CATHOLIC CHARITIES

Document Sample
CATHOLIC CHARITIES Powered By Docstoc
					             CATHOLIC CHARITIES
            DIOCESE OF ROCKFORD
    FOSTER CARE PROGRAMIMPLEMENTATION
                PLAN FOR 2009
Catholic Charities, Diocese of Rockford, continues to fully support the Foster
Parent Law, as indicated in Public Act 89.19. Section 1-5 endows foster parents
with all the rights and responsibilities consistent with their role in the child welfare
profession. The agency fully acknowledges that foster parents are the
cornerstone of the foster care system and need to be recognized as vital
members of the professional team.

                            Foster Parent Involvement

The method for gathering input for this plan was multi-faceted. The sources were
as follows:

Surveys
There were various forms of surveys used to collect information. Initially, the
“Caregiver Input” form was mailed to foster parents for their responses (Appendix
A). The feedback received was considered when writing the 2009 plan.

The Quality Assurance Office at Catholic Charities mails “Feedback Surveys”
(Appendix B) to random members of the professional team to provide an outlet
for confidential responses regarding their satisfaction with agency services. The
Quality Assurance Office distributes an annual survey to all clients, including
foster parents, to assess the efficacy of the agency’s programs and services. In
addition, the Quality Assurance office randomly phones 10% of the foster homes
each month and completes a survey. (Appendix C)

Exit Interviews are sent out to random foster homes when a foster family
chooses to close their license. Catholic Charities is open to the suggestions
made by foster families completing this form. This feedback is viewed as positive
constructive criticism (Appendix D) and used to improve our agency practices
and programs.

All feedback was gathered in the foster parent’s home in a one-on-one setting. It
was hoped that the home environment would provide for honest communication
in an unhurried manner. All foster parents were randomly chosen to eliminate
favoritism.

Each licensing caseworker throughout the Diocese made in person visits to the
foster homes to gather input for the foster parent implementation plan. Some
suggestions by foster parents included more information on how the court system


                                           1
works and specific details on agency reimbursements. Foster parents seem to
enjoy the in person and one-on-one communication with a representative.
(Appendix E)

Notification by Mail
All local offices sent letters asking all foster parents for input on the 2009 Plan.
Input was sent to the local licensing representatives. Reponses received were
discussed with staff members and feedback was taken into consideration when
writing the 2009 plan. (Appendix F)

                                Public Involvement

Direct Staff
Child Welfare staff input is collected through the Licensing Committee and
through formal presentation/feedback sessions at regular staff meetings. The
Diocesan Licensing Committee is comprised of child welfare supervisors and all
licensing and recruiting representatives. The committee meets with members
from across the Diocese for the purpose of training and review of policy and
procedure, networking, and support.

Notice to the Public
Requests for public input were published in parish bulletins throughout the
Diocese (Appendix G). The same request was published in The Observer, the
weekly Catholic newspaper for the Diocese of Rockford. Interested individuals
are sent a letter explaining the Implementation Plan, a copy of the 2009
Implementation Plan, and the Implementation Plan Response Form. The Foster
Parent Implementation Plan is also published on the Catholic Charities website
(www.ccrfd.org/imp2009.htm), where feedback can be sent via e-mail. Public
responses received are discussed and considered when writing the 2009 plan.

Open Forum
Any foster parent contribution is welcome. Agency forums include foster parents
from DCFS and other agencies to provide a well-rounded and comprehensive
response.

                        Delivery of Implementation Plan

Foster Parents have the option of receiving a copy of the Implementation Plan
through in-person deliver, mail, or email. Every Child Welfare office will have
copies of the plan for foster parents and the public. Licensing representatives
and child welfare workers carry copies of the plan for reference.

The 2009 Implementation Plan will also be available on the Catholic Charities
website (www.ccrfd.org/imp2009.htm).




                                          2
                  Grievance Procedure for Foster Parent Law

If any foster parent feels that the agency or a staff member has violated their
rights, they are encouraged to complete a Foster Parent Grievance Petition
(Appendix H). This form was developed with direct input from the Catholic
Charities foster parents. The form is directed to the local office supervisor who
schedules a face-to-face meeting within ten calendar days upon receiving the
complaint. If matters are not resolved with the local supervisor, another meeting
will be scheduled with the Diocesan director. All action requests must be
resolved within 30 calendar days after the complaint is received. A letter was
sent to all foster parents outlining the appeal process for violations of the Foster
Parent Plan (Appendix I).




                           Catholic Charities Mission

                      Catholic Charities Diocese of Rockford
                           continues the ministry of Jesus
                 in faithfulness to the Magisterium of the church.
                        Our Mission is to serve God’s people
                                for the common good
                       with compassion, dignity, and respect;
                            to assist people in achieving
                              a degree of independence
                        consonant with their human dignity;
                      and to work in solidarity with the Church
                            and other people of good will
                               in advocating for justice.




                                          3
1. The right to be treated with dignity, respect, and consideration as a
professional member of the child welfare team.

Catholic Charities, Diocese of Rockford, has been committed to caring for
children and families for 70. Catholic Charities values their foster parents and
views them as the foundation of the foster care program. Their contributions are
essential to the success of the program. Every year some local offices of
Catholic Charities participate with other agencies to honor foster parents at an
appreciation dinner.

The agency strongly advocates that all foster parents be treated with dignity,
respect and consideration. It is stressed to staff members that these
characteristics are essential for effective communication. Communication is the
key component in any child welfare team. Foster parents are the number one
advocates for the child. Therefore, they are considered to be a vital part of the
child and family team. Agency staff is held accountable for treating foster
parents with respect. Staff accountability is demonstrated through caseworker
supervision and the foster parent appeals process.

To promote effective communication, foster parents are encouraged to attend
family meetings, staffings, trainings, court hearings, administrative case reviews
and other relevant meetings. It is the caseworker’s responsibility to invite foster
parents to all meetings and to provide information to the foster families that is
relevant to the services that the child receives. Foster parents are expected to
inform caseworkers of possible services from which the child could benefit.
Catholic Charities consults foster parents regarding all-important decisions about
the foster child, such as visiting arrangements, returning home, and treatment
plans. In addition, foster parents have the opportunity to discuss their questions
and concerns regarding their placements and services. Foster parents may
direct concerns to caseworkers, supervisors, licensing representatives, or any
other member of our child and family team. Foster parents retain the right to ask
for a family meeting at any time and for the caseworker’s supervisor to be
present at these meetings.

2. The right to be given the standardized pre-service training and
appropriate ongoing training to meet mutually assessed needs and
improve the foster parent’s skills.

Standardized Pre-Service
All relative caregivers and potential foster parents are referred to the
standardized PRIDE pre-service training. The agency assists participants by
providing them with PRIDE materials to be completed in their homes and
returned to the licensing representative, in a timely manner. Licensing
representatives meet the potential foster parents in their homes to provide an
introduction to Catholic Charities and the foster care system.




                                         4
Relatives are encouraged to complete the entire PRIDE curriculum for licensure.
They also have the option to watch the PRIDE DVD’s. Licensing representatives
will go to the relatives’ homes to deliver the DVD’s and PRIDE training materials
to the relative foster family. By watching the DVD’s at home, the foster parents
have the opportunity to view the DVD’s at their convenience.

PRIDE
Once a foster parent is participating in the PRIDE training, the licensing
representative reviews and maintains the “PRIDE Connections” for the foster
family. The agency initiates home visits to complete the home study and other
requirements in a timely manner. These visits offer foster parents the opportunity
to discuss questions and concerns that arise during the training program. In
addition to PRIDE training, all local offices require Educational Advocacy to be
completed by at least one foster parent before a foster care license is issued.
Moreover, both foster parents are strongly encouraged to complete Educational
Advocacy prior to licensure.

All relative foster families are strongly encouraged to become licensed foster
homes. A licensing representative visits the relative foster parents and explains
the financial and procedural differences. The licensing representative works with
the relative in completing the Application Packet and helps in scheduling
fingerprinting appointments. Catholic Charities will offer to drive the relatives to
their fingerprinting appointments if transportation is unavailable.

Co-Training with Staff
The agency strictly enforces the 402 Licensing Standards and provides training
to all caseworkers on all changes in licensing standards. All changes in
procedure are reviewed at the weekly staff meetings.

Mutual Assessment Need for Training
Catholic Charities mails the “Foster Parent Feedback Survey” (Appendix J) to
every foster parent to assess training needs and desires. Both caseworkers and
licensing representatives meet regularly with the foster parents to assist them in
any training needs they may have. If trainings become available to address foster
parents’ specific training needs, the licensing representatives will contact the
foster parents specifically to encourage their attendance. This is in addition to
general mailings about training schedules.

Placement Specific Training
Foster parents receive training that is appropriate to the needs of the children
placed in their home. Children with more specialized needs are offered
resources for themselves and their foster parents as needed. Training goals are
mutually agreed on with the foster parents and the licensing representative.
Examples of acceptable trainings would be videotapes and written reports,
books, health service agency trainings, school presentations, the DCFS Lending
Library, etc.



