Chapter 4 : Section 7

Caregiver Stability for Children in Out-of-Home Care

Policy

The Department will promote stability for children in out-of-home care by minimizing moves and, when moves are necessary, by providing services to make changes in caregivers successful for the child.

The Department shall provide support services to out-of-home caregivers to assist the caregiver in meeting the child’s needs for safety, permanency, and well-being.

The Department shall provide children in out-of-home care, and out-of-home caregivers, current information about matters affecting the child, and provide children and out-of-home caregivers an opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings regarding those matters.

The Department shall provide out-of-home caregivers adequate notice to attend hearings, case plan staffings, Team Decision Making Meetings (TDM ), and case conferences.

Parents and all interested parties shall be notified if a change of caregiver is considered.

For a Native American child, the child’s tribe shall be notified and the order of caregiver preferences shall be followed, in accordance with the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act, whenever a change of caregiver is considered. (25 U.S.C. §1901 et seq.)

The Department may not use as the basis for removing a child in out-of-home care from a licensed foster parent, the foster parent’s request to disrupt a child in out-of-home care or the dissolution of an adoption that occurred based on either of the following:

  • the foster or adoptive parent was unable to receive services that the child was statutorily entitled to receive; or

  • the child threatened the health or safety of the family.

For children in out-of-home care, the Department shall facilitate a Placement Stability TDM meeting or participate in a CFT in which the child and caregiver’s needs are discussed, unless a change of caregiver:

  • is necessary to protect the child from harm or risk of harm;

  • is planned in order to place the child in a permanent living arrangement, with siblings, in a less restrictive setting or in a therapeutic setting necessary to meet the child’s behavioral health needs; or

  • is planned in order to place the child in accordance with Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) caregiver preferences.

The TDM or CFT meeting shall be held at least 3 days prior to the date the requested move is to take place. If an emergency situation exists, the TDM or CFT shall be scheduled within 48 hours of the caregiver disruption .

When the licensed foster parent (excluding a shelter care provider or receiving foster home provider) disagrees with the plan to move the child, the Department shall inform the foster parent that they have 24 hours to request a Foster Home Transition Conference to review the reasons for the change of caregiver. Inform the foster parent that the they are not entitled to a Foster Home Transition Conference when the change of caregivers for one of the following reasons:

  • to protect the child from harm or risk of harm;

  • to move the child into a permanent living arrangement;

  • to reunite the child with siblings;

  • to move the child to a least restrictive setting or to a therapeutic setting; or

  • to move the child in accordance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

The change of caregiver shall be made only after completion of the Foster Home Transition Conference process unless moving is necessary to protect the child from harm or risk of harm.

The DCS Specialist, the DCS Program Supervisor, the licensed foster parent, and two members of the FCRB, at minimum, shall participate in the Foster Home Transition Conference.

The Department shall hold the Foster Home Transition Conference within 72 hours, excluding weekends and holidays, of being informed of the licensed foster parent’s disagreement with the change of caregiver.

The child shall not move unless a majority of the members who participate in the Foster Home Transition Conference agree that a change of caregiver is necessary.

If, as a result of the Foster Home Transition Conference, it is the Department’s continued intent to move the child and the licensed foster parent continues to disagree and the child:

  • Is in the court ordered physical custody of the licensed foster parent, a foster care review board member shall provide a recommendation to the court regarding moving the child before the change of physical custody. The child shall remain in the current living arrangement pending a court order for removal.

  • Is not in the physical custody of the licensed foster parent, the licensed foster parent shall be advised of the Department’s conflict resolution process. The Department shall expedite the conflict resolution process. The child shall remain in the current living arrangement pending the outcome of the conflict resolution process.

If the out-of-home caregiver is the child’s prospective permanent caregiver and the caregiver disagrees with the move, the Department shall file a motion for removal and/or change of permanency goal (case plan) from adoption to another permanency goal. The child shall remain in the foster home pending a court order for removal.

Procedures

Supporting Caregiver Stability

To support caregiver stability, during face-to-face and telephone contacts:

  • Provide children in out-of-home care and out-of-home caregivers current information about matters affecting the child, and

  • Provide children and out-of-home caregivers an opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings regarding those matters.

