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Library: Policy

340:75-6-40.3. Permanency Assessments

Revised 9-15-20

(a) The Assessment of Child Safety (AOCS) is a tool where all information gathered during in-depth assessments is documented.The AOCS builds upon the information documented in the initial Child Protective Services AOCS, lists all safety threats, and identifies any underlying causes of behavior related to those safety threats that led to the child's removal.

(1) An in-depth family assessment begins as soon as possible and is completed within the first 60-calendar days using the earliest date:after the child's removal, the filing of the petition, or the signing of the family service agreement.

(2) The assessment process identifies and evaluates the family's strengths, resources, protective capacities, and underlying causes of behavior that create the unsafe conditions and then integrates the information into a behaviorally-based individualized service plan.

(3) The assessment process is ongoing as information is gathered, obtained, and added to the assessment document.  • 1 through 6

(b) Ongoing assessment of child safety. Evaluating child safety is a primary function of all child welfare (CW) specialists during the investigative process and ongoing casework.Safety is assessed by the CW specialist during every contact with the family.The safety evaluation is a continuous process that occurs throughout the life of the case.The ongoing evaluation determines if the behaviors and conditions that led to the child's removal continue to rise to the level of a safety threat and assesses for additional safety threats and for safety as the case progresses and in reunification.This process is documented on Form 04KI030E, Assessment of Child Safety.    •  7 & 8

(c) Preliminary inquiry.A preliminary inquiry is conducted when the child, in an open permanency planning, trial reunification, Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children, or family-centered services case is reported to have a physical injury and the cause of the injury is unknown, per Oklahoma Administrative Code 340:75-3-130. •   9


Revised 4-1-21

1. (a) Assessment of Child Safety (AOCS).  Form 04KI030E, Assessment of Child Safety, is the tool used to document the information gathered during the initial in-depth assessment.  Information documented in the initial  AOCS, completed during the CPS investigation, is the foundation for the ongoing AOCS, conducted by the permanency planning specialist, used for a behaviorally-focused individualized service plan (ISP), any changes in the case, or case closure.

(b) Reunification not in the initial permanency plan.  When the initial permanency plan is not reunification, such as when a petition includes a request for immediate termination of parental rights or the court finds reasonable efforts to reunite the child and family are not required, an in-depth assessment is completed on the child only, instead of the family.

(c) Case review.  Prior to initiating the in-depth assessment, the child welfare (CW) specialist reviews the entire CW record, including previous child abuse or neglect investigations, reports to the district attorney, the AOCS, any previous CW case records, all family meeting reports, all transfer meeting contacts, all criminal history, and all other previous Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) history with the family.

2.     Ongoing AOCS procedure.  Family interviews for the initial in-depth assessment are conducted in the family home, when safe to do so.  This assessment is completed when the family is ready to begin the process; however, the ongoing AOCS is completed no later than 30-calendar days from the signing of the family service agreement, or 60-calendar days from the child's removal, or the date the petition is filed.

(1) The assessment includes interviews with and observations of as many household members present, as possible.

(2) A child in placement may be brought to the home for the assessment when case circumstances and safety permit, affording an opportunity to observe parent-child interaction.

(3) Information is obtained from immediate and extended family, tribes, placement providers, kinship sources, service providers, schools, other OKDHS units or divisions, and the Office of Juvenile Affairs, when applicable.

(4) The assessment process helps the CW specialist establish rapport, learn the family's history, and observe the current functioning patterns within the family.  The assessment identifies underlying causes of behavior that led to safety threats and serves to assess for protective capacities, resources, support systems, and family strengths.

3.     Ongoing AOCS results.  Information gathered and documented in the ongoing AOCS assists the CW specialist in developing a list of interventions needed to address the underlying causes of behavior related to child safety.  These interventions are incorporated into the parent's ISP.  The ongoing AOCS also assists the CW specialist continually assess child safety during the life of the case to determine if progression in visitation, trial reunification, or case closure is appropriate.

