regarding family visits on the DCFS 709, Foster Child Needs and the Case Plan Summary.
  1. Make sure that these expectations are consistent with the agency/caretaker policies and comfort level before making the placement.

 

  1. Inform the placement agency/caregiver that this is a voluntary placement and that it will last no more than 180 days or 90 days before the minor turns 18 years of age, whichever comes first. Explain that after the 150 days or 105 days before the minor turns 18 years of age, the case will be reviewed and DCFS will determine either to:

Regional SCSW Responsibilities

  1. Discuss the case, case plan goals, and activities required to meet the goals with the CSW.

 

  1. Review the Child Welfare Services Case Plan, SOC 155, and SDM tools used.
  1. If the case is approved,
  1. Sign and photocopy the SOC 155
  1. Approve the case plan online
  1. Sign the case plan
  1. Return the original SOC 155 with the signed case plan to the CSW
  1. Send a copy of the SOC 155 to the ARA
  1. If the case is not approved, return the case documents to the CSW for corrective action.

 

  1. Maintain a control log or reminder ‘pop-up’ file to ensure review of the case in five (5) months or 105 days before the minor turns 18 years of age, whichever comes first.
  1. Include the proper calculation of the 180-day date or 90-day date before the minor turns 18 years of age, for the conclusion of the Voluntary Placement.

 

  1. If the child cannot be returned within five (5) months or 105 days before the minor turns 18 years of age, whichever comes first, file the petition fifteen (15) days prior to the conclusion of the 180-day period or the 90-day period before the minor turns 18 years of age, whichever comes first.

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Implementing a Voluntary Placement Agreement

Regional CSW Responsibilities

  1. Consult with the placement agency/caregiver before making a decision to reunify or to invoke the court process to detain the child.

 

  1. Visit the child, caregiver, and parent(s)/legal guardian(s) according to Family Reunification requirements.

 

  1. Assess the progress being made towards the case plan goals during each contact with the child, parent(s)/legal guardian(s), and/or collateral contacts.

 

  1. Five (5) months (150 days) or at least 105 days before the minor turns 18 years of age, whichever comes first, from the date the parent/legal guardian signed the SOC 155, assess if the case can be closed or provide for additional services through a Voluntary Family Maintenance Agreement by doing the following:
  1. Complete the SDM Reunification Reassessment.
  1. Review the case plan.
  1. Schedule a CFTM to determine the next course of action.
  1. If the determination is to return the child home:
  1. Change the CWS/CMS service component type to FM. If additional services are required, see Family Maintenance Services for Court & Voluntary Cases.
  1. If no further services are needed, terminate the case and offer the parents extended services through a Voluntary Maintenance Agreement.
  1. If the child cannot be returned home, file the WIC 300 petition no less than fifteen (15) calendar days prior to the conclusion of the 180-day period or 90-day period before the minor turns 18 years of age, whichever comes first.
  1. Change the CWS/CMS case status to “court involvement.”
  2. If detaining a child from an NMD or teen parent who is receiving an infant supplement, submit a request to terminate the infant supplement via the Foster Care Search System (FCSS) application Automated 280 process.

 

  1. Document all contacts with parents, legal guardians, children, and collateral contacts, as well as the results of the initial home inspection, and results of all criminal clearances, in the Contact Notebook.

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Initiating a Voluntary Placement Agreement for an Indian Child 

Case-Carrying CSW Responsibilities

A parent of an Indian child may withdraw his/her consent for any reason at any time, and the child must thereafter be returned to the parent.

 

  1. Complete the steps for initiating a Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA) when a Child is Need of Out-of-Home Care.
  1. Use SOC 155C, Voluntary Placement Agreement Parent/Agency (Indian Child), instead of SOC 155. A parent/Indian custodian may voluntarily place an Indian child in foster care by signing the SOC 155C.

 

  1. If the child is at least ten (10) days of age, have the parent/Indian custodian complete and sign the DCFS 5640, Consent to Voluntary Placement of an Indian Child and Certification, and the SOC 155C.
  1. Explain the terms and consequences of these forms.
  1. Inform the parent/Indian custodian that he/she must attend court for a judicial officer to witness the signing of the DCFS 5640.

 

  1. Contact the County Counsel assigned to Department 421 at (323) 526-6821 to have the matter scheduled on their calendar for a valid consent hearing.

 

  1. Complete and send the DCFS 5640, the SOC 155C, and a cover letter to County Counsel.

 

  1. If the Indian child’s safety is imminent, ensure the temporary custody of the Indian child.

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Responding to the Out-of-County Move of a Family Receiving Voluntary Placement

CSW Responsibilities

Inter-County Transfers (ICT) do not apply to Voluntary Placement cases.

