Chapter 4 : Section 11

Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard

Policy

The Department shall ensure to the greatest extent possible that children in out-of-home care have the opportunity to participate in experiences similar to those of their peers who are not in out-of-home care.

The Department supports out-of-home caregivers to use normalcy standards and, specifically, apply a Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard (RPPS) to determine whether to allow a child to participate in extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities. Out-of-home caregivers of children in the Department’s care and custody include licensed individuals and entities and unlicensed individuals.

The RPPS is defined as the careful and sensible decisions that maintain a child’s health, safety, and best interests while at the same time encouraging the child’s emotional and developmental growth, which an out-of-home caregiver shall use when determining whether to allow a child in the Department’s care and custody to participate in extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities.

Age or developmentally appropriate activities are those that:

  • are generally accepted as suitable for children of the same chronological age or level of maturity or that are determined to be developmentally-appropriate for a child, based on the cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral capacities that are typical for an age or age group; and

  • in the case of a specific child, are suitable for the child based on the developmental stages attained by the child with respect to the cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral capacities of the child.

Group homes, shelters, and other congregate care facilities licensed by, or contracted with, the Department shall designate an on-site individual to apply the RPPS to children in the care and custody of the Department who reside at the facility.

Foster parents and kinship caregivers may leave a foster child in the care of another person and shall:

  • use reasonable judgment in the choice of an adult to provide the care;

  • notify the Department before the care exceeds twenty-four hours, in a non-emergency situation; and

  • notify the Department before the care exceeds seventy-two hours, in an emergency situation.

A foster parent who is certified to provide care to a child with developmental disabilities, a medically fragile child or a child receiving treatment foster care shall implement the alternate care plan that is approved by the Department, if the foster parent must leave the foster child in the care of another person.

Procedures

Discuss with out-of-home caregivers the RPPS and the expectation that children in out-of-home care are permitted the experiences of a typical childhood and adolescent activities. Such age and developmentally appropriate activities may include participating in sports teams, field trips, social outings with friends, academic or social clubs, and other endeavors.

In applying the RPPS, inform the out-of-home caregiver to:

  • gather adequate information about the activity;

  • assess the appropriateness of an activity for the child's age, maturity and developmental level (cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral capacity and propensities at that point in time);

  • assess foreseeable risks and potential hazards and what safety factors and level of supervision may be involved in the activity;

  • consider where the activity will be held, with whom the child will be going, and when they will return;

  • determine if the activity maintains or promotes the child's health, safety, best interests, and well-being;

  • allow and not restrict participation in activities that are supportive and affirming of the child’s sexual orientation or gender identity; and

  • contact the DCS Specialist when unsure of the appropriateness of a decision, or when support for a particular decision is needed.

Decisions made under the RPPS shall not conflict with any existing court orders, including but not limited to, visitation and therapy orders, unless specifically approved by the DCS Specialist and the court.

When possible, and especially when reunification is the case plan goal, out-of-home caregivers should consult with the biological parents and/or the child's extended family to take into consideration religious and cultural beliefs that may impact or influence any decisions made by the caregivers.

Encourage the child to discuss desired activities during case plan staffings.

Ensure that the child knows who in the group home, shelter, or other congregate care facility is designated as the on-site official to make decisions using the reasonable and prudent parent standard.

Inform out-of-home caregivers that the State may indemnify and hold harmless the caregiver for liability that may be incurred or alleged as a result of giving permission for the child in out-of-home care to participate in activities and functions generally accepted as usual and normal for a child of the child's age group if it is reasonably and prudently given. The state also provides the defense of actions alleging such liability.

Documentation

Document opportunities in the case plan for a child to participate in age or developmentally appropriate activities. See Developing and Reassessing the Family-Centered Case Plan.

Document as an artifact in Notes, the caregiver’s signature on the Out of Home Care Provider Acknowledgement.

Effective Date: February 1, 2021
Revision History: February 12, 2016