4. (a) Establishing rapport during the assessment.  To establish rapport during the assessment, the parent is informed the initial goal is to reunify the child as soon as it is safe to do so.  The CW specialist:

(1) informs the parent that Child Welfare Services (CWS) assists in obtaining the required services and encourages the parent to access the services immediately;

(2) discusses the court and permanency planning process with the family; and

(3) provides OKDHS Publication No. 99-27 A Parent's Guide to Child Welfare Services, that explains what happens with the child, the parent's rights, and what is expected of the parent.

(b) Problem resolution.  When the parent and the CW specialist disagree and the CW specialist is unable to resolve the parent's complaint, the CW specialist:

(1) advises the parent that staff performance and other staff-related complaints are addressed within the CWS chain of command; and

(2) provides the parent information regarding reporting complaints to the Office of Information and Referral.

5. Helpful assessment tool.

(a) Form 04AN347E, Medical and Social History Report for Adoption, is a tool that assists in the assessment process and is an essential piece of concurrent planning.  Form 04AN347E helps identify child and family needs and facilitates the identification and documentation of relative resources.  The CW specialist:

(1) requests current addresses and phone numbers for relatives identified during completion of Form 04AN347E; and

(2) removes the first page of Form 04AN347E that refers to adoption and files the page in the paper case record when reunification is the permanency plan.

(b) Form 04MP015E, Important People in a Child's Life Family Tree, is a tool that is used in gathering all potential connections for the child and aides in assessment of the family's support system.  Gathering and entering this information into the Family/Kinship Connections screen in KIDS is started during the investigation, updated during the in-depth assessment process, and then updated at every monthly visit.

6.     Ongoing AOCS.  The purpose of the ongoing evaluation of child safety is to assess for safety threats that are barriers to reunification and case progression.  The CW specialist consistently evaluates safety, family functioning, and protective capacities throughout the life of the case, during every contact with the family, until the child is safe in a permanent setting.  The criteria for the information documented in the AOCS mirrors the guidance outlined in Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) 340:75-3-210.

(1) Form 04KI030E, Assessment of Child Safety, is used to document the safety evaluation performed by the CW specialist.  The form is completed whenever a safety evaluation is deemed necessary and, at a minimum, prior to:

(A) beginning unsupervised and/or overnight visits;

(B) requesting reunification;

(C) considering reinstatement of parental rights;

(D) recommending closure of a court-involved or family-centered service (FCS) case;

(E) the birth of a child in an open case or upon learning of the birth;

(F) dissolving a Safety Plan;

(G) requesting changes to the ISP; and

(H) immediately following any significant changes in the family's living situation or circumstances.

(2) Critical thinking is used when applying the safety threshold and evaluating protective capacities of the person responsible for the child's (PRFC) health, safety, or welfare.  Every safety threat must meet the five safety thresholds.

(3) The CW specialist completes all sections of Form 04KI030E.  The relevant information from the previous Form 04KI030E is carried over in the current Form 04KI030E, enabling the CW specialist to tell a complete story of safety throughout the life of the case every time the safety evaluation is documented in the AOCS tool.

(4) The assessment:

(A) addresses previous and any new allegations, circumstances, or concerns;

(B) identifies behaviors and conditions in the home that led to unsafe conditions and how those behaviors changed over the course of the family's involvement with OKDHS;

(C) evaluates the PRFC's protective capacities to address the safety needs of each child in the family;

(D) addresses any criminal history; and

(E) lists all previously identified safety threats and underlying causes of behaviors that led to CWS involvement.

(5) The CW specialist explains to the family that the assessment includes separate and joint discussions with all family members and information gained from other sources to determine what actions or interventions, when any, are needed to address identified concerns.

(6) Information is obtained from:

(A) immediate and extended family;

(B) the tribe, when applicable;

(C) placement providers;

(D) kinship sources;

(E) service providers;

(F) schools;

(G) other OKDHS units or divisions; or

(H) the Office of Juvenile Affairs, when applicable.

(7) AOCS documentation must include:

(A) CW supervisor approval denoted by his or her signature;

(B) scanning the document into KIDS File Cabinet;

(C) saving the document as a word document on secure "U" drive in order to build upon it each time a new documentation episode is needed;

(D) completion of every section of Form 04KI030E and ensuring every section is updated with current information; and

(E) listing all safety threats and underlying causes, and any progress realized in correcting conditions that led to CWS involvement.

