See below for the full transcript of this video provided by Douglas County: https://youtu.be/urHYCAnUeiU
Beth Chaplin: Okay, good morning everyone. Thank you for joining us for this training this morning. We’re gonna be talking about normalcy and the reasonable and prudent parent standard. My name is Beth Chaplin, and I am the Title IV-E administration consultant for the state of Minnesota.
Kim Lemcke: My name is Kim Lemcke. I’m the adolescent services consultant.
Deborah Beske Brown: Deborah Beske Brown – child foster care.
Amy Walker: Amy Walker – child foster care.
Beth Chaplin: Just a little bit on housekeeping. So as you may have heard this morning, we’d like you guys to keep yourselves muted. We will have at least one time throughout maybe a couple [inaudible 00:40], but we will be breaking and allowing questions, so if you could just keep track of your questions until that point and keep yourselves on mute, it would be greatly appreciated. Also if you would like to send us your questions and you’re live streaming, you’d like to send them to us electronically, you can email those questions. You should be able to see on the PowerPoint, the email address, but it’s to email@example.com. There you go—and those questions will come to us and we will answer them as well when we come to the point where we are taking some questions.
We also ask that you folks that are here with us in St. Paul, if you could also table your questions until we take those breaks, it will be greatly appreciated. And if you are viewing the archived training, we’re going to be videotaping this training and sending it out on DVD, then you can send your questions to one of the three of us and our emails are also in the PowerPoint, I believe at the end.
So we wanted to talk a little bit about law that is requiring the institution of the prudent parent standard and what has prompted our discussion about normalcy and that standard this morning. The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, Public Law 113 -183 was signed into law on September 29th of 2014. It amended a variety of Title IV-E requirements for all states, and those requirements things that needed to be amended including case planning, provisions for runaway youth, provisions for children that are under Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement which we also refer to as APPLA, as well as provision for permissions for sex trafficked and exploited children and youth and make some changes also to the rights of youth in care
There is a bulletin that’s currently published. It’s bulletin #15-68-17C. That bulletin is in the process of being altered slightly. The revised version or corrected version which is the C version you see on the PowerPoint, that’s gonna be published within the next probably two weeks. In the meantime a lot of these provisions are in the current bulletin, but if you’d like to wait for the most updated version again, that would be published within the next two weeks.
So we also wanted to talk to you a little bit about why the training is required. We’re going to try not to just read off of all of this cumbersome, statutory language, but in essence, the state is required to establish standards for family foster homes as well as child caring institutions, that includes our corporate foster homes, and those standards must include the use of the prudent parent standard. The second point that we like you to be aware of is that the standard must be applied not only in family foster homes but also in child caring institutions. And the way that they are applied in child caring institutions—and we’ll discuss this a little bit more at length later in the presentation—is that child care institutions must have at least one staff member that works on-site that is trained and is designated as the caregiver to apply the standard.
So on page six, a continuation of why the training is required. And this, I actually do you want to read; this is important is particularly to us and to all of our county and tribal partners. We as a state must certify that foster parent and designated staff are trained with the appropriate knowledge and skills to provide for the needs of foster children, and those knowledge and skill sets include the application of the reasonable and prudent parent standard for the participation of the child in aged or developmentally appropriate activities. And we’re going to get a little bit more into depth later on in the presentation about what that entails. And then also there should be training on the knowledge and skills relating to the application of the standard to decisions, such as whether to allow the child to engage in extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities for things such as sports and field trips, also including overnight activities that last from one or more day, and the decisions about signing permission slips and arranging for transportation to and from extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities.
So the folks that must be trained on these points, include child welfare case managers of foster care placements, county agencies child welfare staff, and tribal agencies with Title IV-E agreements, child foster care licensing staff, license child foster parents, and designated staff at corporate child foster care homes and residential facilities that are approved for Title IV-E. And so now we’re going to talk a little bit about mormalcy, and Kim is going to present this information to you.
Kim Lemcke: Okay, so normalcy—why is supporting age-appropriate activities important? Basically, normalcy refers to allowing children in placement to experience childhood and adolescents in ways similar to their peers who are not in care. And to achieve healthy development, children and youth in foster care need to be involved in normal and developmentally appropriate extracurricular and social experiences and provided opportunities for safe risk-taking. So basically, anything that your own children will do, our foster children should be able to do. And again, why is this important? They need to experience the same things, they need to make those social emotional bonds. Cultural connections are very important. Skill building, again, we want to make sure that—they’re already in a traumatic experience, we need to help mitigate that experience by helping them to feel normal. Again, they should be having all the opportunities to practice these skills build relationships and contribute to a successful transition to adulthood.
What are developmentally appropriate activities? So with that you need to be looking at the child’s cognitive skills, where are they at emotionally, physically, behaviorally and taking all that into account and what’s typical for an age or age group.
