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Forms & Instructions

MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
BETWEEN
{ NAME OF }
 COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES
{ NAME OF } FOSTER FAMILY AGENCY


I.   Statement of Mutual Values and Purpose

The parties to this Memorandum of Understanding agree to mutually implement the provisions of this agreement in order to meet the goals of the statewide Child Welfare Services system as described in Welfare and Institutions Code 16500, as follows:

The Legislature hereby declares its intent in providing for this statewide system of child welfare services that all children are entitled to be safe and free from abuse and neglect.

Further, pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code 16501.1:

When out of home placement is used to attain case plan goals, the decision regarding choice of placement shall be based upon selection of the least restrictive or most family like setting, selection of the environment best suited to meet the child’s special needs and best interest, or both.

Further, pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code 11400:

“Foster Family Agency@ means any individual or organization engaged in the recruiting, certifying, and training of, and providing professional support to, foster parents, or in finding homes or other places for placement of children for temporary or permanent care who require that level of care as an alternative to a group home. Private foster family agencies shall be organized and operated on a nonprofit basis.

Further, pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code 11400:

“Certified family home” means a family residence certified by a licensed foster family agency and issued a certificate of approval by that agency as meeting licensing standards, and used only by that foster family agency for placements.

We acknowledge that the social workers and foster parents are part of a professional team and that all parts of the team are to be treated with dignity and respect, in light of non-discrimination laws and statutes.

In this spirit, both parties intend to ensure that all children placed by the undersigned County with the undersigned Foster Family Agency (hereinafter referred to as “FFA”) are provided homes that will provide the following:

A. Timely Permanency; i.e. Concurrent Planning, Reunification, Adoption, Legal Guardianship, Emancipation
B. Safe and Nurturing Care
C. Mutually Agreeable Objectives, such as
1. Enhanced Supervision
2. Emergency Shelter Care Services
3. Family Reunification Services
Nothing in this Memorandum of Understanding shall be understood to take the place of, or conflict with, the individualized placement agreement included in the SOC 154 or subsequent forms developed to replace that form. The intent of this Memorandum is, in fact, to clarify and amplify the agreements included in the Foster Family Agency-Group Home Agreement.

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II.   Agreements on Business Practices

A. The parties to this Memorandum of Understanding will work together to ensure that the regulatory requirements are achieved, specifically with reference to the following:

1.  Community Care Licensing (Title 22)

2.  Foster Care Rates

3.  Division 31, CWS regulations

B. The parties to this Memorandum of Understanding will have an understanding that FFAs will serve a broad and diverse range of children. Each FFA working with the County will determine what group of children they may wish to target. Each FFA will report this identified target group to the County and will recruit families to serve that group of children.

C. The parties to this agreement will ensure that a release of information form is completed with regard to licensing or certification history and will share information according to the provisions of the release.

D. The undersigned FFA agrees to provide to the Undersigned County all information regarding incident reports of allegations of abuse or neglect that occur in the undersigned FFA’s homes regarding any children placed in those homes. (see VII B3).

E. The parties to this Memorandum of Understanding will utilize standardized information, utilizing mutually acceptable guidelines (to be established at a later date by BACFFA and CWDA), for home studies, intake, quarterly reports, medical consent, dangerous propensities, treatment plan, and discharge summary, in conjunction with the implementation of this Agreement.

F. The undersigned FFA will provide to the undersigned County quarterly census data that describes each child’s date of birth, date of placement, placement objective/discharge plan, and anticipated discharge date. A standardized form has been developed for this purpose.

G. The undersigned FFA will provide to the undersigned County a single blank copy of the FFA’s standard Foster Family Parent agreement at the time of the MOU signing.

H. At the time of signing the MOU, the county will inform the FFA of the name and contact information of a primary contact liaison.

I. Recruitment Protocol

1. General Principles Agreed to Among FFA’s and Counties Participating In This MOU Process; these procedures apply equally to private FFAs, County FFAs, County foster homes and other related programs.

a) Recruiters will refrain from speaking negatively about other FFAs (private and public).
b) At no time will recruiters actively recruit from another FFA’s pool of foster families
c) When two FFAs are involved with a family, both will work towards the best interests of the foster child(ren).

