A request to consider a child for voluntary commitment may originate with parents, guardians or staff of the Cabinet. The decision to seek voluntary commitment for reasons other than adoption is made only after a thorough discussion of available community resources, exploration of relatives as a placement resource, or other appropriate services to prevent an unnecessary foster care placement.
Consultation with and written approval by the Service Region Administrator (SRA) or designee is necessary prior to accepting a voluntary commitment. Situations where this might be appropriate include cases where a:
- Juvenile parent may be in the custody of the Cabinet/Department for Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and has a child who is in need of placement;
- Parent, through no fault of their own (dependency), needs to have their child placed in foster care for a short determinate amount of time due to a situation rendering them temporarily unable to care for the child.
When parents request that the Cabinet accept custody of their children for a stated period of time, the SSW should discuss the rights and responsibilities of parents in regard to their child in foster care prior to entering into a voluntary commitment. The SSW negotiates a case plan, as outlined in the case planning section of SOP 4 Out of Home Care (OOHC) Services, with the family and child. In cases where there is an issue of protection, consideration is given to filing an abuse, neglect, or dependency petition.
The Cabinet may accept a voluntary commitment of the child to the Cabinet by the child’s parent, guardian or other person having legal custody; however, the Cabinet will refuse to accept any child on a voluntary commitment unless:
- Adequate facilities, funds, and resources are available to care for the child; and
- Commitment is in the best interest of the child.
As a condition of any voluntary commitment, the Cabinet enters into an agreement with the parent, guardian or other person having legal custody of the child consenting to their commitment to pay an agreed sum for the care and treatment of the child. The sum is determined by the needs of the child and by the ability of the parent, guardian, or other person having legal custody to pay.
In the case of a voluntary commitment, the Cabinet expends funds as necessary to give the child all services available to any committed child including, but not limited to, the following:
- Foster care;
- Day care;
- Institutional care;
- Treatment in a facility;
- Psychological care; and
- Psychiatric care.
The parent or guardian signs a medical consent form so that the Cabinet can authorize medical care for the child, if necessary.
When parents request that the Cabinet accepts custody of their children for a stated period of time, prior to entering into a voluntary commitment, the SSW:
- Discusses the rights and responsibilities of parents in regard to their child in foster care;
- Negotiates a case plan,; and
- Gives consideration to filing an abuse, neglect or dependency petition in cases where there is an issue of protection.
- Completes and presents to the parents for their signature the DPP-167 Consent to Voluntary Commitment form; 1
- Obtains a copy of health insurance or Medicaid card covering the child from the parents, guardian or person exercising custodial control;
- Follows the procedures outlined in SOP 4 Out of Home Care (OOHC) Services if the child is accepted for voluntary commitment;
- Completes the following tasks if it appears that the voluntary commitment will exceed one hundred, eighty (180) days:
- Takes the matter to court, prior to the one hundred, fortieth (140th) day, for a best interest determination, which gives the court sufficient time to render the required determination;
- Requests a written determination by the court that return of the child to the child’s home is contrary to the welfare of the child; 2
- Notifies the Children’s Benefits Worker (CBW) so that title IV-E funding is discontinued if the determination is not obtained by the one hundred, eightieth (180th) day; and 3
- Documents the notification in the case record.