7.     Six key questions.  The information compiled for each of the six key questions indicates how the family functions and assists with making child safety determinations.  The six key questions explain all previous safety threats and underlying causes, any progress to correct or manage those threats, any Safety Plans in place, and any new safety threats that affect the child.  The six key questions are completed and communicate the entire family story as it relates to the safety of the child and involvement in the CW system.  The CW specialist may copy and paste information from the original Form 04KI030E, but must update the information.

(1) Maltreatment.  The CW specialist assesses the extent of the alleged maltreatment, safety threats, and underlying causes to determine the next steps in the reunification process.  All CW history, criminal history, underlying causes, and other relevant history are listed.

(2) Circumstances.  The CW specialist assesses the circumstances surrounding the alleged maltreatment and considers the nature of what behaviors or conditions surround the maltreatment.  The CW specialist documents all new referrals since the child was removed from the PRFC's care, new criminal history, and any new circumstances that may impact safety.  The CW specialist updates information regarding maltreatment including, but not limited to the:

(A) PRFC's intent concerning the maltreatment;

(B) PRFC's explanation of family conditions;

(C) PRFC's acknowledgement and attitude about the maltreatment;

(D) history or pattern of maltreatment of the subject child or others by the PRFC;

(E) PRFC's criminal history;

(F) presence of other problems occurring in association with the maltreatment, such as PRFC substance use or abuse or mental health;

(G) PRFC and sibling's explanation of the maltreatment; and

(H) collateral information related to the circumstances and history.

(3) Child functioning.  The CW specialist assesses each child separately with regard to his or her well-being, how he or she functions or behaves on a daily basis, and his or her role in the family.  The CW specialist considers each child's general behavior, emotions, temperament, and physical capacity.

(A) This key question determines:

(i) if the child's individual needs are being met;

(ii) if there are any unusual child behaviors;

(iii) the child's sense of security;

(iv) the child's physical health;

(v) the child's vulnerability;

(vi) signs of positive interaction with PRFC(s); and

(vii) collateral information related to child functioning.

(B) Information gathered in this phase of the safety assessment includes the child's current:

(i) capacity for attachment;

(ii) general mood and temperament;

(iii) intellectual functioning;

(iv) communication and social skills;

(v) expressions of emotions and feelings;

(vi) behavior;

(vii) peer relations;

(viii) school performance;

(ix) motor skills;

(x) physical and behavioral health;

(xi) functioning within cultural norms; and

(xii) developmental functioning.

(C) The CW specialist observes the children with the parents and documents interactions, frequency, and the number of visits in KIDS Contacts.  The CW specialist also documents the parent's understanding of the child's development and functioning now, as compared to the time of the removal.

(4) Parenting - discipline.  The CW specialist assesses the disciplinary approaches used by the PRFC and the circumstances for using the discipline.  Information gathered in this phase of the safety assessment includes:

(A) methods and frequency of discipline used by the PRFC;

(B) the PRFC's concept and purpose of discipline, such as providing direction, managing behavior, or teaching;

(C) the context in which discipline occurs;

(D) the PRFC's emotional state when disciplining;

(E) if the PRFCs agree on the type and use of discipline;

(F) the PRFC's perception of the effectiveness of utilized disciplinary approaches;

(G) the PRFC's view of his or her own discipline experience as a child;

(H) if the PRFC's discipline is based on reasonable expectations of the child, relative to age and developmental stage;

(I) the influence of cultural practices on discipline;

(J) the child's perception of the discipline methods based on individual conversation with the CW specialist, when the ongoing AOCS is being completed for reunification planning;

(K) collateral information obtained related to family discipline; and

(L) documentation of any ISP services initiated or completed regarding discipline and any displayed or verbalized behavioral changes.

(5) Parenting - general. The CW specialist gathers information to evaluate the overall family values and cultural influences within the family.

