Bullying Prevention

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among people that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. (stopbullying.gov). Recent studies indicate that 21% of children between the ages of 12 and 18 have been bullied.

 People bully to establish dominance, control activities, resources or areas, to develop a social order, and to be the center of attention. Some people who bully have insecurities and bullying masks their insecurities. They target individuals who appear weaker socially or physically. People who have alternate lifestyles or anyone different from the ‘norm’ (speech deficits, handicaps, religious differences, etc) can be subjected to bullying.

A community partnership approach involving parents, schools, child welfare agencies, parks and recreations, etc is the most effective way to decrease bullying.

Prevention Tips:

  1. Educate community partners, parents and children about bullying and the serious long term effects it can have on the victims and the bully; as well as, about bullying laws, policies and programs. One great resource is www.stopbullying.gov.

  2. Talk to the victims and generate maps of the places where bullying is frequently occurring, then increase the ‘watch’ in those areas. Discuss safety plans and report incidents to appropriate authorities who can help.

  3. Set up a confidential reporting system, and respond immediately when a report is submitted.

  4. Make expectations clear that bullying is not acceptable and there will be zero tolerance.

  5. Seek out ‘volunteer’ watchers to look out for bullying and intervene or immediately report the incident to appropriate authorities.

  6. Role-play bullying incidents with groups and how to safely handle the situations.

  7. Document incidents of bullying. It helps monitor the frequency a single person is bullying and if the incidents are escalating.

Be aware of bullying and actively advocate to prevent it from occurring will help improve long term outcomes not just for the victims and bullies, but for our entire society

Reactive Attachment Disorder

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Reactive attachment disorder is a rare but serious condition in which an infant or young child doesn't establish healthy attachments with parents or caregivers. Reactive attachment disorder may develop if the child's basic needs for comfort, affection, and nurturing aren't met and loving, caring, stable attachments with others are not established.”


While, RAD symptoms can start in infancy, there is little research on signs and symptoms of reactive attachment disorder beyond early childhood, and it remains uncertain exactly when it occurs in children older than 5 years. Some signs and symptoms include: unexplained withdrawal, fear, sadness or irritability, sad and listless appearance, not seeking comfort or showing no response when comfort is given, failure to smile and watching others closely but not participating in social interaction.


Pediatric psychiatrists or psychologists will complete a series of exams, observations and assessments to determine if a child has RAD. The professionals will also want to rule out a number of other psychological or psychiatric disorders such as autism, depressive disorder, intellectual delay or another adjustment disorder.


Children who live in a children’s home or other institution, or who frequently change foster homes or caregivers, may lack opportunities to develop stable attachments if there is serious social and emotional neglect. Children who have parents with severe mental health problems, criminal behavior or substance abuse that impairs their ability to parent may also have increased risk of developing RAD.

Risk Reduction Techniques:

·         Learn about attachment and the development of specific skills to help the child bond.

·         Attend classes or volunteer with children to learn how to interact in a nurturing manner.

·         Actively and frequently engage children by playing, talking, smiling and eye contact.

·         Learn to interpret the child’s cues to meet his/her needs quickly and effectively.

·         Provide warm, nurturing interaction with the child.

·         Teach the child how to express feelings and emotions with words by offering both verbal and nonverbal responses to the child's feelings.

Treatment of RAD:

·         Needs to involve the child and the caregivers

·         Individual psychotherapy

·         Education of parents and caregivers about the condition

·         Family therapy

·         Parenting skills classes

·         Special education services

Goals of treatment are to ensure the child has a safe and stable living situation and develops positive interactions, increased self-esteem, and improved peer relationships.  Symptoms of RAD can last for years, so treatment may be long term.  It is easy to become angry, frustrated, and distressed when caring for a child with RAD, so caregivers should consider seeking professional treatment or counseling for themselves and other family members to help cope with the stress.   

Resource: Mayo Clinic. (2019). Reactive Attachment Disorder. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/reactive-attachment-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20352939

Case File Updates

Documentation is essential to the integrity of our cases and to support recommendations made in court/staffings that lead to permanency for the children we serve. The Case Manager (CM) must keep the Florida Safe Families Network (FSFN) case current at all times, as well as the Safe Children Coalition (SCC) ‘ASK’ electronic file. Face to face contact of children or communication regarding the case requires entry into FSFN within 48 hours of encounter, correspondence, etc.

 When the CM obtains documents and emails concerning the case, a narrative summarizing the document/correspondences is created in FSFN and then the document is submitted to the Records Room for scanning into the SCC ‘ASK’ system. The CM should also submit copies of these documents to legal for filing with the Court, when applicable.  The only exception is correspondence with Children’s Legal Services.

Many of these areas in FSFN feed into the Case Plan Worksheet, Progress Update, Judicial Review Worksheet and Family Functioning Assessment Ongoing. It is imperative they are up to date to prevent blank spaces in Court documents.

  • Medical Records - CM submits records to WATCH who will review them and input into FSFN.

  • Dental Records - CM is required to input record into FSFN Medical tab. Dental record is then submitted to ASK.

  • Photos of Children - A picture of the child is taken at each home visit with the Mindshare Mobile app and uploaded into FSFN.

  • School Records (Report cards, IEP, etc.) - CM obtains the record and enters into the Education tab with a case note indicating the document was received. CM will also file the record with the court and in ASK.

  • Birth Verification - CMs have access to birth verification in FSFN through FL Vital Stats. All children must have a birth certificate on file regardless of where they were born. Update FSFN in the Person Management tab. Originals are filed in the Records Room.

  • Fingerprints - 0-3y: foot print is acceptable. 3y+: fingerprints are required. Update FSFN in Person Management tab. Most of the time, CPI will complete it.

    Tip: Request school and medical records at least once a quarter - more often for children with high needs.

