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Library: Policy

340:75-7-2. Purpose, legal basis, and definitions related to foster care

Revised 9-15-22

(a) Purpose for foster care.  Foster care provides 24-hour a day substitute temporary care and supportive services for the child, birth through 17 years of age, who resides in Oklahoma and is in Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) custody.  Voluntary foster care is available for the child, birth through 20 years of age, who meets criteria, per Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) 340:75-4-12.1 and 340:75-6-110.

(b) Legal basis for OKDHS foster care services.

(1) The Oklahoma Children's Code, Section 1-1-102 of Title 10A of the Oklahoma Statutes (10A O.S. § 1-1-102), acknowledges that the foster parent has a recognizable interest in the familial relationship established with the child placed in the foster parent's care.  The law recognizes that the foster parent is an essential participant in the decision-making process related to the care, supervision, guidance, rearing, and other foster care services for the child.

(2) 10A O.S. §§ 1-1-105 and 1-7-109 define and authorize foster care.

(3) Titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act mandate and provide funding for certain child welfare services, including foster care.

(4) OKDHS implements recruitment and retention activities supporting the:

(A) Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994, as amended by the Interethnic Provisions of 1996 (MEPA/IEP), per OAC 340:75-1-9;

(B) Federal Indian Child Welfare Act, per Section 1901 et seq. of Title 25 of the United States Code (25 U.S.C. §§ 1901 et seq.), and the Oklahoma Indian Child Welfare Act, per 10 O.S. §§ 40 et seq.;

(C) Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA) that amended Titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act, per 42 U.S.C. §§ 621 through 629i;

(D) Family First Prevention Services Act, Public Law 115-123; and

(E) regulations promulgated to implement each Act.

(c) Definitions.  The following words and terms when used in this Subchapter have the following meaning, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

(1) "Age-appropriate" or "developmentally-appropriate" means, per 10A O.S. § 1-1-105:

(A) activities or items that are generally accepted as suitable for children of the same age or maturity level or that are determined to be developmentally-appropriate for a child, based on the development of cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral capacities that are typical for an age or age group; and

(B) in the case of a specific child, activities or items that are suitable for the child based on the developmental stages the child attains with respect to the cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral capacities of the specific child.

(2) "Alternate caregiver" means a person, assessed and approved by OKDHS, who for not more than 14-consecutive days, relieves a resource parent's day-to-day responsibilities by temporarily assuming care and supervision of the child or youth in OKDHS custody.  This definition applies only to traditional, contracted, and kinship foster care.

(3) "Applicant" means a person who makes a formal application to become a resource parent, but has not completed the approval process.

(4) "Application" means a completed Form 04AF001E, Resource Family Application.  Form 04AF001E requires documents and actions be completed by the applicant.

(5) "Behavioral health" means mental health, substance use or abuse, or co-occurring mental health and substance use or abuse diagnoses and the mental health continuum, substance use or abuse, or co-occurring mental health and substance use or abuse treatment.

(6) "Foster care" means an essential, temporary Child Welfare Services (CWS) service for the child and parent, legal guardian, or custodian provided when the child's safety cannot be ensured in his or her own home due to the threat of child abuse, neglect, or special circumstances necessitating out-of-home care in a home away from the child's parent, legal guardian, or custodian.  A continuous care service is provided for the child requiring out-of-home placement in a home environment including, but not limited to, the care, supervision, guidance, and rearing of the child by a resource parent, who is under contract with OKDHS or approved by a child-placing agency.

(A) A foster family provides the child in OKDHS custody with continuous 24-hour care in a home-like setting with one or more identified supportive services, including:

(i) mentoring and actively helping the parent of the child in OKDHS custody improve his or her ability to safely care for the child upon reunification with the parent;

(ii) staying connected to the child by assisting his or her transition to:

(I) reunification with a parent; or

(II) another family when the permanency plan is legal guardianship or adoption; or

(iii) the possibility of becoming the child's legal guardian or adoptive parent when parental reunification is not the permanency plan while safely maintaining the child's connection to kin, culture, and community.

