General Questions

Questions related to the overall instrument, its general application, or the Face Sheet.

Item 8, 11, 12, 13, 15: If, during the PUR, the court issues a “cease reunification” order, ending reunification and/or other services to parents, or if a termination of parental rights occurs during the PUR, does that automatically make Items 8, 11, 12, 13, and 15 “not applicable”?

No, not automatically. Reviewers need to consider the case circumstances and the best interests of the child in determining the applicability of these items. Although the definition of parents in Items 8 and 11 seems to indicate that reviewers would stop assessing a parent who was no longer working toward reunification during the PUR, if it is in the child’s best interests to continue visitation or continue supporting the relationship after TPR or a cease reunification order occurs during the PUR, that parent would remain applicable in those items. If it was not in the child’s best interests to continue to support the relationship with that parent based on case circumstances, from that point in the PUR Items 8 and 11 would stop being applicable and those items would only be rated for the portion of the PUR when contact with the parent was appropriate. Circumstances may warrant continued work with the parents in Items 12, 13, and 15, but the application of the item instructions may shift due to the case circumstances. For example, in Item 12, a comprehensive assessment and services to support all identified needs may not be applicable in cases where the parent and agency are no longer working toward the goal of reunification, but an assessment of what the parent may need to continue a positive relationship with the child post-TPR and services to support that need may be warranted, and that should be captured in 12B. In Item 13, although the case plan goal of reunification may have changed, the agency should still be engaging with the child and parents to work toward an alternative permanency goal and ensure that any other case goals (such as supporting a positive long-term relationship post-TPR between the parent and child) are achieved. The family should also be informed about what steps are needed for successful case closure. Similarly, monthly contact in Item 15 may no longer be warranted based on case circumstances, but adequate contact with the parent to continue to work toward permanency for the child and ensure that any other case goals are achieved should be assessed in Item 15. This may be monthly or less than monthly contact, depending on the circumstances.

Face Sheet: For Question I, should the reviewer enter the date on which in-home and foster care services first began (i.e., date of the disposition of the investigation) or the date on which the investigation begins?

Question I on the OSRI Face Sheet asks, "What is the date of the first case opening, of the cases open for services during the period under review?" The date that should be entered is the date on which the agency opened the case for services, or referred the case for services under an alternative response system. Depending on the state's policy, the case could be considered open for services after the disposition of the investigation and a decision to open the case, or could be considered open as of the date on which the investigation begins. To ensure that reviewers are using the correct definition of "open for services," we recommend discussing the state's policies on when a case is considered to be open with the Children's Bureau Regional Office Specialist. Question L on the Face Sheet asks, "What is the date of the most recent case closure during the period under review?" The date that should be entered is the date on which the agency has completed all case closure activities required by the state's policy. Again, to ensure that reviewers are using the correct definition of "case closure," we recommend discussing the state's policies and requirements for case closure with the Children's Bureau Regional Office Specialist.

Face Sheet: How should we capture same-sex parents?

Parents who are of the same gender should be captured according to their role as you would for other parents. The instrument allows capturing more than one "mother" and more than one "father." (8/4/2014)

Face Sheet: Can states add a text box in the OSRI face sheet? If so, where?

States do not have the option of adding a text box in the OSRI face sheet in the CFSR Online Management System.

General Question: How should reviewers apply the OSRI to in-home cases involving children living in temporary, alternative child care arrangements, such as with extended family members/friends via voluntary agreements or conditional custody orders?