Guardian ad Litem / Case Management Partnership  

“The State of Florida Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) Program is a network of professional staff and community advocates, partnering to provide a strong voice in court and positive systemic change on behalf of Florida’s abused and neglected children” (guardianadlitem.org). 

Circuit 12 GAL provide services to children in Manatee, Sarasota and Desoto Counties. The GAL’s primary focus is to be the voice for the child and that child’s best interest.  Ensuring that GAL and Case Managers are collaborating to work towards positive case outcomes, will expedite permanency for the children we serve.

Ways to Partner:

When a GAL is newly assigned to the case, the Case Manager (CM) and GAL should conduct a joint home visit so rapport can be established and face to face discussions about observed interactions, strengths, needs, and possible risks can occur (after the visit).  Doing this helps ensure that what is being observed is interpreted the same, or is discussed so both the CM and GAL know what each view is.

š When the GAL wants to review a child’s case file with the CM, the GAL can contact the CM to workout a time when both are available. This will allow the GAL access to the CM to ask questions regarding information. This builds rapport and alleviates any misinterpretations.

 š Any time a ‘critical juncture’ happens in the case, the CM should follow up with the GAL to ensure they are aware of the critical juncture. GAL and CM should discuss the changes and what implications they have as far as risk and safety to the child.

š Always be sure to keep the GAL “in the loop”. Notify the GAL if there is a change in placement and provide them with the current address and phone number for their records. This includes any runaway episodes.

š Prior to finalizing court or other important documents such as case plan, judicial review, safety plan progress update and GAL court reports; the CM and GAL should share the information with one another and ask for insight and input. By doing this we ensure accuracy in the documents, fill in missing information and keep the communication open. This does not mean the CM or GAL must change the document after receiving the feedback. The GAL has a role of being an advocate for only the child. The CM after ensuring child safety has a role of being ‘Family Centered’.  These roles do sometimes conflict and there will be times when we ‘agree to disagree’ about recommendations.

š If any conflicts arise, a multidisciplinary staffing should be scheduled and held as soon as possible with all team members (the CM team, the GAL team, the parents, the child when appropriate, the family supports, the providers, Legal Staff, etc.) to discuss the conflicts and develop an action plan and action steps for each team member.

Remember our roles are professional roles and case activities should never be taken ‘personally’. Ultimately, the best interest of the child and expedited permanency is our focus.  We can achieve this by building positive professional relationships.

*A GAL can be of great assistance to a CM. They can transport, request school and medical records, attend educational meetings and more. A strong partnership with the GAL on a case can save you time and energy!

Substance Abuse Case Management Best Practices

Providing treatment and support for individuals battling substance abuse is challenging. Despite the wide range of programs available, 40-50% of individuals who receive treatment for chemical dependency will relapse at some point, and most within the first year.

We must recognize that substance abuse and relapse from treatment are the product of complex forces and factors in an individual’s life. Because substance abuse comes with a complex set of circumstances and treatment needs, clinical practitioners recognize the need for continued and complex treatment and support. It is important for Case Managers to ensure that those seeking and receiving treatment for substance abuse and addiction have lasting positive outcomes by using these three strategies.

1. Identify Patients with Complex Needs

An integrated approach to treatment and support services is most beneficial.

·         Young adults, due to their chronological age and limited life experience, may require additional assistance in the area of life skills development.

  • Clients who are only able to function well within the confines of a residential setting may have particular difficulty meshing their recovery needs on an outpatient basis.

  • Individuals with co-occurring diagnoses (e.g., depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, ADD/ADHD) have multiple areas that need ongoing consideration and management.

  • Chemically dependent individuals with medical and legal difficulties associated with their previous abuse of substances will likely need additional support in problem solving these areas.

2. Engage Clients by Meeting Immediate Needs and Building Trust

Engage clients to reduce internal and external barriers to treatment. With many substance abuse patients, that might begin with providing for simple, immediate needs and building trust.  While most engagement includes a structured interview to collect information about an individual’s history and needs, the goal of building trust through these early stages cannot be overstated. A good initial relationship can be critical as the individual experiences difficulties and challenges later in the treatment process.

3. Assess the Ability to Access Services Independently

Identify the needs of the individual for a range of those services, from medical interventions to family support and employment services and help clients learn how to obtain those services and function more independently. Assessment should consider service procurement skills and employment skills. Service procurement skills includes:

·         Ability to obtain and follow through on medical service

·         Ability to apply for benefits

·         Ability to obtain and maintain safe housing

·         Skill in using social services agencies

·         Skill in accessing mental health and substance abuse treatment services

Conditions for Return

 ü  The Conditions for Return describe what must exist or be different with respect to specific family circumstances, home environment, caregiver perception, behavior, capacity and/or safety service resources that would allow for reunification to occur with the use of an in-home safety plan.

ü  Impending danger threats do not have to be reduced or eradicated in order for children to be reunified with their families if an in-home safety plan can sufficiently control the threat.

ü  What is necessary for children to return to their families is the establishment of well-defined circumstances within a child’s home that mitigates threats to child safety.

ü  The basis for Conditions for Return is the In-Home Safety Analysis and Planning section of the Family Functioning Assessment and Progress Update and the five questions located there.

ü  Conditions for Return are the explanations of how a “No” to Safety Analysis questions can be changed to a “Yes”.

ü  Once all five questions are answered with a “Yes” the reunification process must begin and the child must be returned to the home with an In-Home Safety Plan.