 

  1. Assess and consult with the SCSW to determine whether either of the following can occur:

Back to Procedure  

APPROVALS

SCSW Approval

HELPFUL LINKS

Forms

CWS/CMS

Case Plan Family Assessment

Child Welfare Services Case Plan

SOC 155, Voluntary Placement Agreement-Parent/Agency

LA Kids

DCFS 179, Parental Consent and Authorization for Medical Care and Release of Health and Education Records

DCFS 179-MH, Parental Consent for Child's Assessment & Participation in Mental Health and/or Regional Center Developmental Services

DCFS 179-PHI, Authorization for Disclosure of Child's Protected Health Information

DCFS 280, Technical Assistance Action Request

DCFS 709, Foster Child Needs and case plan Summary

DCFS 5640, Consent to Voluntary Placement of an Indian Child and Certification

SOC 155, Voluntary Placement Agreement-Parent/Agency

SOC 155C, Voluntary Placement Agreement Parent/Agency (Indian Child)

Referenced Policy Guides

0070-548.01, Child and Family Teams

0070-548.20, Taking Children into Temporary CustodyThe removal of a child from the home of a parent or legal guardian and placement or facilitation of placement of the child in the home of a non-offending parent, relative, foster caregiver; group home or institutional setting.Temporary custody also includes: placing hospital holds on children; situations in which the CSW interrupts an established Family Law Court custody or visitation orders when the CSW believes that if the order is carried out, the child would be placed in immediate risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation and the child is allowed to remain in the home of the non-offending parent; situations in which DCFS requests that law enforcement remove a child from the home of his or her parent/legal guardian and the CSW places the child with a relative or unrelated caregiver; and situations in which the child is living with a relative or an unrelated caregiver and all of the following conditions exist: child’s parent is asking for the child to be returned home, CSW believes that the return of the child to his or her parent would place the child at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation, CSW does not allow the child to be returned to his or her parent; and, the child remains in the home of the relative or is placed in out-of-home care.

0070-548.25, Completing the Structured Decision Making (SDM) Safety Plan

0070-559.10, Clearances

0080-502.10, Case plans

0080-503.00, Contacts with the Child Support Services Department (CSSD)

0080-505.20, Health and Education Passport (HEP)A document that is generated on CWS/CMS that contains a summary of a child's health and education information. The caregiver keeps a current copy of the Passport, along with the health and education forms in a binder provided by DCFS. This binder shall follow the child to all placements. The Passport shall accompany the child to all medical, dental and educational appointments. The Passport binder in its entirety is given to the child upon emancipation.

0080-502.25, Family Maintenance Services for Court and Voluntary Cases

0100-510.17, Placing a Child in Out-of-Home Care

0100-510.40, Services for Teen Parents

0100-510.61, Placement Responsibilities

0100-520.05, Placement Prior to Resource Family Approval

0100-520.10, Evaluating a Prospective Caregiver

0100-520.35, Kinship Guardianship Assistance Payment (Kin-GAP) Program

0200-508.10, RelinquishmentThe action of a parent in which he or she surrenders custody, control and any responsibility for the care and support of the child. Currently, only an Adoption social worker or the court is qualified to process a relinquishment. Procedures and the Statement of Understanding

0300-506.05, Communication with Attorneys, County Counsel, and Non-DCFS Staff

0400-503.10, Contact Requirements and Exceptions

1000-504.75, Intercounty Transfer (ICT)

1200-500.05, Adopting and Serving Children Under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

1200-500.81, Family Preservation Program Services as Part of the Welfare-to-Work Plan

Statutes

All County Information Notice (ACIN) I-74-09 – In part, identifies the consecutive six (6) month period as exactly 180 days. States that the filing of the petition and declaration of the child as a dependent child under WIC Section 300 must be obtained before the conclusion of the 180 day period to continue federal funding.

 

Government (GOV) Code 7572.5 – States, in part, that any member of the individualized education program (IEP) team may recommend residential placement for a child that is seriously emotionally disturbed based on relevant assessments. The IEP shall determine how the child’s needs can be met through non-residential services or residential care.

 

Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) Section 361.4 – Details the steps required to make an emergency placement of a child pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 309 or Section 361.45, including an in-home inspection, criminal records checks, and child welfare records review.

 

WIC Section 11400 (o) – Defines "voluntary placement" as an out-of-home placement of a child by (1) the county welfare department, probation department, or Indian tribe that has entered into an agreement pursuant to Section 10553.1, after the parents or guardians have requested the assistance of the county welfare department and have signed a voluntary placement agreement, or (2) the county welfare department licensed public or private adoption agency, or the department acting as an adoption agency, after the parents have requested the assistance of either the county welfare department, the licensed public or private adoption agency, or the department acting as an adoption agency for the purpose of adoption planning, and have signed a voluntary placement agreement.

 

WIC Section 11400 (p) – Defines "voluntary placement agreement" as a written agreement between either the county welfare department, probation department, or Indian tribe that has entered into an agreement pursuant to Section 10553.1, licensed public or private adoption agency, or the department acting as an adoption agency, and the parents or guardians of a child that specifies, at a minimum, the legal status of the child and the rights and obligations of the parents or guardians, the child, and the agency in which the child is placed.

 

WIC Section 16507.2 – Prior to entering into a voluntary placement agreement with a parent or guardian, the social worker shall make every attempt to keep the family together by offering appropriate child welfare services except in the case of a voluntary placement pending relinquishment.

 

WIC Section 16507.3 – Limits Voluntary Placement to a maximum of six (6) months.

 

WIC Section 16507.6 – States, in part, that if a minor has been voluntarily placement with the county welfare department for out-of-home placement by his/her parents or guardians, and the minor has remained out of their physical custody for six (6) consecutive months or at least ninety (90) days before the minor turns 18 years of age, the department shall take one of the actions listed.

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