Recent Changes to DCFS Rules and Regulations
The Department of Children and Family Services regularly updates and changes its rules and policies. Below are brief descriptions of recently passed regulations that affect our clients. Please see the DCFS website for the full version of the regulations.
Day Camp Expenses: In September 2011, DCFS released Policy Transmittal 2011.23, which returned day camp payments for children to $260.35 per year. (Policy Transmittal 2011.14 previously increased day camp payments to $1400.00 per year.) Thus, for summer 2012, maximum day camp fees paid by DCFS are $260.35.
Background Checks for Adoption/Guardianship Subsidy Approval: In September 2011, DCFS released Policy Guide 2011.08, issuing procedures regarding required background checks for subsidies. Licensed providers/foster homes are no longer required to have updated background checks prior to pre-screening and/or legal screening for the filing of a termination of parental rights petition, guardianship petition or expedited adoption. Background checks are necessary prior to subsidy approval for licensed foster homes seeking adoption or guardianship and unlicensed foster homes seeking adoption (unlicensed providers seeking guardianship are not eligible for a state or federally funded subsidy). Prior to subsidy approval, a licensed foster parent seeking adoption or guardianship must have completed the following within the last 2 years:
- All household members 13 and over must undergo a Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System check (CANTS) and Sex Offender Registry check (SOR);
- Fingerprint-based Illinois State Police (ISP) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) checks on all household member ages 17 and over.
Prior to subsidy approval, an unlicensed foster parent seeking adoption must have completed the following:
- A CANTS, SOR and Law Enforcement Agencies Data System (LEADS) check on all household member ages 13 and over within 6 months;
- An ISP and FBI check on all household members ages 17 and over within 2 years. If a household member is a DCFS ward, form CFS 718-W: “Authorization for Background Check of Wards of the State,” must be completed. If the home is unlicensed, the worker needs to use this form for ISP and FBI checks only and do their own CANTS/LEADS/SOR check. A protective plan (form CFS 596-G-W) must be completed for any DCFS ward with convictions in Rule 385, Appendix A and/or indicated reports of allegations listed in Section 385.50.
Medication Approval Standards: In September 2011, DCFS released Policy Transmittal 2011.26, which issued emergency rules for the administration of psychotropic medication to children for whom DCFS is legally responsible. In part, the emergency rules require DCFS to develop a Pharmacological Review Committee, to develop and publish a Pharmacy and Therapeutic Manual, and to review consents for medication every 30 days. The rules also address medication approval standards and use for children in both residential facilities and foster care. These emergency rules for the administration of psychotropic medication to children were effective as of October 1, 2011.
New Human Trafficking of Children Allegation #40/90: In September 2011, DCFS released Policy Guide 2011.09, issuing a newly added allegation #40/90, Human Trafficking of Children. According to the Policy Guide, the new allegation will be added to Procedures 300, Appendix B – The Allegations System, in the near future. The incidents of maltreatment include:
- Coerced labor exploitation;
- Domestic servitude;
- Commercial sexual exploitation (i.e., prostitution);
- Anyone in the child’s home exposes the child to an environment which significantly influences the child’s health and safety.
Differential Response: In January 2011, DCFS issued Policy Transmittal 2011.02. The purpose of this transmittal was to issue new Rules and Procedures 300.45, which establish the Differential Response Five-Year Demonstration Program. During the demonstration period, reports involving specific allegations of child abuse and neglect that meet a set of predetermined criteria will be randomly assigned to either an investigation or family assessment pathway. Unlike an investigation which requires gathering of forensic evidence and a formal determination whether child maltreatment occurred, a family assessment is voluntary, non-adversarial, and non-accusatory. Family members are not labeled perpetrators or victims, and a record of the case is not entered in the State Central Register. After the initial assessment completed by a Differential Response Specialist, short-term “Strengthening and Supporting Families” services are provided by a purchase of service agency. Cases may be referred back to the State Central Register at the initial assessment or anytime during the service delivery period when abuse or neglect issues are suspected or identified that make the case inappropriate for Differential Response. Investigation pathway cases may not be reassigned to Differential Response.
Subsidized Kinship Guardianship (KinGap): DCFS codified regulations regarding KinGap in DCFS Rules 302.410. KinGap implements a federal law that allows a state to provide payments to relatives who have assumed legal guardianship of children after caring for them as a licensed foster parent. To be eligible for KinGap, the child must have lived with a licensed relative foster parent for at least 6 consecutive months immediately prior to establishing guardianship. In addition, a child who is 14 years or older and living with a non-relative foster parent is eligible for KinGap.
Licensing Standards for Foster Family Homes: In September 2010, DCFS published changes to DCFS Rules 402. Rules 402 now provides that foster homes can be put on “non-active” status, which means that a particular home is not currently fostering or accepting new children. However, per Rules 402.7, a foster parent must continue to comply with all licensing standards while in “non-active” status. The foster parent can return to “active status” after contacting his or her licensing representative and allowing the licensing representative to complete a compliance visit.
Unlicensed Relative Home Placements: In September 2010, DCFS published changes to its Procedures 301.80. The revisions outline steps that DCFS must take prior to placing a child in an unlicensed relative home. In addition, the Procedures require DCFS to assess the safety and appropriateness of the home at least once every 6 months. In October 2010, DCFS issued Policy Transmittal 2010.16 to clarify Procedures 301.80(f), stating that if a relative is licensed as a relative only foster parent, subsequent placements shall be limited to children related to the relative caregiver.
Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Clients: In June 2010, DCFS issued revisions to Procedures 302. Appendix L of Procedures 302 requires DCFS case workers to ensure that children and adults who are deaf or hard of hearing have equal access to DCFS services and that the services or interventions are beneficial to them. The procedures also outline placement considerations and provide information about statewide resources.
Specialized Foster Care: In June 2010, DCFS published its first official rules about specialized foster care. DCFS Rules 301.90 provides details about eligibility, examples of medical conditions that may require specialization, minimum services to be provided, caregiver requirements, treatment plan monitoring and review, and applicability to adoption and guardianship subsidies.
Transitioning Youth Surveys: In May 2010, the federal government enacted the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) program to measure a state’s success in helping youth in its care achieve positive outcomes as they transition to adulthood. The program requires DCFS to administer 2 surveys to youth in its care. The surveys assess independent living skills. DCFS should give the first survey within 45 days of the youth’s 17th birthday and then again within 45 days of the youth’s 19th and 21st birthdays. For more information on NYTD, click here.
HIV/AIDS: In April 2010, DCFS released amendments to DCFS Procedures 327. Appendix H of Procedures 327 provides best practice guidelines for caseworkers to follow when identifying, diagnosing, treating, and monitoring clients with HIV/AIDS. It specifies that caseworkers should refer all sexually active youth for HIV testing at least annually. In addition, any child whose medical history is unknown or who exhibits certain risk factors should be referred for testing.
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