So removing barriers to normalcy—county and tribal agencies, child-placing agencies should all support the foster child’s emotional and developmental growth by permitting the child to participate in activities. I want to be very clear that we are permitting them, we should not be not having them participate in these activities. The tribal agency case managers should be including these activities in the out-of-home placement plan and independent living plan if they are 14 years of age or older. And this provides the opportunity to discuss with the parent these interests, making sure to consider the cultural activities and anything that’s available to them in the school, community, foster home—and this allows for the parents wishes to be considered. It does not mean that what the parents want is what’s going to happen, but they need to have a say in what happens with their child. And now I will turn it over to Deb to talk about reasonable and prudent parenting standard.
Beborah Beske Brown: Okay, so you’ve heard about the federal law and how the federal law has changed to allow foster parents and designated staff at our residential facilities to apply the standard to make decisions about what kids can do that is typical normal activities that children in their community and in their culture participate in. So now I’m going to actually talk about the standard itself and what the standard is and how the standard is applied. So going to the PowerPoint; so the reasonable and prudent parenting standard in Minnesota law is now found in 260C 212, subdivision 14. There were some additions that were provided to that law in this legislative session so you will see some changes to that when the legislative update is done, you will see that that information is also included. So there will be more information on what is currently in the standard and we’re talking about—and as I’m talking about this, I’m talking about the information that’s currently there as well as the information that will be there.
So if you go back to your computer this afternoon and look up to 260 C 212, subdivision 14 and we check me to make sure what I said is there, you’re not going to find it all right now. So I just want you to be aware that some of that is—it will be part of the update. But what the standard actually is in this first bullet is there is characterized by careful and sensible parenting that maintains the health and safety, the cultural, religious and tribal values and are in the best interest of the child. While the person who’s acting as a parent, meaning the parent or the designated person at that facility, is encouraging that child’s emotional and developmental growth.
So down the bottom it’s just those people that I talked about and they use this standard to determine whether a foster child may participate in extracurricular enrichment, cultural or social activities, sp this is permissive to allow them to do that. When they are doing that, when the foster parent or the designated staff is applying that standard, making decisions that are safe and healthy for the child while considering the child’s best interest, these are the factors that they must consider, and these factors have been added into law. These factors came from a discussion—many of you have heard about the child foster care work group that met this past year where we had representation from agencies and families to talk about some foster care, their work group actually determined these factors, they’re added to these factors or reviewed these factors. So this was part of the work group.
I’m going to talk about each one of these factors individually and how a foster parent or designated staff will consider those. I’m going to use a piece of language right now; instead of always saying foster parents and designated staff because it’s lengthy, I’m gonna say the caregiver. So when I say the caregiver you know who I’m meaning, are the people at the residential facility, the people at the corporate foster care site, or the foster parent, relative and non relative. So I’m going to use some examples now of how the foster family would consider each one of those standards. So the first example I’m going to talk about is a child’s age, maturity and developmental level; and there’s two examples here for consideration. One is the ten-year-old foster child who’s invited to attend a social event, one of her classmates is having a birthday party and she’s invited her to participate in the birthday party.The foster child has some developmental and social delays, so how can I as a caregiver help her prepare for this new social activity? She’s not automatically saying the child can’t because the child has some developmental delays or that there may be some concerns, she’s considering how can I help this happen and for the child to be successful in doing what other ten-year-old boys and girls do?
The next one is a little different. The next one has an example of a 14-year-old who wants to go to a movie, and it’s really typical for 14-year-olds to want to see PG movies, that’s many of the movies they want to see, but how do we consider the content to that movie and if the child is able to handle that, especially considering the trauma that the child has gone through where the events of their life and what behavioral issues or strong emotional response may come from that. So on sometimes as many parents do look up more information about what that content of that movie is and have that consideration before saying yes to that with knowing that it’s very typical for our kids to want to go to that type of movie.
So the next one is risk of activity, that’s the second factor to consider; what is the risk of this activity and how do I consider it? So the example here is allowing our foster youth to ride in a car with a friend. It’s very typical for teenagers. I as a parent of a teenager had to come to grips with this way myself. It’s very typical as a teenager to say “I want to drive with so-and-so and over here.” So what is the risk of that activity to allow the foster child to ride with a friend? Is it good step first to say; yeah, you can go with him, he’ll drive you to school which is close by which may which may not have as many risks as driving to the Mall of America, for example, or the timing of the event to allow him to ride to an evening concert if the school is having an evening concert, and it’s still driving to school, but is there more risk involved with going in the evening than there is during the day? So figuring out what’s the risk of this activity? What do I about the friend who’s driving? That kind of thing those are things parents do all the time.
