§4 ch7: Begin Work With The Family/Child(ren)
7.2 Family Support Team Meeting
Research suggests that when families are engaged, supported, and play a significant role in case planning, they are more motivated to achieve their case plan. A Family Support Team meeting is a vehicle for family engagement. The Family Support Team Template, FST-3, is provided as a guide to improve engagement, to document what occurs during the FST, and to keep the meeting on track. The FST-3 will be used for all subsequent family support team meetings. The FST-3 can be used for all subsequent family support team meetings. This form also serves as a confidentiality statement and a sign in sheet for Family Support Team Meetings if the FST-1 is not used for this purpose. The FST-3 should be filed in the Assessment and Services section of the case record.
Family Support Team (FST) meetings are held within 72 hours and again at 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. For children in Legal Status 3 (Supervision Only), FST meetings should be held every 30 days until the FST members agree to hold them less often. Thereafter, the FST meetings for children in Legal Status 3 shall be held at a minimum of every six months.
All parents must be invited to the FSTs and be given the opportunity to participate. Youth, age 13 and older must be invited as well as up to two advocates/advisors selected by the youth, if the youth desires. One of these advisors may act as an advocate for the youth regarding the reasonable and prudent parent standard. If selected as an advocate, the advocate should understand their role as part of the case planning meeting in regards to the reasonable and prudent parent standard and normalcy.
FSTs should be held in order to make key decisions and for the purpose of determining:
- The safety of the child,
- Comprehensive visitation plan,
- Service and treatment needs,
- The need for placement and developing a plan for reunification or other permanency options,
- The appropriate placement of the child
- The child’s access and opportunities for normalcy activities based on the reasonable and prudent parenting standard
- Educational Plan for the child, and,
- Establishing and revising the case plan.
Additional team meetings shall be held prior to taking any action relating to a change in placement of a child in the Division’s custody. The FST should review the Foster Family Profiles of potential resource providers in determining and selecting the most appropriate placement for the child. When the welfare of a child in the custody of the Division requires an immediate or emergency change of placement, CD may make a temporary placement and shall schedule a FST meeting within 72 hours of the temporary placement.
An FST meeting is to be held prior to the separation of a sibling group. The Children’s Service Worker should document on the Child Assessment and Service Plan, CS-1, that reasonable efforts were made to place the sibling group with the same placement provider, and why such placement was not possible.
FST meetings serve as a mechanism to inform team members of the circumstances which contributed to the change in placement, and facilitate the early identification and response to the family’s strengths and needs:
- 72-Hour Family Support Team Meeting - The Family Support Team will determine if the child(ren) can be reunited immediately with his/her parents or if continued out-of-home care is warranted and develop an appropriate preliminary case plan/ 72 Hour Plan, FST-2. If the recommendation is for the child(ren) to remain in custody, the Children's Service Worker will involve the Family Support Team in identifying those extended family members (as well as unrelated persons) who may have had an ongoing, significant relationship with the child to determine potential placement resources for the child(ren). A preliminary visitation plan should be developed at this time to assure visitation between the child, their parents, and/or siblings. The FST-2 will cover the first 30 days the child(ren) is out-of-home. At the end of 30 days the Child Assessment and Service Plan, CS-1, will replace FST-2. For youth age 14 and older, the Adolescent FST Guide (CD94) and Individualized Action Plan Goals (CD94) must also be completed.
When possible, with the best interest of the child in mind, arranging for the child to continue to attend the same school should be discussed during the 72-hour Family Support Team meeting. Educational stability should be a priority when assessing the child's placement needs, making placement decisions and at each placement change. House Resolution 6893, Fostering Connections to Success and increasing Adoptions Act requires state child welfare agencies to coordinate with schools to improve educational stability for children in foster care. Children's Division staff along with local school districts should work together to ensure children remain in the school they are enrolled in at the time of placement into foster care, so long as it is in the child’s best interests.
Section 211.032.7(2) RSMo, allows resource providers, guardians ad litems, or volunteer advocates to make such a request. Distance from original school may be a factor in recommending such arrangements.
Based on location of the resource provider, the school district may be able to provide transportation. Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) provided some options for the team to consider, including:
- The school bus of the foster child’s home district travels to the home of the resource provider to pick up the child. These miles would be considered eligible miles for the school district to include in their allowable cost for state aid;
- The resource provider provides transportation and receives reimbursement for mileage from the school district. School districts can include this as an allowable cost for state aid;
- The resource provider meets the school bus at the boundary line of the school district. Please note that school districts may or may not provide mileage reimbursement;
- The school district contracts with an individual, besides the resource provider, to transport the child to their home school district. This would be an allowable cost for state aid for school districts; or
- The resource provider provides transportation with no reimbursement for mileage from the school district.
In the event that the school is unwilling to provide transportation for the child to remain in their original school district, the resource provider should be approached about providing this transportation. Mileage reimbursement for transportation costs will include reimbursement for resource providers transporting foster children to the school they were enrolled in at the time of placement. Resource providers may receive mileage reimbursement at the current state mileage rate for each mile over a 10 mile round trip per day for mileage solely related to taking the child to school. The mileage will be reimbursed using a payment request through FACES.
The resource provider will complete the Travel Expense Log, CD-106, and submit it to the local CD staff for approval within thirty (30) days of the month that the trip occurred. The written approval will be attached to the Travel Expense Log, CD-106, and payment request for submission of reimbursement.
