Voluntary Placement
0100-510.21 | Revision Date: 2/20/2024

Overview

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

Table of Contents

Version Summary

This policy guide was updated from the 8/11/2023 version to introduce a required DCFS form (DCFS 4213) needed when requesting placement for a child residing with a parent in a licensed residential substance abuse treatment facility pursuant to the Family First Prevention and Services Act (FFPSA) of 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:

  • Determine the need for out-of-home care.
  • Participate in the development of a case plan, including the appropriate time for the child’s return home.

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

  • The only exception is in a case of Voluntary Placement that is pending relinquishment.
  • A regional Emergency Response (ER) or Continuing Services (CS) CSW must ensure that when considering whether to enter into a Voluntary Placement case plan with a child/youth/nonminor dependent (NMD) who is a dependent of the court the child/youth has consulted with their attorney.
  • CSWs may utilize a Child Family Team Meeting (CFTM) to engage with the family to determine if Voluntary Placement is appropriate in lieu of court intervention.

Emergency Response Command Post (ERCP) CSWs cannot utilize VPAs. When an ERCP CSW identifies a family that may benefit from Voluntary Placement services, they should:

  • Document that this family should be identified for a VPA in the Contact Notebook and/or Investigative Narrative
  • Send the child abuse referral to the Regional Office as a follow-up
  • If a safety threat was identified on the Structured Decision Making (SDM) Safety Assessment, an SDM Safety Plan must be in place by the ERCP CSW after they complete the SDM assessments.

The use of Voluntary Placement services is limited to one hundred eighty (180) days or ninety (90) days before the minor turns eighteen (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.

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 federal AFDC-FC foster benefits, per All County Information Notice (ACIN) I-74-09. If Voluntary Placement exceeds one hundred eighty (180) days, the child will permanently lose federal eligibility effective the one hundred eighty-first (181st) day, due to the expiration of the authority for placement.

The child may still be eligible for state foster care payments, however, depending on the placement type.

    • For a relative caregiver in this circumstance, Revenue Enhancement will submit a CalWORKs referral to the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS). Relative caregivers are not eligible to receive State foster care funding, but they would be eligible for Approved Relative Caregiver (ARC) funding if all other requirements are met.
    • If the caregiver is a Nonrelated Extended Family Member (NREFM) or a licensed/contracted facility, there is no other funding source other than Net County Costs (General Fund).
  • DCFS will review the case at one hundred fifty (150) days or one hundred five (105) days before the minor turns eighteen (18) years of age to determine if the child can be safely returned to the parents.
  • If after five (5) months or one hundred five (105) days before the minor turns eighteen (18) years of age the situation is not resolved and the CSW cannot return the child home and close the case, or the child cannot return home with a Voluntary Maintenance Agreement, the CSW must:
    1. File a Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) 300 petition.
      • The petition must be prepared and filed no less than fifteen (15) days prior to the conclusion of the 180-day period or the 90-day period before the minor turns eighteen (18) years of age, whichever comes first.
    2. Obtain court findings to remove the child before the conclusion of the 180-day period or 90-day period before the minor turns eighteen (18) years of age, whichever comes first.

 

Voluntary Placement Eligibility

A child receiving any of the following services may be considered for Voluntary Placement Services:

  • Regional Emergency Response (ER) services
  • Voluntary Family Maintenance (VFM) services
  • Permanent Planning (PP) services in the home of a legal guardian without dependency status (e.g. Kin-GAP)

With the exception of VPAs involving a placement with a parent in a residential substance abuse treatment program, the parent/legal guardian must retain legal custody of the child during the term of the Voluntary Placement. A parent/legal guardian may, by written authorization, allow a resource parent or relative or nonrelative extended family member (NREFM) to make educational and medical decisions for the child(ren). This written authorization can be completed via SOC 155

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

  • The child is not presently a dependent of the Juvenile Court.
  • The parent/legal guardian agrees to the need for out-of-home care and the reason(s) for placement.
  • The parent/legal guardian is unable to arrange resources necessary for the care, supervision, and protection of the child without Voluntary Placement services.
  • There is reason to believe that the case plan goals can be achieved within five (5) months of the date of the voluntary placement.
  • The problem for which the child is being placed is not one for which the child or the child’s siblings were previously made dependents of the court.

