14 Day Notice of Removal and Grievance Review Rights
14 Days Written Notice is Required Prior to a Placement Change
Removals (i.e. placement changes) in foster care are sometimes necessary but often times are unnecessary and can be avoided. Before a placement change is to be made for a child or youth in foster care, a written notice of removal is required.
Effective January 1, 2019, California state law requires a social worker or placing agency to provide a minimum of 14 Days Written Notice of Removal. Welfare and Institutions Code Section 16010.7
It was the intent of the California Legislature to prevent children or youth in foster care from experiencing unnecessary or abrupt placement changes that negatively impact their well-being or sense of security. In that regard, the Legislature recognizes the need of preserving and strengthening placements whenever possible. Further placing emphasis on trauma informed best practices, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) issued an All County Letter 19-26 (5/8/19) detailing how county agencies should stabilize placements in order to avoid sudden and traumatic moves.
The notice requirements set forth in Welfare and Institutions Code Section 16010.7 supersede the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) regulations that provided for 7 days notice. See All County Letter 19-26 (5/8/19)
Additionally, the CDSS Regulations provide for an intra-agency grievance review process. See below for more information about the procedures pertaining to grievance review hearings.
Placement Preservation Strategy Must be Implemented Prior to 14 Days Written Notice of Intent to Move is Given
Effective January 1, 2019: a dependent child/youth’s placement cannot be changed unless there is an attempt to maintain the stability of the current placement.
To this end, the social worker or placing agency is supposed to make specific efforts so the foster child/youth can remain with the current caregiver. The social worker or placing agency SHALL develop and implement a “placement preservation strategy” in consultation with the dependent child’s child and family team (CFT) to preserve the dependent child’s placement. The strategy may include, but is not limited to, conflict resolution practices and facilitated meetings (i.e. holding a CFT meeting). Welfare and Institutions Code Section 16010.7(b)
CDSS issued an All County Letter 19-26 (5/8/19) that encourages and provides specific examples of what the placement preservation strategies may include. The message from CDSS is clear, the child and family team is important and should be utilized to help make decisions that are in the best interest of the foster child/youth.
- Initiate a strengths-based youth and family–centered CFT meeting to collaboratively develop and implement an individual plan designed to meet the youth and family’s needs;
- Apply conflict resolution practices to address conflict and concerns, and discuss solutions;
- Review of the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) assessment tool to identify and discuss strengths and unmet needs to guide case planning;
- Review previous CFT meeting notes to identify any delays or barriers to implementing recommendations agreed to by the previous CFT that may impact placement stability or a youth meeting their goals;
- Actively engage or recruit CFT members such as educational and natural community supports, family members, professionals, and other individuals identified by the child/youth or family; and/or
- Make every effort to ensure the timely provision of support services, as deemed appropriate by the CFT, for specific services to support placement stability such as respite services, referral for assessment for mental health services, or wraparound.
If, after implementing the placement preservation strategy, the social worker or placement agency finds that a placement change is necessary, the social worker or placing agency shall serve written notice at least 14 days prior to the change on:
- The dependent child’s parent or guardian.
- The dependent child’s caregiver, including resource families and foster family agencies.
- The dependent child’s attorney.
- The dependent child, if he or she is 10 years of age or older.
The social worker is NOT permitted to remove the child between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. unless there is mutual agreement between the child, caregivers (current and prospective), and the social worker in the form of a written waiver.
**NOTE: absent a unanimous decision to waive these requirements, the written notice and preservation strategy must be implemented unless it is determined that the existing placement or providing prior written notice of that placement change poses an imminent risk to the health or safety of the dependent child or other children in the home or facility. Welfare and Institutions Code Section 16010.7(h)(1)
**NOTE: there are additional notice requirements if the foster/child youth has an IEP. See All County Letter 19-26 (5/8/19) for more information.
Right to Request an Intra-Agency Grievance Review Hearing
Each county has grievance procedures to review complaints from foster parents, legal parents, guardians and children concerning the placement or removal of a dependent child/youth from a foster home. All issues shall be resolved in the best interest of the child. Rights to grievance review procedures is still provided in the California Department of Social Services Regulations and has not been updated to reflect the recent changes in California law requiring 14 days written notice of a placement change contained in the Welfare and Institutions Code Section 16010.7. California DSS Manual 31-020.1
The CDSS Regulations provide that there is no right to a grievance review when:
- Removal of a child is for any of the reasons listed where the agency is not required to give notice of intent to remove the child (i.e. the child is in immediate danger or there is a court order, etc.)
