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  • 1. A compilation of best practice recommendations collected from research projects reported from 2004-2009 in the united states, WITH SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION FROM OTHER SOURCES INCLUDING GOVERNMENT STATISTICS AND REPORTS
    Best Practices in Out-Of-Home Foster Care Placements
  • 2. Out-of-Home Foster Care Placements
    • A brief overview of the facts including causes and participants
    Out-of-home placements refer to any living situation for a child removed from the legal home (biological or adoptive family) and include primarily foster homes and group homes, both public and private
    Children are removed, generally by Child Protective Services, from homes with abuse or neglect, unsafe conditions or other risk factors
  • 3. Group Homes
    Foster Homes
    Similar to a hospital or boarding school in that full time skilled care is provided continually on rotating shifts
    School is often provided onsite
    Counseling and therapeutic services are provided onsite
    Considered to be a more restrictive environment
    Designed for children with complex needs or those not functioning well in traditional foster homes
    Often used for hard-to-place and older children especially those who have experienced prior multiple placements
    Segregates children by gender, age and type of disability, often separating sibling groups
    Residential home with a family trained in foster care
    Children attend neighborhood schools alongside their peers
    Counseling and therapeutic services are provided in home when needed and when available, some services may be provided at school
    Considered to be a less restrictive environment
    Designed for children in care who do not present a danger to themselves or others
    Can function as respite care, emergency care, short and long term care, as well as pre-adoptive homes
    Can often accommodate sibling groups
    Can also include kinship placements
    Types of Out-Of-Home Care
  • 4. Problems In Out-Of-Home Placements
    Separation of sibling groups leading to decreased contact with siblings resulting in deteriorated relationships
    Instability in placements resulting in multiple movements leading to increased behavioral and psychiatric problems
    Inconsistency of access to services: psychiatric, medical, academic, and others impairing quality of care
    Decreased contact with stability forces including positive biological family relationships as well as contacts with clergy, teachers, and mentors
  • 5. Best Practices Background Information
    Foster care as an institution of social welfare has only been used in the United States since the mid twentieth century and as a result, there are few longitudinal studies on its effectiveness.
    There is little documentation on best practices in out-of-home care other than that which is mandated through such legislation as the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 and the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997.
    Professional research has revealed interesting trends and correlations between successful out-of-home placements and certain present factors, which can be viewed as potential best practices if duplicated in other situations
  • 6. Best Practices Overview
    Pre-screen foster home availability for suitability matches with placement children
    Provide consistency of quality medical, dental, psychiatric, academic and early intervention services
    Recruit and match mentor figures to incoming placements
    Reduce turnover in social services staffing
    Minimize multiple placements or movements
    Increased involvement in case planning by child, biological family, foster family and social services members
    Decrease time in out-of-home placement
    Encourage and support attachment bonding
    Consider biological family bonds as well as foster family bonds when arranging permanency placements with special note given to child age and time of placement ratios
  • 7. Pre-screen foster home availability for suitability matches with placement children
    Research shows that matching foster children to homes similar in cultural practices, native language, socioeconomic status and personality results in better transitions.
    When possible, keep children in the same community: same school, same church/place of worship, and same support network to help children maintain early connections for stability and attachment
  • 8. SUGGESTED APPLICATION OF BEST PRACTICE: Pre-screening and Matching
    Use basic demographics information such as home address and school district assignment, as well as racial, cultural and religious background information to connect waiting foster homes with new admittance cases into foster care
    Use proven standardized testing such as the CASI-FC to help identify foster children from birth to age 19 who are at risk for more than two placements within 12 months, consistent with federal outcomes and accountability standards (The Child & Adolescent Screening Inventory 2010) and then implement support strategies to offset risks
    Conduct pre-placement interviews between the child entering foster care and the potential foster family to insure basic compatibility, and have an alternate family prepared if the first placement is not suitable
  • 9. Provide consistency of quality medical, dental, psychiatric, academic and early intervention services
    Research proves that children in foster care are less likely to receive necessary medical care and are more likely to suffer educational setbacks
    Continuity of care in these five key areas encourages progress during the out-of-home placement and can contribute to the confidence and positive development of the child in care
    Failure to care for these five key areas can result in children who display problem behaviors due to low self-esteem, insecurity, physical or psychological pain, or as the result of bullying from peers because of deficiencies in these areas. These types of problems are often linked to placement failures and numerous successive placements or graduated care needs to more restrictive environments.
  • 10. SUGGESTED APPLICATION OF BEST PRACTICE:Continuity of Medical/Dental/Academic/Psychological Care
    Centralize and computerize records to link the childs practitioner notes with the foster care file, and maintain an online data entry system for foster caregivers to give real-time updates on children in care, with automatic email updates sent to social workers and case coordinators, to reduce backlog time in filing systems and approval systems as well as prevent lost paperwork
    Require immediate reviews of all children entering care or changing placements by a case coordinator who then arranges with the foster family for changes in all required services including medical and therapeutic
    Conduct entrance examinations to identify urgent needs, including a psychological assessment for behavioral or academic needs as well as dental and medical needs
  • 11. Recruit and match mentor figures to incoming placements
    Mentoring is very effective, especially amongst African-American teens in care
    Mentoring allows the child in care to have a neutral contact (someone not involved in the foster care process like a therapist, social worker, foster parent, biological parent, guardian ad litem) with an objective perspective who can offer advice on success in school, work and normal relationships, giving the child in care an opportunity to focus on things within his/her power to control such as ethics, effort and attitude
  • 12. SUGGESTED APPLICATION OF BEST PRACTICE:Identify & Match Mentors to Children in Care
    Arrange cooperative relationships with mentor groups such as Big Brothers Big Sisters or civic groups for ongoing tandem programs linking incoming placements or existing high risk placements with suitable mentors
    Survey community support such as fellow church members of the child or biological family, neighbors or other non-relative family members with an existing relationship with the child for interest in mentoring the child through the out-of-home placement period
  • 13. Reduce turnover in social services staffing
    Children who maintain a continuous connection to a social worker often report lower levels of anxiety and