                                         5
On-Going Training
All foster parents are provided with current schedules of local In-Service Module
Trainings and are encouraged to attend. In some areas local foster parent
support groups provide monthly trainings, which the agency encourages foster
parents and staff to attend. Licensing representatives assist foster parents in
individual training through the Lending Library. Renewal training hours are
offered through the agency and a variety of community resources. Foster
parents are notified of other training resources through newsletters and local
community colleges. Foster families interested in adoption attend the adoption
conversion training and other informational meetings provided by the adoption
program.

In some local offices, Catholic Charities licensing representatives meet at least
quarterly with all local POS agency and DCFS liaisons to exchange information
on upcoming trainings. The purpose of these meetings is to assess the needs of
foster parents in order to schedule relevant trainings. The majority of these
trainings are free of charge to foster parents.

Due to low attendance and participation in Catholic Charities support groups,
foster parents are welcomed and encouraged to join local foster parent support
groups attended by both DCFS and private agency foster parents. Some
advantages to participating in the support group can be specialized training,
participation in local food banks, developing friendships and gaining additional
support. It is the belief of Catholic Charities that more benefits are gained by
participating in a large group and with others of a diverse background.
Considering that our prior Catholic Charities support groups did not seem to be
beneficial to our foster homes, Catholic Charities does not hesitate to refer foster
parents to a more productive support group.

3. The right to be informed as to how to contact the appropriate child
placement agency in order to receive information and assistance to access
supportive services for children in the foster parent’s care.

24-Hour Availability
All Catholic Charities offices have an on-call cell phone system that is available
24 hours per day, including weekends and holidays. All foster parents are
provided with the on-call cell phone number and are encouraged to page in the
event of an emergency. In addition to the on-call caseworker, a supervisor is
also assigned to be on-call for additional back up and support. The agency
updated the on-call system to an on-call cell phone. This allowed for an
immediate response. Letters were sent to all foster parents outlining the
changes. On-call information is passed out at the time of initial placement and is
also contained in the child resource folder. It is hoped that foster parents will
keep the on-call information by their phones. The new system was developed




                                         6
with in-put from the foster parents because they had difficulty using the paging
system.

Accessing Availability
The foster child resource folders are distributed at the time of a foster child’s
placement to all traditional and relative foster families. In order to achieve
consistency throughout the Diocese, the contents of the folders have been
revised and expanded. This child resource file is used for storage of all important
information, such as educational records, medical records, tracking clothing
funds and the child’s allowance. A recent addition to the foster child resource file
is a directory of local services that may benefit children and families. This
includes the police department, systems of care services, medical providers and
other community services. This child resource file travels with every child as they
move through the system to permanency. Some local offices give each licensed
foster parent a licensing resource folder, which also includes emergency contact
numbers.

Organizational Chart
Appendix K demonstrates the agency organizational chart for the Diocese of
Rockford. Foster parents are encouraged to communicate with their caseworker,
but they may also contact other agency representatives if they believe it is
necessary. Supervisors are available if the caseworker is out of the office.

4. The right to receive timely financial reimbursement commensurate with
the care needs of the child as specified in the service plan.

Regular Board Payment
All Catholic Charities foster parents receive the monthly reimbursement amounts
as outlined by DCFS. These amounts are outlined prior to licensure and are
updated upon increases. Monthly board checks are consistently mailed to foster
parents on the 25th of each month. If requested by the foster parent, our office
will hold their checks from the mail to be picked up in person. All foster parents
are encouraged to phone the supervisor with questions or concerns over
payment issues. Foster parents are extremely pleased with the reimbursement
policies and the promptness of the payment.

“Extras”
It is Catholic Charities’ philosophy that reimbursement for special situations be
handled on an individual basis. Foster parents may be reimbursed for tutoring,
summer camp, YMCA passes, etc. through the non-reoccurring expense fund.
Due to the generosity of private donors, Catholic Charities is able to provide
“extras” to our foster children and foster families. Some examples are winter
coats, school supplies, and Thanksgiving baskets. Christmas gifts and Easter
baskets are provided for the children at parties which include the participation of
the whole family unit. If families do not attend a party, the caseworker will
distribute the items at their next home visit.



                                         7
In addition, caseworkers are trained on special service fees, the use of non-
reoccurring expenses and sibling visitation reimbursement, etc. As members of
the professional team, foster parents are encouraged to bring any monetary
concerns to their licensing representative as they arise. Catholic Charities will
always advocate for the fair and just reimbursement of the foster family.

Payment for Type of Care Provided
Catholic Charities is not contracted to take specialized placement children.
Therefore, the agency only offers traditional board rates. Catholic Charities
requests special service fees from DCFS for foster parents who provide
additional services, such as transportation and hosting sibling visits. Catholic
Charities advocates to receive supplementary funding for all foster children with
additional needs.

Problem Resolution
Problems with foster parents receiving timely payments have been rare. Should
a problem arise, foster parents are encouraged to contact the financial unit with
questions or concerns over the payment issues. Within two days, the problem
will be remedied and every effort made to get their payment to them. If the
financial unit cannot answer their question, they may contact the Child Welfare
Supervisor. Finally, the Foster Parent Grievance Petition may be utilized.

5. The right to be provided a clear, written understanding of a placement
agency’s plan concerning the placement of a child in the foster parent’s
home. Inherent in this right is the foster parent’s responsibility to support
activities that will promote the child’s right relationships with his or her
own family and cultural heritage.

Foster Parent Participation in Development of the Case Plan
Foster parents are considered to be significant members of the Child and Family
Team, and are considered active participants in the development and
implementation of every child’s service plan. Foster parents are included in all
aspects of the child’s service plan. A service plan is written according to the
needs of the child and biological family, as assessed by the family caseworker.
The service plan not only provides reunification services for the child and
biological family, it also provides services to the child and foster family. The
caseworker develops the service plan according to the rights and responsibilities
of foster parents. This plan should be written in collaboration with the foster
family and should be agreed upon by all parties involved. The foster parents
meet with the caseworker and develop a plan that is sufficient to meet the needs
of the foster child. After this initial plan has been created by the caseworker in
conjunction with the foster family, it is presented during a family meeting with all
members of the child and family team present. During this family meeting, foster
parents are given the foster child’s portion of the service plan. At this time, the
foster parents are encouraged to present concerns and make additions or



                                         8
corrections to the service plan. During the course of the case, if the caseworker
has made any changes to the service plan, the foster parents will be notified by
mail or telephone.

All caseworkers complete the Case Review Monthly Report (CRMR) to ensure
that the foster family receives their invitation to every Administrative Case
Review. The CRMR provides the Department of Children and Family Services
the information needed to mail an invitation to the foster parents with the date,
time, and location of the case review.

In addition, all foster parents are designated members of the child and family
team, who participate in all meetings concerning Systems of Care planning for
each child and family. SOC provides in-depth services such as crisis
intervention, additional counseling, and mentoring to the foster child. SOC
enables foster parents to remain an integral part of services provided for the
child. The planning for each child is discussed during Systems of Care meetings
and implemented into the child’s service plan. In this way, the foster parents are
instrumental in providing or accessing services that lead to Reunification,
Adoption, or Guardianship. Catholic Charities has educated foster parents about
System of Care in the monthly home visits. The agency has a large number of
children that receive services from the System of Care program.

Timely Notification of Changes in Case Plan/Permanency Goal
Foster parents are always notified in advance of upcoming court dates,
Administrative Case Reviews, (ACR), family or other meetings. Foster parents
are informed of court dates by caseworkers either in person or by phone contact.
Court orders with the next court date and time are provided. To inform foster
parents of the mandatory family meeting that occurs before ACRs, the
caseworker mails a Confirmation of Family Meeting letter to the foster parents.
During this family meeting, the foster parents are reminded of the date, time, and
location of the upcoming review. Also, DCFS mails a letter to the foster parents
when a review is scheduled.

If a foster parent is unable to attend court, an ACR, a family meeting, or a
Systems of Care staffing where a change in the service plan or permanency goal
has occurred, the case manager will notify the foster parent within 24 hours of
the change, either in-person, through phone contact or by e-mail. Caseworkers
will provide the foster parent with the relevant service plan pages and/or court
orders, and will review these changes with them thoroughly. This ensures that all
involved parties understand the reasoning behind the changes as well as the
method of implementing it.

Catholic Charities consistently gives a two-week notice for removal of children
unless it is determined by the caseworker and the caseworker’s supervisor that
there is an immediate risk of harm to the child. The DCFS appeal brochure is
always enclosed with the letter that outlines the reasons for the removal. Letters



                                         9
that give a specific removal date are sent both certified and regular mail. If the
situation is of an immediate and urgent nature, and removal is necessary prior to
the 14-day notice, an appeals brochure is given to the foster parent at the time of
removal.

