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CT FosterAdopt Manual - Chapter1

 CTFosterAdopt Manual - Chapter 1

The Children needing care and their Immediate Families
Types of DCF Licensed Families:
     Adoptive Parents "legal Risk" 
     Foster Parents
     Independent Parents
     Pre-adoptive Parents
     Relative Parents
     Special Study Parents
Foster Care and Adoption Policies:
     Licensing Process
     Post-Licensing Training
     Re-licensing Process
     Typical Chain of Command in a DCF Office
Regional Office Staff:
     Program Director
     Program Supervisor
     Social Work Supervisor
     Child's Regional Office Social Worker (ROSW)
     Foster and Adoptive Services Unit (FASU)
     Recruiting Social Worker
     Licensing Social Worker
     Matching Social Worker
     Family Specialist Support Social Worker
Other DCF Units:
     Adolescent Unit
     Intake / Family Assessment Response (FAR) Unit
     On-going Services Units
     Permanency Units
     Regional Resource Group (RRG)
     Social Worker Case Aide
     Voluntary Services Unit


The Children Needing Care and Their Immediate Families: 
The reason foster parents and DCF have joined together is to help the children and families who need us.  We need to remember that we must include the child’s family in our work.  Two facts that should guide practice are:

  • 90% of children brought to DCF’s attention are not removed from their homes;
  • Increased visitation lessens the time to achieve permanency.  The more licensed families assist with visits, the more likely the child will be returned home, be adopted or move toward another suitable permanent plan.


 Types of DCF Licensed Families:

Foster Parents:   Foster parents are adults who have been licensed by DCF and are willing to provide care for unrelated children.  They can continue to serve children as long as they continue to be re-licensed and the child(ren) remain in need. When children become legally free, some foster parents have chosen to adopt.

Relative Parents:  Relative parents are adults who have been licensed by DCF and are willing to provide temporary care for a child(ren) who is a legal relative.   When that child(ren) leaves their home, these parents are no longer licensed.   Sometimes a relative may choose adoption or subsidized guardianship if the child cannot return to their parents.

Special Study Parents:  Special study parents are adults who have been licensed by DCF and are willing to provide temporary care for a particular unrelated child(ren) with whom they have a relationship with (examples include a teacher, coach etc.).  When that child(ren) leaves their home, these parents are no longer licensed.

Adoptive Parents "Legal Risk":  Legal risk parents are adults who have been licensed by DCF and are willing to provide care for a child(ren) whose legal standing has not yet been determined by the court.  These children are not legally free and if the court rules against the petition to terminate parental rights, the child may be returned home.  If the court grants TPR, the child may be adopted by their legal risk parents.

Pre-Adoptive Parents:  Pre-adoptive parents are adults who have been licensed by DCF and are willing to provide permanent care for a child(ren) who has been legally freed by a court to allow for adoption   Once a court makes the adoption legal, these parents become adoptive parents.

Independent Parents:   When children are in the custody of other states and then placed in Connecticut, the families they are placed with must be licensed by DCF.  DCF refers to these families as “independents”.   These families are subject to Connecticut regulations and DCF licensing policy.  Most of these families are related to the child.

Licensing Process:  The pre-licensing process involves attending an Open House where you will receive information on the requirements of being a foster parent and a general overview of the types of children DCF needs homes for.   Licensing priority will be given to parents looking to provide foster care to children 13+ and sibling groups.
Also, prior to attending the mandatory training, you and your family will receive a pre-screen where the Department discusses with you your family's history with DCF if any and any criminal involvement to see if any of this involvement precludes you from becoming licensed.  The Department will view your home to assure that it meets regulatory requirements such as bedroom space, egress (exit) from sleeping rooms, space for growth, potable water, proper installation if any alternative heating systems and discuss appropriate vaccination for pets.   The Department will also discuss if you have adequate income, positive physical and mental health history. 
The licensing process for a foster or adoptive parent is a ten week group assessment training that all applicants attend.  During this training the participant will be given information which will generate discussions and thoughts about what type of child in regards to behavior you feel would best match your family.  The discussions include age, sex of child, ethnicity, and physical, behavioral and or emotional issues your family could best parent.  It is during this training cycle that there are other HV where all other household members are interviewed as they are included in the process.  During this training you and your family will complete an application, give references, sign releases and other collateral paperwork and get fingerprinted.  All of the information gathered during the pre-screen, training group and from collateral contacts is complied and a family assessment study is completed and a license is granted.
During this process at anytime you can decide to end the process or if there are issues that can not be resolved by you and the Department your family could be counseled out.   There are many reasons for not going forward and most are when your family is not able to meet the regulatory requirements. 

Post-Licensing Training:  Each Licensed foster or pre-adoptive parent is required to complete post-licensing training of 18 hours annually. 

Re-Licensing Process: The initial licensing process that all families complete is just the first step in a career of a Foster, Adoptive, Special Study, Relative or Independent licensed family.  All licenses are issued for only two year period and are renewed annually. 