This guidance applies to in-home cases in which children are living with extended family members or other family friends via voluntary agreements with the parent(s), conditional custody orders, or other court orders that do NOT place the child under the care and placement responsibility of the agency. In some states these arrangements may be considered placement with safety resources or out-of-home safety plans. Face Sheet It is very important that reviewers indicate in the case participant table all the alternative care providers with whom children are living. This will help to determine who will be rated in Items 12A and 12B and what homes need to be considered in risk/safety assessments in Item 3. Item 2 Reviewers should not consider the child(ren)’s placement in a temporary, alternative living arrangement outside the family home as an “entry into foster care” because the child welfare agency does not have placement and care responsibility for these children. If only a safety plan was needed and no safety-related services were necessary based on the circumstances of the case, then the case is not applicable for Item 2. If the only thing necessary to keep children safe during the period under review was a safety plan that placed the children with an alternative care provider, then this item is not applicable. Placement with an alternative care provider is not considered a safety service. If, during the period under review, there were safety concerns with the biological/legal parent OR with the alternative care provider with whom the child(ren) live, the first box for applicability would be answered Yes and reviewers would respond to question A by determining whether appropriate safety-related services were provided to either the bio/legal parents or the alternative care provider, to ensure the children’s safety and to prevent the child(ren)’s actual placement in foster care. If, during the period under review, there were concerns with the alternative care arrangement and the children were at risk of foster care placement, the second box for applicability would be answered Yes and reviewers would respond to question A by determining whether appropriate safety-related services were provided to either the bio/legal parents or the alternative care provider to ensure the children’s safety and to prevent the child(ren)’s actual placement in foster care. Question 2B would always be answered NA in these cases because the case is being rated as an in-home case, which means the children were never removed from the home and placed in foster care during the period under review. Item 3 When responding to questions 3A and 3B, reviewers should consider whether risk and safety assessments were conducted in the home(s) where children were living as well as in the home of their biological/legal parent. When responding to question 3C, the safety plan would include the plan to place the children with an alternative care provider as well as any other safety-related services that were provided to the bio/legal parent and/or the alternative care provider (if applicable based on case circumstances). Item 12 Alternative care providers should have their needs assessed and be provided necessary services as this relates to their ability to meet the identified needs of the children living with them. Therefore, the assessment and services for these caregivers would be captured in 12A for the children. The agency is not required to conduct a comprehensive assessment of these caregivers as they are for parents in 12B because these caregivers are not the focus of the case plan and are not the legal/permanent caregivers for the children. Only biological and/or legal and permanent parents or guardians of the children would be assessed as Mother and Father in 12B. If an alternative care provider becomes a legal guardian or adoptive parent of a child during the period under review, the alternative care provider should also be included as a parent in 12B. If a biological parent was not the parent with whom the children were living, reviewers would need to determine if he or she should be included based on the guidance provided in the definitions for Mother and Father for in-home cases in the instrument. Items 13 and 15 The same parents identified as Mother and Father in 12B would be rated in Items 13 and 15.

Face Sheet: Who should be included in the case participant table of the Face Sheet, and what information should be included regarding “relationship to child”?

In the online OSRI training provided by the Children’s Bureau, the following instructions are provided: When determining who to include in the case participant table, reviewers should always include biological and legal parents, regardless of their involvement with the child or children at the time of review. If the parent is deceased, if their parental rights have been terminated (even if this occurred prior to the period under review), or if their whereabouts are unknown, reviewers should note that in the “relationship to child” section. It is also important to indicate whether the parent served as a caregiver and/or whether he or she lived in the same home with the child(ren). Paramours to parents or caregivers who live in the home with the child(ren) should also be listed in the table. If they serve in a caregiving role with the child(ren), indicate their role as “caregiver,” and if they do not serve in that role but they have access to the child(ren), indicate their role as “other” and explain their status in the “relationship to child” section.

Face Sheet: Question M asks why a case was opened for services. Is the reason(s) for case opening based on the state’s legal definitions of maltreatment as reflected in the reason for substantiation of abuse? Or is it based on the social worker’s identified concerns as reflected in the child abuse assessment information?

The reason for case opening should be based on whatever information is available in the case record and from interviews that identifies why the agency opened the case. This would include the maltreatment type that was substantiated or resulted in case opening, and it could also include other information that informed the agency’s decision to open the case.

Case Interviews: In completing the OSRI, should specifics about case interviews―such as which party indicated a certain fact―be included? If so, does this go against the assurance of maintaining the confidentiality of the interview process?