- Removal of a child or modification of services results from an administrative review panel determination
- Removal of a child is for direct placement into an adoptive home
- The complaint regards only the validity of a law or statewide regulation
- The complaint regards an issue for which a fair hearing is available as specified in Welfare and Institutions Code §§ 10950, 10965.
The agency must explain the right to a review and provide a copy of the grievance procedure regulations to:
- The legal parent/guardian at the time of placement
- The foster parent at the time of licensing
- Any complainant at the time a complaint is filed.
Your request for a grievance review must:
- Be in the form of a written statement signed by the complainant (this can be a written letter sent by certified mail (or hand delivered) to the supervisor and director of the county department);
- Set forth the facts which the interested person believes provide a basis for reversal of the agency action of removal;
- Be sent or filed within ten (10) calendar days after becoming aware of the action under complaint. NOTE: In cases where the department must provide notice, the complainant must submit the review request to the agency at least two calendar days before the intended date of removal.
The agency must help the foster parent prepare the complaint, if assistance is requested or necessary. California DSS Manual 31-020.35
The review must be held within ten working days from the date the department receives the written complaint. California DSS Manual 31-020.4
All parties should receive notice of the date, time and place for the review not less than five calendar days prior to the hearing. California DSS Manual 31-020.41
*CASES IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY* To file for a grievance review hearing in Los Angeles County, please use DCFS Form 4161. Visit the LA County DCFS Policies on Grievance Review webpage for information, instructions, and required forms.
*CASES IN SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY* Please review the following San Bernardino County sample forms:
- Form CFS 2W -Grievance Procedures Regarding Placement, Care and Removal of Children (includes optional waiver of 7 days notice of removal)
- Form CFS 7D - Notice of Removal and Grievance Review Request (fill out second page to request a grievance review hearing)
- Form CFS 7D.1 - Grievance Review Notification
- Form CFS 7D.2 - Denial of Grievance Review
- Form CFS 7D.3 - Grievance Review Decision
The Agency's Grievance Review Hearing
- Only someone not involved in the complaint, who is knowledgeable of the field and capable of objectively reviewing the complaint, may conduct a review.
- The review agent must try to conduct the hearing in a non-adversarial atmosphere. California DSS Manual 31-020.52
- The review agent must allow all parties and representatives to examine all documents and physical evidence introduced at the hearing. California DSS Manual 31-020.53
- Only the parties, their representatives, and witnesses while testifying, are authorized to be present during the review unless all parties and the review agent consent to the presence of other persons. California DSS Manual 31-020.54
- All witnesses must testify under oath or affirmation. California DSS Manual 31-020.55
- The review agent may continue the review for a period not to exceed ten calendar days if additional evidence or witnesses are necessary for determination of the issue. California DSS Manual 31-020.56
The Agency's Grievance Review Decision
- The review agent must issue a written recommended decision, and the agency director must issue a final written decision, within five calendar days after review/completion. California DSS Manual 31-020.61
- The decision must be based upon the evidence presented at the hearing. California DSS Manual 31-020.62
- The director’s decision must contain a summary statement of the facts, the issues involved, findings and the basis for the decision. California DSS Manual 31-020.63
- A copy of the decision must be sent to each party, their representatives, and the State DSS. California DSS Manual 31-020.64.641 -.643
Dependent Child/Youth Stays in Home Pending Receipt of Grievance Decision Unless in Imminent Danger
**PLEASE NOTE: Unless the child is in imminent danger, he/she SHALL remain with the foster parent(s), pending decision of the agency director, when removal is the basis for a complaint. California DSS Manual 31-020.7
All California State Department of Social Services regulations can be found at http://www.cdss.ca.gov/ord/PG309.htm
Bringing Placement Change Issue to the Juvenile Dependency Court
If you receive a notice of removal or are informed that a placement change is planned, you may also consider bringing the issue straight to the juvenile dependency judge to decide. You can do this by filing a JV-180 Request to Change Court order. Often it is prudent to avail yourself of the intra-agency grievance review procedures discussed above and file a JV-180 with the dependency court simultaneously.
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