The 5 In-Home Safety Analysis Questions

1.    Are the parents willing and cooperative?

2.    Is the home environment calm and consistent enough?

3.    Are sufficient safety services available?

4.    Can danger be managed without professional evaluations? (i.e.- psychological)

5.    Do parents have a residence/stable home?

ü  For each In-home Safety Analysis Question to which you answer “No” there must be a Condition For Return. Each Condition For Return should have two parts.

o   The first part (A) should begin with:

“An in home safety plan is not possible because…” Explain why

o   The second part (B) should begin with:

“In order for an in home safety plan to be considered…”Explain what would make it safe for the child in the home specifically

ü  After all of the Conditions For Return, the following statement should conclude this section: 

“An in-home safety plan will become an option after the determination is made that the child’s safety, well-being, physical, mental and emotional health are not endangered by being placed in the home.”

The conditions for return must be addressed and discussed at all staffings and hearings

Supervisor FSFN Consult

 Supervisory case consultation is significantly different from “Supervisory Reviews” that many agencies conduct. Generally, a “supervisory review” is a review of case record documentation and tends to focus on aspects of compliance with rules and operating procedures.

 It is crucial that a supervisor is highly knowledgeable regarding the status of cases in his or her unit. Being informed about cases as they proceed through the Case Management process enables supervisors to assist Case Managers in enhancing their practice and making correct decisions. Dictating to Case Managers what they must do on cases is not consultation. Supervisor consultation is interactive. It involves facilitating discussions, posing questions, and seeking clarifications as the means for overseeing practice and providing guidance. Providing direction to Case Managers during consultation is primarily intended to serve as a teaching moment to help Case Managers become more competent and independent.

Creating a Supervisor Consult on an FFA Ongoing OR Progress Update:

  1. Open the FFA-Ongoing or Progress Update you are consulting on.

  2. On the right hand side of the FSFN page, click on the blue hyperlink that says Supervisory Consult.

  3. The Supervisory Consult Screen will appear:


Supervisor name, unit, worker name, case name and FFA-Ongoing or Progress Update number pre-fill automatically.

The type and method of consultation values will are different depending on how the Consult was created.

Source: FSFN Supervisory Consult User Guide- http://fsfn.dcf.state.fl.us/SystemDocs/User_Guides/Supervisor%20Consultation%20User%20Guide%2010042015.pdf

Background Screens

 There are different types of background checks.  It is important to ensure the appropriate background screen is requested for the specific case need, based on Florida Statute, and therefore can not be used interchangeably.

Important Note:  Anytime you do a background check for placement, you are to complete the FSFN Unified Home Study, and enter the results of the background check into the FSFN Provider Record. 

1. Local law & abuse checks **NO FINGER PRINTS REQUIRED**

This type of screening is suitable for the following needs:

  • Unsupervised Contact – includes non judicial home

  • Babysitting

  • Case Closure

  • Relicense yearly check for licensed foster home

2. State (FCIC), local law & abuse checks **NO FINGERPRINTS REQUIRED**

This type of screening is suitable for the following needs:

  • Reunification

  • Planned/Emergency Placement youth ages 12-17

  • Adoption (initial & 90 day) /Licensed foster home (initial & 5 year) FDLE youth ages 12-17

3. National (NCIC), State (FCIC), local law & abuse checks

**FINGER PRINTS ARE REQUIRED** All live scans/finger prints are done by appointment only.

This type of screening is suitable for the following needs:

  • Planned/Emergency Placement or household members of a placement – includes *New* household member to non-judicial home, and Level 1 License who has not been printed by CPI.

    • Non-Custodial Parent

    • Relative

    • Non-Relative

  • **Family-Made Arrangement (No removal / shelter) *Safety Plan*

  • **Safety Provider *Safety Plan*

  • **Initial Adoption – second sets are taken for 90 day rescreen (if warranted).

  • Frequent visitor to placement home (visitor who is in home consistently on a regular basis)

  • **New Licensed Foster home/ 5 year rescreen

  • **Licensed Foster home babysitter-Licensing determines and advises subject to be finger printed.

  • Household member of reunifying household (relative/non-relative **not parent**)

  • Other child safety concern

** Even though placements, adoption, foster care licensing, Family-Made arrangement and Safety Provider background screens all require finger prints- they cannot be used interchangeably due to Florida statue specification guidelines**

PLEASE NOTE: All 3 types include out of state criminal checks if the resources are available to BSU for identified state that subject has resided in.


Finger prints will not be transmitted to FBI/FDLE unless the background screen request is entered into the BSU database by the Point of Contact for your agency. All urgent or emergency placement screens will require a supervisor’s approval communicated to BSU before work will begin.Emergency Placement subjects will need to call and schedule live scan appointments before BSU will release the results of the completed emergency placement screen.

Family Finders Overview

Within each person is the desire to have relationships with others.  The kinds of relationships we have, as well as those we possibly don’t, and the strength or depth of those relationships certainly impact our quality of life.  When our youth enter the foster care system, it often impacts their relationships. Having the support of family and friends matters to our children, regardless of how young or old they may be.  We need to help foster and facilitate loving, caring relationships for all our youth in care.  We must never underestimate how much relationships matter! 

The goal of the Safe Children Coalition’s Family Finders program is to have our children make lasting connections to their own family members, and if possible and needed, to find a home for them living with one of these family connections.  Kevin Campbell, who developed the Family Finding model, has said “Our purpose in Family Finding is to restore the opportunity to be unconditionally loved, to be accepted, and to be safe in a community and a family.”  The Family Finders program is not just about “finding” or locating family members or “placements.”  It is designed to locate, engage, connect, and support family resources for the children we serve. 

In our efforts to increase the connectedness our children have with their families and other supports, Family Finders and Case Managers must work together to achieve the best outcomes.  Our roles in the process can be different, but our goal should always remain the same as we partner together through the process.  Family Finders primarily focuses on locating, connecting, and engaging with relatives. Case Managers focus on assessing the various family members and looking at ways to incorporate them into the lives of our children in care.  Just because a relative cannot take “placement” of a child, does not mean the relative doesn’t have anything of value to contribute in the child’s life.  It is very important that we look for ways to rule family members “in” instead of “out”, as often as possible.

