WHAT WEST VIRGINIA KIN-CAREGIVERS WANT TO KNOW: QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM IN WEST VIRGINA

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1 West Virginia Relatives as Parents Program WHAT WEST VIRGINIA KIN-CAREGIVERS WANT TO KNOW: QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM IN WEST VIRGINA

2 Programs and activities offered by the West Virginia University Extension Service are available to all persons without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, veteran status, political beliefs, sexual orientation, national origin, and marital or family status. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Director, Cooperative Extension Service, West Virginia University.

3 West Virginia Kin-Caregivers Want to Know: Questions and Answers about the Child Welfare System in West Virginia INTRODUCTION Most kin-caregivers (those who are raising a child for a member of their family) must work with the Department of Human Resources in their state to obtain services for themselves and their children. Many experience frustration in understanding complicated rules and regulations and in finding the right department or person to assist them. Facilitators and kin-caregivers who attended the West Virginia Relatives as Parents 2004 Facilitator s Conference in Morgantown submitted questions about how to work with the Department of Health and Human Resources to find assistance and resources for themselves and for their children. This document represents the work of Laura Lou Harbert at DHHR, Children and Adult Services, who obtained the answers to the questions. Some of the questions could not be answered without more information from the person who asked the question, or because answering it would violate confidently. If your question was not answered, you may re-submit it in writing with additional information. Address questions to Laura Lou Harbert, Children and Adult Services, 350 Capitol Street, Room 691, Charleston, WV For more information, you may go to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services webpage at Step by step directions on how to find the information you need on the DHHR website are listed on page 3 of this document. The questions and answers are divided into topic areas. They include: Understanding Guidelines, Rules, Regulations, and Standards Entering the Formal System Being the Subject of a CIB Check Applying for Benefits Removing Children from Homes Working with Caseworkers and other Professionals Joining Multidisciplinary Treatment Teams (MDT) 1

4 The following table list terms with definitions that will help you in understanding the answers to the questions. Terms Community Service Manager CIB Check CPS DHHR EPSDT Emancipation FACTS Family Assistance Foster Care Provider Guardian ad litem Homefinder inroads Interstate Compact Local (district office) MDT TPR West Virginia Bureau for Child Support Enforcement WV WORKS Definitions The staff person in charge of the local/district DHHR office. Ciminal Investigation Background Child Protective Services West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Some people call it the welfare office. Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) services. Called HealthCheck in WV. The right of a child over 16 to contract in his own right and have all privileges, rights, and duties of an adult. The Family and Children Tracking System is the computer system in which information about the family and child is stored electronically. TANF/WVWORKS The foster family approved by DHHR. The attorney who represents the child. The person wo recruits homes and who does home studies for foster care and adoption. Information Network for Resident Online Access and Delivery of Services. Internet access to DHHR programs Regulates the movement/placement of children who are placed for foster care or adoption across state lines. The DHHR office in each of the 55 counties. Mutidisciplinary Treatment Team -- is a group of individuals from different disciplines who work together with the child(ren) and family to develop a service plan and coordinate services. Termination of Parental Rights. The Bureau in DHHR responsible for the collection and disbursement of child support Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Location of policies on the Internet. The income maintenance (TANF and Medicaid) foster care, adoption and CPS policies can be found on the internet. Click on Children and Families and then click on Policy Online. 2

5 Directions to Find DHHR Policy on the Internet 1. Go to the website 2. When you get on the website, you will see six blue boxes at the top of the page. The fourth blue box from the left says Children and Families. Click on Children and Families. 3. Now you will see a blue bar at the top of the page. In the blue bar you will see Policy Online. It is third from the left. Click on Policy Online. 4. You will now see at a list of policies that are online. First is Adoption. Foster Care is last. You need to scroll down the page to Foster Care. 5. When you get to Foster Care, left click on Foster Care. Then click on the section you want to read, by selecting either PDF or HTML (PDF and HTML are in blue letters) 6. When you select the section you want to read, you will first see a title page with the section number. As you scroll down, you will come to the table of contents, and then the policy. 7. Although you may want to read all 14 sections, you will find the following sections of particular interest. Section 3, Kinship Relative Care, Appendix 2 (Absent/Unknown Parent and Relatives Search Policy) Section 13, Appendix 3 (Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) Section 14 which contains the standards to be a foster/adopt parent. 8. CPS (Child Protective Services) is a separate policy. Go to step four to find CPS. 9. Go to step four to locate the Income Maintenance Manual. This manual will have information about the TANF child only grant and Medicaid. 3