Ensure that all court orders for services and supports for the child and the out-of-home caregivers are met.

Ensure that the services and supports identified in the case plan have been or are being provided to the out-of-home caregiver. These services and supports should assist the caregiver to meet the child’s needs including safety and well-being, and promote stability. Review the services and supports with the caregiver regularly, at a minimum every six months during the case plan staffing, and modify the services and supports as needed.

Decision Making

If a change of caregiver is being considered, that is not being requested by the out-of-home caregiver, the DCS Specialist and the DCS Program Supervisor should consider if:

  • additional services and supports can stabilize the living arrangement and prevent a disruption;

  • the child is unsafe in the home;

  • the home may provide a permanent living arrangement for the child;

  • the child is currently living with siblings;

  • the current caregiver is a grandparent or other relative;

  • the caregiver is the least restrictive to meet the child’s needs; or

  • the caregiver is in accordance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

A child must not be removed from a foster home solely because the foster parent asked for the removal of another child in out-of-home care or the dissolution of an adoption as a result of:

  • the caregiver’s inability to receive services that the child was statutorily entitled to receive; or

  • behavior by the child that threatens the health or safety of the family.

When assessing the purpose of the move consider the following:

Is the purpose of the move to place the child in a permanent living arrangement?

  • In this instance the new caregiver is committed to caring for the child permanently.

Is the purpose of the move to reunite the child with siblings?

  • The new caregiver can meet the needs of the siblings.

  • The living arrangement of the siblings together is not harmful to the health and safety of any of the siblings.

Is the purpose of the move to place the child in a kinship foster home?

  • The prospective kinship caregiver meets the department's criteria for approval as a kinship caregiver.

  • The assessment of the kinship caregiver indicates that the caregiver can meet the health, safety and all other living arrangement needs of the child.

  • The court has approved placing the child with the kinship caregiver.

Is the purpose of the move to place the child in a less restrictive setting?

  • The child is able to function in a regular foster home which is the most family-like setting and the planned move is from a professional, therapeutic/special foster home to a regular foster home.

Is the purpose of the move to place the child in a therapeutic setting?

  • The child requires a higher level of care than is being provided by the current caregiver and the child's assessed needs require a living arrangement in a therapeutic or professional foster home, or in a group home, or therapeutic group care living arrangement, or in a residential treatment center.

Is the purpose of the move to place the child in accordance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)? The order of living arrangement preferences is:

  • With a member of the child's extended family (including members of the child's tribe);

  • In a licensed foster home, approved or specified by the child's tribe;

  • In an Indian licensed foster home or approved by an authorized non-Indian licensing authority;

  • In an institution approved by the Indian tribe, or operated by an Indian organization which has a program suitable to meet the Indian child's needs.

If the move is not for any of the above circumstances, what services can be provided to the child or out-of-home caregiver to prevent the move and stabilize the living arrangement?

Unplanned or Unexpected Request for Living Arrangement Change by Out-of-Home Caregiver

A requested change of caregiver that is not planned for or anticipated shall be made only after the Department facilitates a Placement Stability Team Decision Making Meeting (TDM). A TDM does not have to be held if there is an active Child and Family Team (CFT) or there is a planned move due to a step-down from a higher level of care. The TDM shall be held at least 3 days prior to the date the requested move is to take place. If an emergency situation exists, the TDM shall be scheduled within 48 hours of the disrupted living arrangement.

For more information on the TDM, see Team Decision Making .

Planned Change of Living Arrangement

Case Conference/ Foster Home Transition Conference

Unless an emergency situation exists, convene a Case Conference at least 14 days prior to the intent to move the child and place the child in another living arrangement. The Case Conference should include the DCS Specialist, DCS Program Supervisor, out-of-home caregiver and the child (if appropriate). Whenever possible, this Case Conference should be held in-person, but may also be conducted by telephone. This Case Conference is not necessary if a case plan staffing, TDM or CFT was conducted that included the out-of-home caregiver and the planned living arrangement change was agreed to and documented in the case plan.

