Voluntary Placement

0100-510.21 | Revision Date: 04/02/15

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 07/01/14 version due to changes to WIC 16507.6 regarding time lines for voluntary placements for minors who will turn 18 years of age within the 180 day period of the VFR.

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.

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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 agreement, limit the scope of the foster parent’s authority to give parental consent.

 

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:

 

CSS 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 CSW/CMS as follows:

 

  1. Select an appropriate placement facility per the policy and procedures in Assessment of a Potential Caregiver’s Ability to Meet a Child’s Needs.
  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 non-relative extended family member, see the procedure for Evaluating a Prospective Caregiver.
  1. If time permits, arrange pre-placement visits to the placement resources located through CSW/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 and SDM Family Strengths and Needs Assessment forms.
  1. Review the case plan.
  1. Schedule a CFT 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 both 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.”

 

  1. Document all contacts with parents, legal guardians, children, and collateral contacts 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:

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APPROVALS

SCSW Approval

HELPFUL LINKS

Forms

CWS/CMS

Case Plan Family Assessment

Child Welfare Services Case Plan

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 Custody

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)

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, Responsibilities for Placement

0100-520.10, Evaluating a Prospective Caregiver

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

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

Statutes

All County Information Notice (ACIN) 1-74-09 – 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 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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