Another common consideration regarding risk—and I’ll just go to this for a second, it’s not on the slide—another common way that parents consider risk is they consider risk by considering what safety elements are available to reduce the risk, such as what safety equipment is required for an activity, do they have that safety equipment? Can I get that safety equipment for the child? And then will he wear that safety equipment? We take lists every day when we get in the car and we drive someplace but we use our safety equipment, we make everyone has their seat belts and we have cars that have airbags. So we make sure that we’re doing things to reduce what might be risky activities, so again, using the equipment or what’s required for that activity to make it okay so to reduce the risk.
So best interest of the child—this one is that consideration of what it is in this individual child’s best interest. We tend to use this word a lot in child welfare, so I wanted to talk a little bit about what best interest meant when you’re considering activity, and I’ve got two examples here, there’s probably tons of examples but was camp selected because it fits into the child’s interests and that’s something that the child wants to do or did it work at a time when the foster parent wanted a break so that was a camp that was selected based on the availability of when the foster parent wanted a break? There’s nothing wrong with either one of those but just to know how we consider best interest is to consider what the child wants to do, what their interests are, and how this activity fits into that.
Well here’s another one that becomes an issue oftentimes for our older children. While the youth is going to school, that might not be their primary interest; they don’t see school as preparing them for what they want to do. In my example I’ve used that he really wants to a chef and he wants to go to culinary school after graduation but his grades are very good in school but yet he wants to take a part-time job at a local restaurant as a chef, is it in his best interest to take that job and to work on what he likes to do, knowing that if he works many evening or during a Saturday that that will impact his grades or get in a way of him doing his homework, getting his job done? So that is just that consideration, what is in the child’s best interest.
The next one is some of what Kim was talking about, the importance of experiences in the child’s emotional and developmental growth. Will being on the soccer team help the child self-esteem and develop social skills she needs? Will it help her develop friendships in the school? Will help her develop further interest, or will also help her learn that she can accomplish things? It’s a very big deal when kids are on an activity and doing something and they actually accomplish a skill or a task in a way that they didn’t before, it helps their self-esteem building. So this is that part of importance of the experience in the child’s emotional and developmental growth.
The next one is the importance of a family life experience, and this might actually ask our caregivers to think about things that they may be allowing birth or adopted children to do, especially their foster parents, that they cannot let a foster child do, and why can’t they let that foster child do it? And it challenges us and child welfare to think about some agency policies or practices, it may not be something written, maybe something unwritten that we have put in place that really prevents a child from experiencing a typical or normal childhood activity. So the importance of that family life experience; is there something that they’re not able to do that the other kids in the household do and is the only thing preventing that an agency policy or practice?
The behavioral history of the child. Now, when we think about the behavioral history of the child I probably use example, should have used something that we’re looking for how the child can do this versus how the child can’t do this, but given the child’s history of impulsive behaviors, how can I allow him if you want him to be part of the family projects in the lawn, how can I make that a prudent parenting decision and allow him to be part of the projects in the lawn?Maybe the lawn mower isn’t the thing to do but maybe he can handle the clippers or maybe he can do certain other things that that would be part of that project or that job. Or in the other case, this is more about supervision, given the child’s history of underage drinking or other things that may have gotten him in trouble with being away from adult supervision, can I allow him to stay out late at night unsupervised? Is that a prudent decision? So applying the prudent decision making to consider what the child’s behavioral history is, and looking for ways of making that successful and allowing him to have social events that may not include staying out late.
So the final factor is the wishes of the parents or guardians, as appropriate. I’m stressing that as part of case planning and on the out-of-home placement plan as well as the independent living plan, there are places to talk about the child’s interests, their goals, what they want to do when they grow up, and how we’re using those activities, those are plans to talk with the child, with the caregivers, and include the parents in that conversation about what they want to be involved in and how can we help them be involved in this, and to make note of those on the case plan with a sentence or two about that discussion. If a parent does have a particular concern about a child doing a particular activity, what is the concern? Trying to break down what the particular concerns are about that, and trying to get information or consultation about the activity, and what steps can we take to address the concern so the child could participate in something they want to.
The last piece to talk about as appropriate—and I just wanted to define what appropriate is, and it wouldn’t be appropriate if the parent is not involved a case planning. If a parent is not involved in case planning, then the wishes of the parent or guardian would not be part of your discussions with them, but that would be where you want to make sure that the parent and guardians informed about what the child wants to do and what their wishes are, and then to take the necessary steps as you need to to address those concerns. All right, so now I’m going to hand it over to, um, if I can…We’re going to do questions after you do the next part and then we’ll do questions. So that was a little conversation you weren’t supposed to hear. So now Kim is going to talk about the guidance about the childhood activities.