During the Conference:

  • Inform the out-of-home caregiver of the intent to move the child, if the caregiver did not request the living arrangement change; (If possible inform the caregiver prior to the Case Conference, so the/she has a chance to prepare.)

  • Discuss the reason a living arrangement change is being considered.

Inform the foster parent that the foster parent is not entitled to a Foster Home Transition Conference when the change of living arrangement is necessary to:

  • Protect the child from harm or risk of harm;

  • Place the child in a permanent living arrangement;

  • Reunite the child with siblings;

  • Place the child in a kinship home;

  • Place the child in a least restrictive setting or in a therapeutic setting; or

  • Place the child in accordance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

When the licensed foster parent, excluding a shelter care provider or receiving foster home provider, disagrees with the plan to move the child, proceed with the Foster Home Transition Conference.

If the licensed foster parent does not express disagreement with the planned move during the case conference:

  • Inform the foster parent of their right to have a Foster Home Transition Conference.

  • Inform the foster parent that the Department must be notified within 24 hours if they disagree with the planned move and want to schedule a Foster Home Transition Conference.

If the licensed foster parent notifies the department within 24 hours of the case conference that he/she disagrees with the plan to move the child, proceed to the Foster Home Transition Conference to review the reasons for the change of placement.

If the licensed foster parent disagrees with the plan to move the child, do not start transition planning. Inform the new caregiver that the move of the child is on hold until the Foster Home Transition Conference occurs.

Immediately inform the Foster Care Review Board (FCRB) Program Specialist of the foster parent’s disagreement. Provide the foster parent’s name, the child’s name (case name), and the physical custody status of the child to the FCRB Program Specialist.

Schedule the Foster Home Transition Conference to occur within 72 hours, excluding weekends and holidays, of the foster parent’s notification of disagreement with the change of caregiver. Set a date, time, and place agreeable to the DCS Specialist, the foster parent and the two FCRB volunteers to review the removal.

If the FCRB volunteers request to participate in the Conference by telephone, obtain the name and phone number of the volunteers from the FCRB Program Specialist.

Inform the foster parent and the FCRB volunteers of the date, time and place of the Foster Home Transition Conference.

The DCS Program Supervisor should be available or, in the Supervisor’s absences, make arrangements for another professional staff person to be available for contact by the licensed foster parent.

Include, at minimum, the DCS Specialist , DCS Program Supervisor or designee, the licensed foster parent, and two members of the FCRB and the child age 12 and older, if appropriate.

Other qualified professionals/ persons may participate during all or part of the Foster Home Transition Conference.

Discuss the reason for the planned move to another living arrangement and review the circumstances that resulted in the decision to move the child.

Proceed with the Foster Home Transition Conference even if the FCRB cannot provide two members to participate.

At the conclusion of the Foster Home Transition Conference, determine whether the majority of the participants agree that the move is necessary. If the majority of the participants disagree that the move is necessary, the child cannot move from the living arrangement until final resolution on the child’s living arrangement has occurred.

If, as a result of the Foster Home Transition Conference, the Department still intends to move the child and the licensed foster parent continues to disagree and:

  • The child is in the court ordered physical custody of the licensed foster parent, initiate a change in physical custody using by completing the Motion for Change of Physical Custody. The child shall remain in the current living arrangement pending a court order for removal. A FCRB member will provide a recommendation to the court regarding the move before the change of physical custody.

  • The child is not in the court ordered physical custody of the licensed foster parent, inform the licensed foster parent of and expedite the Department’s Conflict Resolution Conference process. The child shall remain in the current living arrangement pending the outcome of the expedited Conflict Resolution Conference.

Conflict Resolution Conference

The Conflict Resolution Conference:

  • Occurs within three working days of the Foster Home Transition Conference;

  • Includes, at a minimum, the licensed foster parent, DCS Specialist , DCS Program Supervisor, the Regional Program Administrator or designee; (Note: The Conflict Resolution Conference is not required if the Foster Home Transition Conference included the members required to participate in the Conflict Resolution Conference.)