Communication is key to the successful teamwork between Family Finders and Case Managers.  Family Finder Specialists regularly touch base with case managers in person, through emails, or over the phone to provide any significant updates on contacts with located relatives and family connections, as well as to plan with case managers how best to proceed in light of the current status of each case and any particular issues surrounding an individual child.  Family Finders seeks to support and enhance the family work case managers are already doing.  Partnering together will produce greater outcomes for connection and permanency for our children in care.

Family Finders Process

The goal of Family Finders is to help youth in licensed care make familial connections so they can maintain family relations and their family culture.  A by-product of this process can be a relative placement.  An essential part of the process is cooperation between Family Finders and Case Management teams in order to achieve the best possible outcomes. 

Family Finders is primarily utilized when a child is placed in licensed care (Foster Homes, Shelters, Group Homes, etc.).  Family Finders will also complete a one time Level 1 search for children placed with a relative, non relative, or a non offending parent. 

Family Finders documents efforts to locate relatives in FSFN via a case note, as well as, filing search results into ASK.  You can also locate current open Family Finders cases on the “Family Finders Tracking Logs” folder on the P-Drive. This folder also contains archived logs.

Five steps to connect:


1.) Shelter

  • Family Finders Specialist meets with the CPI and the parents to obtain names of relatives or non relatives who can possibly take placement. This is information is shared with the CPI and CM team.

2.) Referral

  • Referrals received two ways:

1.      New Case Transfers

2.      Case Managers

Referrals from Case Managers are normally for children who are coming from a placement with a relative, non relative, or parent that breaks down.

3.) Accurint Searches

  • We complete Level 1, 2, or 3 searches using the Accurint Software Program.

  • We mail letters and make phone calls to all prospective relatives in the search results and once a relative is contacted we refer them to the CM for follow up and also provide the relative’s contact information to the CM.

4.) Children and Relatives

  • We speak to known family members to gather information about other relatives.

  • We speak to children usually starting around age 8 to gather information about their family.

5.) Connecting

  • The CM follows up with all relative contacts provided by the Family Finders specialist and documents in FSFN under “Family Finders Effort”.


Guardianship Assistance Program

Effective July 1, 2019, caregivers who are at least level 1 licensed and meet other criteria are able to participate in the Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP) if the case is discharged at permanent guardianship with relatives or fictive kin. They may also be eligible for GAP benefits, if they are a licensed foster home.  If the child is 16 or 17 years old when the Guardianship Assistance Agreement is signed, the child can be eligible for the Extension of Guardianship Assistance Program benefits until 21 years old, as long as the child is participating at least one of the qualifying activities. Below are the eligibility requirements and benefits of participating in the program.

Available Caregiver Benefits:

(if criteria are met)

 Monthly payment of $333 for support of the child.

 Medicaid benefits until 18 years of age (or 21 if eligible for   Extension of Guardianship Assistance Program).

 Tuition and fee exemption.

 Available for children living out of state.

 One-time payment to assist with costs of establishing permanent guardianship ($2,000 nonrecurring). 

Local Process:


ü  Create FSFN GAP page.

ü  Attend permanency staffing for level one licensed homes.

ü  Complete Guardianship Assistance Agreement with guardian.

ü  Determine which funding source is appropriate.

ü  Maintain communication and partnership with assigned Case Manager.

Case Manager:

ü  Prepare PG case plan with required information

o    Launch a new Case Plan Worksheet.

o    Remove the parents and add the guardians.

o    Required elements are required to be in the Visitation/Family Time Tab, specifically in the “What are the strengths of this placement” box.

ü  Maintain communication and partnership with assigned GAP specialist.

Program Requirements:

 Must be a licensed home.

 Child is eligible for foster care board payments with

    relative/fictive kin for at least six consecutive months.

 Guardian enters a Guardianship Assistance


 Permanent Guardianship case plan includes:

-          Program Eligibility: The way the child meets the GAP eligibility requirements.

-          Appropriate Permanency: The way the department determined that reunification

or adoption is not appropriate.

-          Adoption Discussion with Guardian: Efforts to discuss adoption with the child’s permanent


-          GAP Discussion with Parents: The efforts to discuss guardianship assistance with the child’s

parent or the reasons why efforts were not made.

-          Appropriate Placement: The reasons why a permanent placement with the prospective

relative is in the best interest of the child.

-          Siblings: The reasons why the child is separated from his or her siblings during placement, if


-          Effort to Consult the Child: The efforts to consult the child, if the child is 14 years of age or

older, regarding the permanent guardianship arrangement.


Child’s PCP changes with Sunshine Health

The case manager is authorized to change the primary care physician for medical services

How do you change a child’s primary care physician with Sunshine Health Child Welfare Specialty Plan?

  1. Check Integrate (www.integrate.cbcih.com) IMV screen to ensure you’re an authorized caller.

    1. Keeping the IMV screen open can assist you during the process.

    2. Ensure you have the Primary Care Physician’s contact information that you are changing the child to.

  2. Call Sunshine Health Plan at (855) 463-4100 to speak with a representative.

Helpful Hints:

  1. The address to provide Sunshine for SCC children is the Northgate Office (1500 Independence Boulevard, Suite 210, Sarasota, FL 34234).

  1. Obtain the date effective for records.

  2. The Sunshine representative will provide you with a reference number. This reference should be given to the caregiver and/or provided to the physician’s office for treatment.

The following information is needed from the case manager to change the primary care physician

Child’s name:

Child’s date of birth:

Child’s Medicaid number:

Physician’s name:

Practice group name:


Telephone number:

Physician’s NPI number:

Effective date of change:

If you’re having problems, the WATCH Team can assist.