Every two years from initial licensing date, every family is re-licensed and re-assessed by the FASU unit to assure that the family continues to meet the licensing standards and regulatory requirements set forth by the State of CT.  Re-approved families will have to meet PRIDE quality guidelines and have met post licensing training requirements.
Every two years each family makes a decision as to whether continue to be available to care for our children.  You will be sent a re-licensing application which needs to be completed and returned to your support SW.  The current license remains in effect until the re-licensing process is completed ONLY if the re-licensing application is submitted prior to the expiration date on your current license. 
The FASU unit will review your foster care record and talk with Social Workers who have had children placed in your home.  Once these steps are completed the re-licensing SW will contact you to schedule a HV.
During the HV the SW will discuss and changes in your home since last license was issued, such as but not limited to new HHM, changes in employment or income, child care arrangements, legal or health issues.  The SW will also tour your home and view sleeping areas and to assure that the home continues to meet licensing standards and to identify any areas of health or safety concerns and suggest corrective measures that need to take place.  The SW will also discuss with you any questions or concerns that you may have.
When the re-licensing process is completed a new license will be issued if your home continues to meet regulatory requirements.  If your home was not in compliance with one or more requirements, a provisional licensed is issued to allow time to attain compliance.  You will be informed in writing about what is needed to come into compliance and receive a regular license.  A provisional license can be issued for up to 60 days and can only be extended upon approval of the Director of Foster Care.


Typical Chain of Command in a DCF Office - Area Office Staff

Program Director:  The program director is the manager of who oversees several Program Managers. The program director's report directly to the Area Director.


Program Supervisor:  The program manager is the manager of the program such as; intake, ongoing services or the regional FASU staff.  Their staff typically include several units, each with a supervisor and a team of social workers.


Social Work SupervisorSocial work supervisors are responsible to assist and direct the activities of the social workers in a unit.


Regional Office Social Worker (ROSW):  Children are assigned a social worker when they are removed from their home.  Siblings usually have the same social worker.  This social worker will be the one to have primary contact with foster parents regarding the particular child in their care.  Over time, it is likely that the child will have a change in social workers.  Factors that may result in a change include:  the social worker is promoted, re-assigned, or leaves state service or the goal for the child changes and one of the units below becomes involved.  The child’s social worker will come from one of the following units:

Foster and Adoptive Services Unit (FASU):  The Foster and Adoptive Services Unit (FASU) is a specialized unit in each area office that is responsible for recruitment, licensing, training, support and re-licensing of licensed families.  Once licensed the main function of the FASU staff is to support YOU, the foster parent.

Recruiting Social Worker:  Most regional FASU units have staff dedicated to the recruitment of new foster and adoptive families. Their duties include, among other things, the planning of recruitment events and the design of recruitment materials.

Licensing Social Worker:  The licensing social worker is usually the first DCF staff that families get to know in the licensing process.  This social worker is primarily responsible for leading pre-licensing training groups (PRIDE), conducting interviews of family members and writing home studies of the families.

Matching Social Worker:  A matching social worker's primary role is to call foster families to ask them to consider caring for a particular child or sibling group. In most regions, licensed families needing respite are asked to call this person with their request.

Family Specialist / Support Social Worker:    Each licensed family has an assigned DCF family specialist/support social worker.  This individual has primary responsibility to support a number of foster parents regarding matters that are not child specific.  In some cases, this person is responsible to re-license the families

Other DCF Units


Adolescent:  Once a child becomes a teenager, it is typical that a new social worker is assigned.  Adolescent specialists have special skills for motivating and planning for teens and are able to assist foster parents in how best to help the teen navigate the system. 


Careline:   DCF manages a 24 hour, 7 day a week Careline with social work staff.  They receive all calls of abuse and neglect and investigate during the hours when the regional DCF offices are closed (5 p.m. – 8:00 a.m., weekends and holidays).   These investigators sometimes place children into licensed homes.   (To reach the Careline call 1-800-842-2288.) 


Intake/FAR:  The first social worker assigned to a child will usually be the one who does the initial assessment into the allegations of abuse and/or neglect.   It is usually during an intake when a decision is made to remove the child from their home due to unsafe conditions.  Removal is very serious and traumatic to the child.  Most children are not removed from their homes.  This assignment is typically a short one because if further DCF involvement is needed, the family’s case will be opened for treatment and another social worker will be assigned.


Ongoing Services: The second social worker assigned to a child usually will be the one who provides the case management while a case is opened for treatment. This social worker directs activities that will help to reach the permanent goal for the child; that is, to return home or to move toward adoption, or an alternate permanent plan.


Permanency:  Children for whom the goal is adoption are usually assigned a social worker from a permanency unit.  These social workers have expertise in helping children find and get settled into forever families. 


Regional Resource Group:  Each DCF office has a regional resource group made up of individuals with expertise in mental health services, substance abuse, education, and health care.   The primary work of the ARG is to assist and support DCF social workers in their service planning and implementation for children, youth and their families.


Social Worker Case Aide:  These staff persons assist the units in many ways including: driving children to appointments, delivering documents, supervising visits, etc.


Voluntary Services:  Each DCF Region has at least one voluntary services unit.  These units serve families that have asked DCF for help to address emotional/behavioral issues in their children.  Even if DCF opens a case and assigns a social worker, the parents retain legal custody.