  • should be held in-person, but may also be conducted by telephone at a mutually agreed upon time and place;

  • includes a discussion of the reason for the planned move and the outcome of the Foster Home Transition Conference including the recommendations of the Foster Home Transition Conference participants.

If, at the conclusion of the expedited Conflict Resolution Conference, the Department still intends to move the child and the licensed foster parent continues to disagree, immediately provide and assist the licensed foster parent with the completion of the Client Grievance, CSO-1016 and expedite the formal Client Grievance process.

The DCS Program Supervisor should notify the FCRB Specialist of the final outcome of the expedited Conflict Resolution Conference

  • Occurs within three working days of the Foster Home Transition Conference;

  • Includes, at a minimum, the licensed foster parent, DCS Specialist , DCS Program Supervisor, the Regional Program Administrator or designee; (Note: The Conflict Resolution Conference is not required if the Foster Home Transition Conference included the members required to participate in the Conflict Resolution Conference.)

  • should be held in-person, but may also be conducted by telephone at a mutually agreed upon time and place;

  • may include other individuals if they agree to maintain confidentiality and sign a Confidentiality Agreement, CSO-1105; and

  • includes a discussion of the reason for the planned move and the outcome of the Foster Home Transition Conference including the recommendations of the Foster Home Transition Conference participants.

If, at the conclusion of the expedited Conflict Resolution Conference, the Department still intends tomove the child and the licensed foster parent continues to disagree, immediately provide and assist the licensed foster parent with the completion of the Client Grievance, CSO-1016 and expedite the formal Client Grievance process.

The DCS Program Supervisor should notify the FCRB Specialist of the final outcome of the expedited Conflict Resolution Conference.

Prospective Permanent Caregivers

Out-of-home caregiver as prospective permanent caregivers

An out-of-home caregiver may also be the child’s prospective permanent caregiver.

If the child’s permanency goal is adoption and the current caregiver is the child’s prospective permanent caregiver, a change in the permanency goal (case plan) or living arrangement change from the prospective permanent caregiver cannot occur without a court order, unless:

  • The move is required to protect the child from harm or risk of harm, or

  • The prospective permanent caregiver requests the move, or

  • The action is required by federal or state law or regulation, or

  • the move is necessary to comply with the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. § 1903).

The prospective permanent caregiver has a right to be heard in any court proceeding regarding a change in the child’s permanency goal of adoption or a living arrangement change.

  • A copy of the motion to change the permanency goal of adoption to another permanency goal or for a living arrangement change must be provided to the prospective permanent caregiver at least 15 days before a hearing on the motion.

  • If the prospective permanent caregiver does not appear at the hearing, the court may not take any action on the motion unless the court finds that good faith efforts were made to provide a copy of the motion to the caregiver.

If the out-of-home caregiver is the prospective permanent caregiver but does not have court ordered physical custody of the child and disagrees with the child’s move, initiate a motion for removal using the Motion for Change of Physical Custody before moving the child.

If the out-of-home caregiver is the prospective permanent caregiver and has court ordered physical custody of the child and disagrees with the child’s move, initiate a motion for change of physical custody and removal using the Motion for Change of Physical Custody before moving a child.

Ensure that the name(s) and address of the current caregiver are current and accurate on the Motion for Change in Physical Custody. The Attorney General's Office will provide a copy of the motion for removal and/or change of permanency goal (case plan) to the prospective permanent caregiver only if the prospective permanent caregiver's name(s) and address are included on the motion. Otherwise, the DCS Specialist must provide a copy of the motion for removal and/or change of permanency goal to the prospective permanent caregiver.

  • Good faith efforts must be made to provide a copy of the motion(s) to the prospective permanent caregiver at least 15 days before the hearing on the motion.

  • Good faith efforts may include hand delivery, mailing, faxing or emailing the motion to the prospective permanent caregiver.

For a Native American child, whenever a change of caregiver is considered, notify the child’s tribe and follow the order of caregiver preference in accordance with the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act. (25 U.S.C. § 1901 et seq.)