We ask reviewers to justify in their narrative how information gathered in the interview process supports their ratings. However, this information is confidential, and since some states share the completed OSRI with the caseworker/supervisor as part of the CQI feedback loop, this can affect confidentiality. It is suggested that reviewers include the information in the rating justification but do not directly indicate who provided the information. For example: “This item is rated ANI because at least one person interviewed indicated that the agency did include the parent in case planning meetings, but drafted the case plan in advance and only presented it to the parent for signing at the meetings.”

General Question: When reviewing a case, what should reviewers consider for assessment in the OSRI during the period under review?

The “period under review” refers to the established date that the case review begins (the start of the sampling period), and includes all agency services and actions on all accepted maltreatment reports and open cases from the start of the period under review, up to the date that the case is reviewed or case is closed, whichever comes first. To accurately answer all questions in the OSRI, it is necessary for reviewers to consider all services and actions provided by the state during the entire period under review. For example, during the period under review a state may be conducting safety and risk assessments, linking families to services, and coordinating safety planning during an investigation or differential response assessment, before actually opening the case. These agency services and actions would be considered and taken into account when completing OSRI questions. Similarly, if multiple cases are open during the period under review, all of those cases would be considered for assessment in the OSRI. If the case being reviewed is a foster care case, any other cases opened during the period under review that involved the identified target child (foster care or in-home) would be considered for assessment.

General Question: How should the OSRI be applied to cases that were open for 45 days or longer, but only included an initial investigation or assessment and did not include provision of services or case planning beyond that during the period under review?

For cases in which only an investigation or assessment occurred and no ongoing services or case planning was provided beyond that, reviewers should apply the following guidance in determining how to respond to Items 12 and 13. Reviewers must first determine if an adequate assessment of risk/safety was completed in Item 3. If there were no substantiated allegations and no identified risk or safety concerns with the family that would necessitate any further services beyond the initial investigation/assessment, comprehensive assessment of the child(ren)/parents and case planning with the family would not be necessary, so Items 12 and 13 could be rated Not Applicable in these cases. In cases where there are substantiated allegations, or if it is determined that there are high risk or safety concerns present, even if there is no substantiation of maltreatment, it is reasonable to expect the agency to conduct a comprehensive assessment of needs and services and to engage the family in case planning, so Items 12 and 13 should be rated. Reviewers would apply the OSRI instructions as they would in any other case to determine how to rate all other items for these cases.

General Question: A maltreatment report was received concerning siblings of the target child who remained in the home with their biological father during the period under review. The report was received after the target child's adoption was finalized and there was no ongoing open case with the biological mother or other parent. Should we consider this new report when rating Item 1 and should we consider these other children when we are rating ongoing assessment of risk and safety in item 3?

The children that were considered as part of the family in the case being reviewed at the beginning of the period under review (PUR) remain that way until the case closed, for rating purposes of safety, regardless of whether there is an intervening adoption for the target child during the PUR. So in the first example, the new report that came in on the child's originating family during the PUR would be considered if the report came in prior to case closure.

General Question: How should the OSRI be applied in a case involving a youth who was on runaway status for a majority of the PUR?

Whether the state is taking all reasonable steps, on an ongoing basis, to find a child who has run away from a placement will affect the reviewer’s assessment of several items. If the state isn’t taking all reasonable steps to find the child, it follows that the agency would be unable to appropriately assess, visit, engage, or provide services to the youth, which would affect ratings in Items 3, 13, 14, 16, 17, and 18 (if applicable). If the state is actively attempting to locate the child on an ongoing basis, the reviewer should not consider the period of time during which the child was on runaway status in the assessment of Items 13, 14, 16, 17, and 18 (if applicable). In Item 3, the efforts being made to locate the child should be considered positively in the reviewer’s overall evaluation of ongoing risk/safety assessment during the PUR. Regardless of the agency’s efforts to locate a youth on runaway status, the agency should still be able to identify appropriate permanency goals for the child, process timely termination of parental rights as applicable, work toward achieving timely permanency (e.g., searching for/preparing permanent placements for the child or working with parents toward reunification, based on case circumstances) and formulate assessments of the youth’s needs, including identifying needed services for the child. Therefore, Items 5, 6, and 12 should be rated based on the agency’s efforts in these areas.