Foster Parent Participation In Visitation & Communication Plan
The Visitation & Communication Plan identifies when visits will occur between
the child and family members. It also identifies who will be responsible for
transportation, supervision, and monitoring during the visits. During the
development of the service plan, the foster parents are encouraged to be active
participants in the Visitation & Communication Plan. By participating in the
Visitation & Communication Plan, foster parents are supporting the child’s
cultural and familial relationships. Payment goes to the foster parents for hosting
sibling visits, participation in family visits, and providing transportation for the
child. Catholic Charities strongly recommends that foster parents take an active
role in hosting sibling visits because it demonstrates an interest in all aspects of
the child and family’s life. It offers an opportunity to open the line of
communication between the biological family and the foster family, which
strengthens the support system for the child. We are encouraging foster parents
to supervise family visits. We explain the reimbursement procedures to the
foster parent. The foster parents who have participated in the visits have
provided positive feedback. This plan is explained by the caseworker and must
be documented by the caregiver. Any amendments made to the service plan or
Visiting & Communication Plan is discussed by the team, who will then offer an
effective problem-solving method.

6. The right to be provided a fair, timely, and impartial investigation of
complaints concerning the foster parent’s licensure, to be provided the
opportunity to have a person of the foster parent’s choosing present
during the investigation, and to be provided due process during the
investigation; the right to be provided the opportunity to request and
receive mediation or an administrative review of decisions that affects
licensing parameters, or both mediation and an administrative review; and
the right to have decisions concerning a licensing corrective action plan
specifically explained and tied to the licensing standards violated.

Staff Trained in Rights
Licensing representatives are trained in the policy and procedures of
investigations. All licensing representatives attend the Diocesan Licensing
Committee. The Diocesan Licensing Committee is comprised of some child
welfare supervisors and all licensing and recruiting representatives. The
committee meets as needed with members from across the Diocese for the
purpose of training in policy and procedure, networking and support.
Investigations and other licensing standards are discussed, as well as the
Implementation Plan.




                                         10
Foster care caseworkers are notified of changes in licensing standards at the
weekly staff meeting. Many caseworkers have successfully passed the 402
Licensing Standards examination.

Investigation Policy
Two different types of investigations can occur in a foster parent home. In a child
abuse case or neglect investigation, the child Protection workers and a
representative from the DCFS Agency and Institution Division should conduct a
joint investigation. Upon completion of the investigation, Catholic Charities will
conduct a licensing investigation if recommended by DCFS. If the alleged
incident is regarding a violation of the 402 Licensing Standards, agency licensing
representatives will investigate the complaint. These licensing representatives
are informed of the alleged incident by the hotline or agency staff. Licensing
representatives will contact the home within 24 hours and inform the foster
parents of their rights in an investigation (Appendix L). The agency licensing
representatives interview all alleged participants. The agency licensing
representatives discuss the information with the agency supervisors and the
DCFS liaison, if necessary, to come to a conclusion in the investigation. The
foster parents are informed of the findings in a certified letter. If violations were
found to be substantiated, licensing representatives will meet with the foster
parents to discuss a corrective action plan.

Right to an Advocate
The agency provides foster parents with a letter outlining their rights. In some
local offices, foster parents sign a copy of the investigative rights letter and keep
one copy of the letter for themselves. The licensing representatives remind
foster parents that they may have an advocate available for support during the
investigation. This person can be a friend, lawyer or clergy member. The foster
parents have four hours after receipt of the letter to obtain a support person.

Time Frames for Investigations
Protocol for the agency is to make an in-home visit within 24 hours of receiving
an allegation. An investigation begins at that time and is to be completed within
30 days. If the investigation has to be extended for another 30 days, written
notification must be given to foster parents. The foster parent will be notified of a
final decision in writing.

Right to Appeal
Foster parents have the right to request an informal review with the investigator,
their supervisor, and the Regional Director of the agency. The time frame for a
written request for an informal review is ten days after notification of a decision.
Foster parents who have received an indicated report from the Division of Child
Protection may appeal this report to the Bureau of Quality Assurance. In these
cases the DCFS Appeals Brochure is provided to foster parents for reference.




                                          11
Written Statement of Rights
See enclosed statement of rights in Appendix M. All clients of Catholic Charities
are asked to sign this statement informing them of their rights as a client.

7. The right, at any time during which a child is placed with the foster
parent, to receive additional or necessary information that is relevant to the
care of the child.

Changes in the Foster Parent Code Rule 7.5
Catholic Charities has long recognized the importance with providing all foster
parents with all vital child information in order to increase the probability of
success and stability in a placement. Prior to the notice of the official 7.5 statues
the agency had developed the Child Profile Form. (Appendix N) The form was
initially developed with suggestions from the foster parents. The addition of new
personnel has created the need for on-going training of the Child Profile Form. In
addition to the Catholic Charities Child Profile form, caseworkers also complete
the Sharing Information with the Caregiver form (CFS600-4). With the
development of the new statutes caseworkers must now begin to obtain
signatures from the foster parent as well as the Guardian at Litem. Feedback
from the foster parents concerning the Child Profile form has been positive.

Training
Catholic Charities is committed to sharing information pertinent to the care of the
foster children in our homes. The caseworkers are trained that sharing of this
information is in the best interest of the child. As of July 1, 2001, DCFS requires
all child welfare caseworkers to attend the nine weeks Foundation Training. This
training stresses the importance of good Child Welfare Practice and prepares the
caseworkers to assess the need for sharing of information with various members
of the team. All Catholic Charities caseworkers complete this training before
being officially assigned any cases. Also, the agency conducts monthly trainings
with staff. Among the training topics discussed are Child Endangerment Risk
Assessment Protocol, CERAPs, Family Meetings, Respite Care, 402 Standards,
and local service providers. Continuous weekly supervision sessions with each
caseworker, the family meetings, and participation in the child and family team
are all forums for guidance in sharing information with the appropriate team
members.

Accountability
Catholic Charities holds their staff accountable for providing accurate information
in a timely manner to the foster parents. Catholic Charities provides
accountability by having a supervisor present at all family meetings, which are
held at least quarterly, to discuss the current functioning and adjustment of the
child. Supervisors hold caseworkers accountable during weekly supervision.
The caseworkers have the responsibility to collaborate with other service
providers to receive the most current and up to date information. It is Catholic
Charities’ policy that all caseworkers must disclose this information to the foster



                                         12
parents at the time when the information is learned. This information would
include the child’s behavior background, possible sexual abuse, educational
history, etc. Caseworkers share with the foster parents the child’s goal and
permanency plan when a placement is made. As stated before, the foster child
resource folder is given to the foster parents at the time of placement.

8. The right to be notified of scheduled meetings and staffings concerning
the foster child in order to actively participate in the case planning and
decision making process regarding the child, including individual service
planning meetings, administrative case reviews, interdisciplinary staffings,
and individual educational planning meetings; the right to be informed of
decisions made by the courts or the child welfare agency concerning the
child; the right to provide input concerning the plan of services for the
child and to have that input given full consideration in the same manner as
information presented by other professionals on the team; and the right to
communicate with other professionals who work with the foster child
within the context of the team, including therapists, physicians, and
teachers.

Notification Method and Accountability
All communication is directed through the caseworker by means of personal
contact, phone contact, e-mail or by letter. Foster parents are notified of
decisions made by the agency and the court system through the same method.
In addition, various appointments, such as family meetings or Systems of Care
(SOC) staffings are confirmed by written notification and a phone call to the
foster parents. Foster parents are given the same notification status, as are all
members of the professional team. Foster parents are encouraged to participate
in all meetings and staffings for foster children in their care.

It is the responsibility of the agency’s supervisors to ensure appropriate
communication between agency staff and the foster parents they serve.
Communication is discussed in weekly staff supervision. Caseworkers must
record regular in-home meetings between the foster parents and the caseworker
to discuss service planning and provision, the child’s functioning and progress
toward the goal. These visits are a minimum of one hour, once a month.
Caseworkers visit unlicensed relatives twice per month. Supervisors record the
dates of these meetings and hold workers accountable at weekly supervision.
The licensing representative is responsible for notifying the foster parents of
changes in the licensing standards, updating information, and schedules of local
trainings. This is done through regular in-home visits and the agency newsletter,
as well as periodic mailings directly to the foster family home. This accountability
is the responsibility of the Child Welfare Supervisors and ultimately, the Diocesan
Licensing Committee.




                                         13
Notices Input and Communication
In some local offices, caseworkers send a monthly calendar of visits that
delineates pick up and drop off times as well as the name of the individual
supervising the visit. For ACR’s, the Case Review Monthly Report is completed
in advance by the caseworker. This ensures accurate and timely notification for
these important meetings. Foster parents are encouraged to give input into case
planning. Their input is given full consideration when creating the service plan.
Foster parents are invited and encouraged to attend all court hearings involving
their children, and the worker will personally notify each foster parent of legal
orders and all court decisions immediately. The local school sends notification
directly to the foster parent for meetings, conferences and staffings, with the
assistance of the agency Educational Liaison. Additionally, the Liaison maintains
personal contact with the foster family regarding all educational needs of the
child.