6 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS Understanding Guidelines, Rules, Regulations, and Standards 1. What does FACTS stand for? FACTS stands for Families And Children Tracking System. The Family and Children Tracking System is the computer system in which information about the family and child is stored electronically. 2. Why are we not allowed to collect Social Security benefits for grandchildren in our custody? Questions regarding social security are best answered by the Social Security Administration. The toll free number is How do I contact the Interstate Compact? For West Virginia, the contact person for Interstate Compact is Nancy Chaihoub at the Division of Children and Adult Services. Her phone number is Is a psychological test included in required health care screening for the child? All children who have a Medicaid Card are eligible for Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) services. In West Virginia EPSDT is called HealthCheck. HealthCheck includes a behavior and mental health screen for children age 6 through 20. For children in foster care, EPSDT services are required. For children with a Medicaid Card and not in foster care, EPSDT services are available, but not required. 5. Can relatives take foster care classes even if the child is not in CPS care? If the child is not in CPS care, the relative would need to request a home study to take the foster care classes. If the child is in CPS care, the relative is required to attend the classes. 6. Is it necessary for a child to sue their parents to have parental rights terminated? No. Under West Virginia State Code , emancipation occurs when: A child has been declared emancipated by a court: A child over the age of sixteen may petition a court to be declared emancipated. A child marries and is over the age of 16. 4

7 Entering the Formal System 7. When does a client first get involved in the formal system? If the client is a child, the formal system begins its work when the State receives custody of the child. If the client is a foster care provider, the formal system begins its work after the provider is certified as a foster parent and has a child placed in his/her home. If the client is the birth parent, the formal system begins its work when an abuse or neglect complaint is reported. 8. How can we adopt our grandson who has lived with us for four years? There has been no support from parents. If the grandchild is in the custody of the DHHR, the grandparents need to contact the homefinder in the county in which the grandparents live by calling their local DHHR office. It will be necessary for the grandparents to have a home study which includes, but is not limited to, at least one home visit, a medical exam, a criminal background check, and a check of any substantiated child/adult abuse or neglect. The grandparents will also be required to take foster/adoptive parent training. If the child is not in the custody of the department, the grandparent or other relative needs to talk to an attorney. Selecting a Relative as the Caretaker of the Child 9. Why are some children being placed in other foster homes even if they have relatives who can and want to care for them? Every case is different. When placing the child with a family in out of home care, it is the goal of DHHR to place the child in the home that is best for the child, The department tries to place children with relatives if it is the best placement and the relative s home meets all the requirements to be a certified foster parent. 10. When there is an emergency situation, why can t the child not go with a relative temporarily? This would be a much more stable situation. If the relative is appropriate, and DHHR does not take custody, a protection plan can be put in place and the children can be placed with the relatives. A child can be placed on an emergency basis with a relative, provided the relative meets the requirements of the Kinship/Relative Safety Screen. The DHHR worker must see the home and do a screening before placing the child. 5

8 11. If you don t have a real nice home that is up to standards, why are you faulted in the approval process, even if you have love to give and have had no substance abuse issues? If DHHR has custody of a child, it is charged with his or her safety. Part of its responsibility in assuring the safety of children is requiring safety standards for the house in which they live. The house has to meet safety standards and meet the living space requirements of DHHR in order for a child to be placed there. 12. When a family member asks for reasons why he or she has been turned down as a suitable guardian of a child, does he or she have a right to see the documentation for the decision? Information about the decision is provided to family members at the time they are turned down. If the family does not receive the information the family can address this through the chain of command as explained in the answer to question 29. When families are turned down they have a right to grieve the decision. 13. Can the child be put with a relative and then be CPS tested at a later date? A child can be placed on an emergency basis providing the family meets the requirements of the Kinship/Reltive safety screen. The DHHR case worker must see the home and do a screening before placing the child. 14. How many kids can be in a foster care home at one time? As required by State Code, no more than six (6) children, including foster children and the foster/adoptive parents own children under the age of eighteen (18) living at home shall reside in the foster home at any given time. The only exception may be for the placement of a sibling group with the prior approval of the Homefinding Supervisor who will then notify the Foster Care Program Specialist in the Office of Social Services by the next working day. Being the Subject of a CIB Check 15. How long does it take DHHR to do a CIB check? It can vary depending on several factors. Usually it takes two to six weeks. Caretakers do have The option of getting their own CIB and then giving it to DHHR. This should take about two weeks. 6

