Following a child’s entry into out-of-home care (OOHC), federal law requires that the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS/department) conduct periodic case reviews to ensure appropriate service provision and evaluation of the family’s progress. Periodic reviews are held every six (6) months from the date the child entered OOHC.
A well-executed periodic review should include a review of the needs and strengths from prior case conferences, a current assessment of whether or not the family has a continued need for department intervention, and whether or not a safety issue necessitates the child’s continued placement in OOHC. At the first periodic review, a case plan evaluation/ongoing assessment will be completed in TWIST, which will document the ongoing progress of the family since the prior case plan. This will include safety and risk assessments, and the family's progress towards permanency. OOHC case plans are also expected to make appropriate plans to ensure the child’s mental health, educational stability, physical health, and the establishment and support of a stable placement for the duration of the child's time in OOHC. Additionally, for a child in OOHC, the SSW and the department are responsible for creating a plan that demonstrates reasonable efforts to obtain a safe, permanent placement that permits the child to exit foster care in a reasonable timeframe. The components of a well-designed case plan include documentation around all these efforts.
Key strategies for the achievement of an appropriate case plan include the engagement of family members and use of a family team meeting (FTM) when appropriate, appropriate implementation of concurrent case plan goals when appropriate, and the development of the key family level and individual level objectives that identify key benchmarks for the evaluation of the family’s progress. The SSW, in collaboration with the family, the family's support network, service providers, and other community professionals develops a family assessment to identify safety threats and high risk behaviors. The SSW then collaborates with the family to identify strategies and interventions to facilitate needed changes.
Once the SSW has completed the assessment, the information must be incorporated into an effective, thoughtful case plan. The case plan provides a framework for case decision making and addresses the following questions:
- What are the family outcomes that, when attained, will indicate that safety threats have been successfully addressed, risk has been reduced, and the effects of maltreatment have been successfully mitigated?
- What tasks must be undertaken to attain these outcomes?
- What intervention approaches or services will facilitate the successful attainment of outcomes and achievement of goals?
- How and when will progress in implementing tasks, attaining outcomes, and achieving goals be evaluated?