It is recommended that the foster parents communicate regularly with the other
members of the professional team. This team includes, agency caseworkers,
licensing representatives, child welfare supervisors, counselors, Systems of Care
representatives, school personnel, Court Appointed Special Advocate, CASA
workers, and other team members as required. Foster families are provided with
the name and telephone number of the child’s therapist, Guardian Ad Litem, and
any other team member for appropriate and efficient communication between all
members of the team. Families are encouraged to take the child to therapy and
other appointments and to participate as needed for the best interest of the child.

9. The right to be given, in a timely and consistent manner, any information
a caseworker has regarding the child and the child’s family which is
pertinent to the care and needs of the child and to be making a permanency
plan for the child. Disclosure of information concerning the child’s family
shall be limited to the information that is essential for understanding the
needs of and providing care to the child in order to protect the rights of the
child’s family. When a positive relationship exists between the foster
parent and the child’s family, the child’s family may give consent to the
disclosure of additional information.

Method
As stated previously, all pertinent information is provided to foster families in the
child resource file upon placement of the child. The agency utilizes a checklist of
information (school information, criminal history, behavior pattern, medication,
history of abuse, etc.) to uniformly share information with potential foster families.
Foster parents receive training on confidentiality in their PRIDE curriculum.
Confidentiality is also discussed with foster parents during licensure. All licensed
foster parents sign a confidentiality agreement after they have been given the
confidentiality guidelines. Caseworkers receive confidentiality training through
written materials and one-on-one sessions. The, Inter-Ethnic Placement Act,
IEPA Foster Child Matching Tool is an efficient method for choosing the best



                                          14
possible placement for both child and family, and for the effective sharing of
information. The Matching Tool is completed every time a child changes his or
her placement.

Accountability
Caseworkers notify foster parents of any pertinent information that is beneficial to
the health and well being of the child via telephone or face-to-face interactions.
Information continues to be communicated by the caseworker as the case
progresses and more information is known. Weekly supervision holds the
caseworker accountable for the sharing of appropriate materials to all members
of the professional team.

10. The right to be given reasonable written notice of (i) any change in a
child’s case plan, (ii) plans to terminate the placement of the child with the
foster parent, and (iii) the reasons for the change or termination in
placement. The notice shall be waived only in cases of a court order or
when the child is determined to be at imminent risk of harm

14-Day Notice
Catholic Charities adheres to the two-week notice ruling. However, all efforts are
made to avoid placing the child in another home unless there are at-risk
situations that cannot be remedied. If a decision is made to move a child, a
written two-week notice is provided by Catholic Charities via certified and
traditional mail.

Notice in Writing
The critical decision to remove a child is sent via a two-week notice letter. This
letter is sent through certified mail and regular mail along with a copy of the
appeal brochure, which highlights the DCFS procedures for filing an appeal.

Appeals
Caseworkers are trained in appeal procedures, and the severity of the situation is
stressed to them. All staff members are available to answer questions
concerning the appeal process, and will assist in the writing of the letter if so
requested. The Foster Parent Grievance Petition is provided to all foster parents,
and they are encouraged to submit this to the Agency whenever they have a
comment, concern or question. The form is submitted to the Regional
Supervisor, who will address such concerns upon receipt.

11. The right to be notified in a timely and complete manner of all court
hearings, including notice of the date and time of the court hearing, the
name of the judge, or hearing officer hearing the case, the location of the
hearing, and the court docket number of the case; and the right to
intervene in court proceedings or to seek mandamus under the Juvenile
Court Act of 1987.




                                         15
Method
It is the responsibility of caseworkers to verbally remind foster families of the
upcoming court dates. In addition, DCFS offices send written notification of the
ACRs as a reminder of the verbal confirmation. Foster families are encouraged
to attend court and ACR’s so that they may hear the information firsthand and
provide essential input. Foster parents are encouraged to attend all court
proceedings, not only as an active member of the team, but as an advocate for
the child, as many juvenile judges hold the information foster parents provide to
the court in the highest regard. Caseworkers also introduce court appointed
officials to foster parents at court and explain their role in the child’s case. These
officials include the Assistant State’s Attorney, Guardian Ad Litem (GAL), and
Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). Foster parents may be able to
advocate for children in their care at court through these individuals.

Accountability
All local offices also keep copies of the court docket schedules at the front desk.
This way, receptionists may be able to answer questions pertaining to the date,
time, and location of court hearings. Disciplinary procedures will be utilized if
caseworkers fail to adhere to the notification policy.

12. The right to be considered as a placement option when a foster child
who was formerly placed with the foster parents is to be re-entered into
foster care, if that placement is consistent with the best interest of the child
and other children in the foster parent’s home.

Method for Checking Records
Catholic Charities strongly supports the rights of the child who re-enters the
foster care system. Historically, children that re-enter foster care are placed
again with their previous foster family. The agency agrees with this philosophy
and acknowledges its clinical value. The name and address of the previous
foster parent is included in the child’s closing summary so that the child and the
foster family may be reconnected in the event of the child’s return to the foster
care system. In addition, Catholic Charities maintains a computer-based client
information system, which tracks the child’s placement history. This allows for an
accurate record of the placement history.

Determining Best Interest
Prior to placing a child, a staffing is held to determine need, appropriateness and
service planning. The best interest of the child is discussed from the
perspectives of the caseworker, licensing representative, and the child welfare
supervisor, using the Matching Tool for guidance. The previous foster family is
consulted as soon as possible regarding the potential for returning the child to
this family. Any concerns or special needs are discussed immediately.




                                          16
13. The right to have timely access to the child placement agency’s
existing appeals process and the right to be free from acts of harassment
and retaliation by any other party when exercising the right to appeal.

Internal Appeal System
The agency has developed the Foster Parent Grievance Petition, which
addresses the concerns of foster parents. This was developed through a
cooperative effort with local foster parents. This form along with the standard
operating practices form is given to a foster parent when a grievance has been
expressed.

When the Foster Parent Grievance Petition is received from a foster parent, it
first goes to the supervisor of the local office. If no satisfactory result occurs, it
will be addressed in a meeting with the Diocesan director.

Foster parents have the right to be free from retaliation and harassment from any
Catholic Charities employee when exercising their right to appeal. Any employee
that violates policy could be disciplined, including termination of employment.

Training for Appeals - Foster Parents
Foster parents begin their appeal training during their PRIDE classes. All foster
parents are provided a foster parent manual, which outlines the DCFS Service
Appeal Process, clinical staffings, and fair hearings. Staff members provide
foster parents with the appeal brochure when necessary. The DCFS Advocacy
Office telephone number is also made available to foster parents at the ACR.

All local offices mailed a copy of the appeal brochure with a copy of the 2009
Implementation Plan.

Staff have assisted foster parents with the appeals system by making phone calls
and putting their concerns in writing. Foster parents are referred to the Foster
Parent Handbook for directions in filing an appeal.

Catholic Charities has put the DCFS Appeals Brochure on their website to
make it easily accessible for foster parents.

Training on Appeals - Staff Members
Service appeals are covered in the caseworker training orientation and at the
DCFS Foundation Training. All staff members are directly trained by their
supervisors on the service appeal system. There are periodic trainings on the
appeal system. Supervisors are personally involved in all service appeal
decisions.

Brochures
Service Appeal Brochures are available in local offices. All foster parents are
provided with the DCFS appeals brochures as well as the Catholic Charities



                                           17
Foster Parent Grievance Petition. For those foster parents who have difficulty
reading, staff assistance is available. Spanish brochures are also available.

14. The right to be informed of the Foster Parent Hotline established under
Section 35.6 of the Children and Family Service Act and all of the rights
accorded to foster parents concerning reports of misconduct by
Department employees, service providers, or contractors, confidential
handling of those reports, and investigation by the Inspector General
appointed under Section 35.5 of the Children and Family Services Act.

Brochures & Training on Inspector General
Foster parents are informed of the Child Abuse Hotline, Advocacy Office, and the
Inspector General’s Hotline through the initial PRIDE training as well as the
Foster Parent Manual. Staff members will assist in locating the appropriate
service and phone number. Our agency encourages foster parents to notify the
appropriate sources if misconduct is suspected.

All Hotline phone numbers are also provided to Catholic Charities foster parents
through the Diocesan newsletter, as well as in the foster parent licensing folder.
In addition, foster parents are provided with the CARES line number and the
Medical Consent Phone Number. The Foster Child Resource file provided to all
foster parents also contains Hotline numbers. These same numbers are
reviewed with the licensing representative at an in-person visit.

FOSTER PARENT RESPONSIBILITIES

1. The responsibility to openly communicate and share information about
the child with other members of the child welfare system.