Kim Lemcke: Okay, so I’m assuming that everyone has the two-page handout about Minnesota’s reasonably prudent parenting standard guidance. And the first page of the handout is basically our VPC, our PowerPoint here that we’re talking about today so I’m not going to go over that, but on the back side, there’s a list of different activities that could be considered—and this is not an all-inclusive list by any means, but just something to give you ideas on different activities and things to consider with our youth. And the one thing I wanted to point out to make sure everyone is aware is that if the youth is 14 or older and is eligible for self funding, self funds can be used to pay for activity fees or different things that require money for these youth to participate in these activities, so keep in mind self funds. Funding should not be why a youth cannot do specific activities.
But some of the options to think about our family and recreation, so whether it’s outdoor activities, thinking about summertime—we’re getting into that season of camping, boating, swimming, recreational vehicles, having them go out to movies, video game playing with friends, again, the lawn equipment. Even though, you know, we’re talking about activities it doesn’t always have to be the fun things that kids want to do, they can also participate in family activities and being part of the household as far as taking care of the house, taking care of the yard, that type of thing, having chores.
The next list is school and extracurricular activities, so again, thinking about the field trips that they do for school, sports, drama, other activities that they do from at school. Overnights and planned outings; a lot of times we don’t think about our foster youth going on overnights, and we should be thinking about them going on overnights just like other children do. So sleepovers with friends, and you don’t have to do a background check on every place that they go. Social media and activities; again, Facebook, Instagram, you know, all the things that our youth are into these days. As long as they’re not misusing something, I mean again, you can use things withhold, you know, if they’re misusing it of course then that’s a different discussion, but they should be able to be involved in those activities. Driving—that’s a big one for our teenagers. They should be able to get their permit to practice driving do behind the wheel and eventually get their driver’s license. Again, that there might be things that impact that, but we should always be moving forward and trying to get them to a place where they’re able to have those things in place when they do leave foster care so that they are successfully transitioning to adulthood. Babysitting—that’s one that we don’t you have to think about with foster care, but it may be appropriate that some of our foster youth are able to babysit. Again, looking at their age and developmental capabilities to make sure that that’s appropriate for them. Again, transitioning to adulthood, going on college tours, and making sure their independent living plan is made with them and for them, and that you’re following that independent living plan.
And there are things that even though the caregiver is able to give permission in most instances, there are some that they need to get permission from the agency to do. Any time you take a youth out of state, extremely high risk activities, or anything that’s going to take the child out of the foster home for more than three nights, you should be talking to your agency about that. And the other thing I wanted to say as well is you should always be talking with your agency, just because you don’t have to get specific permission for the youth to do something, the social worker, the agency should always be aware of what’s going on with a child; again, that’s part of the independent living plan for our older youth, but always keeping them informed of what’s going on.
Okay, so again, county and tribal agencies may develop written policies permitting these activities.Now, this is something you don’t have to, but if there’s something specific to your region or area that is very popular, counties or agencies might want to make specific policies surrounding that activity. Again, this is to be permissive, not to take things away from you. And you don’t have to make any specific policy if there is either not something to make policy about, or you just want to go by what the state has come up with—a d what the state has come up with is what you do need to follow. Let’s see. And the agency policy must be provided to all foster parents and designated staff who accept placement of your child. So just making sure everyone is aware if you do have special policies, that they know what’s going on. Questions…?
Deborah Beske Brown: So if you have questions in Greater Minnesota, just unmute your mic and let us know what your question is. And St. Paul, if you’ll just wait a couple minutes and let see if there’s any questions from any of those sites before we move here.
Participant: Question from [inaudible 29:41]. I know that the statement was made that funding should not be an issue, but the reality is is that it is, and when we have the self funds to help that’s great but it’s the middle school age that gets kind of caught in between; elementary doesn’t have that expensive of things, but still it can be expensive if we want to have kids feel part of their school, apart their community. Can you talk a little bit about what DHS is thinking about that to help cover that cost?
Kim Lemck: I guess I would look at the map see if there’s things that the child could increase their cost for foster care. The other piece is we have the Forgotten Children’s Fund which is up to $300 for a child who’s in foster care to participate in those special activities. And I know some agencies do have different donation accounts and things like that to fund special activities.
Deborah Beske Brown: I would also add that your school and communities also do fundraisers for most activities, so oftentimes there is scholarships, or we might call them reduced rates that are reduced fees that are available so a lot of times—and the foster parents are probably most likely going to be the ones who will have to research this, but to call the organization and ask them about that to make sure that they know of what funding is available because sort most communities and school have very active booster or fundraising activities. Did that help?
Participant: I have a question in the [inaudible]. I have a 17-year old that’s asking to be able to be allowed to drive with a friend and he’s telling me that the friend has a license, what do other people do in terms of saying whether or not that kind of thing is okay, or you know I’m not gonna do a background check on his friend, but how do you work through that or what are the things that we need to think about with that?