(A) The CW specialist assesses parenting practices used by the PRFC determining if the:

(i) PRFC's primary parenting practices are developmentally appropriate;

(ii) PRFC expresses empathy for the child; and

(iii) PRFC recognizes danger or threats of danger to the child.

(B) The CW specialist assesses the PRFC's:

(i) expressed new knowledge and understanding about parenting;

(ii) interactions with the child; and

(iii) plans for upcoming visitations, both supervised and unsupervised.

(C) Information gathered in this phase of the safety assessment includes the PRFC's:

(i) reasons for parenting;

(ii) satisfaction from parenting;

(iii) knowledge and skill in parenting and child development;

(iv) expectations and empathy for the child;

(v) general parenting style;

(vi) protective capacities; and

(vii) collateral information related to parenting.

(6) Adult functioning.  The CW specialist assesses adult functioning considering how the PRFC feels, thinks, and acts on a daily basis with focus on adult functioning and coping skills.

(A) This key question determines if the PRFC:

(i) is committed to the child's safety;

(ii) changed or is changing behaviors that compromised the child's safety;

(iii) understands why the child was unsafe and the behavioral changes needed to keep the child safe; or

(vi) is impeded by behavioral health or substance use or abuse issues in offering protection to the child.

(B) Information gathered in this phase of the safety assessment includes the PRFC's:

(i) coping and stress management abilities;

(ii) self-control in discipline and relationships;

(iii) problem-solving abilities;

(iv) judgment and decision-making abilities;

(v) home and financial management capabilities;

(vi) employment history;

(vii) domestic violence or substance use or abuse histories;

(viii) behavioral health history;

(ix) physical health and capacity; and

(x) collateral information related to adult functioning.

(7) The information gathered for the six key questions is summarized to determine if family behaviors or conditions cross the safety threshold.  The CW specialist completes section IV of Form 04KI030E.  The CW specialist considers the totality of the information when making a safety determination, including any and all previous, or on-going OKDHS involvement with the family.  The safety threat is identified by using the threshold criteria:

(A) specific and observable family condition;

(B) severity;

(C) involves a vulnerable child;

(D) out of control; and

(E) likely to occur in the near future.

8.     Pregnancy and newborns in an open case.  An AOCS is completed when a child is born into an open permanency planning case or family-centered service case.

(1) A newborn is at serious risk of harm when:

(A) reunification of a sibling currently in out-of-home care is not recommended;

(B) there is a pending request for termination of parental rights to a sibling;

(C) termination of parental rights to a sibling occurred and there is no evidence of correction of the conditions that caused termination of parental rights to the sibling; or

(D) conditions that led to CW system involvement have not been corrected.

(2) When a CW specialist learns of a pregnancy involving a mother or father who is a party to an open case, the CW specialist:

(A) requests the mother or father provide the name and phone number of the mother's physician and requests the mother sign a release of information to allow the CW specialist to consult with the physician.  When the mother or father refuses to provide the information or the mother refuses to sign the release of information, the CW specialist contacts the district attorney to request a court order to obtain the physician's information and allow the CW specialist to release information to the physician;

(B) contacts the physician and provides pertinent information regarding the mother's or father's CW history;

(C) requests the mother or father and physician immediately notify the CW specialist when the child is born;

(D) establishes contact with other known family members or service providers who may provide information about the newborn's birth when the mother or father refuses to disclose;

(E) maintains weekly contact with the mother or father during the month prior to delivery;

(F) requests a protective service alert, per OAC 340:75-3-300 Instructions to Staff, when at any time during the pregnancy, the location of the mother is unknown;

(G) completes Form 04KI030E to assess for safety threats to the newborn child immediately upon the newborn's delivery and makes a referral for an investigation, when necessary, per OAC 340:75-3-400.

(i) New allegations are not required to initiate court intervention on the newborn's behalf.

(ii) A determination of:

(I) child safety for the newborn is required; and

(II) the need for court involvement; and

(H) documents each contact in the KIDS Contacts screen.

  9. Preliminary inquiry. A preliminary inquiry follows instructions, per OAC 340:75-3-130 Instructions to Staff # 10.

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