KC 6: Homestudy and Placement Services
The organization identifies stable, nurturing kinship homes and places children with kin who can meet their need for a safe, healthy home.
An organization that has responsibility for placing an Indian child
should work closely with the child's tribe to identify kin within the tribal community
. Kin from all tribes to which the child has ties should be considered as placement options.
Research Note: The Safe and Timely Interstate Placement of Foster Children Act of 2006 (H.R.5403) requires that full faith and credit be given to any homestudy completed by another state or Indian tribe with respect to the placement of a child unless it is determined that placing the child on the basis of the contents of the report would be contrary to the child’s well-being.
NA The organization only provides informal kinship care services.
The organization works with the child and parents
to identify kin that can be a resource to the child.
Homestudies are conducted prior to placement, or as soon as possible when the child is living with the caregiver, and are updated:
- within 2 weeks of a significant change in home composition; and
- at least once annually.
Interpretation: “Significant change” includes, and is not limited to:
- individuals who move in or out of the home (note that criminal background checks are required of all adults residing in the home);
- death or debilitating illness of a caregiver;
- structural damage to the home due to fire, flood, or other natural disaster;
- legal proceedings affecting the family such as eviction or divorce; and
- loss of income.
Households meet applicable state or federal regulations regarding composition and structure, and the organization is flexible regarding requirements not related to the child’s health or safety (for example, number of bedrooms or size of the home).
The assessment considers factors that may impact the ability of caregivers to provide care, protection, and experiences that promote healthy child development, including:
- personal characteristics;
- motivation and readiness for providing care;
- family and marital functioning;
- parenting skills and experiences;
- physical and mental health; and
- cultural sensitivity and a willingness to support the child's cultural ties; and
- availability of formal and informal supports.
The homestudy assessment should include all adults and children living in the home, including the identification of roles and an assessment of each person’s ability to contribute positively to the child’s healthy development.
Criminal background and child abuse registry checks are conducted for all adults in the home prior to placement, in accordance with applicable federal and state requirements.
A regular assessment of each home verifies basic health and safety requirements are met, including:
- appropriate sleeping arrangements;
- adequate heat, light, water, refrigeration, cooking, and toilet facilities;
- functional smoke detectors;
- intact doors, steps, windows, and window guards where necessary;
- no exposed wiring;
- no rodent or insect infestation; and
- walls and ceilings free of holes and lead paint.
The child is placed with siblings whenever possible.
If a child is not placed in a manner consistent with the specified priorities, the reason is documented in the case record
The organization ensures a smooth transition between placements and minimizes the number of separations that a child experiences by:
- requiring all parties to provide at least 14 days formal notice prior to any move;
- avoiding cyclical placements;
- responding proactively to challenges and conflicts associated with placement; and
- assessing the need for placement changes and documenting the justification.
When the case
involves an Indian child, the tribe should receive timely notification prior to a placement move.
Kinship caregivers who transport children in their own vehicles:
- use age-appropriate passenger restraint systems;
- provide adequate passenger supervision, as required by statute or regulation;
- properly maintain vehicles and obtain required registration and inspection;
- provide the organization with annual validation of their driving records; and
- provide the organization with regular validation of their licenses and appropriate insurance coverage.
Regarding element (e), this information should be provided as frequently as necessary, based on the amount of time licenses and insurance are valid. For example, if licenses are valid for two years, license validation can occur every two years. Regarding validation of appropriate insurance coverage, it is suggested that the organization maintain a copy of each caregiver's auto policy declaration.
Note: In some cases this standard may not be applicable to all kinship caregivers (e.g., if caregivers live in urban areas and utilize public transportation instead of private vehicles).
Indian children are placed according to the placement preferences specified in the Indian Child Welfare Act, as applicable.
Research Note: The Indian Child Welfare Act requires that preference be given to placements with: (1) a member of the child’s extended family; and (2) other members of the child’s tribe. As evidence of compliance with the placement preferences specified in the Indian Child Welfare Act, a record of each placement must be maintained by the state in which the placement was made. These records are made available upon request of the United States Secretary of Interior or the Indian child’s tribe.