Deborah Beske Brown: So to clarify, the friend is a licensed driver?
Participant: Yeah, he is.
Deborah Beske Brown: Okay, and he wants to drive where?
Participant: I think they just kind of want to cruise around town.
Deborah Beske Brown: So again, this would go along with what’s typical in your community, and how you’re using those factors for the—and actually, the current parenting standard is suggesting that the foster families can make those decisions about individual activities and what they’re planning and doing, when they’re planning of being home…As I said in the example, talking about where they’re planning and going, what is the risk to that event, and what they’re planning on doing, when they plan to be home, and is there some discussion with a friend about it?
Participant: Okay, thank you.
Deborah Beske Brown: I’m seeing something in St. Paul, so John do you want to ask a question? I think the mic might pick you up but we’ll try to paraphrase after you talk.
John: The question I have—so you’ve mentioned some of these possible risky behaviors, maybe there’s an out-of-state placement working out a book or things, chainsaws, using four-wheelers, things like that which are normal family behaviors out and activities. Does this law kind of, like, we’re always this liability kind of worry about the worst thing that possibly can happen, so let’s try to avoid that. Obviously, I don’t want to be morbid, but bad things happen. So is this a partial understanding of the statutes and laws that unfortunate bad things happen, if these decisions are made based on good judgment or whatever’s in the community or that experience with that foster parent that some of that is–I mean it’s still going to be an issue, but is that addressed, I guess, through this?
Deborah Beske Brown: That was one. It was a good question though John, and I think it’s an important question. So John’s question was some families they do recreational activities that can be risky at times. They are maybe riding snowmobiles as families, or they’re maybe doing certain things, and we haven’t always let our foster kids do that because of the concern of liability or risk. We’ll talk about liability in a moment, and we probably should have talked about that before this. I will have you turn to the handout that actually addresses that, and on the front page of it it says; “Caregivers demonstrating compliance with the imprudent parenting standards are not liable in a civil action, if a child is harmed or injured because of participating in the approved extracurricular activity, cultural or social activities.”
So I want to say there is a liability component to the law that’s also has been added to the Minnesota law, but I also add that I think your concern is one of the pieces that we want to make sure is addressed in the case planning aspect of it that we’re reviewing with the family at that time of placement about recreational activities, about things that are happening so that the child is able to participate in that family as a full member of that family, and that they’re not sent to respite or put in a different place because they can’t do something a family does; however, if there are some really legitimate concerns that parents has or that other people have, how can we figure out those concerns and address them? So John, your question isn’t a yes/no/always kind of answer; it really requires what social workers do best is a staff have communication have conversation and coordination regarding those things with the eye on giving the child a normal experience when at all possible.
John: With the plan of being permissive, right? I mean…
Deborah Beske Brown: It let them be kids; let them be kids and that’s different in different…. That’s why Kim talked about the having, for your agency, to kind of consider is there some policies we want to be clear about? When we looked at policies across the state, there were certain Western communities who clearly included rodeo in part of their things, so there are certain cultural considerations that we need to be really careful about and consider them, so if your agency knows of those that aren’t addressed in the state policy that you want to continue to do, please do; our counties and tribes are the ones that should be developing those policies and then sharing that with any licensed foster parent or facility that you are placing with. It would be the county with the legal responsibility for the child who would be developing those policies.Other questions?…Silence speaking volumes, I’ll move on. We do have two questions from the streaming folks.
Amy Walker: Two questions, so the first is clarification; do so caregivers do not need to get permission from a social worker for a child to go on an overnight?
Deborah Beske Brown: With applying the reasonable and prudent parenting standard and having that conversation during case planning, they can apply that standard and make those parenting decisions.
Amy Walker: The second question is regards to driver’s licenses and car insurance; it’s very expensive for car insurance, and for example, it’s sometimes difficult to get a foster child on a policy. Has there been any discussion surrounding this barrier?
Kim Lemcke: There have been lots of discussions surrounding this barrier. What I can tell you right now is, again, self funds can be used to help cover car insurance. We are looking into working with the Department of Commerce on different car insurance issues.That being said, all teenagers are very expensive, not just foster youths. And so again, that can be something that is looked at as far as foster care payment I don’t know if there’s anything in the map C that would vary cover…
Deborah Beske Brown: There is.
Kim Lemcke: You know at least help with some of that cost. Obviously, it’s probably not going to be dollar for dollar, but again, using self-funds as appropriate can help with that cost as well. Okay, so the next part of our presentation is how this will impact case management practices? And again, empowering our foster children 14 and older in developing their own plan and successfully transitioning to adulthood.
Deborah Beske Brown: So we’re going to have a technical difficulty right now because I pushed the wrong button so we’re not going to PowerPoint up at this very moment in time. We’ll get that fixed as soon as we can, but I think we can go on.Most people have the PowerPoint in front of them, I believe. Sounds good.