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:

  • The SDM assessment tools demonstrate that Voluntary Placement services are appropriate, by specifically indicating all of the following:
    • Safety Assessment results in Section 4, (Placement Interventions #10 [i.e., "Have the caregiver voluntarily place the child outside the home, consistent with WIC 11400 (o) and (p)"]
    • Risk Assessment shows a Low or Moderate risk level.
  • A Voluntary Placement does not result in the postponement of necessary court intervention.
  • The result of criminal record checks from LiveScan for the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) do not indicate additional safety threats.
    • A parent/legal guardian’s refusal to submit to Live Scan alone does not prevent the provision of Voluntary Placement services.
    • A parent’s/legal guardian’s refusal to submit to must be documented in the Contact Notebook.

CSW should consult with the SCSW to determine whether to use Voluntary Placement services.
Inter-County Transfers (ICTs) only apply to cases with court involvement. They do not apply to Voluntary Placement cases.

Cases for Voluntary Placement

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

  • When a parent is considering relinquishment of a non-dependent child
    • Voluntary Placement provides a five (5) month window, during which the biological parents may explore their feelings, receive supports and services aimed at reunification and ask questions about adoption.
    • The parent’s decision must be made without coercion.
  • When a family has a child with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) that recommends out-of-home care and there is a safety concern with the child. remaining in the home pending the Department of Mental Health (DMH) assessment
    • The Department of Mental Health (DMH) cannot place the child until an assessment process is complete.
  • When the parent/legal guardian is hospitalized
  • When the parent/legal guardian is incarcerated for an offense that cannot be directly construed as child endangering and they have not made an appropriate plan to leave their child with a relative, NREFM, or other caregiver
  • When the parent/legal guardian refuses to accept the return of a child from a psychiatric hospital
  • When there is a severe parent-child conflict that does not rise to the level of child abuse or neglect
  • When the parent/legal guardian is entering a residential substance abuse treatment program 

 

Placement with a Parent in a Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Program

The Family First Prevention and Services Act (FFPSA) created a new placement type that allows a child to remain with a parent while that parent is undergoing substance abuse treatment in a licensed residential substance abuse treatment facility.  The goal of this new placement type is to prevent children from entering traditional out-of-home placement settings while maintaining their safety. An Aid to Families with Dependent Children–Foster Care (AFDC-FC) maintenance payment (Basic Level Rate only) can be paid for the child’s room and board for up to twelve (12) months to residential facilities that are specifically licensed through the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS). CDSS has developed the SOC 888, FFPSA Voluntary Placement Agreement for Placing a Child with a Parent in a Substance Abuse Treatment Facility, specifically for this placement type. A child who is court ordered to be reunified with a parent residing in this type of facility is not eligible for the foster care maintenance payment.

These facilities must also offer parenting skills training, parent education, individual and family counseling in a trauma-informed framework. There are no age restrictions specified in the FFPSA, but individual facilities may have age requirements for the children that they allow to reside in the facility with the parent.  The following conditions must also be met:

