Foster Care Manual: Regulations

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This information has been excerpted from materials specific to one state. Be sure to check with your Foster Care Specialist for details in your state, county, or province.

This Agency complies with the following regulations for the various programs:


3700--Foster Family Care Agency.

3680--Administration and Operation of a Children and Youth Social Service Agency.


6400--Community Homes for Individuals with Mental Retardation.

6500--Family Living Homes.


3700--Foster Family Care Agency.

5310--Community Residential Rehabilitation Services for the Mentally Ill.

All regulations are not covered in this manual. Program-specific regulations are available and need to be reviewed by provider parents prior to receiving a client into their home. Please request these regulations from your client supervisor if they have not already been given to you.

The following Children and Youth regulations are included because they go across all programs where children are served. Comments added by this Agencies staff are contained within brackets [ ].
FFCA--Foster Family Care Agency. [In this manual identified as "The Agency"]

3700.31. Number of children allowed in a foster family home.

FFCAs shall limit the number of children living with any foster family to six. The maximum of six children includes the foster parents own children. Exception to this requirement may be made only with prior approval obtained in writing from the appropriate regional office of the Department.

3700.38. Orientation and information for foster families.

(a) The FFCA shall provide an orientation for new foster families before placing a child with them. The orientation shall include information about:

(1) FFCA philosophy.

(2) FFCA practices.

(3) Roles of the foster family.

(4) FFCA policies and procedures for discipline, punishment and control of foster children.

(5) Roles of the FFCA in assisting the foster family in serving children.

(6) First aid procedures.

(7) Applicable statutes, regulations and general procedures.

(b) The FFCA supervising the foster family home shall give the foster families an emergency telephone number which provides 24-hour access to the FFCA.

(c) Foster families shall be provided information from the case record which is necessary to protect the childs health and safety and to assist in the childs successful accomplishment of necessary educational, developmental or remedial tasks.

(d) Foster families shall be provided information from the case record which will enable them to function safely and in cooperation with the FFCA.

3700.51 Medical and dental care.

(a) The FFCA shall ensure that a child receives a medical appraisal by a licensed physician within 60 days of the childs admission to foster family care, unless the child has had an appraisal within the last 90 days and the results of the appraisal are available. The appraisal shall include:

(1) A review of the childs health history.

(2) Physical examination of the child.

(3) Laboratory or diagnostic tests as indicated by the examining physician, including those required to detect communicable disease.

(b) The FFCA shall arrange for immediate medical attention when a medical problem is recognized at the time of referral.

(c) After the initial health appraisal, the FFCA shall ensure that a child has contact with a licensed physician according to the following schedule:

Age Frequency

Birth through 6 months Once every 6 weeks

7 months through 23 months Once every 3 months

23 months and older Once a year

(d) The FFCA shall ensure that a child, 3 years of age or older, receives a dental appraisal by a licensed dentist within 60 days of admission, unless the child has had an appraisal within the previous 6 months and the results of the appraisal are available. The appraisal shall include:

(1) Taking or reviewing the childs dental history.

(2) Examination of the hard and soft tissue of the oral cavity.

(3) X-rays for diagnostic purposes, if deemed necessary by the dentist.

(e) After the initial appraisals, the FFCA shall ensure that dental examinations are given to children 3 years of age or older at least once every 9 months of placement.

(f) The FFCA shall confirm the immunization record of the child within 60 calendar days of placement. An appropriate immunization schedule shall be established for the child based on his immunization status.

(g) The FFCA shall ensure that children receive necessary medical care when they are ill.

(h) The FFCA shall encourage parents to participate in the program of regular and appropriate medical and dental care for their child.

(i) The FFCA shall ensure that a continuing medical record is maintained for each child by assisting with retrieval of past medical records and transfer of current records to the childs ongoing source of child care.

3700.62 Foster parent requirement.

(a) Foster parents shall be at least 21 years of age.

(b) Foster parents shall pass an initial medical appraisal by a licensed physician prior to being approved. The appraisal must establish that the foster parents are physically able to care for children and are free from communicable disease. Further medical examinations may be required by the agency if the agency has reason to believe that additional medical appraisal is appropriate.

3700.63 Foster child discipline, punishment and control policy.

(a) Discipline.

(1) Foster children shall be directed with techniques that stress praise and encouragement.

(2) Foster children may not be subjected to verbal abuse, derogatory remarks or threats of removal from the foster home.

(b) Punishment. The following forms of punishment are prohibited:

(1) Abusive discipline practices.

(2) Physical punishment inflicted upon the body.

(3) Punishment for bedwetting or actions related to toilet training.

(4) Delegation of punishment to another child.