*Note:  The National Provider Identifier (NPI) is a unique identifier number that applies to many types of healthcare providers.  You may have to call the doctor’s office directly to obtain this information.


Child Placement Agreements

What are Child Placement Agreements?

•       Child Placement Agreement means that a Caregiver and a Child Welfare Professional have agreed upon specific care expectations for a child in out-of-home care whose behaviors or circumstances require additional supervision or safeguards.

Who needs a Child Placement Agreement?

•       A Child Placement Agreement needs to be created when there are concerns suspected or dependable information that a child has any of the following:

§  Severe self-harm

§  Problematic sexual behavior

§  Victim of sexual abuse

§  Victim of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

§  Juvenile sexual abuse

§  Behavior(s) that are a significant threat to others

What is the difference between the 2 types of Child Placement Agreements?

•       Care Precautions are considered the least restrictive type of agreement. The requirements are intended to be in place for a short period of time until more information is known about the child. Once more information is known, the child’s placement requirements can be modified as necessary.

•       Behavior Management Plans are needed for children who have demonstrated any of the following behaviors within the past twelve months:

§  Juvenile sexual abuse

§  Behaviors that are a significant threat to others

Who creates Child Placement Agreements?

•       CBC Case Manager will create the Child Placement Agreement with the Caregiver and child and complete document in FSFN.

Who are our local qualified assessors?

•       CPT, CPC, Therapist, Psychiatrist, Psychologist

How are Child Placement Agreements monitored?

•       A Lead Agency POC consult is required within 24 hours of determining that a Child Placement Agreement is needed to help determine which type of plan is necessary.

•       Child Placement Agreements will be reviewed by the Lead Agency POC and the Case Manager Supervisor after development to ensure it keeps the child or other children in the home safe. 

•       The Child Placement Agreement will be reviewed in the 90 day staffing(s)with all participants in attendance along with information reported in the Progress Update

•       Discussions will occur during monthly consults/supervision between the Case Manager and the Case Manager Supervisor.

•       Case Manager will monitor during monthly home visits via discussions with the Caregiver and the child (if age appropriate).

•       Lead Agency POC will attend 6 month staffing(s) unless required to attend a staffing sooner.

What is the process for obtaining information from a qualified assessor?

When a Behavioral PLAN is developed

•       A referral will be made by the Case Manager for an assessment to be completed within the 45 days of initial placement or after determination Behavioral Plan is required.

•       If the child is being considered for a modified or terminated plan then a qualified assessor will be used to review the current plan and behaviors to determine if the plan can be terminated. This process will be completed by the Case Manager.

•       A qualified assessor is not needed for Precaution Plan.

What is the protocol for children being placed with respite care provider?

•       The respite care provider will be made aware during the time arrangements are made by placement that the child has a Child Placement Agreement. The plan will be developed/modified to meet the respite home environment by the Case Manager.

•       If there are no changes to the existing plan then the respite provider will be entered into the FSFN system and a new plan will be printed and brought with the Case Manager to be signed at the time of placement.

What is the protocol for terminating a Child Placement Agreement?

•       For previously created SAR’s a discussion will occur between the Case Manager, Case Manager Supervisor, Lead Agency POC and the Caregiver to determine if the plan is still needed.

•       Precautionary Plans require a consult with the Lead Agency POC, Caregiver, Case Manager, and Case Manager Supervisor to review whether the plan can be terminated.

•       Behavioral Plans require a qualified assessor to complete documentation that the Behavioral Plan is no longer required. Upon receipt of the document by the qualified assessor a consult should be held with the Lead Agency POC, Caregiver, Case Manager, and Case Management Supervisor and any other party needed to discuss terminating the Behavioral Plan or developing a Precautionary Plan.

No plan should be terminated without the appropriate documentation and discussions occurring.

Safety Planning Requirements

Florida Administrative Code defines “Safety Plan” as the specific course of action necessary to control threats of serious harm or supplement a family’s protective capacities implemented immediately when a family’s protective capacities are not sufficient to manage immediate or serious harm threats.” 

A safety plan addresses a specific parent behavior, emotion or condition that results in a child being unsafe.  A safety plan controls and manages danger threats to a child when a parent/legal guardian is unavailable, unable, or unwilling to protect their child.  A safety plan will be in effect as long as a case remains open and parents/legal guardians do not have the protective capacity necessary to protect the child from identified danger threats. 

Safety planning is an ongoing process, not an event and should be developed jointly between the case manager and the family.  The child welfare professional responsible for the case has primary responsibility for developing, monitoring and managing the safety plan. As individual and family circumstances change, safety plans require updates based on the changes.  

In order to have confidence in the sufficiency of the safety plan we must analyze danger threats, family functioning, and family and community resources. This depends on having collected sufficient, pertinent, relevant information. The intention is to arrive at a decision regarding the most appropriate and least restrictive means for controlling and managing identified danger threats and therefore assuring child safety.

The child welfare professional creating, monitoring or modifying the safety plan will:

·         Ensure the safety plan controls the behavior, emotion or condition that results in the child being unsafe

  • Review safety plan for sufficiency within 5 business days of initial case transfer or new assignment and have a Supervisor Consult completed and documented to reflect review and sufficiency of plan

·         Ensure the effect of a safety plan is immediate, and/or continues to protect the child every day

·         Ensure the safety plan describes each specific action necessary to keep the child safe, including:

Ø  The person responsible for each specific action

Ø  Resources or people who will help with each action

Ø  The frequency of the action, including times and days of the week

·         Confirm that the person responsible for each action is occurring as planned at least monthly

·         Ensure the sufficiency of the safety plan as either an in-home, out-of-home, or a combination of both

·         Develop separate safety plans with the perpetrator of domestic violence and the parent/legal guardian who is a survivor of domestic violence

·         NOT include promissory commitments by the parent/legal guardian who is currently not able to protect the child. Example of INAPPROPRIATE safety plan actions include, but are not limited to:

Ø  Mom will not spank

Ø  Parents will remain sober

Ø  Mom will file an injunction and not let the batterer back in the home

Ø  Dad will not use drugs

All new or updated safety plans must be signed by all participants and uploaded into FSFN

within two business days of its creation or modification.