  • DCFS and the parent must both sign the SOC 888, FFPSA Voluntary Placement Agreement for Placing a Child with a Parent in a Substance Abuse Treatment Facility.
  • DCFS must create and sign a case plan that specifies it is in the best interest of the child(ren) to be placed with the parent in the licensed residential substance abuse treatment facility.
    • The SOC 888 and case plan must both be signed prior to placing the child with the parent.
  • DCFS must complete the DCFS 4213 and obtain all required signatures as specified on the DCFS 4213 approval process flow chart.
    • On the DCFS 4213, check the box “Non-Contracted/Non-Profit Agency”.
  • In the case of an Indian child, the voluntary placement must conform with WIC Section 16507.4, subdivision (b)(3) and notice must be provided pursuant to WIC Section 224.2.
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:
  2. Ask the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) if they would like to involve faith-based practitioners or other community support persons to help with placement.
  3. Inform the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) and child (if age appropriate) that:
    • A Voluntary Placement  agreement can be withdrawn at any time.
    • Even during a child’s placement, the child may be returned to the parent.
  4. CSWs may utilize the CFTM approach to determine if Voluntary Placement is appropriate.
  5. Consult with the SCSW to determine whether to use Voluntary Placement services.
  6. Determine with the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) whether they are prepared and willing to do all of the following:
    • Cooperate in developing and carrying out a case plan, including developing a plan for the child’s return home if that is the goal.
    • Sign all required forms.
    • Ensure that they understand that:
      • The parent/legal guardian must retain legal custody of the child during the term of the Voluntary Placement.
      • The parent/legal guardian may, by written authorization, allow the resource parent or other caregiver to make educational and medical decisions for the child. This written authorization can be completed via SOC 155.
      • Children who are the subject of voluntary placement agreements have the same educational rights and supports of children who are court dependents or who are at home with their parents.
      • Parents/guardians retain the right to seek legal advice prior to signing a Voluntary Placement Agreement.
  7. Meet with the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) and children (if age appropriate) to discuss the reasons for placement.
    • Work with them to develop the case plan including a planned visitation schedule, and supports and services aimed at reunification.
      • When placing a child with a parent in a substance abuse treatment facility, the case plan must specify it is in the best interest of the child(ren) to be placed with the parent in the licensed residential substance abuse treatment facility.
  8. Counsel the child as to what to expect with regard to the placement.
  9. Obtain the signature of the parent/legal guardian on all of the following forms:
    • SOC 155, Voluntary Placement Agreement-Placement Request or the SOC 888, FFPSA Voluntary Placement Agreement For Placing a Child With a Parent in a Substance Abuse Treatment Facility
      • Explain the terms and conditions of the Voluntary Placement Agreement.
      • The form must be signed by all parents/legal guardians participating in the case plan.
      • Do not obtain a signature in cases where the parent is a minor and a dependent of the court.
    • The completed case plan
      • When the parent is a dependent of the court, or an NMD, do not finalize the initial Voluntary Placement case plan until they have consulted with their attorney and it has been documented that the consultation took place.
      • Provide the phone number of the child’s attorney if they do not have it. If the number is not available, provide the child with the Children’s Law Center main number (323) 980-1700.
      • The SOC 888 and case plan must both be signed prior to placing the child with the parent.
    • ABCDM 228, Applicant's Authorization For Release of Information
    • 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
  10. Provide the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) with a copy of all signed forms and the original SOC 155 or SOC 888.
  11. Take a photograph of each child who is entering Voluntary Placement.
  12. At the time of placement, provide the placement agencies/caregivers the following:
    • A copy of the following documents:
      • SOC 155, SOC 155C OR SOC 888
      • DCFS 179
      • DCFS 179-MH
    • Complete Health and Education Passport (HEP) binders, including all documents required for detention cases.
  13. For a VPA involving placing a child with a parent in a residential substance abuse treatment program submit a DCFS 4213 and signed SOC 888 to the Service Bureau Liaison. A court order is not needed for this special placement via the DCFS 4213. Please refer to the attached 4213 approval Flow Chart.
    • Select Non-Contracted/Non-Profit Agency on the DCFS 4213.
    • Once the approved DCFS 4213 is returned to CSW, submit a FCSS Automated 280 with the approved DCFS 4213 and signed SOC 888 to the TA for placement and payment processing.
  14. File a copy of the SOC 155, SOC 155C OR SOC 888  in the Placement Folder.
  15. File the original case plan in the Case Activity Recording Folder.
  16. Enter the case information into CWS/CMS as follows:
    • Case Status: Voluntary
    • Service Component Type: FR
    • Legal Authority: Parent-Agency Agreement
  17. 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, SOC 155C OR SOC 888 (and an approved DCFS 4213 if the VPA is placing a child with the parent in a substance abuse treatment facility) to the Eligibility Workers (EW).
    2. If the selected caregiver is a relative or a nonrelative extended family member, see the procedure for Evaluating a Prospective Caregiver.
      • Before a voluntary placement can be agreed to, the home of a prospective caregiver and the caregiver’s ability to meet the child’s needs must be assessed pursuant to WIC 361.4.
      • A youth can be placed through a Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA) in the home of a relative or nonrelative extended family member who has been approved via WIC 361.4 without that person being first approved as a Resource Family.
      • Within one (1) calendar day of placement, refer the home for RFA approval in accordance with the procedures in Placement Prior to Resource Family Approval.
    3. If the selected placement is a group home (GH) or Short-Term Residential Treatment Program (STRTP), consult with the ARA before proceeding with placement.
    4. If time permits, arrange pre-placement visits to the placement resources located through CWS/CMS.
  18. Arrange for the child’s placement per the procedures in Placement Responsibilities.
    1. If the child is being placed based on an IEP recommendation for placement, indicate that on the FCSS Automated 280 and send to the Eligibility Worker.
  19. 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.
  20. Inform the placement agency/caregiver that this is a voluntary placement and that it will last no more than one hundred eighty (180) days or ninety (90) days before the minor turns eighteen (18) years of age, whichever comes first. Explain that after the one hundred fifty (150) days or one hundred five (105) days before the minor turns eighteen (18) years of age, the case will be reviewed and DCFS will determine either to:
    • Invoke court processes and detain the child at a later date, or
    • Safely send the child home and either close the case or provide for additional services through a Voluntary Family Maintenance Agreement.

