Family Centered Casework and Planning

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					          TDCS Standards of Professional Practice:
               A Summary of Key Changes
The purpose of this document is to provide a quick reference that identifies the salient sections of the
TDCS Standards of Practice for Serving Children and Families. This document is not comprehensive;
rather, it highlights areas of the practice model that represent the most significant changes in practice,
structure and organizational culture.

TDCS’s Guiding Principles for Professional Practice

    Guiding Principle 1: Unified Purpose
    DCS’s primary responsibilities are to prevent child maltreatment, promote child and family well-
    being, and aid and prepare youthful offenders in becoming constructive members of their

    Guiding Principle 2: Urgency of Child’s Needs
    DCS practice will be driven by a sense of urgency related to each child’s unique needs for safety,
    permanence, stability and well-being.

    Guiding Principle 3: Individualized Planning for Permanency
    DCS will provide flexible, intensive and individualized services to children and families in order
    to preserve, reunify or create families.

    Guiding Principle 4: Family-Centered Casework and Case Planning
    DCS will utilize a family-centered case planning model that encourages, respects and
    incorporates input from the children and families it serves.

    Guiding Principle 5: Systemic Continuity of Care
    DCS will work with communities, organizations, and institutions to build and maintain a seamless
    and effective system of service delivery that produces measurable, positive outcomes for children
    and families.

    Guiding Principle 6: Constructive Organizational Culture
    DCS will model a constructive organizational culture that is culturally competent and will attract
    and sustain qualified, trained and competent staff.

    Guiding Principle 7: Equal Access to Services
    DCS will provide the best available and appropriate services to all children in care, without
    regard to age, race, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation or legal classification.

    Guiding Principle 8: Reduction of Trauma to Child
    DCS will strive to recognize and minimize the trauma children experience while in Departmental

    Guiding Principle 9: Best Interests of Child as Paramount
    DCS will consider the totality of circumstances to make decisions that are in the best interests of
    each child and will not apply any single principle or standard of practice if in so doing a negative
    outcome for the child would result.
Constructive Organizational Culture

CHAPTER II - Practice Standards Related To DCS Agency Structure, Role Definitions,
And Internal Communications

Part 1 - Organizational Culture
         Professional and ethical workforce with a unified purpose
         Collaborative decision-making practices
         Departmental accountability for work of contract providers
         Comprehensive, written cultural competency plan

Part 2 - Function and Responsibilities of Central Office
         Champions of guiding principles and standards of professional practice
         Providers of supportive resources and technical assistance
         Developers of global plans identifying priorities and framework for actions
         Facilitators of communication and feedback loops
         Base of operations for quality control

Part 3 - Functions and Responsibilities of Regional Offices
         Regional Administrators build regional management teams to:
             1. Develop and implement plans that establish regional service priorities and subsequent funding
                 allocation strategies
             2. Develop and work with community advisory groups to identify and respond to critical areas
                 of concern and service gaps within the local communities
             3. Work with community partners to develop broad-based, developmentally-oriented systems of
                 service and support
         Regional front-line supervisors teach and ensure quality of family-centered practice
         Regional front-line staff work with a clear sense of urgency and purpose related to child’s needs

Part 4 - Information Management and Usage
         Reliable data guiding planning, policy and decision-making
         Clearly defined and manageable performance indicators
         Timely release of relevant information
         System-wide accountability for specified outcomes

Part 5 - Fiscal Issues and Resource Utilization
         Funding stream maximization to support family-centered, needs-based service delivery
         Outcome-oriented reimbursement and incentive methodologies
         Creative collaboration between regions and between DCS and community partners

Part 6 - Quality Control and Improvement
         Continuous Quality Improvement as a prevention and support tool
         Highlights and rewards effective practices and system performance
         Use of quantitative and qualitative assessment processes

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Constructive Organizational Culture
CHAPTER III - Practice Standards Related To Collaboration, Community Relations
And External Communications

Part 1 – Collaboration, Community Relations and External Communications in
         Shared accountabilty for measurable improvements
         State-wide collaboration for promoting the general welfare of children
         Use of community-based resources and services