When remaining in the same school district is not in the best interest of the child, it shall be documented with an explanation as to why the child should not remain in the school district of origin. The Resource Provider/Children’s Division staff should enroll the child in their new school and minimize the disruption to their educational needs through the Foster Care Education Bill of Rights (Sections 167.018, 67.019 and 210.1050 RSMo):
- Requires school districts to designate a staff person as the educational liaison for foster children. The liaison shall do the following in an advisory capacity:
- Ensure and facilitate the proper educational placement, enrollment in school and checkout from school of foster children;
- Assist foster care pupils when transferring schools by ensuring proper transfer of credits, records and grades;
- Request school records within two business days of a foster child in a school; and
- Submit records of a foster child within three business days of receiving a request for school records.
- Requires child-placing agencies to promote educational stability by considering the child’s school attendance when making placement decisions. The foster care pupil shall have the right to remain enrolled in and attend his or her school of origin pending resolution of school placement disputes (HB154) or return to a previously attended school in an adjacent district (Section 167.019 RSMo).
- Provides that each school district shall accept for full or partial credit course work satisfactorily completed by a pupil attending public school or nonsectarian school according to district policy.
- Provides that if a pupil completes graduation requirements while under juvenile court jurisdiction the district shall issue the pupil a diploma from the school the pupil last attended.
- Prohibits the school district from lowering the grade of a foster child if the child is absent from school due to a change in placement or due to a court appearance, Grades and credits shall be calculated as of the date the pupil left school.
- Gives school districts the authority to authorize access of a pupil’s school records to any child placing agency to fulfill educational case management requirements.
- 30-Day Family Support Team Meeting - The Family Support Team (FST) meets within 30 days to solidify the plan and assess progress on resolving issues that led to placement which can then determine whether the child can be returned home safely and/or what additional services are needed toward resolution of issues. A case plan shall be completed within 30 days of the child entering Division custody. A comprehensive visitation plan should be developed to assure visitation between the child, their parents, and/or siblings.
The Children’s Service Worker should ensure that accommodations are made for any special needs of Family Support Team members (i.e., English as second language/sign language interpreters, accessibility for physical disability or handicap). As necessary, remind the Team that meeting guidelines remain the same as previous meeting.
- When a non-custodial parent or relative has not been located, Family Support Teams can be used to identify a relative or a parent for possible resource placement and placing siblings together. Family Support Teams can be held at any stage of the case, so diligent searches should be an ongoing process.
- Placement Stability Family Support Team Meetings - A Family Support Team Meeting (FST) should be held prior to taking any action relating to a change in placement of a child in the custody of the Children's Division. These meetings should be held any time that a child's placement stability is threatened; whether a request has been made to move the child from the foster home or the placement provider is in need of additional services. If the change of placement occurs during an emergency and an FST meeting cannot be held, CD must schedule an FST within 72 hours of the placement. The purpose of the placement stability FST is to:
- Help stabilize the child in the current placement by considering the factors contributing to the request for change of placement and addressing those specific factors with the placement provider;
- Assess the child's placement needs, the needs of the placement provider, and identify additional supports or services to maintain the placement;
- Discuss the need for a different placement only if the current placement cannot be maintained, and evaluate service and treatment needs prior to selecting the next placement provider;
- Determine the most appropriate placement for the child and ensure that the receiving placement provider has all the information about the child and child’s family (per Section 210.566 RSMo) as well as the services identified by the Placement Stability FST prior to the transition;
- Discuss the child’s educational needs and work with local school districts to ensure the child remains in the current school district when possible. Educational stability should be a priority when assessing the child’s placement needs and making placement decisions; and
- Reduce the amount of placements for the child and increase child stability.
- Subsequent Team Meetings - The purpose of subsequent team meetings is to review the family’s progress, revise treatment plans, review and revise visitation plans, and recommend family reunification or other permanency plans (i.e., adoption, guardianship, independent living, etc.). Both the FST and PPRT are to be held in a team-like format, but there are key differences in their intent and required timeframes.
FSTs should be held in order to make key decisions and for the purpose of:
- Assessing the safety of the child;
- Determining service and treatment needs;
- Determining the need for placement and developing a plan for reunification or other permanency option;
- Determining the appropriate placement of the child;
- The child’s access and opportunities for normalcy activities based on the reasonable and prudent parenting standard;
- Review educational stability;
- Evaluating case progress;
- Establishing and revising the case plan; and
- Discussing youth engagement in extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities and exploration of additional opportunities of this nature for each youth in the family in foster care.
A Permanency Planning Review Team (PPRT) meeting may occur any time after the case plan has been implemented but must be held prior to six months from the date the child entered care, and then every six months thereafter for as long as the CD maintains custody. Per the Adoptions Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 the child’s status is to be reviewed periodically but no less frequently than once every six months. The PPRT is comprised of the same people as the FST except that at least one person not responsible for the case management of, or delivery of services to, either the child or the parents must participate in the PPR
- The Permanency Planning Review Team’s purpose is 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;
- The quality and compliance of the visitation plan;
- To project a likely date by which the child may be returned to and safely maintained in the home or placed for adoption or legal guardianship;
- Review Educational Stability; and
- Discuss youth engagement in extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities and exploration of additional opportunities of this nature for each youth in the family in foster care.
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 record 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.
- 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.
Chapter Memoranda History: (prior to 1/31/07)