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
- Placing a Child in Out-of-Home Care
- Pre-Placement Planning
- Before a Child is Placed in Out-of-Home Care
- Moving a Child’s Possessions
- When a Child is Placed in Out-of-Home Care
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 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.
Child and Family Team Meeting
A key pre-placement step when a child is to be detained is conducting a 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 Procurement Request, to the Bureau of Finance and Administration, Procurement Services Section.
DCFS is responsible for ensuring that the child has and for 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 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
- If this is an initial placement, request a
- Explain to the child(ren) that people (such as doctors, teachers, social workers and police) often work together to provide safety for children.
- Include the parent(s) in interviews with the child, if appropriate.
- Explain to the child the reason for placement or replacement in terms appropriate to their age and level of understanding.
- Obtain as much information as possible on the history and current functioning of the child to be placed.
- Prepare the child for placement by:
- Explaining to the child that a safe place will be found for him/her to stay.
- Exploring with the child their placement preferences.
- Interview any child who is verbal, regardless of age, regarding placement preferences.
- Telling the child that their parent(s) will be told where they will be staying, if appropriate and safe to do so.
- 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.
- 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
- Determine if it is safe and/or possible to obtain a child’s possessions, including attachment objects, if any.
- 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.
- Assist the child in packing his or her possessions and ensure safety in their new living arrangement as follows:
When a Child is Placed in Out-of-Home Care
- Share with the prospective caregiver about why the child is being placed and what the child has been told about being placed.
- 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.
- Tell the child that they may call the CSW with any questions or problems.
- 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.
- 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.
- Document all contacts and actions taken in the Contact Notebook.
DCFS 280, Technical Assistant Action Request
DCFS 250, Procurement Request
DCFS 280, Technical Assistant Action Request
DCFS 2281, Clothing Standard
Referenced Policy Guides
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.