A discussion about the safety plan and specific actions safety plan providers

are responsible for must be documented in FSFN.



Safety Plans - Modifying

Once a case has been transferred from Investigations to Case Management, it is the Case Manager’s responsibility for developing and implementing modifications to the Safety Plan based on the Case Manager’s ongoing assessment of Safety Plan sufficiency within 5 days of case assignment. The Safety Plan should consist of the least intrusive actions necessary to protect the child consistent with diminished caregiver protective capacities and danger threats.  The Case Manager will exercise due diligence to modify Safety Plans in response to changing family dynamics, including when Conditions for Return are achieved.

A Safety Plan must be modified when any of the following changes occur:

  • A new danger threat has been identified

  • Danger threats have been eliminated

·         A child is released to the other parent, relocated in a family arrangement, or sheltered

·         Parent/legal guardian meets the Conditions for Return

·         There are changes in family dynamics or conditions which change the types and or level of safety services needed, including but not limited to:

Ø  A new child is born or comes into the home

Ø  A parent/legal guardian becomes involved with a new intimate partner relationship

Ø  There are significant changes to the household composition

Ø  There are changes in the availability of a physical location in which the Safety Plan can be implemented

Ø  The Safety Plan needs to become an out-of-home plan

Actions for modifying Safety Plans: 

The primary Case Manager will take the following actions to create a new Safety Plan.

  • Take protective actions immediately in order to keep the child from being harmed

  • To the extent possible, the Case Manager, the parent/legal guardian and any provider involved in the formulation of the original Safety Plan will collaborate to revise the Safety Plan.

Ø  Adhere to special considerations involving domestic violence

Ø  Review and discuss current family dynamics and conditions relative to criteria for an in-home Safety Plan or Conditions for Return

Ø  Review each specific component of the Safety Plan and whether any modifications are necessary

Ø  Identify options for plan modifications needed, eliciting family resources

Ø  Agree on modifications

Ø  Follow up with CLS when a Safety Plan is part of the court order

  • Identify whether there are ways to manage the identified danger threat with the child in the home; and if yes contact safety services providers who will participate in ongoing Safety Plan

  • Consult with your supervisor if assistance is needed in developing a sufficient ongoing Safety Plan.

  • The Case Manager should revise the ongoing Safety Plan and obtain signatures of the parents and any informal Safety Plan providers and file with the court.

FSFN/Documentation for Modifying Safety Plans:

  • Document any safety plan monitoring activity within 2 business days of any assessment information or action related to the assessment of the Safety Plan sufficiency.

  • Document modifications to any existing Safety Plan by terminating the current safety plan in FSFN and create a new version. The date needs to be changed to capture the date of the modification. This will allow for a complete history to the Safety Plans. Upload a signed version within 2 business days of creation.

  • The Case Manager will formally document an updated safety analysis when completing the FFA and any Progress Updates.

  • Supervisor or Case Manager will record supervisor case consultations about Safety Plans within 2 business days using supervisory case consultation functionality in FSFN.

Partnership Plan for Children in Out-of-Home Care

All foster parents must sign and enter into an agreement with the Safe Children Coalition and DCF in order to obtain licensure. Caregivers, however, are not the sole responsible party for ensuring quality care to children who enter out-of-home. Rather, it is a shared responsibility between the biological family, the caregiver, the CBC agency, and DCF. None of us can succeed by ourselves. Success in any case is contingent on the nature and quality of relationships between these key stakeholders throughout the child’s stay in care. The Partnership Plan, a product of the Quality Parenting Initiative, replaces the Bilateral Agreement and is intended to create a more inclusive, collaborative environment that embraces caregivers as partners. This is an integral step in improving and ensuring quality parenting for those children we serve in out-of-home care settings. It is intended to strengthen the depth and quality of the relationship between team members and to refocus organizational culture on partnership and open communication rather than simply on compliance and oversight.

Purpose: To articulate a common understanding of the values, principles and relationships necessary to provide children in out-of-home care with normal childhoods as well as loving and skillful parenting which honors their loyalty to their biological family.

**Effective 2018, each time a child moves placement, a new Partnership Plan must be signed by the Out of Home Caregiver and representative from the Case Management Organization and placed in the child’s file.**

The following are some highlights addressing the relationship between foster parents and case management:

Foster Parent Responsibilities

• Respectful partnership. Professional behavior.

• Participation in development and implementation of case planning. Includes participation in all team meetings or court hearings related to the child’s care and future plans.

• Excellent parenting - trauma sensitive care, family centered practice, and normalcy.

• Effectively advocate for all children’s needs.

• Possess or obtain timely and relevant knowledge and skills to meet the needs of the child(ren) in their home.

• To the best of their ability to provide placement stability and when necessary to participate in thoughtful and individual transition planning.

• To transport and accompany the child to medical, dental, and mental health appointments.

• Accompany and participate fully in children’s appointments for medical, dental, mental health, education and normalcy needs. Sharing of information with team.

• Support child’s attachment to family and assist in visitation and other communication. Mentor family and assist with continuity of care when the goal is reunification.

• Obtain and maintain child’s records important to the child’s well being.

Case Manager Responsibilities

• Respectful partnership. Professional behavior.

• Support and facilitate foster parent’s participation. Provide inclusive process with alternative methods when foster parent cannot be physically present.

• Enable and empower foster parents through services and supports necessary to provide quality care.

• Support foster parent’s role as children’s advocate and to not retaliate against them for their efforts.