A plan for change in caregiver is required for all children who change living arrangements. If the current out-of-home caregiver disagrees with the recommendation to move the child, do not start transitioning until final resolution on the child’s living arrangement has occurred; otherwise proceed with the plan for change of caregiver.

If, at the conclusion of the expedited Conflict Resolution process including the formal Client Grievance process, or hearing on the motion for change of physical custody, removal and/or permanency goal , the decision is to move the child from the current caregiver, include the existing and the new caregivers in developing the plan for change of caregiver, when possible. When developing the Transition Plan, address the following:

  • notification to the parent, if applicable, and all interested parties that a change of caregiver is planned;

  • communication between the current and new caregivers before, during and after the living arrangement change;

  • contact and visitation between the child and new caregivers prior to the move;

  • contact and/or visitation between the child and the current caregivers after the move, if appropriate;

  • supports and services to the child, current caregivers, and/or new caregivers during the transition period;

  • establishing transition period time frames;

  • preparing the child and current caregiver using available supports and services and strategies to reduce trauma to the child and the caregiver; and

  • transfer of the child’s belongings to protect the child from additional losses.

Unless there are extenuating circumstances, meet the child and the current caregiver within three working days to:

  • obtain the child’s complete Placement Packet; Mercy Care DCS CHP Member ID card; and clothing and other personal items;

  • review the Child Placement Summary /Agreement, FC01100, Agreement Section, to determine whether the current caregiver wishes to maintain contact with the child.

Consult with schools regarding education and special education services and needs prior to moving the child.

Update special education vouchers for a child placed in a group care/residential facility.

Prepare reports to the Juvenile Court, as required.

Documentation

Using the appropriate note, document the following:

  • Discussions with the DCS Program Supervisor regarding the decision to move the child to another living arrangement;

  • The reason for the intended move from the current caregiver;

  • Contact, if any made with the licensed foster parent regarding the foster parent agreement or disagreement with the plan to move the child or change of permanency goal;

  • The date, time and method used to inform the licensed foster parent of the plan to move the child (include the time frame by which the licensed foster parent must inform the Department of the foster parent’s disagreement with the plan);

  • The foster parent’s agreement or disagreement with the plan to move the child or change of permanency goal;

  • Notification of the FCRB Program Specialist;

  • Date, time and place of the Foster Home Transition Conference; and

  • Date, time and place of the expedited Conflict Resolution Conference (if applicable).

Document the outcome of the Case Conference, the Foster Home Transition Conference, the Conflict Resolution Conference and the Client Grievance process in the Case under the Notes/Visits tab.

If the plan for change of caregiver as developed during the case plan staffing, document the plan in the Services for the Family/Caregiver(s) tab under Needs for the Child(ren). Otherwise, document the plan using Case Notes under the Notes/Visit tab, designated as Case Conference/Staffing Type.

Complete the Addendum Report to the Juvenile Court for the Motion for Change of Physical Custody, Removal and/or Case Plan, if applicable.

Document participation in court hearings using Case Notes under the Notes/Visit tab, Court Hearing type. Update the review date information under the General tab.

When a child is moved from one living arrangement to another, complete a New Service Request in the Service Requests tab in a Case.

Update the following information: Special Needs/Education tab under Service Request Participant, Health and Education tab in the Person record, and print a new Health Plan. Provide the Health Plan to the new caregiver.

Update the Placement Packet. Provide the updated Placement Packet to the new caregiver.

If the child is moved to the home of a parent:

  • Obtain income and resource information from the parent and enter it in the Person record under Income and Assets.

  • Inform the parent they will receive notification from AHCCCS about enrollment of the eligible child into an AHCCCS Health Plan or they will receive notification of discontinued eligibility from AHCCCS.

  • Provide significant information and copies of the child's medical and education records to the parent.

Document the services provided to support the child in out-of-home care under Services for the Family/Caregiver(s) in the Case Plan. Document the out-of-home caregiver’s ability to meet the child’s needs using Case Notes under the Notes/Visits tab.

File a copy of the Client Grievance, CSO-1016, if applicable, and forms from the previous caregiver in the hard copy record.

Effective Date: February 1, 2021
Revision History: November 30, 2012, August 6, 2016