Part 2 - Collaboration and Community Relations with Resource Families
         Resource families as specialized permanency resources
         Targeted recruitment strategy for community-based resource families
         Dual training and certification processes for foster care and adoption
         Specialized training and expedited approval for kinship resource parents

Part 3 - Collaboration and Community Relations with Contract Agencies
         Purchase of service framework that incorporates new model of practice
         Performance-based contracts that are outcome-oriented
         Provider manual that clearly and cogently defines expectations
         Mutual partnership between DCS and contract agencies

Part 4 - Collaboration and Community Relations with Volunteers
         Well-run, dynamic volunteer program

Part 5 - Collaboration and Community Relations with Governmental and Institutional
         Collective investment for improving cross-system and cross-community components

CHAPTER IV - Practice Standards Related To Professional Competency And

Part 1 - Training and Professional Development
         Skills-based training of personnel at all levels
         Measureable, principles-centered competencies for evaluation
         Access to regular supervision, clinical consultation and case review

Part 2 – Recruitment and Retention of Direct Service Staff
         Seeks applicants possessing social work skills and family-centered philosophy
         Supervisors have equal or greater practice competence than supervisees
         Written plan for competent employee retention

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 Structures And Mechanisms For Seamless Provision Of Services

CHAPTER V – Practice Standards Related To Case Processing

Part 1 – Reporting and Referral
         State-wide Centralized Intake
         Written screening protocol and structured decision-making tools that promote accurate gathering,
         assessment and documention of referral information needed to determine appropriate and effective
         agency response

Part 2 – Case Opening
         One CPS case manager committed to each child and family until case closure or until the case is
         referred for ongoing case management
         One ongoing case manager committed to each child and family thereafter
         Child and Family Team members committed to support child, family and case manager
         Child and Family Team Meetings at critical junctures in the life of the case
         Functional family assessment for ongoing planning and decision making

Part 3 – Case Transfer
         Face to face transfer meetings involving critical parties
         Completion of a transfer checklist and summary TN Kids case recording prior to transfer
         Required pool of trained case mangers in any DCS region with turnover rate exceeding ten percent
         Focus on child’s participation, needs and feelings related to transitions
         Written policy outlining required steps in transfer process

Part 4 – Discharge from Custody
         Discharge decisions and planning made within Child and Family Team Meetings

Part 5 – Case Closure
         Identification and provision of the post-custodial supports prior to case closure
         Completion of recent medical exams and the provision of updated medical histories to custodial party
         Completion of summary TN Kids case closure dictation prior to case closure

Part 6 - Case Recordings
         Uniform procedures for case record entries
         Case entries within five business days following child/family contact
         Case entries focus on efforts and progress made towards goals in family plan

CHAPTER VI – Practice Standards Related To Individualized Services And Child

Part 1 – Connecting Services to Individual Needs
         Timely access to a continuum of community-based services and placement options
         Focus is on adapting resources to the child and family’s individual needs
         Careful monitoring of trend data to adjust level and type of available resources

Part 2 – Procurement and Purchase of Services
         Seamless and integrated program and service options across systems
         Services financing that promotes a flexible, individualized approach
         Greater control of resource allocation at the local level

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Structures And Mechanisms For Seamless Provision Of Services

Part 3 – Capacity to Serve Special Needs
         Care of children with special needs in home settings
         Assistance to individual families in overcoming barriers to accessing services

Part 4 – Educational Needs and Services
         Departmenatal presumption of enrollment in local public school systems
         Educational needs assessment prior to placement is a key factor in placement selection
         Strategies for avoiding disruptions in and enhancing a child’s learning process, including:
              4. Limited number of educational placement moves allowed
              5. Effective educational transition and planning with children/families and school personnel
              6. Involvement of parents/guardians in school-related activities
              7. DCS case manager and educational specialist/attorney advocacy for fair treatment and
                  educational rights of children
              8. System for rapid and accurate transfer of records, information and individual support