Regional SCSW Responsibilities

  1. Discuss the case, case plan goals, and activities required to meet the goals with the CSW.
  2. Review the Child Welfare Services Case Plan, SOC 155 or SOC 888, (and DCFS 4213  if the VPA is placing a child with the parent in a substance abuse treatment facility) and SDM tools used.
    1. If the case is approved,
      1. Sign and photocopy the SOC 155 or SOC 888 (and DCFS 4213 if the VPA is placing a child with the parent in a substance abuse treatment facility).
      2. Approve the case plan online.
      3. Sign the case plan.
      4. Obtain required signatures on the DCFS 4213 (as specified on the approval process flow chart if the VPA is placing a child with the parent in a substance abuse treatment facility).
      5. Return the original SOC 155 or SOC 888 (and signed DCFS 4213 if the VPA is placing a child with the parent in a substance abuse treatment facility) with the signed case plan to the CSW.
      6. Send a copy of the SOC 155 or SOC 888 (and signed DCFS 4213 if the VPA is placing a child with the parent in a substance abuse treatment facility) to the ARA.
    2. If the case is not approved, return the case documents to the CSW for corrective action.

  3. Maintain a control log or reminder "pop-up" file to ensure review of the case in five (5) months or one hundred five (105) days before the minor turns eighteen (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 eighteen (18) years of age, for the conclusion of the Voluntary Placement.
      • The time period is calculated from the date and signature of the SOC 155 or SOC 888 by the parent(s)/legal guardian(s).

  4. If the child cannot be returned within five (5) months or one hundred five 105 days before the minor turns eighteen (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 eighteen (18) years of age, whichever comes first.

 

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.
  2. Visit the child, caregiver, and parent(s)/legal guardian(s) according to Family Reunification requirements..
  3. 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.
    • At any point the parent/legal guardian and CSW may determine that the child can safely return, or the CSW may determine that a WIC Section 300 petition must be filed.
  4. Five (5) months (150 days) or at least one hundred five (105) days before the minor turns eighteen (18) years of age, whichever comes first, from the date the parent/legal guardian signed the SOC 155 or SOC 888, 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.
    2. Review the case plan.
    3. Schedule a CFTM to determine the next course of action.
    4. 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 Court Family Maintenance and Voluntary Family Maintenance..
      2. If no further services are needed, terminate the case and offer the parents extended services through a Voluntary Maintenance Agreement.
    5. 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 eighteen (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 FCSS Automated 280 process.
  5. 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.

 

Initiating a Voluntary Placement Agreement for an Indian Child

Case-Carrying CSW Responsibilities

A parent of an Indian child may withdraw their 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 in 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.

  2. If the child is at least ten (10) days of age, have the parent/Indian custodian complete the DCFS 5640, Consent to Voluntary Placement of an Indian Child and Certification, and the SOC 155C.
    1. The parent or Indian custodian must consent to the voluntary out-of-home placement in writing at least ten (10) days after the child’s birth and this consent must be recorded before a judge.
    2. Explain the terms and consequences of these forms to the parent/Indian custodian.
    3. Inform the parent/Indian custodian that they must attend court for a judicial officer to witness the signing of the DCFS 5640.

