Out-of-home-care (OOHC) is one of many protective services offered to children and families. It consists of the provision for children placed in the custody of the Cabinet to receive supplemental care in an approved placement for a planned period of time when it is necessary for a child to be separated from his or her own parents or relatives.
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) assesses and identifies the best placement options for a child. The social services worker (SSW) plans for and prepares a child for initial placement, even when that placement is an emergency. Services are based on the family assessment and case consultation with the family team. Engaging family members is critical in the placement process. The family team considers the following factors:
- The noncustodial parents ability and willingness to care for the child is evaluated before considering other placement options;
- Placement with appropriate relatives before considering other placement options;
- Placement with fictive kin;
- The least restrictive environment available to provide for the child’s individual needs, including considerations of the child's current early care and education provider or school;
- Placement that is in the closest proximity to the family’s home, and within a child’s community that allows a child to remain in the same school district when it is in the child's best interest; 1
- Placement that is the most culturally competent available, including religious beliefs;
- Promotes continued contact with the child’s family, friends, and other primary connections; and
- A placement that accommodates siblings being placed together, unless there is a compelling reason that it would not be in the best interest of one or more of the children.
- Conducts an absent parent search to locate any noncustodial parents and relatives;
- Makes a request during the temporary removal hearing, when the identity of a parent is unknown:
- That the court order the family to reveal the identity of the noncustodial parent or absent parent; and
- That the court order the family to complete the DPP-1275 Relative Exploration Form (refer to SOP 11.15 Temporary Removal Hearing).
- Assists the parent or relative in completing the DPP-1275 Relative Exploration Form;
- Conducts background checks if a noncustodial parent is identified as a potential caretaker;
- Asks the family if the child is a member of or eligible for membership in a Native American Tribe and documents in the assessment (refer to SOP 4.1 Native American Child, Maintaining Cultural Connections);
- Determines if the child is part of a sibling group that needs placement and:
- Consults with the family services office supervisor (FSOS) and uses the Placement Decision Making Matrix as a guide to document legitimate reasons for not placing siblings together in the case record (refer to SOP 4.10 and Placement Decision Making Matrix link);
- Develops a sibling visitation plan, that is agreed upon by all parties, if siblings will not be placed together initially;
- Documents efforts to reunite siblings, who are separated during the initial placement, in the same foster/adoptive home unless exceptional reasons exist that prevent reunification (refer to Placement with Siblings Tip Sheet); and
- Assesses the possibility of placement with a birth sibling that is currently in foster care or has been previously adopted. The SSW shall explore the placement possibility with recruitment and certification (R&C) or the private child placing (PCP) provider. When seeking foster care placement, families caring for siblings of the child shall have priority for placement.
- Ensures that all prospective placements are given information surrounding the child’s known needs, so that the placement can make an informed decision regarding their ability to provide ongoing care.
- Assesses the placement options to determine the most appropriate, least restrictive placement type if a child is initially unable to be placed with a noncustodial parent or a relative;
- Selects the most appropriate placement type for the child from the following options:
- Relative placement with the relative obtaining temporary custody or relative placement with the relative pursuing approval as a foster home (refer to SOP 4.10.4 Child Specific Foster Home);
- Fictive kin with the fictive kin caregiver obtaining temporary custody or the fictive kin caregiver pursuing approval as a foster home (refer to SOP 4.10.4 Child Specific Foster Home);
- DCBS foster/adoptive home (refer to SOP 4.10 Placement in a DCBS Foster/Adoptive Home); 2
- PCP foster home (refer to SOP 4.11 Private Child Placing (PCP) or Child Caring (PCC) Agency);
- Residential placement; and
- Out-of-state placement (relative, relative foster/adoptive home, or residential placement) (refer to SOP 4.12 Out of State Placement); 3
- Prepares for the ten (10) day case planning conference as outlined in SOP 4.17 Preparation for and Completion of the Ten (10) Day Conference;
- Continues to engage family members and evaluate potential relative placements utilizing the DPP-1275 Relative Exploration Form and interviews with the child and family members.