Face Sheet: How should reviewers record parents when there is a known/available father or mother, but there is no name in the record; e.g., the parent is mentioned in interviews?

It is acceptable to add the parent to the Face Sheet as Jane or John Doe.

General Question: I am rating a case in which the foster child was placed by the agency with a relative, out of state, through an ICPC for most of the period under review. How do I address Items 3, 14, and 15 in a situation when an out-of-state DSS agency was responsible for supervising the placement?

Although the placing state has asked the receiving state to monitor the child’s safety, permanency, and well-being through an ICPC agreement, the placing state is still responsible for reviewing ICPC reports and ensuring the child is safe, and that his or her needs are being addressed by the receiving state. To answer the OSRI questions for Items 3, 14, and 15, Reviewers should talk to the placing state regarding the child’s safety (Item 3), and worker visits with the child (Item 14), as well as review ICPC reports and possibly conduct a phone interview with other case participants, such as the receiving state’s worker, the relative caregivers, and the child. Reviewers would need to ascertain the location of the parent (for Item 15) and determine which state is conducting visits with the parent, though the placing state should ensure that these contacts are being made. CB case elimination guidance allows for ICPC cases to be eliminated if they come up in the receiving state’s sample.

General Question: If a case is being reviewed and the youth turns 18 during the period under review but the state continues to provide services to the youth, do we continue to review for services provided and to rate the case for activities that occurred after age 18?

No. We review only for services and activities up to the age of 18. On the Face Sheet, use the date the child turns 18 as the discharge date. However, the date of case closure should reflect the actual date the case was closed with the state. If the state continues to provide services to the youth after his or her 18th birthdate and the case remains open, or is closed beyond the age of 18, use that date as the date of closure (not the 18th birthday).

General Question: If, during the PUR, multiple counties/offices in the state handled a case, should reviewers only rate the case based on the work of the county/office that had the case open during the time of the review?

No, reviewers must rate the case based on case practice that occurred during the entire period under review, regardless of which county or office was responsible for the case at the time of the review. The review focuses on statewide practice, and review findings reflect the outcomes for children and families that were achieved during a set period of time (period under review). States have the option of documenting county/office-specific issues in the open narrative field for each item if they would like to note specific concerns due to changes in county/office case assignments.

General Question: In a foster care case, where are safety concerns in a foster care placement addressed in the OSRI—both accepted reports and safety concerns for the target child and/or other children in the foster care placement when the concerns could affect the target child’s safety?

Safety concerns in the foster care placement that affect the safety of the target child being reviewed are assessed in Item 3, question F1, and any safety concerns for the target child that were not adequately addressed by the agency are captured in Item 3, question F. Only accepted reports that relate to the target child in foster care or the children in the target child’s family are assessed in Item 1 and not with regard to other children in a foster family home or placement.

General Question: We received a report concerning children remaining in the care of a parent after termination of parental rights of the target child, but the target child remains in foster care. Should we rate this in items 1 and 3? Please refer to the new related FAQ in Item 1.

The termination of parental rights for the target child in foster care does not change the fact that the siblings are still part of the family's case and so information and circumstances related to them should be considered in rating items 1 and 3.

General Question: There are significant (months) delays in transferring a case from investigation to ongoing services; however, once the ongoing caseworker is assigned, the family receives assessment and services, case planning, and regular worker contacts. How do case transfer delays impact outcome ratings?

Once the agency determines that a family requires services to keep children safe and to reduce risk of further abuse/neglect, the agency should make concerted efforts to provide those services in a timely manner. Significant (months) gaps in time that agency workers are not seeing children and assessing their needs can impact not only the physical safety of the children, but also their permanency and well-being. As with other gaps in service provision, reviewers will need to assess the total time that the case was opened for services during the period under review and consider the case circumstances and the impact of those delays on the outcomes for the family.