• Provide all available information to foster family and assist family in obtaining support, training and skills necessary regarding the children.

• Facilitate cooperation and sharing of information by all involved. Consideration for child’s needs in development of transition planning.

• Facilitate as needed and support foster parent’s participation in meeting child’s needs. Sharing of information. Provide assistance when necessary.

• Provide foster parents with the information, guidance, training and support necessary for implementation of family centered practice.

• Work in partnership to obtain and share records for Child Resource Record, medical, dental, school, special events and achievement and photographs.

Home Visits with Children

What is the purpose of a Home Visit? The purpose of a home visit is to assess the safety and well-being of the child, as well as, address concerns and needs of the child and/or caregivers, determine appropriateness of the placement, and provide the caregivers the support and inform the progress of the case. 

When must a Home Visit be done?

·         Initial face-to face (FTF) contact with the child and caregiver is to occur within two working days after the case is accepted for services at the child’s current place of residence. 

·         When a child is in Shelter Status FTF contact shall occur every seven days.  (Shelter Status=legal status that begins when the child is taken into protective custody of the department and ceases when the court: grants custody to a parent and/or after disposition of the petition for dependency.)

·         Once the child has been Adjudicated Dependant (after Disposition) by the Court, FTF contact is required with each child a minimum of once every twenty five days in the child’s current residence. FTF contacts must occur more frequently when the child’s situation dictates more frequent contact as assessed by the case manager and the case manager supervisor.

·         At least once every three months the case manager will make an unannounced visit to the child’s current residence. 

·         Once a child in run away status returns, a FTF home visit should take place immediately in order to assess the child’s mental/physical state and gain insight into the reason he/she ran away. 

Expectations/Guidelines of a Home Visit:

·         Meet with the child and caregivers in their current residence.

·         Speak with each child individually, alone and away from others, to assess child’s adjustment, progress, needs and/or concerns and overall well-being.

·         Examine the child for cleanliness, health, and signs of injury, abuse and/or neglect.

·         Evaluate the home environment for appropriateness and safety.

·         Discuss concerns and/or needs with the caregiver and provide referrals for services.

·         Discuss stages of change and progress and/or concerns with services.

·         Inform the caregiver and child (if age appropriate) of upcoming court hearings, staffings, etc.

·         Obtain updates and copies of the child’s medical, dental and mental health records, appointments, procedures, prescriptions and dosage.

·         Obtain updates and copies of the child’s educational records and progress (if age appropriate).

·         Observe interactions between the caregivers/family members and the child.

·         Obtain updated photographs of the child using the Mindshare mobile application.

·         Review and sign the Child Resource Record at each home visit to ensure that information is current.

·         Follow up on previous concerns or referrals with caregiver and/or the child.

·         Discuss how visitation is going with parents/siblings.

·         Assess and discuss the Safety Plan in effect with the current participants, their role in the plan and the safety management techniques being utilized to determine if the current safety plan is still effective.

·         Document where the child sleeps and who (if applicable) sleeps in the bedroom with the child.

·         Document home visit information in FSFN or the Mindshare mobile application (which uploads to FSFN) within 48 hours of the FTF visit occurring.

Documenting ‘Other People Present’

When a Case Manager (CM) conducts, or attempts to conduct, a face to face contact with any case participant they must ensure that all people present - household members that are not active case participants, foster siblings/parents, visitors, service providers, etc (‘other people present’) - are included in the Florida Safe Families Network (FSFN) face to face contact.

The CM details observations of interactions between the active case participants and all ‘other people present’; ensuring to detail the children’s interactions with and reactions to these ‘other people present’ in the narrative note. Any tension, verbal arguments or guarded body language is also detailed as to all people present during the face-to-face contact. These observations are critical in accurately assessing risk and bonding; as well as detecting possible threats of harm to the children.

FSFN Documentation of ‘other people present’

When creating a Face-to-Face Contact in FSFN the CM selects all active case participants that were seen or attempted to be seen; then clicks on the blue ‘Add Face to Face Contacts’ hyperlink; which inserts data fields for each of them into the Narrative. Below the active case participants there is an ‘Other Contacts’ header and an ‘Insert’ button. The CM clicks on this ‘Insert’ Button to add each ‘other person present’.

When creating a Face-to-Face Home Visit – Child’s Current Residence in the Mindshare application, CM selects the ‘Add Other Contact’ button, which allows information to be entered in regarding others present during the home visit.

The CM enters the ‘other person present’ name, affiliation, title and date/time the Face to Face occurred in the inserted data fields for that person. Guidelines the CM follows when entering information into the ‘other person present’ data fields are:

• For a Foster Parent or Foster Parent’s child the first name and last initial are entered in the Name box (never entering the last name to respect confidentiality). Example:

Suzy S. SCC Foster Parent 01/11/2019 12:30 PM

John S. (8 y.o.) SCC FP’s Child 01/11/2019 12:50 PM

• For another Foster Child living in the home, only the child’s initials and age are entered. Example:

J.J. (2 y.o.) SCC Foster Child 01/11/2019 12:30 PM

• For a neighbor, family friend, etc demographics and relationship information are obtained and entered into the narrative note as well as ensuring the data fields are filled in Example:

Betty Boop Neighbor Neighbor 01/11/2019 12:55 PM

Notice neighbor is listed twice. The data fields in these inserts are all mandatory so sometimes the affiliation and title will be the same thing.

• For a Service Provider or Professional Agency Involved all information is obtained and entered. Example:

William Jones Helping Hand Social Worker 01/11/2019 1:15 PM

The CM also includes any contact information in the narrative notes for these ‘other people present’ and obtains business cards whenever possible if it is a professional. The CM has the parent sign a release of information for any ‘other person present’ so future communications with said person can occur.

Why is it important to include ‘other people present’ in documentation?

