Placing a Child in Out-of-Home Care
0100-510.17 | Revision Date: 7/1/2014


This policy provides staff with an overview of how to prepare for the transition of a child into or out of an out-of-home placement.

Table of Contents

Version Summary

This policy guide was updated from the 09/27/10 version, as part of the Policy Redesign, in accordance with the DCFS Strategic Plan. This policy guide incorporates content from Procedural Guide 0100-525.20, Moving a Child’s Possessions, thereby cancelling that policy guide. The title has been changed from Counseling/Transitioning a Child Regarding Out-of-Home Placement/Replacement.


Placing a Child in Out-of-Home Care

After a decision has been made to place a child in out-of-home care or move a child from one placement to another, providing the child with a smooth transition to a new placement is a key component of maintaining placement stability.

Child safety is always the primary concern when moving a child.

Pre-Placement Planning

Child and Family Team Meeting

A key pre-placement step when a child is to be detained is conducting a Child and Family Team Meeting prior to the placement in order to share information with all involved parties, including the prospective caregiver, so that the placement decision can become the responsibility of a larger group within the agency and the community at large. Actual case situations may demand different strategies based on the family’s unique strengths and needs.

The Child’s Possessions

A child's rights to retain property in placement must only be restricted after considering the underlying facts of the case and under the following circumstances:

  • To ensure child safety, including the safety of others
  • To prevent abductions & children/youth from being absent/missing from care
  • To preserve the child’s property

CSWs must be mindful of the importance of attachment objects (e.g. favorite blanket, stuffed animal, etc.) for detained children and for those who are removed from their current placements. When a child is detained or replaced, the psychological benefit of access to an attachment object cannot be overstated.

When available, a DCFS-issued carryall bag is to be used to move the personal possessions of any child who is to be placed in out-of-home care.

  • The carryall bag cannot have external markings which label it as Department of Children and Family Service property.
  • The carryall bag belongs to the child, regardless of the length of time s(he) is in placement.
  • If a child already has a carryall bag from a previous placement or a CSW determines that a child has an appropriate piece of luggage, the issuance of a DCFS carryall bag is not necessary.
  • Office managers can replenish their supply of carryall bags by submitting a DCFS 250 Procurement Request, to the Bureau of Finance and Administration, Procurement Services Section.

DCFS is responsible for ensuring that the child has sufficient clothing and for providing funds to caregivers for the daily care and maintenance of children placed in out-of-home care by the Department, whether or not the CSW is able to obtain a child’s possessions from the child’s home.

If the child is receiving medical treatment, it is the CSW’s responsibility to ensure the transfer of the following from one placement (including the child’s home) to another, and to document these actions in the Contact Notebook and Health Notebook:

  • The name of any medications (including psychotropic medications), dosage, and the name, address and telephone number of the doctor prescribing the medication.
    • Any medications and information about doctors’ appointments with the child to their placement are transferred with the parent’s consent.
    • Only medication(s) contained in a container, issued by a pharmacy, and with a label containing the name of the medication, dosage, and the name and telephone number of the doctor and/or pharmacy can be transferred.
  • The amount of time the child has been on the medication and whether the medication is successfully treating the child’s targeted symptoms.
  • Whether or not the child has been hospitalized, including any dates and the reason for the hospitalization.
  • The caregiver’s refusal to provide the child’s prescribed medications and actions taken to remedy the situation including the need to replace the child if there is no assurance that the child will receive their required medication.

Before a Child is Placed in Out-of-Home Care

CSW Responsibilities

  1. If this is an initial placement, request a Child and Family Team Meeting :
    1. Explain to the child(ren) that people (such as doctors, teachers, social workers and police) often work together to provide safety for children.
    2. Include the parent(s) in interviews with the child, if appropriate.
  2. Explain to the child the reason for placement or replacement in terms appropriate to their age and level of understanding.
  3. Obtain as much information as possible on the history and current functioning of the child to be placed.
  4. Prepare the child for placement by:
    1. Explaining to the child that a safe place will be found for him/her to stay.
    2. Exploring with the child their placement preferences.
      1. Interview any child who is verbal, regardless of age, regarding placement preferences.
    3. Telling the child that their parent(s) will be told where they will be staying, if appropriate and safe to do so.
      1. If a sibling group is being separated, inform each child that they will know where their siblings are placed as soon as possible, if appropriate and safe to do so.
  5. Make arrangements to transport the child’s luggage or possessions with the child or as soon as it is safe and/or possible to do so.

