HELPING JUVENILE COURT JUDGES MAKE MORE INFORMED DECISIONS

Advokids’ lawsuit settlement terms signed on October 19th, 2017, require Los Angeles Department of Child and Family Services to improve and document their notice policies to foster and relative caregivers and to put those policies in place no later than April 19, 2018.

The notice statutes and California Department of Social Services (CDSS) policies that we fought to enforce include foster and relative caregivers’ right to notice of a foster child’s court hearings and their right to receive a copy of the JV-290 Caregiver Information Form and JV-290 Info Form with the notice of hearings.

It was a great victory for children as courts will make better decisions about foster children’s’ lives and futures if they hear from the caregivers who know the children best.

The lawsuit settlement terms also enforce the state regulation that requires county welfare agencies to give caregivers 7 days written notice of the intent to remove a child from their care and the opportunity to ask for an intra-agency grievance review hearing before the child is removed.  This regulation will prevent precipitous and unnecessary placement disruptions for children.

We are satisfied with the terms of the stipulated agreement and we anticipate system improvement and greater protections for children in foster care in Los Angeles.

SUMMARY OF TERMS OF STIPULATED JUDGMENT DATED October 19, 2017

  1. No later than April 19, 2018, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) shall require the use of Simple Notice Application (SNAP) exclusively in preparing the requisite hearing notices, N-290 and N-290 INFO forms to be sent to current caregivers and Foster Family Agencies (FFA) with regard to juvenile court hearings involving foster children in their Simple Notice Application (SNAP) and is a computer system designed and maintained by the County to help County Social Workers (CSW) fulfill court notice requirements.
  1. Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services (LADCFS) shall continue to review and countersign all reports submitted by County Social Workers (CSW) for juvenile court hearings. As part of this review, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) shall confirm that the requisite hearing notice, JV-290 and N-290-INFO forms have been sent to the child’s current caregiver.
  1. Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services shall continue to file copies of the executed proofs of service with the juvenile court once service of these documents has been completed.
  1. Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services shall continue to comply with Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Child Welfare Policy Manual § 0100-502.52, entitled “Seven Day Prior Written Notice to Foster Parents of Intent to Remove a Child and Grievance Review Regarding Placement/Removal of a Child from a Foster Home” (revised 4/20/16), and California Department of Social Services Manual of Policies and Procedures § 31-440.21-.26.
  1. Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) shall provide all caregivers of children placed into out-of-home placements with a blank grievance request form (DCFS 4161) and a copy of the written DCFS grievance procedure regulations conforming to the California Department of Social Services Manual of Policies and Procedures § 31-020 et seq. at the time of placement and again at a time that DCFS first notifies the caregiver of the decision to make a placement change.  DCFS shall make the blank grievance request form (DCFS 4161) and grievance procedure regulations available at DCFS field office locations and to the public on the DCFS website.
  1. No later than April 19th,2018, Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services shall issue a new blank grievance request form (Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) 4161).   This new blank grievance request form shall set forth, among other things, when, where and how a caregiver may submit a completed grievance to Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) or its designee and will include a toll free number and either an e-mail address or facsimile number for submitting the completed grievance.
  1. No later than April 19th, 2018, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) shall be programmed to ensure that either: (a) the Seven-Day Notices have been mailed in accordance with the law, or (b) Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has documented the reasons for not sending the Seven-Day Notice.
  1. No later than April 19th, 2018, Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services hall generate quarterly statistical reports on: (a) the total number of foster children who were removed from their caregivers’ homes; and (b) the number of foster children who were removed from caregivers’ homes without advance provision of Seven-Day Notice, and for each such removal the reason(s) notice was not given.
  1. No later than April 19th, 2018, Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services shall establish a toll free number whereby caregivers, their attorneys and/or other advocates can report instances when a caregiver asserts that his/her rights have been violated with regard to hearing notices, JV-290, N-290-INFO forms, the Seven-Day Notice, removal of the foster child from his or her home and the grievance review procedure.

No later than six months from the date of entry of this Stipulated Judgment, Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) shall establish a toll free number whereby caregivers, their attorneys and/or other advocates can report instances when a caregiver asserts that his/her rights have been violated with regard to hearing notices, JV-290, JV-290-INFO forms, the Seven-Day Notice, removal of the foster child from his or her home and the grievance review procedure. The toll free number shall warn callers not to expect any response from DCFS to their calls. As to complaints involving the Seven-Day Notice, removal of the foster child from his or her home and the grievance review procedure, the toll free number shall also include information about how to file a grievance. As to all other complaints, DCFS shall evaluate the complaint and, if warranted, investigate further and take such corrective measures as it deems appropriate and, to the extent permitted by applicable law, report those corrective measures to the complaining party in a timely manner.

 

**** If you are a caregiver for a foster child in out of home care under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles County Juvenile Court and do NOT receive proper and timely notice of a court hearing along with the JV-290 Caregiver Information Form and the JV-290 INFO form AFTER April 19th, 2018, please contact Advokids.

**** If you are a caregiver for a foster child in out of home care under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles County Juvenile Court and do NOT receive a blank grievance request form (Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) 4161) and a copy of the written Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) grievance procedure regulations conforming to the California Department of Social Services Manual of Policies and Procedures § 31-020 et seq. at the time of placement and again at a time that DCFS first notifies the caregiver of the decision to make a placement change AFTER April 19th, 2018, please contact Advokids.

Click Here to Read the Entire Stipulated Judgement

 

 

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