Open Communication
Foster parents are encouraged at all times to contact a licensing representative
or caseworker with questions or concerns about their children. Supervisors are
always available to address these issues as well. A 24 Hour paging cell phone
system is available to foster parents at all times. Foster parents are invited to
family meetings, staffings and periodic forums sponsored by Catholic Charities.
Caseworkers maintain a minimum of one monthly in-home visit with all licensed
foster families, and two monthly home visits per month with unlicensed relatives.
After receiving their license, licensed homes receive monitoring visits that occur
every 6 months.

The agency acknowledges that foster families are usually employed and
appointments have to be scheduled around employment commitments. Catholic
Charities strongly feels that communication is the cornerstone of a productive
working relationship.




                                        18
Training / PRIDE
PRIDE training is an important piece in assisting foster parents in learning how to
access the channels of communication. Module 6, “Working as a Professional
Team Member”, is especially informative, and all foster parents are encouraged
to attend. Foster parents are notified of upcoming module trainings through
mailings and direct contact with their licensing representative. In some local
offices, foster parents are notified in newsletters about additional trainings.
Additionally, some local offices hold monthly trainings.

Foster Parent Contract / Expectations
It is the expectation of Catholic Charities that foster families will meet
caseworkers for monthly home visits and return telephone messages. Foster
families are also expected to notify their caseworker of any emergencies or
unusual incidents. Foster families are encouraged to attend all court hearings,
administrative reviews, family meetings, etc. Foster parents are expected to read
the agency newsletter, as well as regional and local mailings, to facilitate the
sharing of information. All offices have foster parents sign a Foster Parent
Agreement (Appendix O), which clearly outlines the responsibilities of both the
foster parents and the agency.

2. The responsibility to respect the confidentiality of information
concerning foster children and their families and act appropriately within
applicable confidentiality laws and regulations.

Initial and On Going Training on the Importance of Confidentiality
PRIDE classes include confidentiality training in the curriculum. During the initial
interview, training on the importance of confidentiality is reviewed and continues
to be reviewed during the PRIDE pre-service training and as needed by the
licensing representative during the six month monitoring visits. Foster parents
sign the Acknowledgment of Confidentiality form, which is discussed with them
during the licensing process. This is again discussed during the “402 Licensing
Standards” compliance visit.

Laws and Regulations Available to Foster Parents
The rules of confidentiality are discussed during six month monitoring visits. It is
stressed that information relayed to third parties such as, the teacher, daycare
provider or mentor should be on a need to know basis. This need to know basis
is discussed and clarified with the licensing representative and caseworker.

The Confidentiality Guideline has been developed by DCFS to answer the most
frequently asked questions about appropriate disclosures between foster parents
and other individuals. The Guideline is made available to all foster care
providers in the foster parent licensing folder and the foster child resource folder.




                                         19
If it appears that confidentiality has been violated, a licensing investigation can
ensue. The rights and responsibilities are made available to foster parents under
investigation.

3. The responsibility to advocate for children in the foster parent’s care.

Educational Advocacy Training
In accordance with state law, it is the agency’s expectation that at least one
foster parent complete the six-hour Educational Advocacy training. Educational
Advocacy provides foster parents with the knowledge to advocate for the
educational rights and needs of the foster child. This class also covers the topic
of special education that is needed for some children. The licensing
representatives assist in registering foster parents for the training. Catholic
Charities requires foster parents to complete Educational Advocacy within the
first year of licensure. Catholic Charities will not renew a license until they have
completed the Educational Advocacy training.

After completing Educational Advocacy, the foster parents participate in
the educational plans for the child. This includes working with school
personnel and attending meetings. Foster parents also work one on one
with the caseworker to update the educational records.

Both the east and west regions of the Diocese have Educational Liaisons,
whose job is to assist the foster parent in advocating for the child’s rights
within the school system. These Liaisons receive state training and
support on a monthly basis, and are available to assist with foster parent
concerns. Educational Liaisons are also available to meet with the
caseworker on a regular basis and attend school staffings as needed.
These liaisons do the majority of their work with children with special
education needs and work with the school in preparing an Individualized
Education Program (IEP) along with the foster parents.

Court Training
During PRIDE Training Session 2, foster parents learn about the Juvenile Court
System, including hearing types and responsibilities of all parties involved. Also,
the “Foster Family Handbook”, Section 2, offers a lengthy description of the
Juvenile Court System in Illinois. Caseworkers offer informal training about the
court system to foster parents as needed on an individual basis. All foster
parents are provided with names and phone numbers of the Juvenile Assistant
State’s Attorney and GAL. Some children are also assigned a Court Appointed
Special Advocate (CASA) in addition to the GAL, to provide further
representation for the child in court. Foster parents are also given the CASA’s
contact information. It is the agency’s expectation that foster parents will attend
court with their children whenever possible.




                                         20
Appeal System
All foster parents receive the “Foster Family Handbook” in PRIDE classes. This
handbook addresses the right to appeal decisions regarding children. DCFS
appeal brochures are available to all foster parents, and caseworkers or
supervisors may be able to assist foster parents in filing an appeal. Catholic
Charities encourages foster parents to be an advocate for the child and supports
the appeals process whenever necessary.

Encouragement
As a member of the team, it is an expectation that the foster parent will want to
participate in all staffings, ACRs, Child and Youth Investment Team, CAYIT,
court, etc., as an advocate for the child. However, Catholic Charities
understands that there may be barriers for foster parents attending these
functions. Catholic Charities may provide transportation to foster parents, when
needed, for these functions. During other activities foster parents attend,
caseworkers and case aides may even provide short-term childcare for the
wards. Any barrier to advocating for a child should be addressed during family
meetings, home visits, or phone conversations with staff so that the team may
problem-solve a means to address such barriers. In addition, Catholic Charities
strives to honor foster parents requests for additional training on how to advocate
for children.

4. The responsibility to treat children in the foster parent’s care and the
children’s families with dignity, respect and consideration.

Initial and Ongoing Training on this Topic
All children, whether biological or foster children, need to be treated with respect
and courtesy. Foster parents are trained to never speak in a negative manner
about the biological family members. A discussion on the ramifications of
negative comments is initiated in the PRIDE training, as well as the importance of
working with the biological family. If necessary, the agency provides additional
training to foster parents regarding working with the biological family.
Caseworkers also review with unlicensed caregivers the importance of not
criticizing or insulting biological parents.

Caseworkers work together with foster families to always hold the dignity and
respect of children in their families in the highest regard. This is done through
regular in-home contact between all members of the child welfare team.
Additionally, the foster parent surveys are a valuable tool in determining agency
performance in this area.

Catholic Charities has designed the Mutual Rights Form (Appendix P). This form
outlines the standards by which all children should be treated while in foster
placement. Foster parents are asked to sign this form during the initial licensing
process.




                                         21
Monitoring by Staff Charged with Case Management
Catholic Charities views respect and dignity of the children with the highest
regard. When a prospective foster parent inquires with our agency, they receive
an initial information packet, which outlines the foster parent responsibilities as
well as emphasizes the need for respect and dignity.

It is ultimately the responsibility of the caseworker to monitor children in
placement. This monitoring ensures that all children are treated with respect and
dignity. Concerns over this issue should be brought to a supervisor immediately
so that they can be addressed in a timely fashion.

Clinical staffings are used as an avenue to help determine the best decisions for
each child and biological family. Input is gathered from all members of the
professional team. Consideration is given to everyone’s point of view.

5. The responsibility to recognize the foster parent’s own individual and
familial strengths and limitations when deciding whether to accept a child
into care; and the responsibilities to recognize the foster parent’s own
support needs and utilize appropriate supports in providing care for foster
children.

Mutual Assessment Method
While attending the PRIDE classes the licensing representative will explain to the
potential foster parent the skills involved in becoming foster/adoptive parents.
This enables the foster parents to make an informed decision regarding the
choice to foster children. Also during this time, the licensing representative will
work with the foster parents to decide which age, gender and types of behaviors
they feel that they can handle as a family.

Throughout the licensing process, licensing representatives are mutually
assessing the foster parents in the five competency categories that are the focus
of the PRIDE training. Using in-home discussions, the home study interview
process and the PRIDE homework and trainers’ notes, licensing representatives
gauge the foster parents’ strengths and weaknesses in each competency. If a
licensing worker detects a weakness in any of the competency categories, the
worker may then refer the foster parent to a Module training session that would
strengthen their specific need.

Foster parent assessment is an ongoing process. The foster care caseworkers
and the licensing representatives speak on a regular basis as to the success of
placements, foster parent coping skills and general progress in placements. All
members of the child welfare team are available to work with foster parents to
encourage successful and stable placements.




                                         22
Training Based on Assessments
The PRIDE training “Connections” are valuable tools for the licensing
representatives to help the foster parent identify training needs. Once a need
has been identified, the licensing representative can select from a vast array of
resources and direct the foster parent to the training tool that best fits their
needs.