2. Cross FFA Contacts

a) Initial contact by the foster family:
1) When a foster family certified with one FFA (current FFA) contacts another FFA (prospective FFA), these steps will be followed:
(a) The prospective FFA will encourage the family to stay with their current FFA and will suggest that the family contact their FFA to problem solve, if necessary.
(b) If requested, the prospective FFA will provide general information, but will not initiate the certification process.
b) Upon further contact by the foster family:
1) The prospective FFA will let the family know that they will be contacting the family’s current FFA personally.
2) The family will be asked to sign an Interagency Release of Information form authorizing the release of information from the current FFA. If the family refuses to sign such an authorization, the prospective FFA will not proceed with the family.
3) The prospective FFA will make a courtesy call to the current FFA to make them aware that the family is inquiring to move to another FFA.
a) The release form will be sent to the current FFA. Upon receipt of the Inter-agency Release of Information form, the current FFA will provide the necessary information to the prospective FFA, either in writing or by telephone. Standardized information(guidelines to be developed) is provided for the purpose of securing information from the original FFA.
b) Families who are currently known to be under investigation by CCL will not be permitted to begin the certification/licensing process with the prospective FFA until the investigation is finalized.
c) If a child is placed in the home that is moving from one FFA to the other, transition procedures must be initiated as follows:
1) As soon as a request is received to move a family from one FFA to another, the County social worker must be notified by the current FFA regarding possible changes. As soon as a county worker becomes aware of the possibility of a family planning to “roll over” to a different FFA, the county worker will place a courtesy call to the current FFA and inform them of the possibility of a change of FFA for the family.
2) A meeting, or phone conference, must take place among staff of the two FFAs and the County social worker to ensure that the County will authorize placement in the successor FFA. Juvenile Court approval may be required for the transition of a child from one FFA to another.
3) If the County does not approve of moving the child from one FFA to the other, the County may move the child into a county licensed home or into another FFA home.
4) If the County does approve of their client remaining in the foster home that is changing agencies, the County worker will give the current FFA 7 days’ notice.

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III.   Activities at Time of Placement

A.  Emergency Shelter Care

1.   County Agrees to

a) Identify the need for Shelter Placement.
b) Pay established FFA rate.
c) Arrange for supportive transition from one placement to another.
d) Arrange for transportation to the FFA of child and his/her belongings.
e) Provide to FFA all information available about child prior to placement, including but not limited to:
(1)
Dangerous propensities
(2)
Medical needs
f)
Provide and sign SOC 154 or a state approved substitute.
g)
Provide information about obtaining emergency and routine medical treatment, including MediCal I.D. # and/or other insurance information if available. A written explanation of foster parent emergency medical rights will be provided at time of placement, including a statement of the County’s financial responsibility for treatment costs that are not covered by Medical or other insurance.
h)
Provide complete placement and treatment history information as soon as possible and no later than two weeks after the date of placement.
i) Provide medical consent signed by parent, court, or County staff as soon as available. This should occur no later than two weeks following the date of placement.
j) Provide emergency numbers to FFA so that immediate response to crises can be secured.
k) Obtain emergency Medical as soon as possible, if required/requested.
l) Ensure that internal documentation of placement and that payment occur no later than 30 days following the 1st of the month following the month of placement.
m) Identify the date of the County’s Emergency Shelter status review.
n) Work with FFA to arrange mutually agreed upon transportation and supervision for children requiring visitation.
o) Notify FFA of any new information pertinent to case, including dangerous propensities.
p) County will provide known contact information to the FFA regarding the biological family, including phone number if available.

2.  FFA Agrees To:

a) Identify whether or not the placement home is a specially trained Emergency Shelter home.
b) Inform the placement family that this is an Emergency Shelter placement.
c) Arrange for supportive transition from one placement to another.
d) Ensure FFA staff receives the child.
e) Ensure child’s availability for interview and court appearances related to Detention, Jurisdiction, and Dispositional Hearings.
f) Ensure child’s phone call to the biological family within 5 hours of placement, pursuant to III A 1 p.
g) Ensure child’s availability for visitation with parents/relatives and work with County to provide mutually agreed upon transportation and supervision for children requiring visitation.

B. Transition from Shelter to Continuing Placement

1.  County Agrees to

a) Review appropriateness of continued placement with FFA within 45-90 days of date of placement.
b) Decide no later than 90 days after date of placement to terminate shelter status and,
(1)
Convert current placement to continuing placement
OR
(2) Prepare to move the child.
c) If child is to be moved, give no less than 7 days’ notice.
d) If decision is to convert shelter placement to continuing placement, engage in activities in III. C., below, that have not already been completed.

2.  FFA Agrees to

a) Provide relevant information that will help in the development of the County’s case plan goal.
b) Work with foster family to understand County case plan goal and commit to that goal.
c) Engage in activities in III. C., below, that have not already been completed.