Kim Lemcke: So how will this change case planning court reviews and case management practices? As part of the preventing sex trafficking and strengthening Families Act and this was actually put into our state legislation last year; foster children 14 and older may designate one member on their case planning team to apply the reasonable and prudent parenting standard. So this could be, you know, one of their two members that they have asked to be on their case planning team, this could be the foster parent, you know, whoever they want to designate to be that person. As well as part of case planning consider the child’s interest, what children of this age do and activities available in the area, and engaging parents in these discussions and decisions.
So again, as our social workers already do make sure you’re your case planning including everyone in case planning and getting everyone’s input on decisions. Annual court reviews–so for children who have the designation of permanent custody to the agency made to assure that reasonable and prudent parenting standards are followed so this should be addressed in court, and the youth should be consulted in the court hearing about their opportunities to participate in such activities.
And this is the statute where talks about the out-of-home placement plan the independent living plan and that we have included the regular opportunities to engage in age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate activities. So this is a goal right on the independent living plan that should be filled out and should be taken into consideration for that youth. And just to restate again that self-funds can be used to support this participation, and funding if needed.
Beth Chaplin: Okay, and I’m going to talk about what does this mean for foster parents corporate foster care and residential staff. Probably most importantly, I would say, agencies need to ensure that prospective and current foster parents and the designated staff in corporate foster care and residential facilities must be trained, and in addition to the training, the agency must be available to address questions.Particularly for foster parents and for the facilities designated staff people, we’re going to need advice particularly in the beginning stages of allowing them to go ahead and exercise the prudent parent standard. The training should include very specific component competencies to support a child and the child’s development and normalcy, and should include the knowledge and skills related to the developmental stages of a child’s cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral capacities applying the standard to decisions. For example, some of the things that we’ve talked about today; field trips, over night activities, the signing of permission slips. Consideration of their roles and responsibilities to regulate and the application of the reasonable and prudent parent standards, the consideration of the child’s opportunity to engage in the variety of activities that we’ve discussed and more that are unique to the child’s cultural and/or tribal customs.
After this initial training, prospective foster parents and designated staff must be able to apply the prudent parent standard by developing and improving their decision-making skills and supporting the safety and well-being of the child while participating in the activities. Consult with the county tribal licensure or case manager when direction or guidance is needed, and to help with older youth as they work on developing decision-making skills and exploring safety, time management and complex emotional issues that may arise.
For residential facilities and corporate foster homes, just a reminder, there needs to be at least one staff person that works on-site that is trained in this normalcy and prudent parent standard and the application of it and those staff members are authorized to act in the role of the parent and applying the reasonable and prudent parents standard in a way that is similar to how a family foster home parent would apply the standard.
And the caregivers need to communicate with the responsible county and tribal and licensing agency about guidance on normalcy and the application of the reasonable and prudent parents standard, and as we discussed, any ridden agency policy, if applicable. And this gets to the one of the questions that was asked; added to Minnesota Statutes that caregivers that demonstrate compliance with the prudent parent standard will not incur civil liability if a foster child is harmed or injured participating in any approved activity.
Deborah Beske Brown: So I will go on with the misconceptions and reality. We thought we would address some of the specific, maybe not always misconceptions, if agencies had policies relay to this, but that would be misconceptions now with the prudent parenting standard and what the reality is of it. So let’s go to the first one. So one of the misconceptions—and we already had a question on this—for a child to stay overnight at a friend’s house, the adult living in the friend’s house must undergo a background study or check. The reality is that the friend’s parents are not short-term substitute caregivers, they’re not license holders or designated respite providers normalcy and the prudent parenting standard provides foster parents with the guidance to make this parenting decision.
Misconception—foster children are not allowed to attend community functions without an adult. This is a longer answer. Responsible social service agencies and licensed child placing agencies need to support the child’s development and emotional growth by permitting children to participate in activities or events that are generally acceptable for children of the same age and developmentally appropriate. The question that we had earlier about do I let 17-year-old drive around town with his friend. I think that’s a great question. I don’t know the answer to it, but I do want to know what other 17-year-olds are doing in that town. Is that something they do? What’s the safety factors related to that? Is it something that would be considered a generally acceptable in that community? In some communities it would be; in some communities it absolutely would not be.
Foster parents and designated residential staff are permitted to allow foster children to permit to participate in extracurricular activities, social, and cultural activities that are typical are the child’s age and by applying the reasonably prudent parenting standards. If you’ve taken nothing from this –if you’ve taken two things from this: one, foster families can make these decisions, but we really recommend that in case management, in case planning that these conversations are regularly had with the foster parent, and it doesn’t say this on the slide, but I would also recommend in the face-to-face.