9 16. How far back is the CPS required to check a person s CIB reports? The CIB report can go as far hack as the 1970s. 17. Would a concealed weapon permit qualify as a CIB violation? No. 18. Is a non-custodial parent required to have a CIB check? Every case is different. Decisions are based on the information learned in the home study. Applying for Benefits 19. If grandparents are applying for Medicaid, why must they apply for child support? If the grandparents are applying for Medicaid for themselves, as well as for their grandchildren, they must cooperate with Child Support Enforcement requirements or they will be ineligible for Medicaid coverage for themselves. They will only be exempt from meeting the Child Support requirements if a good cause for not cooperating is established and verified. 20. When a family provider applies for a medical card for a child is that action then reported to Child Support Enforcement as it is when one applies for TANF? A referral to the Bureau for Child Support Enforcement must be made unless the applicant verifies that a situation exists that would make it harmful for the child or the caretaker to cooperate. You are requested to cooperate with Child Support whenever you apply for Medicaid for a child unless you verify that a good cause exists for not cooperating. The Child s Medicaid benefits are not closed or reduced if the adult caretaker does not cooperate with the Child Support Enforcement requirements; the only penalty for not cooperating would be that the adult would not be eligible for Medicaid. 21. Do I or DHHR have to go after the parents for a CHIP card or Medicaid? You are requested to cooperate with Child Support Enforcement wenever you apply for Medicaid for a child unless you verify that a good cause exists for not cooperating. The Child s Medicaid benefits are not closed or reduced if the caretaker does not cooperate with the Child Support requirements; the only penalty for not cooperating would be that the caretaker would not be eleigible for Medicaid. 7

10 22. Does DHHR always try to collect financial support from the parents if the relative caretaker applies for a TANF child only grant? Whenever TANF benefits are approved for a child, a referral is made to Child Support Enforcement unless the caretaker states that there is a good reason for not cooperating. A caretaker may claim such a reason exists if he or she believes his or her cooperation may result in physical or emotional harm to the caretaker or child. Anyone interested in applying for cash assistance for a minor relative, but fears cooperating with Child Support Enforcement, should contact a local DHHR office and talk to a WV WORKS supervisor about their particular situation. 23. If the child s parents are required to pay child support, but they don t, can you, the custodial parent, apply for TANF for the child? If you receive TANF benefits for a child, only the actual child support paid by the absent parent will be counted as income for the child and then redirected to the State. No ordered support is counted unless it is actually paid by the parent. By signing the paper for a referral to Child Support Services, the Bureau for Child Support Enforcement would only attempt to enforce the order already in effect. 24. Why are we not allowed to collect Social Security benefits for our grandchildren? For questions about Social Security, call What is inroads? Information Network for Resident Online Access and Delivery of Services (inroads) allows individuals to make application on-line (the Internet) for programs offered by the West Virginia Department Health and Human Resources (DHHR). Individuals can access the Internet from their home, the library or community service location. Programs individuals can apply for on the Internet include Medicaid for Children and Pregnancy Women, WV CHIP (Children s Health Insurance Program), Food Stamps, Medicare Premium Maintenance Programs, Transportation Remuneration Incentive Program (TRIP) School Clothing Allowance, and Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP). Currently, the online applications for Cash Assistance, Long Term Care, (NEMT) Non Emergency Medical Transportation and some healthcare benefits are not available on inroads. To apply for these benefits, please visit your local WVDHHR office. Information about inroads may be found at the following website: 8