Other tools for identifying foster parent training needs are Foster Care Alliance
groups. Some local offices participate in these alliances, which are comprised of
caseworkers, foster parents and administrators. The alliance organizes trainings
based on the needs that are identified by local foster parents.

After training, there is ongoing mutual assessment between Catholic Charities
and the foster parents. Foster parents are encouraged to continuously re-
evaluate the types of behaviors, the ages, and the gender of children that they
believe will draw upon their family strengths. Moreover, the licensing
representatives work with the families to help with the specific needs each family
has, i.e. specialized trainings, community resources, etc.

Placements Based on Strengths
As foster parents become more experienced, they develop their verbal
communication skills, become better at assessing situations that arise, and
develop more realistic expectations of the children in their care. As these skills
strengthen over a period of time, the confidence of the foster parent grows,
enabling them to take on more challenging children.

Catholic Charities continues to utilize the IEPA matching tool and the Child
Profile form to assist in determining the most appropriate placement. The
matching tool has been beneficial in helping the agency, as well as the foster
parents, determine individual family strengths and weaknesses. Catholic
Charities has discovered that the use of these tools has minimized placement
disruptions by over 30%.
Support Needs Addressed
Caseworkers and supervisors assist foster parents on an individual basis to
identify their and strengths and weaknesses in dealing with their children. After
this evaluation, training opportunities and supports are developed. (i.e., SASS or
CARES, Systems of Care, counseling, etc.)) When difficult situations develop in
the home, foster parents are always encouraged to share these issues with the
caseworker as soon as possible. This way, supports can be put in place before
the situation becomes unmanageable. When appropriate, foster families can be
referred to counseling sessions offered through the Catholic Charities counseling
office free of charge.

6. The responsibility to be aware of the benefits of relying on and affiliating
with other foster parents and foster parent associations in improving the
quality of care and service to children and families.



                                         23
Local Support Groups
Catholic Charities encourages foster families to attend monthly foster parent
support groups. Information about these local support groups is offered during
PRIDE training and through local mailings. The agency also encourages foster
parents to mentor other new foster parents. Local foster care alliances meet
regularly to plan and assist in recruitment and transmitting information for the
regions. The agency participates with DCFS and other private agencies to
provide this service to foster parents.

State/National Groups
Fostering Illinois and the Foster Care Journal are excellent sources of
information, and copies of these newsletters are mailed to each foster parent.
Some local offices provide a national foster care magazine at the office as well.
Catholic Charities foster parents attended the state fair and state foster parent
conferences.

7. The responsibility to assess the foster parent’s on-going individual
training needs and take action to meet those needs.

Assessment Strategy
Initially, foster parents identify training needs during PRIDE training and at visits
during the licensing process. The IEPA Matching Tool is also used to assist in
this identification process. Catholic Charities Quality Assurance spends time
interviewing foster parents when conducting the federal child welfare audits. In
addition, the Quality Assurance office conducts random monthly telephone
surveys to receive feedback on foster parent satisfaction and suggestions. At
this time foster parents are encouraged to discuss concerns in service delivery.
Foster parents are encouraged to be open and honest about their needs. They
are also encouraged to participate in additional PRIDE training modules as they
confront difficult issues in fostering children. Members of the child welfare team
are trained to address concerns as they arise and to share these concerns on a
professional level.

On-Going Training
The Lending Library brochures are given to each foster parent during their
PRIDE training. These brochures are also mailed to the foster parent upon
request. PRIDE module trainings are also mailed to foster parents. The agency’s
Foster Parent Feedback survey requests suggestions for future trainings. It is
the intention of the survey to assess the training needs of foster parents and
provide the opportunity to become better informed and access specific training as
needed. From suggestions gathered from surveys and interviews, Catholic
Charities offer trainings as needed. These trainings have proven to be beneficial
to foster parents by addressing some of their concerns. Childcare services are
offered free of charge during trainings. Foster parents are also encouraged at




                                          24
this time to offer support to one another. Foster parents are encouraged to take
at least four hours of training a year.

8. The responsibility to develop and assist in implementing strategies to
prevent placement disruptions, recognizing the traumatic impact of
placement disruptions on a foster child and all members of the foster
family; and the responsibility to provide emotional support for the foster
children and members of the foster family if preventive strategies fail and
placement disruption occurs.

Method of Early Identification of Children at Risk of Disrupting or Creating
Disruption in the Family
As members of the team, foster parents help identify placement problems and
cooperate with services such as SASS or CARES and Systems of Care (SOC).
Their cooperation with counselors and therapists is necessary for the successful
development of a positive placement experience. During monthly home visits,
the caseworkers discuss any new or ongoing issues that are occurring in the
home and affecting the stability of the placement. Between visits the foster
parents are encouraged to notify the caseworker as soon as possible of any
developing issues so that they can be addressed in a timely manner, optimally
before escalation occurs. Foster parents are encouraged to communicate with
the caseworker in order to ensure proper referrals to services.

The caseworker and supervisor identify children who are felt to be at-risk for
multiple placement disruption. These children are referred to System of Care
prior to moving to the next home.

Throughout the process continuation of a case, Catholic Charities makes the
appropriate service referrals for counseling, developmental screening and special
education case study. The agency’s policy is to ensure the health and well being
of any child under our care.


Support for Foster Children and Family Member if Preventative Strategies Fail
In PRIDE classes, foster parents are informed that foster children may be more
difficult to work with than biological children. However, both should be treated
equally. They are also instructed on how to address the specific needs of foster
children entering their home. In addition, before a child is placed, agency staff
members identify families that best meet specific foster children’s needs by using
the Matching Tool. All of these measures are taken in order to ensure the most
stable placement for a child.

The agency suggests that foster parents request respite services when stressors
become overwhelming. Each Child and Family Team will work together to assist
the family in coping with difficult and disruptive situations. In the event that a
foster family feels that they are unable to meet the needs of their foster child,



                                        25
foster parents are encouraged to abide by the two-week notice ruling, unless
there are extenuating circumstances. This two week time period allows the
agency the opportunity to offer services that may preserve the placement or
allows the agency time to look for another appropriate home that will be better
able to meet the child’s needs.

Training in Purpose and Availability of Stabilization Services through Systems of
Care
As was previously mentioned, the child resource folder includes information and
accessibility of SASS and Systems of Care. Caseworkers will assist in the initial
referral for such services. Twenty-four hour cell phone services may be used for
all emergency situations, such as adoption issues, counseling needs and general
case management crises. Each local office has a directory of services in the
community that may be used by foster families at any time. It is the responsibility
of the foster parent to request such service referrals from the child’s caseworker.
Trainings about the SOC and respite programs are also presented through the
agency. Attendance at these trainings helps foster parents better utilize the
program.

9. The responsibility to know the impact foster parenting has on
individuals and family relationships; and the responsibility to endeavor to
minimize, as much as possible, any stress that results from foster
parenting.

Recognizing and Minimizing Stress
During PRIDE and foster parent trainings, family stressors and respite care are
discussed and foster parents are taught to be aware of potential problems. One
of the most beneficial ways to deal with stress is to get families and kids involved
in services. Monthly visits with caseworkers offer an opportunity to identify ways
to cope with daily stress including referrals to different services. Foster parents
who are involved in numerous services have a greater chance of successful
placements. Catholic Charities also encourages foster parents to associate with
one another through local support groups, and to share childcare responsibilities.
This informal support system will allow them to utilize one another’s strengths
and decrease stress levels.

Respite Services
Paid respite is offered to any foster parent demonstrating need, such as a death
in the family, medical emergency, stress management, or for attending special
trainings such as the Foster Parent Conference. It is requested that the foster
parent contact their licensing representative or caseworker as soon as they know
that they will need respite services. If a foster parent knows other licensed foster
parents, they are encouraged to contact these foster homes themselves. If a
foster parent does not know of any other foster families, then the licensing
representative will find the respite placement for the family.




                                         26
Enrollment in local community activities and programs, such as Community
Centers or the YMCA, is recommended for after school needs, or when parents
need time to themselves. Day care is provided for working foster parents and is
paid by DCFS. Mentoring and tutoring services are often provided for children
with educational needs. It is necessary for foster parents to communicate their
needs for services to the Child Welfare Team. Caseworkers, licensing
representatives and supervisors are happy to address these needs with foster
parents.

Voluntary Hold
All foster parents have the opportunity to request a voluntary hold be placed on
their home both with the agency and with DCFS Office of Licensure. A hold must
be requested to the licensing representative in writing. The letter should contain
the date when the hold will begin as well as a tentative date when the licensing
hold can be lifted. The home will continue to appear on the availability list, but a
status listing will report that home is on hold. During the time of the voluntary
hold, the licensing representative will not contact that home for placement
purposes. The licensing representative will continue to complete all licensing
requirements and the caseworkers will continue their monthly casework visits
with children placed in the home. This service is provided to relieve the stresses
that a family may endure during their licensure.