Part 5 - Child Placements
         Comprehensive and expanded array of in-home family intervention services and resources
         ICPC reciprocity or border agreements with neighboring states
         System to access placement resources in an expedient manner based on indivualized needs
         Intentional placement and monitoring processes to minimize multiple/disruptive placements
         Child and Family Team Meetings required in decision-making around out-of-home placement and
         other proposed placement transfers
         Outlined strategies for creating placement security and familiarity for children including:
         1. Placing children in the least restrictive, most family-like setting possible
         2. Focus on diligent search for relatives
         3. Encouraging children to take personal possessions to placements
         4. Placing siblings together
         5. Integrating children into normalized leisure, school, and work settings and activities and
         6. Supporting children’s non-destructive ties to the family and the community

CHAPTER VII -- Practice Standards Realted To Medical, Mental And Behavioral

Part 1 – Medical, Mental and Behavioral Health Services
         TennCare application or maintenance assistance prior to discharge or case closure
         Referral of quality of care concerns to the DCS Regional Health Unit and the Quality Assurance
         Immediate transfer of child’s health information to resource parent or other caregiver
         Timely provision of mental health services in the least restrictive environment possible
         Mental health screenings required within 30 days of entering custody
         Initial and ongoing intensive staff training regarding mental illness in children and families
         Creation of a DCS health reference guide

Part 2 - Protection from Harm for Children in Custodial and Non-Custodial Care
         Requires positive behavior management and de-escalation intervention techniques
         Clear guidelines related to use of psychotropic medication, seclusion and restraint
         Pre-service and ongoing training related to behavioral emergencies

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Structures And Mechanisms For Seamless Provision Of Services

CHAPTER VIII - Practice Standards Related To Adolescent Services

Part 1 - Independent Living Services
         IL skills assessments incorporated into Permanency Plans for youth over 15 years of age
         Defines components required of formal Independent Living Programs in every region
         Monthly stipends to eligible youth participating in formal Independent Living Programs or who have a
         permanency goal of Planned Permanent Living Arrangement

Part 2 - Services to Unruly Youth
         Treatment philosophy that addresses underlying needs and conditions associated with unruly episodes
         Use of same decision-making and planning model used for non-offending children and their families
         Clear guidelines and requirements related to runaway incidents
         Child and Family Team Meetings required following runaway episodes

Part 3 - Services to Delinquent Youth
         Mix of supervision and services designed to address the risk factors contributing to delinquent
         Serving high-risk youth safely in community-based settings
         Institutional services that can be applied and reinforced in the community
         Active involvement of families in planning process and treatment program
         Aftercare planning and services that prepare youth for reentry into their communities

CHAPTER IX - Practice Standards Related To Legal Counsel And Court Proceedings

Part 1 - The Role of the DCS Attorney
         Clear recognition that the Department is the “client” of legal division
         Competent, comprehensive and uniform representation of the Department in judicial proceedings that
         is consistent with the law and DCS mission, principles and policies
         Collaborative relationship between DCS attorneys and DCS case managers and supervisors

Part 2 – Case Initiation, Pre-Trial Process and Trial
         Provision of basic information about legal rights and representation to children and parents
         Proactive responsibility for DCS to inform court of parents and children lacking legal representation
         Reasonable, factual and legal basis for every position and action taken on behalf of the Department
         Appellate reviews when court actions are inconsistent with safety, well-being or permanency of child

Part 3 – Relationships with Judges and Court Staff, Parties, and Other Professionals
         Compliance with rules prohibiting ex parte communications with judges
         Guidelines for communications with parties represented by legal counsel

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Family-Centered Casework and Planning

CHAPTER X - Practice Standards Related To Decision-Making And Case Planning

Part 1 - Decision-Making
         Engaging families in a manner that demonstrates respect, genuineness, and empathy
         Child and family participation in assessments and decision-making processes

Part 2 - Child and Family Team Meetings
         Child and Family Team Meetings as the uniform and primary decision-making and planning tool
         Ongoing training, consultation, and peer support for skilled facilitators
         Clear guidelines for timing of, preparation for, focus at, and follow up to Child and Family Team
         Individualized plans that are crafted, implemented, and adjusted with Child and Family Team members

CHAPTER XI - Practice Standards Related To Intake, Investigation And Initial

Part 1 – General Approach to Intake, Investigation and Assessment
         Dual-track approach that uses validated, structured decision-making tools to guide response to child
         maltreatment allegations
         Casework staff skilled in assessing immediate and future risk of child maltreatment
         Casework staff skilled in initiating permanency planning

