Placement Resources

Placement Resources for Families

When the safety and protection of a child cannot be met in the parent’s or caregiver’s home, substitute care in the form of relative (kinship) care, foster care, residential therapeutic care, adoption, or other planned permanent living arrangements may become necessary. The removal of a child from his or her natural environment is taken only as a last resort, as part of the overall continuum of services provided by DCFS and the counties providing child welfare services. When it becomes necessary, child welfare agencies place children with available resource families. Resource families are families who exist to meet the needs of Nevada’s waiting children. Resource families may be relatives, fictive family, foster parents, therapeutic foster care parents and adoptive parents. With a resource family, a child may begin with an emergency shelter-care placement, emerge into foster care, with a final outcome of an adoption – and never leave the original resource family home. A resource family is a family who is committed to a child regardless of the child’s needs and level of care.

It is recognized that children in out-of-home placements succeed with a minimal number of placement disruptions. History demonstrates that children succeed when they are allowed to stay in the same family, even if the placement type changes.

Kinship Care

When a child must be removed from his/her home, the first placement option considered is kinship (relative) care. The family is engaged in identifying relative placement options currently not living in the home. This can include a non-custodial parent, aunts and uncles, or grandparents. In some cases, fictive family is considered as a placement for a child. Fictive families are those individuals who have played a significant role in the life of the child and are willing to accept placement of the child into their home. This can include a neighbor, a member of the clergy, or a teacher. If it suspected that the child is Native American, applicable ICWA guidelines are followed.

Once a kinship care provider has been identified, they must be able to demonstrate all the same health and safety requirements as traditional foster parents. They must submit to local and national criminal background checks, as well as a child abuse and neglect check. The kinship care provider must also demonstrate a willingness and capability to provide a safe, stable and nurturing environment.

Relative Guardianships

The 2001 Legislature passed Assembly Bill 15, a kinship care bill jointly supported by the Welfare Division and DCFS. The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Subsidized Guardianship program has been operational since October 2002. In an effort to support permanency for children, the legislation allows for any specified relative over the age of 62, who is caring for a relative child and who has legal guardianship, to receive TANF assistance up to the amount of the state foster care payment. They may receive medical assistance through Medicaid, respite care, childcare, and other services. This program does not require that the child is in the custody or care of a child welfare agency, and is open to any qualifying relative guardian. Other requirements are included to assure the safety of the child and to provide support services to the families. Relatives who wish to receive a foster care maintenance payment must meet the same licensing requirements as any family foster care.

Foster Care

When relatives cannot be located for a child who requires out-of-home placement services, the child welfare agency must utilize traditional foster care. As in kinship care, a child welfare caseworker is assigned by the child welfare agency to arrange the necessary care and services for the child. The worker provides direct counseling to the child, biological parents, and the foster/substitute care provider. The worker is the accountability and communication link between district court, the child, the biological parent, and the foster/substitute care provider. In cases where the permanency plan is reunification, caseworkers are responsible for initiating a case plan with the family to ensure reunification occurs in a timely manner. This includes ensuring that a family assessment is conducted that includes an assessment of needs and services. In those cases where it has been determined that it is not in the best interest of the child to return home, the caseworker is responsible for ensuring that other permanency options are explored and pursued. Generally, these options include permanent kinship placement, adoption, or other planned permanent living arrangement.

Residential Therapeutic Care

In some cases children have emotional and/or behavioral issues that do not allow placement in a kinship or traditional foster care setting. In these circumstances children are often placed into a residential therapeutic care living situation. DCFS provides a full continuum of residential therapeutic care including residential centers, treatment group homes and therapeutic foster care to meet the needs of children in foster care with emotional/behavioral issues. The difference between each type of residential care is the increased need for supervision, skill building, therapeutic intervention, specialized treatment and number of foster children in the home. Currently there are 294 licensed group homes statewide. Seventy percent (70%) are in Clark County. All providers must meet NAC 424 group home licensing standards as well as additional requirements for providers of therapeutic care. In addition, therapeutic care providers are required to develop treatment and discharge plans.

Foster Care Licensing

When a child is removed from his/her home, and it becomes necessary to place the child with a resource family, the family must meet all minimum licensing standards as established by NRS 424. The licensing process helps to determine whether the resource family can provide suitable care for the child. To assure an acceptable level of care is maintained, the licenses are renewed annually. An annual on-site visit to the home must be made for each annual and renewal license issued. Foster care licenses include resource families who are providing foster care, emergency shelter care, group (higher level) care, interstate compact, and adoption. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) background checks are conducted on all applicants and residents 18 years of age or older living in the home. In 2004 a new home study and family assessment, the Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE), was adopted statewide to help standardize the family assessment process and to provide more accurate and timely matches between children and potential resource families.

Resource families are required to attend a pre-service training and orientation prior to obtaining a license. The training curriculum is offered in both English and Spanish-language versions in all agencies providing child welfare services. All of the training sessions are co-taught by current and former foster/adoptive parents with state or county professional staff. After the initial license is issued, resource families must complete 4 hours of advanced training per year in order to keep the license current.

Many foster care children become adopted by the resource families with whom they live. While this is certainly in the best interest of the child, the adoption may effectively close that foster care home. There is a constant need for targeted recruitment and retention activities to replace those homes closed.