These other people, whether neighbors or professionals, are potential witnesses during the court hearings. They also may be able to assist in locating a parent or child who is missing in the future. They are excellent collateral sources to aide in accurately assessing risk as well.

Note: These same protocols detailed above apply whether the face to face contact is at the home or out in the field such as; the office, a school meeting, a doctor’s appointment etc.

What to Do When A Judge Reunifies Against SCC Recommendations

The following is Best Practice procedures to follow when a Judge reunifies a child with the parent(s) against the recommendations of the Safe Children Coalition (SCC).

If a reunification is ordered that SCC is not in agreement with, the Case Management Supervisor will IMMEDIATELY notify the YMCA SCC Operations Manager and schedule an Emergency Staffing. This staffing must occur within 72 hours of the Judge’s ruling.

The Case Management Agency ensures that all parties/service providers with relevant information about safety and risk to the child are invited to attend the Staffing. If the parties/service providers cannot attend, the Case Manager must obtain written statements from them.

To prepare for the Emergency Staffing the case manager at minimum must:

 See the child and family in the home and observe interactions; on the day of the ruling.

 Complete a Progress Update Home Study to assess the family and to address the change that has occurred.

 Implement a Safety Plan with safety managers to mitigate the danger threat(s).

 Complete the reunification checklist and ensure all required documents are obtained/requested.

 Request updated emergency criminal checks on all household members from the Background Screening Unit.

 Request an address call out history from the law enforcement agency whose jurisdiction it falls in.

 Complete the “Case Review and Consultation Review Form”.

 Determine if the Rilya Wilson Act applies and provide the referral as needed.

During the Emergency Staffing the Team will:

 Discuss the Judge’s ruling, all safety and risk factors and the best interest of the child.

 Develop an action plan to ensure the child’s safety and permanency.

 Review the Safety Plan for effectiveness and other actions that will help ensure the child’s safety.

 Collect the necessary documentation to return to CLS so the case may proceed

 Immediately assist Child Legal Services (CLS) in preparing the appeal (Motion for Rehearing – if it is the path chosen).

The action plan may include:

 Having Child Legal Services (CLS) appeal the decision per Florida Rules 8.265.

 Initiate a deeper level of assessment and documentation before going back to court, or

 Conclude the Team is okay with the ruling, implementing specific measures and actions to address safety concerns.

Ultimately, it is the Judge’s decision! If there are serious safety concerns that were not sufficiently presented during the hearing that the initial reunification ruling occurred in, an appeal hearing must be requested no later than 10 days of that ruling to present the supporting evidence and have that ruling re-assessed by the Judge.

Some ways to avoid reunifications against SCC recommendation from occurring are to: ensure we are making reasonable efforts to provide support and services to the parents, to ensure to maintain monthly or more frequent contact with all providers and parties to the case, to ensure to see the parents face to face every month and to build rapport with them; and most importantly to document qualitatively.

Safety and De-escalation Techniques

When working with diverse clients, behavior can be unpredictable. It is important for everyone to be continually in tune with their surroundings and aware of their own safety.

Techniques for minimizing risk:

  • Ask your agency about safety/emergency procedures and training. Become familiar with written policy and incident reporting.

  • Never take risks with a client who becomes threatening. Leave the room and seek assistance.

  • Eliminate objects in your office or meeting space that can be thrown or used as weapons. Check the physical layout of the office, so you have easy access to the door.

  • Inform your supervisor of all home visits and scheduled activities – time of departure, time of return, etc.

  • Keeping appointments in your Outlook calendar with addresses can assist with determining location.

  • Before entering a home, listen outside the door for any disturbances, such as screaming or fighting. When knocking on the door, stand to the side, not in front of it.

  • Identify potential safety risks while in the home. Remain alert and observant. Position yourself close to an exit with your back to a wall in case you need to get out quickly.

  • After hours, be aware of the location or neighborhood: note streetlights, open spaces, shrubs and other growth that might impair your vision.

  • When going to a car after dark, request to be accompanied by a supervisor or someone else. If you know you will be working late at the office, move your vehicle closer to the building before it gets dark.

  • Use “street smarts”. Plan home visits for daytime hours when possible. Lock car doors, travel without a purse or briefcase, and take on an assertive “I know where I’m going” demeanor. Carry a charged cell phone on you at all times.

  • Never give a client your personal phone number or your home address. Consider having your phone number unlisted or unpublished.

  • Learn the indicators of violence. Never put yourself knowingly in a risky situation. Understand the dynamics of addictions, mental illness, and other issues associated with acting-out behaviors as well as how to recognize signs of agitation. Follow your gut and assess your safety at all times. Learn non-violent self-defense, physical evasion, force deflection, and disengagement skills.

  • Everyone who is not an SCC staff member should enter through the front lobby.

  • Do not prop open, locked doors which lead into the office area.

  • If you see someone in the building you do not recognize, it is okay to ask if you can help them. That will help you determine if they are here for a legitimate reason.

  • Contact the police for an escort if needed. Your supervisor can assist you in determining if this is necessary.

De-Escalation Techniques:

  • Appear calm, centered, and self-assured even if you don’t feel it. Use a modulated, low, monotonous tone of voice.

  • Don’t take things personally. Even if the comments or insults are directed at you, they aren’t about you.

  • Be respectful, even when setting limits firmly or calling for help.

  • Never turn your back for any reason on an aggressive individual.

  • Always be at the same eye level, but do not maintain constant eye contact. Allow extra physical space between you and clients. Keep your hands out of your pockets.

  • Do not get loud or try to yell over a screaming person. Wait until he or she takes a breath; then talk.

  • Empathize with feelings, but not with the behavior. Do not argue or try to convince.

  • Trust your instincts, if you feel the de-escalation isn’t working STOP! Tell the person to leave, call for help, or leave your self.