C.  Regular Placement

1.  County Agrees To

a) Provide complete placement and treatment history at the time that the child is referred for consideration for placement and to include information regarding extended family and/or other significant adults in the child’s life.
b) Advise FFA of child’s case plan goal, including concurrent plan when applicable.
c) Develop a mutually agreeable pre-placement plan.
d) Meet or have a phone conversation with the prospective foster parents and the FFA social worker in order to provide as much information as is needed/desired prior to placement.
e) As mutually agreed upon, arrange for pre-placement and placement transportation and supervision for the child and his or her belongings at the time of placement and ensure appropriate transition of the child into the home.
f) Sign all required County and FFA forms at the time of placement and provide copies to the FFA staff.
g) Provide emergency numbers to FFA so that immediate response to crises can be secured.
h) Ensure that internal documentation of placement and payment occur in a timely manner.
i) Notify amount and timing of clothing allowances.
j) Commit to timely County/Court authorization of psychotropic medications so that the client’s medication schedule is not disrupted.

2.  FFA Agrees To

a) Provide complete information about the prospective foster parents at the time that the child is referred for consideration for placement.
b)  Develop a mutually agreeable pre-placement plan.
c) Meet or have phone conversation with the prospective foster parents and the County social worker in order to explore all possible issues prior to placement, including County case plan goal(s).
d) Assist the foster parents in making arrangements for transportation and supervision for pre placement visits mutually agreed upon with the County social worker.
e) Obtain authorization for non-routine, non-emergency medical, psychological, or psychiatric treatment (including psychotropic medication) from the County social worker.
f) Provide information necessary for County social worker to obtain authorization for treatment; i.e., Psychiatric drugs, surgery and any other treatment outside the scope of routine medical treatment.
g) Placement into any specific FFA certified home shall be with the mutual prior agreement of the FFA and County social worker.

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IV.   Continuing Case Management (Assessment/Planning/Monitoring/Supervision)

A.  County Agrees To:

1. Develop with the FFA a visitation schedule with the child and family according to the case plan and/or court orders, respecting the foster family’s schedule and lifestyle.
2.  Adhere to the agreed upon visitation schedule unless modified by the court.
3. Provide information regarding changes in treatment needs and service plan for the child and work with the FFA and foster parents to implement modified service plans; agree to discuss possible modifications whenever FFA social worker requests such consideration.
4. Planned substantive discussions regarding the county case plan or independent living plan should be discussed by the County social worker and FFA social worker prior to discussion with the foster family and/or the child. Substantive discussions may include, but not be limited to the following topics: placement changes, treatment directives for the foster child, changes in permanency goal, driver’s licenses, child’s money, therapy, emancipation, jobs, privileges, dating, sexuality, sexual orientation, baptism, visitation, travel, education, court orders, sexually transmitted infections, medical care, birth control, and pregnancy.

County social workers must inform the FFA of the unplanned content or instructions given during any home visit that occurs without the FFA social worker’s presence.

5. County agrees to consider the disruption that unplanned and/or unannounced visits cause for foster families. Unannounced visits by County social workers should have a specific purpose. A purposeful unannounced visit might occur when a family misses a planned visit without explanation or when a County social worker is concerned about child safety. Unplanned visits are those made for expediency, such as a social worker being nearby.

County social workers should notify the FFA of planned or unplanned visits and are encouraged to do as much in advance as possible. With notice, the FFA will help facilitate unplanned visits (e.g. make sure a family is home and not rushing out the door) and may be able to attend.

6. Be responsible for preparing recommendations to the court and for providing to the FFA necessary and appropriate information for the care of the child including court dates.
7. County social worker shall provide timely response to requests for authorization to provide treatment, including securing signed releases, vacation requests, and initiating approval for psychotropic medication so client’s medication schedule will not be disrupted, as follows:
 a) Initiate approval by the next working day for emergency authorization
 b) Within 30 days for non-emergency authorization
8. Respond to calls from the FFA staff within 24 hours for emergency issues and three working days for non-emergency issues.
9. Notify the FFA of planned court dates at least 72 hours in advance if the child’s presence is required and work with FFA to arrange for their attendance at court as appropriate.
10. Work with the FFA to implement modified case plans; agree to meet to discuss possible modifications
11. Notify FFA of any new information pertinent to the case, including dangerous propensities of the child or the adults in his/her life.
12. To work with FFA to develop mutually agreeable alternative plan of visitation for biological family members and significant others who present a tendency for dangerous propensities.
13. In a concurrent plan or when it becomes apparent that a permanent plan of adoption or guardianship is in the best interest of the child and is indicated by lack of progress by birth parents towards reunification:

a.
Will initiate timely discussion with FFA social worker regarding foster parent’s willingness and appropriateness to be child’s adoptive or guardianship family. The FFA and County social workers will agree on appropriate timeframe and manner to approach the family.
b. Depending on family’s interest , will then conference with the FFA social worker and foster family, providing legal, financial and other information relevant to adoption or guardianship, including the county’s adoption placement policies.
c. Will work with FFA to assure that an adoptive home study is completed for the family, either by the FFA (if licensed as an adoption agency), by the county or by contracting out.
d. If the family is not appropriate or interested, county will initiate search for a permanent family.
e. The county social worker will complete and submit a court report, identifying the appropriate permanent plan.

B.  FFA Agrees To

1. In the case of an emergency, defined as a matter of immediate and urgent necessity related to the safety of the child or a crisis in the foster family home, the FFA may move a child to another FFA certified home. The County will be notified as soon as possible and no later than the next working day. Continuation in this or another FFA certified home will be by mutual agreement, pursuant to III. C., above.
2. Permit unannounced visitation by County social worker to FFA certified home as required by the County as provided in IV A 5. Since FFAs conduct unannounced visits of their own, they are encouraged to include the County social worker in those visits to avoid multiple visits.
3. Provide for the basic necessities required by the child, including food, clothing, and shelter (as defined by Title 22 ) in addition to regular social work supervision as described in the FFA’s program statement.
4. Provide information regarding changes in treatment needs and work with the County to modify treatment plans.
5. Work with the County and foster parents to implement County modified case plans; agree to discuss possible modifications whenever County worker requests such consideration.
6. Appear at court hearing if requested to consult with worker prior to the appearance.
7. Provide timely quarterly reports.
8. Provide timely incident reports to county social worker regarding that worker’s child, as required by Community Care Licensing.
 a) Verbal notification is to occur within 24 hours.
 b) Written report to county social worker and liaison or other individual identified by county within 7 days.
9. Work with the foster parents to ensure availability for the established visitation plan and provide supervision for visitation, if necessary, except as provided in IV A.12, above.
10. Notify County of any new information pertinent to the case, including dangerous propensities of the child or the adults in his/her life.
11. To work with County to develop mutually agreeable alternative plan of visitation for biological family members and significant others who present a tendency for dangerous propensities.
12. There will be timely notification of a change in assigned social worker.
13. In a concurrent plan or when it becomes apparent that a permanent plan of adoption or guardianship is in the best interest of the child and is indicated by the lack of progress by birth parents towards reunification:
a. Participate with the County social worker in discussing foster family’s interest and appropriateness to be the child’s permanent family, including the county’s adoption placement policies.
b. Initiate discussion with the foster family regarding their interest and ability to become the child’s permanent family.
c. Participate in conference with County social worker and family.
d. If appropriate, cooperate and enlist the family’s cooperation in selecting an alternative permanent family for the child should the foster family be unwilling or inappropriate. This could include having the family cooperate with visits by prospective families, impart information about the care of the child, transport the child to matching picnics, etc.

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V.   Termination/Discharge Planning From Regular Placement

A.  County Agrees To

1.  Provide notice of the termination of placement as soon as this possibility exists.
2. Assist the family in understanding the need for placement change, in consultation with FFA.
3. Where appropriate, assist the family in maintaining connections with the child after placement termination, in consultation with FFA.
4. Provide 7 days’ notice if child is to be moved unless considered an emergency; notify FFA as soon as possible of an emergency move as defined in IV B 1.

B.  FFA Agrees To

 

1. Assist in the implementation of County plans leading to discharge and termination of placement.
2. Provide all information necessary for re-placement or reunification.
3. Make the child available for pre-placement and pre-reunification visits as required by the County.
4. Provide 7-days’ notice if requesting non-emergency removal; notify county of emergency removal as soon as possible and no later than the next working day.
5. Provide written discharge summary with standardized information.
a.  Verbal within 24 hours
b.  Written as soon as possible, but no later than 14 calendar days.
6. Ensure that the child’s personal belongings, personal property, medical information, etc. are provided to the County social worker at the time of discharge.