11 26. What is the Call Center? ( ) The name of the call center is the Customer Service Center. The Customer Call Center receives calls from clients that want to report changes in circumstances for their Food Stamps benefits, Medicaid or caretaker relative cases. Clients calling the Center can report changes such as: change of address, someone in the home started or stopped work, someone moved in or out of the house. Information about the Center can be found at center/asp/. The toll free number of the Customer Service Center is Removing Children from Homes 27. How does CPS look at domestic violence that is done in front of children? Will CPS take a child away from the home if it happens? DHHR considers domestic violence as a form of child abuse and neglect. DHHR does investigate reports of domestic violence, but does not necessarily remove the child. 28. What is done with children involved with domestic violence? If the domestic violence is minor, and the family gets social service assistance, DHHR may close the case. If the domestic violence is severe, DHHR may need to take custody of the child. 29. According to Section #9, is a court order needed to remove the child? If the question is in reference to West Virginia State Code , the answer is no, a court order is not needed to remove a child in certain emergency situations. 30. Is it normal for parents that had the children removed to get CPS to show the children how to get back and not follow court orders? If this is a personal situation, and we are not involved in the specific situation, it is difficult to answer the question. If you feel court orders are not being followed, follow the chain of command as described in the answer to question number 29. 9

12 Working with Caseworkers and other Professionals 31. Is a state worker given a CIB (criminal), FBI, and CPS check? All staff applicants are asked on the State employment application if they have been convicted of a felony in the last seven years. 32. What happens when case workers file false reports? Any one who chooses to, may express their concerns or complaints about the manner in which DHHR has carried out its assignments. These complaints should be addressed through the chain of command. First, the person with a complaint should discuss his or her concerns with the caseworker assigned to the case. If the caseworker will not or cannot address the complaint, the person with the complaint should discuss his or her concerns with the caseworker s supervisor. If the supervisor cannot or does not address the complaint then the person should discuss his or her complaint with the Community Services Manager. If the Community Services Manager cannot or does not address the complaint then the person should discuss his or her concern with the Regional Director. 33. What if you think that CPS workers are not doing their job? See answer to question What if a Guardian ad Litem is not doing his/her job, including doing the background work? Contact the child s caseworker and follow the chain of command as explained in question 29 or contact the West Virginia Bar Association. 35. Does the foster/adoptive family grievance apply to kinship care providers? Yes. 10

13 Joining Multidisciplinary Treatment Teams (MDT) 36. Can grandparents attend the Multidisciplinary Treatment Team? If so, will they be notified of the date and time? Per the Multidisciplinary Team Policy (MDT) found in Appendix 2, Chapter 13 of the Foster Care Policy, the MDT must include other immediate family members. This applies to multidisciplinary teams for both youth services and CPS cases. Per section 3.8 of the Foster Care Policy, the team should include extended family. Grandparents qualify as extended family. If your grandchild goes into care, you need to contact the CPS worker in the county where the child was taken into custody and voice your desire to attend the MDT. If the grandparents are going to be considered as a placement, they can attend if invited. It the child is not in the care of the grandparents, they cannot attend unless the parents of the child want the grandparents to attend. The MDT is required to be established and convened within 30 days of the child entering custody or within 30 days after the petition has been filed. The members of the MDT must be properly notified at least 15 days before the MDT meeting. The notification is by mail. Although grandparents are not specifically mentioned, the policy says that special attention must be given to the family s involvement in the MDI process. 37. Who must be on the MDT? By State law, the treatment team must include the following: The DHHR caseworker assigned to the child or family The child s custodial parents or guardian or other immediate family members The parent or guardian s counsel The child s attorney The Guardian ad Litem, if any The prosecuting attorney or his/her designee The child may participate if deemed appropriate by the MDT The providers of service to the child and family Persons entitled to notice and opportunity to be heard including defined foster parents, pre-adoptive parents, or custodial relatives Where appropriate to the particular case, a court-appointed special advocate (CASA), an appropriate school official, and any other person or an agency representative who may assist in providing recommendations for the particular needs of the child and family. 38. Is a friend or advocate (non-professional) allowed to be part of the MDT at the request of the child or family? Yes, in most circumstances. 11

14 39. When is the child included on the team? When the child is age 12 or older. If under age 12, the child may attend if it is deemed appropriate by the MDT. 40. Who writes the MDT report? The DHHR worker completes the report, but all individuals who attended the meeting will sign the report. The MDT report may contain different opinions. 41. Who gets copies of the MDT report? The MDT report is submitted to the court. 42. How soon is the MDT report given to other members? At each MDT meeting the members are given an updated report, but they do not keep a copy of the report. The birth family and foster care provider get a copy. 12

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