Counseling and Other Supports
Counseling is offered to foster families who request the service. The counseling
is provided through the agency at no charge to the family. Offices that retain
parenting educators offer parenting classes on an individual or group basis,
again at no charge to foster parents. In offices that contain no parenting staff,
foster parents may be reimbursed for tuition for parenting classes. Catholic
Charities encourages foster parents to get to know the other foster parents in
their area. Catholic Charities believes that foster parents offer a means of
support to one another that staff are not always able to provide.

10. The responsibility to know the rewards and benefits to children,
parents, families, and society that come from foster parenting and to
promote the foster parenting experience in a positive way.

Foster Parents Informed of Events/Activities that Acknowledge and Support
Foster Parents and Participation is Encouraged
The agency invites foster parents to speak at recruiting sessions or community
events. Foster parents are encouraged to attend the local regional foster parent
advisory council and attend state foster parenting conferences. Catholic
Charities welcomes their assistance in recruiting and believes that word of mouth
is the best recruiting technique. Catholic Charities believes that recruiting starts
with good retention rates. To ensure that our foster families feel valued and
supported, the agency has held picnics, back-to-school fairs and seasonal
parties that foster parents and children are invited to attend. Tickets are given for



                                         27
local sports teams, water parks, circuses, etc. Direct mailings and
announcements in the newsletter keep families informed of these activities. In
addition, individual invitations are sent to each foster family. Foster Parent
Appreciation Dinners are held in some area offices to show appreciation for
foster parents’ dedication to our program.

Training in Public Relations Aspect of Foster Parenting is Made Available
Within the agency, the licensing representatives have presented programs, which
explain the many benefits of foster parenting. Some of these programs were
sponsored by current foster parents who desired to relay their positive
experiences about the foster care system.

Some local offices collaborate with local churches to provide information for
potential foster parents. The Special Gifts Seminar is sponsored by a local
church and was created in part by a Catholic Charities foster parent. Current
foster parents share their experiences with those interested in foster care and
adoption. Representatives from Catholic Charities also attend this seminar.

11. The responsibility to know the roles, rights, and responsibilities of
foster parents, other professionals in the child welfare system, the foster
child, and the foster child’s own family.

Training/Co-Training
Catholic Charities takes an active role in teaching foster parents the roles, rights,
and responsibilities of members of the professional team.

During PRIDE training, the final panel discussion is set up in an open forum style.
Foster parents can ask questions of DCFS and private agency staff. This has
been extremely helpful to new foster parents. Casework and licensing staff may
participate in PRIDE trainings with the foster family to expand the learning
experience. This is provided on an individual basis as needed.

Aside from PRIDE, there are other training materials available to foster parents.
The Lending Library allows for foster parents to borrow books, cassettes, and
videos for additional training. All foster parents are on mailing lists for statewide
newsletters, which include information for additional support groups, trainings,
conferences and changes in licensing standards. Counseling and parent training
services as offered through Catholic Charities for foster parents may be provided
as well.

Both staff and foster parents are encouraged to attend trainings sponsored by
the Catholic Charities offices. Free childcare is provided at these trainings by the
agency, as well as an opportunity for foster parents to network with Catholic
Charities staff and other members of the foster parent community. Generally, if
space is available, foster parents from all agencies are welcome to these events.




                                         28
Team Meetings
Foster families are considered significant members of the child welfare team, and
are asked to participate in all Child & Family Teams, ACR’s, counseling staffings
for children, school staffings and various other meetings. Family meetings are
held quarterly and before every ACR. Clinical and school staffings are held on
an as needed basis. Foster parents also have a right to ask that a family
meeting or staffing be held at any time. Foster parents not only work
collaboratively with the caseworker, but with all members of the child and family
team as well. During the meetings, all participants clarify their roles and
responsibilities.

Foster Parent Voice
Catholic Charities believes that foster parents provide helpful insight into the
decisions of the agency. The agency surveys the foster families at least annually
to facilitate Quality Assurance goals. All feedback must be documented and
addressed through the Quality Assurance Office, according to the Council on
Accreditation standards. A monthly phone survey instituted by the Quality
Assurance office to 10% of agency foster parents provides feedback. Any
concerns must be addressed immediately by the Assistant Regional Director. All
feedback is reported to the Council on Accreditation. Agency foster parents, as
well as DCFS and other agency participants, are invited to read and develop the
annual Implementation Plan with the Licensing Committee.

12. The responsibility to know and, as necessary, fulfill the foster parent’s
responsibility to serve as a mandated reporter of suspected child abuse or
neglect under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act; and the
responsibility to know the child welfare agency’s policy regarding
allegations that foster parents have committed child abuse or neglect and
applicable administrative rules and procedures governing investigations of
those allegations.

Training, Initial and Ongoing, Including Sexually Abusive Children and Youth
Reporting Responsibility
Allegations of neglect/abuse are explained in PRIDE training and in one-on-one
training for unlicensed homes. Caseworkers stress to foster parents the
importance of contacting the Hotline for possible abuse/neglect situations.
Foster parents are also encouraged to keep accurate documentation of possible
abuse and of children’s reaction to visits, etc. If needed or desired, casework
staff will assist in making the Hotline Report, using the Manual for Mandated
Reporters. Since 1999, Catholic Charities has provided a copy of the Manual for
Mandated Reporters (June, 1998) to all foster parents. This excellent manual
outlines the necessary steps on reporting responsibilities. The Manual for
Mandated Reporters is provided to all new foster parents during the licensing
process.




                                       29
Written Foster Parent Acknowledgement/Contract
All foster parents are obligated to sign the Acknowledgement of Mandated
Reporter Status form during the licensing process. During the initial licensing
process, the licensing representative explains the acknowledgment of Mandated
Reporter form and answers all questions related to the form. The Mandated
Reporter training booklet is also presented at the same time.

Training Involving Allegations Against Foster Parents and the Applicable Rules
and Regulations Which Govern the Investigation of the Allegations
All foster parents have their rights and responsibilities explained to them at the
beginning of the investigation by their licensing representative. The agency
provides foster parents with a letter outlining their rights (Appendix L). These
same guidelines are outlined in the PRIDE class and in the Foster Parent
Handbook.

13. The responsibility to know and receive training regarding the purpose
of administrative case reviews, client service plans, and court processes,
as well as any filing or time requirements associated with those
proceedings; and the responsibility to actively participate in the foster
parent’s designated role in these proceedings.

Training
As was previously stated, the PRIDE curriculum teaches many of the above-
mentioned tasks. The agency and the caseworkers are available to explain
specific details about this complex process. The agency has legal counsel that
may also be made available to assist in understanding the legal system. Some
local offices provide court trainings specifically tailored to explaining court
processes and answering foster parent questions. The Foster Family Handbook
is a wonderful reference for the above issues, and staff will assist in reading or
interpreting these materials as needed.

The PRIDE training addresses the importance for good record keeping, as well
as outlining the type of records that should or could be kept. Both the licensing
representative and the foster care caseworkers will periodically discuss and/or
assess with the foster parents the records maintained for the child and for the
family. At family meetings, foster parents are frequently offered copies of such
documents for their files, and are welcome to request the same. Conversely,
staff may periodically request informational documents from the foster parents,
but will copy them and return these documents to the foster parent. This sharing
of records facilitates timely responses to needs such as medical, dental, or legal
procedures.

Foster Parent Attendance
All foster parents are encouraged to attend ACR’s and court hearings, and are
notified by mail or personal contact of these important events. Caseworkers will




                                         30
transport foster families to these meetings by request and will provide the
necessary information and service plans when attendance is not possible.

14. The responsibility to know the child welfare agency’s appeal procedure
for foster parents and the rights of foster parents under the procedure.

Awareness of Agency’s Internal Appeal Systems and Utilizations
Catholic Charities has defined a set of grievance procedures, and the Foster
Parent Grievance Petition has been mailed to every foster family. This
procedure was developed with the input of local foster parents. Catholic
Charities initially distributes the grievance procedure in the foster parent licensing
folder. It is also annually distributed with the revised Implementation Plan. Any
foster parent who feels that they have been treated unfairly may contact the
office child welfare supervisor. A face-to-face meeting will be scheduled, and a
grievance petition can be filled out at this time. The Foster Parent Grievance
Petition ensures that the rights of the foster parents, as written in the foster
parent law, are being met. This form was developed using input from foster
parents. The form is mailed to every foster family, and it is available on this
agency’s website. If the issue is not resolved with the child welfare supervisor,
the foster parent can mail the Foster Parent Grievance Petition to the agency.
This form will then be given directly to the agency’s regional Diocesan director.
The agency states a sincere commitment to resolve conflict before escalating to
a higher level and to resolve the matter within 30 days of the filing of a grievance.
This procedure is available to all foster parents. If a foster parent wishes to file
an appeal with the State of Illinois, the caseworker or licensing representative will
direct them to the Advocacy Office or the Office of Quality Assurance.