  3. Contact the County Counsel assigned to Department 421 at (323) 307-8881 to have the matter scheduled on their calendar for a valid consent hearing.

  4. Complete and send the DCFS 5640, the SOC 155C, and a cover letter to County Counsel.
    • The cover letter should indicate the reason for the Voluntary Family Reunification (VFR) and the parent’s desire to participate in this option.

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

 

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:
    • The child can be returned home safely resulting in the Voluntary Placement agreement being terminated, or
    • The child cannot be returned safely.
      • Continue to provide Voluntary Family Reunification services.
      • At the five (5) month mark of the child being in out-of-home care, assess the child to determine whether the child can be returned home safely or if a WIC 300 petition must be filed on their behalf.

 

APPROVALS

SCSW Approval

SCSW, ARA, RA, Deputy Director, Bureau of the Medical Director, Bureau of Finance and Administration Approval

HELPFUL LINKS

Attachments

DCFS 4213 Approval Process Flow Chart (for a VPA when placing a child in a substance abuse treatment facility)
VPA Licensed Treatment Facilities (includes all counties in California)

Forms

CWS/CMS

Case Plan Family Assessment
Child Welfare Services Case Plan
SOC 155, Voluntary Placement Agreement-Parent/Agency

LA Kids

ABCDM 228 (Spanish) (Armenian), Applicant’s Authorization For Release Of Information
DCFS 179, Parental Consent and Authorization for Medical Care and Release of Health and Education Records
DCFS 179-MH (Spanish) (Armenian), Parental Consent for Child's Assessment & Participation in Mental Health and/or Regional Center Developmental Services
DCFS 179-PHI (Spanish) (Armenian), Authorization for Disclosure of Child's Protected Health Information
DCFS 709, Foster Child Needs and case plan Summary
DCFS 5640, Consent to Voluntary Placement of an Indian Child and Certification
FCSS Automated 280, Technical Assistance Action Request
SOC 155, Voluntary Placement Agreement-Parent/Agency
SOC 155C, Voluntary Placement Agreement Parent/Agency (Indian Child)
SOC 888, FFPSA Voluntary Placement Agreement for Placing a Child with a Parent in a Substance Abuse Treatment Facility

REFERENCED POLICY GUIDES

0070-548.00, Community-Based Resources
0070-548.01, Child and Family Teams
0070-548.20, Taking Children into Temporary Custody
0070-548.25, Structured Decision Making (SDM) Safety Plans
0070-559.10, Clearances
0070-570.10, Obtaining Warrants and/or Removal Orders
0080-502.10, Case Plans
0080-503.00, Contacts with the Child Support Services Department (CSSD)
0080-505.20, Health and Education Passport (HEP)
0080-502.25, Court Family Maintenance and Voluntary Family Maintenance
0100-510.17, Placing a Child in Out-of-Home Care
0100-510.35, Special Placements
0100-510.40, Services for Minor and Nonminor Dependent (NMD) 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, 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, Inter-County Transfer (ICT)
1200-500.05, Adopting and Serving Children Under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
1200-500.50, Photographic Identification of Children
1200-500.81, Family Preservation Program Services as Part of the Welfare-to-Work Plan

STATUTES AND OTHER MANDATES

ACIN I-81-22 – Provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding the availability of a foster care maintenance payment for children placed in a family-based licensed substance abuse treatment facility with a parent, as outlined in All County Letter 21-103.

All County Letter (ACL) 21-103 – Details the Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA) option, introduced by section 50712 of the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), for a child with their parent in a licensed residential family-based substance abuse treatment facility.

ACL 23-29 – States that, effective January 1, 2023, counties shall no longer refer parents, whose children have been removed from the home and who are receiving Child Welfare Services, to child support agencies.  The only exception is if a parent’s annual income is greater than $100,000 annually or 400 percent of the federal poverty level, whichever is greater, and a referral to the child support agency will not pose a barrier to reunification.

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 their 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.