(5) Denial of meals, clothing or shelter.

(6) Denial of elements of the service plan or ISP.

(7) Denial of communication with, or visits by, the childs family.

(8) Assignment of physically strenuous exercise or work solely as punishment.

(c) Control. Passive physical restraint is the only allowable method of restraining a child.

[See Abuse Policy for additional information.]

3700.64 Assessment of foster parent capability.

(a) The FFCA shall consider the following when assessing the ability of applicants for approval as foster parents:

(1) The ability to provide care, nurturing and supervision to children.

(2) A demonstrated stable mental and emotional adjustment. If there is a question regarding the mental or emotional stability of a family member which might have a negative effect on a foster child, the FFCA shall require a psychological evaluation of that person before approving the foster family home.

(3) Supportive community ties with family, friends and neighbors.

(b) In making a determination in relation to subsection (a) the FFCA shall consider:

(1) Existing family relationships, attitudes and expectations regarding the applicants own children and parent/child relationships, especially as they might affect a foster child.

(2) Ability of the applicant to accept a foster childs relationship with his own parents.

(3) The applicants ability to care for children with special needs, such as physical handicaps and emotional disturbances.

(4) Number and characteristics of foster children best suited to the foster family.

(5) Ability of the applicant to work in partnership with an FFCA.

3700.65 Foster parent training.

A foster parent shall participate annually in a minimum of 6 hours of agency approved training. [FCS staff believe that additional hours of training are needed in order to care for some clients, and some FCS referral agencies require additional hours of training; therefore, the minimum requirement for FCS is 16 hours of annual training.]

3700.66 Foster family residence requirements.

(a) The FFCA shall ensure that the foster family residence has:

(1) At least one flush toilet, one wash basin and one bath or shower with hot and cold running water.
(2) An operable heating system.

(3) An operable telephone.

(b) Sleeping areas shall meet the following criteria:

(1) No unsuitable area such as a hall, stairway, unfinished attic or basement, garage, bathroom, eating area, closet, shed or detached building may be used as a sleeping area for children.

[This Agency requires adequate sleeping space of approximately 80 square feet for a single bedroom and 50 square feet per child for a double bedroom. No more than two children are permitted to share a bedroom unless the bedroom is extremely large and this staff has given approval for more than two children to share a bedroom. This Agency requires that a bedroom cannot be used as a regular means of egress to any other area of the home such as an entrance way into a laundry room, bathroom, or attic. Children over one year of age may not share a bedroom with their parents.]

(2) Foster children of the opposite sex who are 5 years of age or older may not share the same bedroom.

[This Agency requires that children of the opposite sex over 5 years of age are never to be left alone in bedrooms to socialize, do homework, play, etc.]

(3) Each foster child shall be provided with a clean, comfortable mattress and clean linens, blankets and pillow.

3700.67 Safety requirements.

(a) Medication and containers of poisonous, caustic, toxic, flammable or other dangerous material kept in the residence shall be distinctly marked or labeled as hazardous and stored in areas inaccessible to children under 5 years of age.

[This Agency requires that medications and poisons be in a locked storage area if foster children are under five years of age.]

(b) Emergency telephone numbers, including those for fire, police, poison control and ambulance, shall be conspicuously posted adjacent to all telephones.

(c) Fireplaces, fireplace inserts, wood and coal burning stoves and free-standing space heaters, if allowed by local ordinance, shall be installed, equipped and operated according to manufacturers specifications and requirements specified by local ordinance.

(d) An operable smoke detector shall be placed on each level of the residence. The detector shall be maintained in operable condition.

If more than 3 clients reside in the home, the home must have a C-3 occupancy permit from the Department of Labor and Industry. A C-3 occupancy permit requires an interlocking smoke detector system.

(e) A portable fire extinguisher, suitable for Class B fires, shall be available in the kitchen and other cooking areas. The extinguisher shall be tested yearly or have a gauge to ensure adequate pressure. [This Agency recommends a 2ABC fire extinguisher for each level of the home and requires yearly inspections of fire extinguishers.]

(f) Protective safety caps shall be placed in electrical outlets accessible to children younger than 5 years of age.

(g) Exposed electrical wires are prohibited.

(h) Drinking water from an individual water source shall be potable as determined by an annual microbiological test conducted by a laboratory certified by the Department of Environmental Resources.

[If an annual water test is contaminated and unsafe for drinking, the foster home will be given a provisional approval and must correct the situation within 90 days. Safe drinking water must be obtained from another source during the period of time while the situation is being corrected.]

[This Agency requires that the home, both inside and outside, be clean and in good repair. All trash must be properly discarded. All repairs must be made in a timely fashion.]

