Safety Outcome 2

Children are safely maintained in their homes whenever possible and appropriate.

Item 2: Is item 2 applicable when the agency has determined that a child is safe based on the results of a structured decision making (SDM) instrument or other tool that was completed?

Reviewers should not rely solely on the results of a safety assessment tool to determine if safety concerns were present that would have necessitated the provision or arrangement of safety related services. Some safety assessment tools are designed to determine only if a child should remain in the home with protections and don’t necessarily assess for and identify needed safety services. If the reviewers determine that there were safety concerns present that immediately impact parents’ abilities to protect children and keep them safe which could lead to a child’s placement or re-entry into foster care – such as active domestic violence or substance abuse, or lack of supervision, for example - then the expectation would be that item 2 is applicable.

Item 2: How do you apply the OSRI, Item 2, to cases involving a trial home visit during the PUR?

If it is a foster care case and the child was returned home on a trial home visit during the period under review, and the reviewer determines that there are concerns regarding the safety of that child in the home, then Item 2 would be applicable, per the applicability criteria. Reviewers would answer question A based on whether concerted efforts were made to provide or arrange for appropriate safety-related services to protect the child in the home during the trial home visit. When responding to question B, reviewers should consider a child's return to a foster home placement (from the trial home visit) as a "removal" from the home, for purposes of this OSRI item. Reviewers should apply the instructions for B in the same way that they would for a case involving an entry into foster care or a re-entry into care post-reunification.

Item 2: The FAQ regarding how to apply the instrument to in-home cases in which the children are living with an alternate caregiver says that item 2 can be not applicable if the only thing necessary to keep the children safe during the period under review was a safety plan that placed the children with an alternate caregiver. So, if an alternative caregiver arrangement is in place to ensure the children’s immediate safety, does this relieve the agency of making immediate concerted efforts to provide services to the bio/legal parents either before or concurrent with the alternative caregiver arrangement to address the safety concerns that existed in the home?

No. Alternative caregiver arrangements are voluntary and temporary, and without services to the biological or legal parents the safety concerns that brought the family to the attention of the agency may still exist. If only an alternative caregiver arrangement is in place as a safety plan, reviewers should determine whether appropriate safety related services were needed and provided to the bio/legal parents to ensure the children’s safety, ameliorate the safety and protection concerns that brought the children to an alternative caregiver arrangement and prevent potential placement in foster care.

Item 3: The directions related to ongoing risk and safety assessment clearly state formal and informal risk and safety assessment, but the directions related to the initial assessment (3A) do not have this wording. Can we still consider both formal and informal at the initial stage or should we focus only on formal assessments at this point?

Yes. In all of item 3 consider both formal and informal assessments for initial and/or ongoing assessments.

Item 3 (C): As we are working through the Shawntese Jordan foster care mock case, I see that for Item 3C, there is a response of "N/A." We've had many questions on why this isn't "Yes." Is it because after the youth reunified, a formal safety plan was not completed? We have observed, though, that the agency was involved in assessing risk and safety after reunification and that the mom and youth knew what needed to happen and what couldn't happen. It seems there was at least an informal safety plan in place during this time and one could rate this item as "Yes." Would there be a significant conflict should a reviewer rate this item (3C) as "Yes" instead of "N/A"?

As explained in the rationale video for this mock case, question 3C is rated "Not Applicable" because there were no safety concerns when Shawntese was reunified, and therefore a safety plan was not needed. Item 3 requires that reviewers determine whether safety concerns were in fact present in order to assess whether the agency responded appropriately to safety concerns. In this mock case, the mother's mental health concerns had been addressed and appropriately managed for some time and housing was the only pending issue that needed to be resolved before reunification could occur. The worker ensured that the mother had a crisis plan in place and that the child and mother had a support system in place before reunification, but that is different from a safety plan that is controlling active threats to the child's safety in the home. If a reviewer selected "Yes" instead of "N/A" for question 3C, he or she would need to be able to identify what the actual safety threats were and how they were being controlled and mitigated by a safety plan. In this mock case, a "yes" response to 3C would not be correct.

Item 3 (D): What kinds of safety issues should reviewers capture in Question D for a child in foster care? How is that unique from what is captured in Questions E and F?

In responding to Question D, reviewers must consider whether the safety-related incidents outlined in D1 were present in the foster care case. Recurring maltreatment may occur in a foster care case so reviewers must assess that. The other safety incidents outlined in D1 occur with the child’s family, typically in the family home. These kinds of concerns may be applicable to a foster care case if the child was reunified or placed on a trial home visit during the period under review. Questions E1 and E consider safety issues specifically related to visitation with family members (visitation here refers to periodic visitation and not a trial home visit) and Questions F1 and F focus specifically on safety issues that occur in the child’s foster care placements and/or with foster parents.

Item 3 (E): In answering E in a juvenile justice services case, should a youth's behaviors be considered during visitation or only the parents' behavior?

If a youth's behaviors pose a risk to his or her own safety during visitation that should be considered in Item 3, question E. Reviewers should identify any concerns about the youth's safety as a result of the youth's behaviors in question E1 by selecting "Other" and describing the safety concern that existed for the youth. Since the focus of Item 3 is on child safety, any concerns related to the safety of others due to the youth's behaviors during visitation should be captured in Item 8 when responding to questions about the quality of visitation.

Item 3 (E, E1): Should reviewers be answering E1 "Other" if there were safety concerns that were being mitigated? This would lead to an ANI that does not seem appropriate.

No, if safety concerns were mitigated, they would not be considered safety concerns in Item 3 E1 or E. Reviewers should only capture concerns that actually affected the safety of the child in questions E1 and E. If no unmitigated concerns existed, E1 should be answered, "No safety concerns related to visitation were present."

Item 3 (E, F): For foster care cases, if there are NO safety concerns related to E and F, how should reviewers capture that in the instrument since there is no NA option for foster care cases?

Since there is no NA option in these questions for foster care cases, if there are no safety concerns related to E and F, reviewers should respond as follows: Reviewers should select the option, “No unmitigated safety concerns related to visitation were present,” in E1 and answer No to E. Reviewers should select the option, “No safety concerns existed for the target child while in foster care placement that were not adequately addressed,” in F1 and answer No to F.