(B) CWS foster care includes:

(i) traditional foster care, which is continuous 24-hour care and supportive services provided for the child in a home setting by a foster parent without a kinship relationship to the child.  A resource family partner (RFP) develops a supported home to provide traditional foster care to meet the needs of a child in OKDHS custody through service coordination and delivery in conjunction with OKDHS;

(ii) kinship foster care, which is continuous care for the child requiring out-of-home placement provided by a relative, stepparent, or other responsible adult who has a bond or tie with the child or a family relationship role with the child's parent or the child prior to the child's entry into foster care.  In cases where the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) applies, the definitions, per 25 U.S.C. § 1903 are used;

(iii) enhanced foster care (EFC), which is a traditional or kinship resource home where child-specific services are provided for a child already placed in the home.  The family in an EFC home receives additional training to support the placement of children:

(I) transitioning from congregate care, acute care, or residential treatment; or

(II) who are placed in shelter care or are at risk of placement in shelter care;

(iv) therapeutic foster care (TFC), per OAC 340:75-8 Part 1, residential behavioral management services are provided in a specialized foster care setting for a child, who:

(I) meets medical necessity criteria, per OAC 317:30-5-741;

(II) has special psychological, behavioral, social, and emotional needs;

(III) accepts and responds to close relationships within a family setting; and

(IV) requires more intensive or therapeutic services than are found in traditional foster care when additional supports are not available or have failed to stabilize the child in a less restrictive setting;

(v) intensive treatment family care (ITFC) is a program for children:

(I) with special psychological, social, and emotional needs;

(II) with intellectual and developmental disabilities requiring more intensive treatment than traditional foster care and TFC settings provide; and

(III) meets medical necessity criteria, per OAC 317:30-5-751; and

(vi) contracted foster care (CFC), which is traditional foster care provided:

(I) in a TFC home for children in OKDHS or tribal custody meeting specific criteria, per OAC 340:75-8-11.1(b); and

(II) by a contracted child-placing agency to meet the child's needs through service coordination and delivery in conjunction with OKDHS.

(7) "House assessment" means the evaluation of the prospective resource family's residence to determine if it meets OKDHS physical safety requirements.

(8) "Infant" means a child, who is 12 months of age and younger.

(9) "In-service training" means yearly instruction the resource parent is required to complete to maintain approval as a resource home.

(10) "Inquiry" means the first contact an individual makes by phone, email, or in person with OKDHS to inquire about foster parenting.

(11) "Pre-service training" means required instruction to prepare and educate the applicant for caregiving and provides an opportunity for self-assessment, prior to approval as a resource parent.

(12) "Reasonable and prudent parent standard" means, per 10A O.S. § 1-1-105, the standard characterized by careful and sensible parental decisions that maintain the child's health, safety, and best interests while at the same time encouraging the child's emotional and developmental growth.  This standard is used by the child's resource parent when determining whether to allow a child to participate in extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities.

(13) "Relative" means a grandparent, great-grandparent, brother, or sister of whole or half-blood, aunt, uncle, or any other person related to the child.

(14) "Resource" means all foster care families, including traditional, kinship, CFC, EFC, TFC, ITFC, and adoptive families.

(15) "Resource family assessment (RFA)" means a joint process between CWS and the family that consists of an evaluation of the family's ability to foster, adopt, or both and includes, but is not limited to:

(A) consideration of each family member's criminal and child welfare histories;

(B) the safety and physical space available in the home to integrate a new family member;

(C) the number and ages of children residing in the home;

(D) references;

(E) household income; and

(F) health histories.

(16) "Resource family partner (RFP)" means a private, child-placing agency under contract with OKDHS to recruit, retain, and support foster homes to meet the child's needs through service coordination and delivery in conjunction with OKDHS.  RFP foster homes are known as supported homes.

(17) "Respite care" means short-term care provided by an approved foster family when foster parents need breaks from day-to-day parenting responsibilities while caring for a child in OKDHS custody.

(18) "Targeted recruitment" means efforts that:

(A) utilize data to focus on specific families or communities most likely to yield results in recruiting resource parents who can safely meet the unique needs of the child and youth in OKDHS custody; and

(B) comply with MEPA/IEP/ICWA requirements.

(19) "Written plan of compliance" means a formal accountability process for the resource parent that identifies concerns and contract and policy violations and, when unresolved, may result in resource home closure.

(20) "Youth" means a child 13 through 17 years of age.

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