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VI.   Termination through conversion to permanency with an FFA’s foster family

A.  County Agrees To

1.  If adoption is the permanent plan:

a. Prepare and submit all required court documents to terminate reunification.
b. Prepare and submit all required court documentation to terminate parental rights, or, if the families agree, initiate mediation.
c. Once rights have been terminated or relinquished, prepare all adoptive placement documents as required by regulations, including gathering of all disclosure.
d. Work with FFA to set appropriate adoptive placement and written verification of finalization dates, which take into account the best interest of the child and family.
e. Cooperate in preparation of finalization paperwork and interface with court as decided upon with FFA and family.
f. Prepare and submit all paperwork to terminate dependency.
g. Provide all documents needed by the FFA, if licensed as an adoption agency, to claim for PAARP (Private Agency Adoption Reimbursement Program) within 30 days of the finalization.

2.  If guardianship is the permanent plan:

a. Prepare and submit all required court documents.
b. Terminate dependency as appropriate.
c. Notify FFA in writing as to date guardianship is granted.
d. Terminate FFA payments as of that date and initiate appropriate payments to family, unless dependency is retained and maintains placement with the FFA.

B.  FFA Agrees To

1.  If the permanent plan is adoption:

a. If the FFA has performed the adoptive home study:
i. Enter into a cooperative adoptive placement with the family and county.
ii. Advocate for and assist family with Adoption Assistance application.
iii. As mutually determined with county, perform post adoptive placement supervision and provide written reports.
iv. Cooperate with preparation of finalization paperwork and interface with court as decided upon with county and family.
b. All FFAs will:
i. Assist the family in the transition from foster care to adoptive status.
ii. Connect family with relevant community resources.
iii. Empower the family to begin to function more independently from FFA assistance.

2.  If the permanent plan is guardianship and dependency is to be terminated:

a. Work with the family to assist with transition from foster care to guardianship status.
b. Connect family with relevant community resources.
c. Empower the family to begin to function more independently from FFA assistance.

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VII.   Documentation

A.  County Agrees To

1. Provide complete information regarding the child prior to placement, including but not limited to:
a)
Court report information, including reason for removal
b)
 Treatment Summaries
c)
General Family History
(1)
Specific history of individuals who may pose a threat to staff, foster family, etc., including dangerous propensities.
d)
Case Plan
e)
Permanency Planning Objectives, including anticipated length of stay and projected discharge date.
2. Provide signed Releases for Treatment, Visitation, Outings, etc. at time of placement and as periodically required by the FFA.
3. Provide updated case plans, court hearing date, court report information, treatment summaries, as they are received by the County social worker.
4. Acknowledge receipt of 7 day’s notice and keep FFA informed of discharge plan.

B.  FFA Agrees To

1. Provide written information regarding the family prior to placement as agreed upon by the undersigned FFA and the County.
2. Provide timely notification of changes in family circumstances.
3. Provide timely incident reports to county social worker and liaison or other individual as identified by county regarding that worker’s child.
4. Provide timely written needs and service report, quarterly reports and discharge summaries.
5. Keep court report information confidential except parts pertaining to the care of the child/children which may be shared with the foster parent or information that the foster parent needs to know about the parent in respect to the care of the child/children.

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VIII.   Problem Resolution

A.  Disagreements in the areas outlined above should be taken “up the administrative line,” between the FFA and the County, but we anticipate that all decisions will be mutually agreeable between the parties in question, and that they will be made at the lowest administrative level possible.

1. Case-specific issues shall be resolved at the line worker and supervisor level.
2. Problems that are systemic, often based upon repeated case-specific incidents, shall require an administrative review between the County and the FFA.
3. Notwithstanding the above, the undersigned FFA and County representatives are responsible for ensuring that their staffs adhere to the agreements made herein.

B.  A bi-lateral mediation process on other than case specific issues will be established among a subcommittee of the Counties and FFAs participating in this process in order to address significant problems that cannot be resolved between an individual County and FFA. The MOU steering committee consisting of four representatives from both the Bay Area Regional Children Services and BACFFA will be responsible for convening such mediation.

C.  The MOU steering committee will meet periodically to review the effectiveness of this agreement.


FFA/COUNTY CERTIFICATION

We have reviewed all of the provisions of the above MOU and we agree to instruct the staff of our Department/FFA to abide by each of the enumerated provisions.

Signed,

_________________________________________________ ____________________
FFA Executive Director Date
_________________________________________________ ____________________
Director for CWS, County Date

AMENDED MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
BETWEEN
{ NAME OF }
 COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES
{ NAME OF } FOSTER FAMILY AGENCY

The approved format adopted by CWDA & BACFFA has been modified and approved by the undersigned and modifications are annotated in the document and noted in an addendum.
Signed,
_________________________________________________ ____________________
FFA Executive Director Date
_________________________________________________ ____________________
Director for CWS, County Date