§4 ch9: Permanent Outcomes for Children
9.6 Operation of the Family Support Team (FST)/Permanency Planning Review Team (PPRT) Meeting
All team members, required and invited, are considered full partners in the review process and should attend the entire FST/PPRT meeting and have the opportunity to fully participate in the development of the child’s case plan.
All information provided at meetings or administrative hearings regarding removal of a child is confidential except:
- A parent or a party may waive confidentiality for himself or herself;
- Any parent has the absolute right to audiotape or videotape such meeting to the extent allowed by the law;
- No parent or party shall be required to sign a confidentiality agreement before testifying or providing information at such meeting or hearing; and
- Any person, other than a parent or party, who does not agree to maintain confidentiality, may be excluded from any portion of the meeting during which he/she is not testifying or providing information.
The Children’s Service Worker is responsible for developing the Child Assessment and Service Plan, CS-1, to be used at the initial 30 day FST and every 30 days thereafter until court adjudication. The CS-1 should then be updated every six (6) months and when there is a major change in the case such as a change in the permanency plan or placement change. A completed CS-1 will be distributed to both parents and any other party within five (5) days of the FST.
At the beginning of each FST/PPRT meeting the Children’s Division shall state: “All information provided in this meeting is confidential. Any one not agreeing to keep information disclosed confidential can be asked to leave the meeting for any portion in which he/she is not testifying.” Documentation of those in agreement or disagreement should be included in the CS-1.
9.6.1 Composition of the Participants in FST/PPRT Meetings
Participants who are required to be invited and/or participate:
- Individuals who must be invited to Family Support Team meetings include:
- All parents,
- Youth age 13 and older,
- Legal counsel for the parents,
- Resource providers,
- Legal guardian for the child,
- Juvenile officer,
- The Guardian ad Litem (GAL), and
- The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).
Upon appointment by the court to a case, the GAL is to be informed of and have the right to attend any and all FST/PPRT meetings involving the child. Family members, (other than alleged perpetrator), or other community formal or informal service providers may be invited at the discretion of the family. The parents, the legal counsel for them and the resource providers may request that other individuals, other than alleged perpetrators, be permitted to attend such meetings.
- A youth age 13 or over must be invited to attend each FST/PPRT and given the opportunity to participate in the development of his/her case plan. The expectation is that youth age 13 and over will attend their FST/PPRT unless the worker and the supervisor agree that there is a valid reason why the youth cannot attend. The meetings should be held at a time that is convenient for the youth and family. Scheduling a meeting during school hours would not be considered convenient for the youth. In addition, House Bill 154 states that students may not be penalized for absences resulting from required court hearings or court-related activities, including FSTs.
- With the approval of the immediate supervisor, a child under the age of 13 may participate in the FST/PPRT. The child is considered “age appropriate” if he/she is able to understand the circumstances and implications of his out-of-home care status.
- Staff may consider including their Children’s Service Specialist in the decision-making process when appropriate. Participants involved in the decision-making process should be clearly identified and documented in the case record pursuant to CS-1 instructions in place.
- An objective third party reviewer is not required at FST meetings, but is required to be invited to, and participate in each PPRT meeting. The third party reviewer is someone who is not responsible for the case management of, or the delivery of services to the child or the parents.
A third party reviewer may be Children’s Division staff, if the individual is not responsible for and does not have knowledge of the case. The desired preference of the Children’s Division is to utilize outside stakeholders, to the best extent possible, as third-party participants.
Once a person is provided notice of a FST/PPRT meeting, CD shall provide notice of subsequent meetings. The letter of notification to all other team members and age appropriate youth must also include a copy of the CS-1 to be submitted at the FST/PPRT.
- Individuals who must be invited to Family Support Team meetings include:
9.6.2 Scheduling and Notification of FST/PPRT Meetings
The Family Support Team shall meet to review the case plan and provide recommendations for the provision of services for children when the court has ordered a pre-custodial evaluation be completed.
Staff are to meet with the family within 24 hours of the initial placement and conduct Family Support Team meetings within 72 hours, and 30 days from the date of the initial placement in order to manage initial placement and visitation activities and to establish a case plan. Subsequent FST meetings are then to be held every thirty days until court adjudication and as needed, or required, thereafter.
FSTs should be held in order to make key decisions and for the purpose of:
- Determining service and treatment needs;
- Determining the need for placement and developing a plan for reunification or other permanency options;
- Determining the appropriate placement of the child;
- Evaluating case progress, and
- Establishing and revising the case plan.
Permanency Planning Reviews (Administrative Reviews) are to be conducted prior to the date of the child’s sixth month in care, and every six (6) months thereafter as long as CD has custody. PPRs are to determine:
- The safety of the child;
- The continuing necessity for and appropriateness of the placement;
- The extent of compliance with the case plan;
- The extent and progress which has been made in alleviating or mitigating the causes necessitating placement in foster care; and
- To project a likely date by which the child may be returned to and maintained in the home or placed for adoption or legal guardianship.
Two (2) weeks prior written notification must be given to the team participants, including the time and place of the review. Meetings should be scheduled when it is convenient for the youth and the family. If possible, all FST members should be accommodated, but the youth and the family are critical members of the team. The letter of notification to the parents must also include an explanation:
- Of the purpose of the FST/PPRT;
- That attendance is not a requirement, but is encouraged;
- The right of the parents to bring someone with them; and
- A copy of the CS-1 to be presented at the FST/PPRT, if required.
Upon appointment by the court to a case, the GAL is to be informed of and have the right to attend any and all FST/PPRT meetings involving the child.
The letter of notification to all other team members must also include a copy of the CS-1 to be submitted at the FST/PPRT, if required.
9.6.3 Reporting the FST/PPRT Meeting
All pertinent information must be recorded on the CS-1 to be maintained in the child’s section of the case file. A copy must be submitted to the jurisdictional court. Each participant of the review should complete, at a minimum, the recommendation section of the CS-1. These recommendations will be summarized on the file copy. This information is to be sent to the jurisdictional court and the child’s parents.
The completed CS-1, and Adolescent FST Guide & Individualized Action Plan for youth age 14 or over, should be submitted to court as a replacement for the six-month court report or in conjunction with the submittal of the six-month court report.
If a CS-1 is completed for the meeting, the parents and resource providers should be provided with a copy of the completed CS-1, either directly after the FST/PPRT meeting or within five (5) days through the mail.
There are no exceptions to conducting the FST/PPRT. A child must have a FST/PPRT even though it is anticipated that the child will be reunified with parents within a short period of time; or, the Division is planning to place the child for adoption within a short period of time. In other words, FST/PPRTs are conducted according to the time schedule as long as the Division has custody.