Part 2 - Intake and Screening
         Identification of internal and external family resources at intake
         Review of agency records to determine the existence and nature of prior contacts

Part 3 - Investigation and Initial Assessment
         Timely investigations of child maltreatment allegations
         Structured decision making in determining the occurrence of and responses to child maltreatment and
         the risk of future harm
         Functional family assessment process that engages families in the protection and well-being of their
         Voluntary/court-ordered safety plans that meet a child’s needs in the most familiar, least disruptive way
         Court-ordered safety plan required in removal from home situations
         Family-centered skills and practices used when separating children from their families
         Use of appropriate relative and community-based placement services if removal is indicated
         CPS investigative collaboration with Child Protective Investigative Team (CPIT) and all other partners
         to determine case classification, recommend whether to prosecute and identify service needs
         Pool of medical consultants with expertise in the evaluation of physical and sexual abuse
         Timely, professional physical and sexual abuse assessments with clear prescriptive guidelines
         Empirically-derived assessment processes and classification criteria in juvenile justice cases that
         preserve legal rights

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Family-Centered Casework and Planning

CHAPTER XII - Practice Standards For Supporting Families And Achieving

Part 1 – General Approach to Supporting Families and Achieving Permanency
         Concentrated efforts and specialized resources to attain permanency for children experiencing
         protracted custody episodes
         Concurrent planning to achieve timely permanency
         Permanency plans that address service needs related to the trauma experienced by children
         Preservation of childhood and developmental milestones for children in foster care

Part 2 – Ongoing Assessment Process
         Child safety assessment at every contact
         Ongoing case management staff have working knowledge of the safety and risk assessment protocols
         Children and families as active partners in safety and risk assessments and plan development
         Initial functional family assessment completed within 15 working days of a child entering DCS
         custody or within 7 days of the case being referred for non-custodial family services
         Regular re-assessments of the family's changing needs
         DCS case manager’s ultimate responsibility for overseeing assessment-related requirements and
         services in all cases, including those involving private provider case management

Part 3 – Supporting Intact Families at Risk of Separation
         Intact families can self-identify for needed services and resources when need is related to child safety
         Developing a wide array of in-home services

Part 4 – Child and Family Visits During Out of the Home Placement
         Development of family visitation plans immediately following removal
         Prohibits withholding of visits as a behavior management tool
         Regular and frequent visitation in the most normalized, appropriate settings possible to meet child’s
         needs and promote permanency
         Active DCS intervention to resolve barriers to successful parent/child visits

Part 5 – Supporting Relative Caregivers
         Relative caregivers are first consideration for out of the home placement
         Relative caregivers fully informed of choices related to all permanency goals

Part 6 – Reunification with Family
         Intensive, individualized and timely reunification efforts with families
         Children and families receive clearly defined reunification requirements and related objectives
         Post-reunification plans that link families to community-based supports in order to prevent recidivism

Part 7 – Exiting Custody to Live with Relatives
         Exiting Custody to Live with a Relative is only pursued when kinship resource parents will not require
         continued financial support through the foster care board rate

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Family-Centered Casework and Planning

Part 8 – Adoption
         Child's needs, wishes, safety and well-being are at the center of the adoption process
         Requires finding of harm by a qualified clinician as the basis for discontinuing zealous efforts to adopt
         siblings into the same family
         Child and Family Team Meetings as the vehicle for ongoing engagement with the birth/legal family,
         the adoptive family and the child around pre- and post- adoption-related decisions and planning
         Cost-free counseling for birth/legal parents around issues of parental and legal options when adoption
         is the permanency goal
         Child-specific pre-and post-placement adoption plans
         Clinical assessment of and therapeutic services with children who have a permanency goal of adoption
         Pre- and post-placement and post-finalization services for children and their adoptive families
         Grief and loss counseling for birth/legal parents whose rights are terminated or who surrender

Part 9 – Planned Permanent Living Arrangements
         Defines criteria for a permanency goal of Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (PPLA)
         Foster families accepting children with a PPLA permanency goal must sign a long-term resource and
         placement agreement
         Supervisory review required prior to changing a permanency goal to PPLA

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