Now, workers are talking with our youth about what they want to do, how they’re being supported to do those things? What’s in the way of them participating in activities they want to do at school? And if they don’t want to do anything, how can we help them think about what they want to do? How can we help them develop something they want to do? So those conversations with case managers, with our caregivers, and with our youth and kids are really, really important; and it doesn’t just start at the youth, it starts when they’re much younger with our kids five and six and seven and eight getting involved in things.
Misconception—where parents wishes must always be followed if they disagree with an activity involving their child. Again, a little bit of a longer answer. Legal parents involvement with foster children is critical, and a family’s wishes must be considered. Normalcy cannot override case plans or other court-ordered requirements to support it – I just said this – to support normalcy encourage if these conversations occur and that it always be part of case management.
The other piece that this talks about as well is how to include the parents with the visitation schedule in some of these activities. We are open with the idea that if the child is participating in activity, that the parent also be able to see that child participate in the activity like other parents get to do. So if the child is on the soccer field, that the parent know when the games are, that the parent can or grandparents or whoever else is involved with the child, so that visitation—it can be really difficult with visitation if you’ve got a child who’s active in things and you’ve got a parent who has a limited capacity of visiting the child considering work hours transportation, but how can we include parents in those normal activities that their child is normal doing?
And so here’s some examples besides watching the game, having the child bring their trumpet, or bring their musical instrument to the visitation and have them play. They can get to practice in and play for their parent. Help the child getting supplies for club posters or other things that they have to do for a group or our activity that they’re involved in. Just like the other parents do to make sure that that is a normal stay on both sides, not just a normalcy for the child but also a normalcy for the parent.
So what is Minnesota doing to support age and developmentally appropriate activities? We’ve provided the written guidance that we gave–the new best practices guidance that we just has as a handout. We are certainly willing to provide ongoing guidance and technical assistance regarding this. This is the training that we’re providing for case managers, foster care and caregivers. I fully anticipate that in the next year or so we’ll be talking about how this will be included in the child welfare training system. The other part is we’re administering self-funds to support the cost of youth activities. And the middle one which I will talk about now is how we’re going to gather and retain data, and who’s trained to apply the prudent parenting standard.
One of the things best said in the beginning is that we have to certify that foster parents and designated staff at residential and corporate homes are certified or trained, we have to certify that. So we need to gather information about who’s attended this training, and we need to have it reported to us about who’s attended this training. In early June a DVD of this training will be mailed to County tribes with Title IV-E agreements, private foster care agencies, corporate foster care sites and residential facilities approved for TitleIV-E. As part as part of that mailer will include instructions about how we are going to document the certification of folks, and the deadline for that documentation to us will be September 28th.
So early the summer you’ll be getting a packet from us with that information and how we want that documented, that all the licensed foster parents and for the residential sites and how the staff has been designated and trained, and we’ll have that sent back to us in a way that we will be reviewing to make sure everyone is trained.
So here is more information about how we are going to report who’s attended this training, because you can see that who attended this training is significantly important. The top is how county and tribal social service staff we routinely keep track of how folks do that through our child welfare training system, and that is that changed. Just remember at all the sites to take down who’s to attended the training and to either scan that and email it to Myrna or to fax it TO Myrna at that number. For the live or the archived streaming, you need to confirm your attendance to Myrna by email.
And so then the bottom is talking about the letter that private foster care agencies, designated staff and corporate and foster care facilities and foster parents, that designated letter that you are going to receive, and to look for that to explain how we’re going to certify that everyone has attended the training.
And finally, this is just some resources. If you want more information on the preventing sex trafficking and strengthening Families Act, there’s a link that you can read the entire federal law right there. There’s also information out on the child welfare information gateway about normalcy and its resources for foster parents and applying the prudent parenting standard and normalcy, and then promoting normalcy for children and youth in foster care. And again, those websites are there for you to check out for more information. Kim, which one has Casey, the Annie Casey guidance for…? The middle one. Definitely if you want more information for the Guide from Annie Casey… what is it called again? I can’t remember either side. It’s from Annie Casey, it’s very good. I looked at it in preparation of this and it provides a lot of good information. And I would recommend checking out that middle.
Kim Lemcke: Yes, the middle link; there’s gonna be about maybe ten or so different articles and PDFs that you can click on to get more information.
Deborah Beske Brown: So Betsy Rockymore would like to add something to the training.
Betsy Rockymore: So I know counties and tribes will have concerns about how they can get all their staffs and all their foster care providers trained by that date, and so what we encourage you to do is as a part of your regular training for new foster parents or ongoing training for current foster parents that you can actually take this DVD from this training, which will be sit out to your counties and tribes, and you can gather all your providers together and have them do the training. We will also send enough DVDs to your county or tribes so that you can actually give them to your foster parents and then have them give them back to you or encourage them. Either way, we have to have it documented that they actually were trained and that you’re going to get to send us whatever signage sheets our documentation that they were trained because we really have to try to get the whole state trained.