The DCFS appeal process is also available to all foster parents, and the process
is explained in the PRIDE training. The Appeals Brochure is mailed out or
delivered to families with the annual Implementation Plan upon request, and if a
foster parent decides to file an appeal, the agency supplies the foster parent with
an additional copy of the brochure.

Rights of Foster Parents Spelled Out
Catholic Charities strongly endorses and supports the Foster Parents Rights as
outlined by Public Act 89.19. Catholic Charities recognizes the right to training
and the right to be treated in a dignified manner as examples of these rights.
Effective as of November 2001, a copy of these rights is placed in all Foster Child
Resource Folders.

15. The responsibility to know and understand the importance of
maintaining accurate and relevant records regarding the child’s history and
progress; and the responsibility to be aware of and follow the procedures
and regulations of the child welfare agency with which the foster parent is
licensed or affiliated.




                                          31
Records to Keep
Catholic Charities foster parents are expected to keep accurate and current
monthly entries in their child’s resource folder and show these records to the
caseworker. This folder contributes to the sharing of information to other
members of the team. Records are to be maintained to allow a smooth flow of
information during placement changes and to allow caseworkers to make
informed decisions. It is also the expectation that they will contact their
caseworker as necessary with any changes in the child’s behavioral, educational
and medical needs. Records that are to be kept by foster parents are outlined in
the foster child resource folder, and include the medical, educational, behavioral,
clothing and allowance logs, and other records as needed. These expectations
are given to foster parents at the time of placement and records are checked at
the home visits.

Method of Record-Keeping
The foster child resource folders are given to all foster parents at the time of
placement or shortly thereafter. These folders contain forms on which to keep all
necessary records. These folders should be updated monthly, and shown to the
caseworker at each home visit.

PRIDE training and Licensing Standards 402 outline the necessity for foster
parent record keeping. The agency supplies the materials for foster child folders,
but the foster parent may add any pertinent paperwork as they see fit. This
folder travels with the child to each placement. If a child arrives without a child
resource folder, the caseworker should be contacted immediately for a
replacement.

16. The responsibility to share information, through the child welfare team,
with the subsequent caregiver (whether the child’s parents or another
substitute caregiver) regarding the child’s adjustment in the foster parent’s
home.

Training on this Expectation is Offered
The agency strongly encourages pre-placement visits, as well as pre-placement
telephone contact between caregivers. If at all possible, potential caregivers
meet with previous caregivers and discuss the child and their specific behaviors.
In an effort to accomplish a successful transition, adhering to the two-week notice
is significant. When this type of communication is not possible or desirable, the
child welfare team works together to promote the successful transfer of
information to the new family. The new foster parents are encouraged to contact
schools, counselors, and other service providers. The names and phone
numbers of these individuals are provided by the caseworker. The caseworker
will review the Foster Child Resource Folder with the new foster parent and
explain any gaps in information or additional needs.




                                        32
17. The responsibility to provide care and services that are respective of
and responsive to the child’s cultural needs and are supportive of the
relationship between the child and his or her own family; the responsibility
to recognize the increased importance of maintaining a child’s cultural
identity when the race or culture of the foster family differs from that of the
foster child; and the responsibility to take action to address these issues.

Training
PRIDE module #7, “Promoting Children’s Personal and Cultural Identity”, is
offered to any foster parent participating in a cross-cultural placement. The
agency has one trainer to provide this training, or the foster parents may choose
to participate in local classes. Catholic Charities provides ethnic hair and skin
care classes, as well as instructional brochures. Many of the local foster parents
have cross-cultural placement experience and are used as reference/support
people for new families. New foster families are referred to the local foster
parent support groups both during PRIDE and through the child welfare staff.

Resources
The agency will provide individual in-home training to cross-cultural foster
families upon request. The agency will provide speakers for special groups or
make referrals to local churches and cultural centers for additional support. The
agency encourages participation in local ethnic/cultural events to expand
knowledge and broaden understanding. Foster parents are asked to be culturally
sensitive to the children placed in the home, with special attention to such things
as books, toys, music and videos.

Additional Components

1. Some foster parents, both licensed and unlicensed, were interviewed for their
input on the foster parent Implementation Plan. All interviews were held in the
caregiver’s home at their convenience. Uniform questions were asked of all
caregivers to promote consistency and measure the strengths and weaknesses
of each office. Each participant was able to give input on the plan. All
suggestions were reviewed and implemented for the development of the new
foster parent plan.

2. Each local office held interviews for the staff regarding the Implementation
Plan. Separate meetings were held with supervisors and administrators. The
Diocesan Licensing Committee met on a regular basis in creating the plan
(Appendix Q). Additionally, agency administrators and supervisors reviewed and
approved the plan (Appendix R). Both criticisms and positive input were
considered in writing the 2009 Implementation Plan. All child welfare staff
(caseworkers, supervisors, administrators, case-aides, educational liaisons, and
clerical staff) participate in an annual review of the Implementation Plan,
developing and enhancing the previous plan. Staff is encouraged to make
suggestions that will enhance the team spirit of the foster care program, meet



                                        33
foster parent needs, and enrich the quality of life for the children in care. All staff
is encouraged to express these ideas at weekly staff meetings and individual
supervision.

3. Sign in sheets were completed for the input from all foster parent interviews
(Appendix S). Also, foster parents were asked to fill out feedback surveys as
discussed before and Implementation Plan Feedback Forms anonymously.

4. Foster parent interviews were held during the writing of the Foster Parent
Implementation Plan 2009 to provide an opportunity for foster parents to make
suggestions and comments. Those suggestions were used in the writing and
revision of the new plan. Once the draft was written, the foster parents who
participated in the interviews were allowed to further participate in reviewing and
revising the final plan. The licensing representatives made personal home visits
to these families in order to facilitate this participation. The Sign-Off Approval
Form was designed to give these foster parents an opportunity to formalize their
approval of the Plan’s design and content. These signatures acknowledge the
Foster Parent’s participation as a member of the Implementation Plan Committee
in the development of this year’s plan (Appendix T).

5. The Implementation Plan was posted on the Diocesan Website
(www.ccrfd.org/imp09.htm). The general public as well as foster parents were
invited to read the plan and provide input. Feedback could have been mailed or
sent via e-mail. In addition, input for the plan was requested from the general
public through an article published in the Catholic Newspaper, The Observer,
and parish bulletins. Catholic Charities also contacted local Catholic churches to
ask for input into the plan. Inserts were placed in the weekly church bulletins.
Interested individuals were mailed the Implementation Plan Response Form
Some local offices offered Implementation Plans to the community by creating a
public display at Catholic Charities.

6. The weekly staff meetings offer opportunities for brainstorming these issues.
Licensing representatives formally report on their program at every meeting,
offering an open forum for program development. Staff training on each
Implementation Plan offers occasions for input on changing and developing a
viable plan.

Catholic Charities also has reviewed surveys gathered throughout the year from
foster parents. All input is assessed and appropriate changes are implemented.
Survey response has been overwhelming. All responses have been provided to
every worker for them to review to help them be aware of agency strengths and
weaknesses.

7. Catholic Charities hosted a foster parent interviews to discuss the annual
Implementation Plan in detail in the foster parent’s home at their convenience.
During this meeting, Catholic Charities asks foster parents to state their concerns



                                          34
and offer suggestions for any changes that should be made to the plan. Catholic
Charities also asks the foster parents to fill out an Implementation Plan
Response Form to allow anonymity of responses. Our Foster Parent Grievance
Petition was updated in 2009 through the foster parent forum that was conducted
as part of the input from a previous Foster Parent Implementation Plan. Foster
parents provided all input on the wording and the procedures for this form.

If the foster parents have any further concerns or suggestions for the
Implementation Plan after it has been distributed, they are encouraged to contact
their licensing representative and/or fill out an Implementation Plan Feedback
Form.

8. The Foster Parent Grievance Petition is included in every Implementation
Plan appendix, and mailed to every foster family each year. They are available
at each agency office for foster parent convenience, and a copy may be obtained
from any staff member. Foster parents can obtain a copy of the Foster Parent
Grievance Petition from our website. The foster parent grievance petition was
also mailed out to all foster parents. Catholic Charities feels that by having the
form on the website, as well as mailing the form to each house, the form can
easily be accessed at any time. Foster parents can fill out the form and email it
to the appropriate individual who will then address the grievance.

The licensing representatives are willing to assist the foster parent with this
process at their request. Every new foster parent is advised personally of this
right, and explained the process when they obtain their foster parent license.
The Foster Parent Grievance Petition is also in the foster child resource folder
and the licensing resource folder, which is given to every new foster parent at the
final compliance home visit of the licensing process. Reminders of the process
are put into newsletters.

If a foster parent wants to file a grievance against the agency, a face-to-face
meeting with the agency supervisor will be scheduled, and a Foster Parent
Grievance Petition can be filled out at this time.




                                         35

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Tags:
Stats:
views:14
posted:11/23/2011
language:English
pages:35