Moving a Child’s Possessions

CSW Responsibilities

  1. Determine if it is safe and/or possible to obtain a child’s possessions, including attachment objects, if any.
    • Determine if the available clothing fits the child, is in good repair and is appropriate for the intended usage.
    • If the child is absent/missing from care, follow the procedures regarding moving/storing their belongings.
  2. Follow the procedure established in your office to request a carryall bag for the child, if necessary. Request additional carryall bags if necessary.
    • Enter in the Contact Notebook the date carryall bag was given to the child.
    • Enter in the Contact Notebook that the child’s belongings were transported to placement or replacement in appropriate luggage or a previously issued DCFS carryall bag.
  3. Assist the child in packing his or her possessions and ensure safety in their new living arrangement as follows:

Safety concern

Appropriate action

The child is attempting to take items which the CSW believes may pose a risk to the child and/or to others.

  • Instruct/request that the child leave that item in the home.
  • Contact law enforcement to secure contraband, such as drugs, weapons, etc.

A parent or other adult may have placed contraband (e.g., drugs, weapons, etc.) on a child’s person.

  • Ask the child to empty their pockets.
  • When an older child who is being taken into temporary custody refuses to comply with this request:
  • If law enforcement is present, request that law enforcement assist in having the child comply with the request.
  • If law enforcement is not present, contact local law enforcement and request direction on how to proceed.

Contraband (e.g., drugs, weapons) is found.

  • Turn it over to any law enforcement personnel who are present.
  • If law enforcement is not present, contact local law enforcement and request direction on how to proceed.

A newly detained child is a flight risk and refuses to leave their cell phone in the home.

  • Do not attempt to take the phone from the child.
  • Advise the caregiver of the situation and request the caregiver to monitor the child’s use of the cell phone to the best of their ability.
  • Document in the Initial Hearing Report the fact the child refused to leave their cell phone and request that the court order the child to give the cell phone over to the caregiver until it is appropriate to return the cell phone to the child.

When a Child is Placed in Out-of-Home Care

CSW Responsibilities

  1. Share with the prospective caregiver appropriate information about why the child is being placed and what the child has been told about being placed.
  2. At the time of placement, tour the placement with the child and see their sleeping area. Introduce the child to all residents of the home, if possible.
  3. Tell the child that they may call the CSW with any questions or problems.
  4. Establish an appropriate plan for phone contact with parents (i.e., as many phone contacts as necessary to determine the child’s adjustment level) and regular contacts with the parent(s) during the first few weeks of the placement.
    • Explain that parents are usually permitted to visit and that family time will be arranged (if appropriate and safe to do so).
    • If the contacts by parents will be monitored or prohibited, tell the child this in terms that they will understand.
  5. Establish and maintain an appropriate schedule for the CSW’s face-to-face contacts:
    • Instruct the caregiver(s) to report to the CSW any problems the child might be experiencing and/or any changes in the child’s demeanor or behavior, etc.
    • At each subsequent visit, observe the comfort level between out of-home caregiver and placed child.
  6. Document all contacts and actions taken in the Contact Notebook.


LA Kids

DCFS 250, Procurement Request

DCFS 280, Technical Assistant Action Request

DCFS 2281, Clothing Standard

FCSS Automated 280, Technical Assistance Action Request


0070-531.10, Visual Inspection of Children

0070-548.01, Child and Family Teams

0100-510.21, Voluntary Placement

0100-510.60, Placement Considerations for Children

0100-570.05, Qualify of Life in Out-of-Home Care

0100-570.11, Missing or Absent from Care Children/Nonminor Dependents

0300-303.15, Writing the Initial Hearing Report

0400-503.10, Contact Requirements and Exceptions

0400-504.00, Family Time

0500-501.20, Release of Confidential DCFS Case Record Information

0900-506.10, Clothing Allowances

0900-521.10, Service-Funded Activities (SFA)


Family Code Section 7950 – Prioritizes the proximity of the natural parents to the placement so as to facilitate visitation and family reunification, when a placement in foster care is being made. States that relative placement options must be evaluated prior to placement in long-term foster care. Prohibits use of race, color, or national origin of the foster parent or child in making placement decisions.

Welfare and Institutions Code Section 306.5 – In any case in which a social worker takes a minor into custody pursuant to Section 306, the social worker shall, to the extent that it is practical and appropriate, place the minor together with any siblings or half-siblings who are also detained or include in the report prepared pursuant to Section 319 a statement of his or her continuing efforts to place the siblings together or why those efforts are not appropriate.

Welfare and Institutions Code Section 308(b) – Immediately after being taken to a place of confinement pursuant to this article and, except where physically impossible, no later than one hour after he or she has been taken into custody, a minor 10 years of age or older shall be advised that he or she has the right to make at least two telephone calls from the place where he or she is being held, one call completed to his or her parent, guardian, or a responsible relative, and another call completed to an attorney.

Welfare and Institutions Code Section 16516.5 – States the frequency, conditions and content of visits by county social workers or probation officers with children placed in group home. States the conditions under which the content of visits can be disclosed to group home staff.

Welfare and Institutions Code Section 16516.6 – States the frequency, conditions and content of visits by county social workers or probation officers with children placed in licensed, certified, or approved foster homes. States the conditions under which the content of visits can be disclosed to the foster parent or caregiver.