Kim Lemcke: Any final questions?
Deborah Beske Brown: Any of the sites have any questions?
Kim Lemcke: Well if you think of something later feel free to email any of us questions and we’ll get back to you.
Deborah Beske Brown: So one of the questions is from person streaming it is: will DHS be developing a training for foster parents on this normalcy and prudent parenting standard? And is this the training that certifies providers? So the training we’re doing right now is the training you can use. We will be taping this and you can use this DVD that we’ll be sending you on to show to your foster parents and the staff and the designated staff, and if they complete this, they will have completed the training. I believe in the future you will see a different type of training being provided, but this will be the training that we’ll be looking for you to certify and get back to us by the end of September.
Partcipant: [Inaudible 58:38]
Deborah Beske Brown: Okay, Maxie is reminding me that we’ve had several questions about getting something on YouTube or getting this on YouTube. We will be working on making it more available that way. I don’t know when that will happen but we will be working on that and we will get back to you and let folks know as soon as it is. We’ve got a couple more questions here from people who are streaming. Can a 16-year-old buy a vehicle if they are in foster care with a relative? The relative is in the process of transferring legal custody to them but it’s not finalized yet.
Kim Lemcke: Well, I don’t know that a 16-year-old can actually be on that title. I thought it was 17 before they can actually be on the title, but at age 17 or when they can be on the title, they certainly can buy a car if they are working and have a way to purchase that and keep up with the maintenance, I mean, again, it if you have your own 17- year-old are they buying their own car? Are they you know taking care of those things? So it’s definitely something that can happen; again, it’s each individual youth you got to look at if that’s appropriate for them.
Deborah Beske Brown: So then there’s another question here about a foster home that’s a hobby farm, and part of the hobby farm is their family rides horses. I would suggest that you have consultation with the licensing agency in the home about how to do case management regarding that and to make sure that you’re including those kinds of conversations as part of case management, and to be discussing what’s available at the family; it’s many things our families do that they do regularly.
And then also there’s also a question about slide ten.
Kim Lemcke: Okay, that’s actually talking about self-eligibility. Part of the federal statute where it talks about the age appropriate activities, that that is specifically under self for those who are likely to age out of foster care. So that does not change our self-eligibility, but if you’re going to use self-funding for youth, you should be looking at your youth who are likely to age out of care. Now what does that mean to your agency? You have to decide if that youth is likely to age out of care. That doesn’t mean that they have to have a permanent custody to the agency permanency determination, but if you really think at that moment they’re going to age out of care, then go ahead and look at paying for the age-appropriate activities through self-funding.
Deborah Beske Brown: And then the final question is do both foster parents in the foster only need to attend the training? So in your family foster homes if only one parent makes all the prudent parenting decisions about the child, they are the ones that decide if it’s only the — I’ll use the example — if it’s only the father who decides who in the family is going to make decisions about activities and that kind of thing, then only that parent needs to be trained. But if both parents make decisions about can you go outside today, can you ride your bike today, then boths parents need to be trained. It would be pretty unusual in a foster family to have only one parent making that level of decision. So, Tara’s got a question.
Tara: So if you were to give DVDs to the foster providers to take home, would we need them to do like a test, a post-test or something like that to show that they’ve actually watched the DVD.
Deborah Beske Brown: So Tara’s question is, is there any type of post-test to show they’ve watched the DVD or anything to—and at this point we have not defined anything like that, so it really be the licensing worker asking a couple of questions when they turn it in: did you complete the training? Did you understand it? Making sure that they—if there’s any questions. That’s at this point what we have available. Maxie wants to add something to that.
Maxie: Yeah, and really the whole point of all of this is that you should be having a conversation with your providers, right? With the foster care providers, because that’s what this really is about, is that you should be having a conversation with them explaining prudent parenting to them, having them see the training, and then having them ask you questions. So I think, yeah, you’ll know that, but are gonna require a written post it that’s accurate? No, however, you would want to make sure that somehow and we’re we want flexibility and having them be able to tell you that, yes, I did complete the training and then sign off. Thanks
Deborah Beske Brown: I would just remind folks that slide 32 talks about the skills, talks about the components that the foster parent should show, and that this training did include some examples of applying the prudent parenting standard for that purpose.
Amy Walker: One more question came in. What part of liability will DHS take on when a foster child does a high-risk behavior and gets hurt?
Deborah Beske Brown: So at this point—and I guess foster families all…The state of Minnesota already provides liability insurance for foster parents, and to take a look at that information, that’s something the state of Minnesota has provided for many, many, many years. Other questions? With that, I think we’ll wrap it up. Thank you. If you have additional questions be sure to email either one of us presenters. Thank you.