3700.69 Annual reevaluation.

(a) The FFCA shall visit and inspect annually each foster family to determine continued compliance with the requirements of 3700.62--3700.67 (relating to foster parent requirements; foster child discipline, punishment and control policy; assessment of foster parent capability; foster parent training; foster family residence requirements; and safety requirements).

(b) The FFCA shall give each foster family written notice regarding the results of the annual evaluation.

(c) The FFCA shall give written notice to foster families of its decision to approve, disapprove or provisionally approve the foster family. The written notice shall inform the foster parents that they may appeal the FFCAs decision to disapprove or provisionally approve the foster family.

3700.70. Temporary and provisional approvals of foster families.

[The section on temporary approval is not included because this Agency cannot give a temporary approval. Only a governmental agency can give a temporary approval.]

(b) Foster families may be given provisional approval to care for foster children.

(1) Provisional approval of a foster family may be authorized by an FFCA when a previously approved foster family is determined, in a reevaluation, not to meet one or more of the requirements in 3700.62--3700.67.

(2) The FFCA may authorize provisional approval only if the identified areas of regulatory noncompliance will not result in an immediate threat to the health or safety of foster children placed with the foster family.

(3) During a period of provisional approval, the FFCA may not place additional children with the foster family.

(4) For foster families approved after October 1, 1982, provisional approval may be maintained for no longer than 12 months. The FFCA shall terminate the provisional approval of a foster family unable to achieve compliance within 12 months of receipt of provisional approval. Upon termination of a foster familys provisional approval, the FFCA shall remove foster children living with the foster family.

3700.72. Foster family approval appeals.

(a) The FFCA shall give written notice to each applicant of its decision to approve, disapprove or provisionally approve the foster family. The written notice shall inform the foster parents that they may appeal the FFCAs decision to disapprove or provisionally approve the foster family.

(b) Foster parents who wish to appeal an FFCA decision to disapprove or provisionally approve the foster family shall submit the FFCA a written appeal, postmarked no later than 15 calendar days from the date of the written notice. The appeals are subject to Title 9003 of the DPW Manual to be codified at Chapter 30 (relating to hearings and appeals).

(c) Upon receipt of the foster parent appeal, the FFCA shall date stamp the appeal. The FFCA shall review the appeal and determine if steps can be taken to resolve the appeal without a hearing. If, after considering the appeal, the FFCA is unable to resolve issues of disagreement, the appeal shall be sent to the Office of Hearings and Appeals, Post Office Box 2675, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17105 within 15 calendar days of the date stamp.

3700.73. Foster parent appeal of child relocation.

(a) Foster parents may appeal the relocation of a child from the foster family except under one of the following conditions:

(1) The child has been with the foster family less than 6 months.

(2) The removal is initiated by the court.

(3) The removal is to return the child to his parents.

(4) The removal is to place the child for adoption.

(5) An investigation of a report of alleged child abuse indicates the need for protective custody removal to protect the child from further serious physical or mental injury, sexual abuse or serious physical neglect as defined in Chapter 3490 (relating to child protective services--child abuse).

(b) The FFCA shall inform foster parents in writing that they may appeal the relocation of a child in accordance with subsection (a) at least 15 days prior to the relocation of the child.

(c) Foster parents who wish to appeal the relocation of a child shall submit to the FFCA a written appeal to be postmarked no later than 15 days after the date of the notice of their right to appeal the childs relocation.

(d) Upon receipt of the foster parents appeal, the FFCA shall date stamp the appeal and submit it to the Departments Office of Hearings and Appeals, Post Office Box 2675, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17105, within 5 working days.

(e) If a foster parent submits an appeal in accordance with subsection (c) and the foster parent has the right to appeal in accordance with subsection (a), the child shall remain in the foster family home pending a decision on the appeal.

(f) Parties to an appeal of a childs relocation may be represented by an attorney or other representative.

3680.17 Transportation requirements.

(a) The legal entity shall establish, and ensure adherence to, written policies and procedures regarding the transportation of children receiving services.

(b) The policies shall include, at a minimum, the following:

(1 ) A vehicle used in transporting children while they are receiving services from the agency shall be validly licensed and inspected under 75 Pa.C.S. 101--9901 (relating to the Vehicle Code).

(2) Persons transporting children on behalf of the agency shall possess a valid drivers license for the class of vehicle the person is operating.

(3) The number of persons in a vehicle used to transport children may not exceed the passenger capacity as determined by the vehicle manufacturer. Safety restraints, as installed at the time of manufacturing, shall be used by occupants.

(4) Children who are younger than 4 years of age shall be transported in motor vehicles in accordance with the requirements for parents and guardian under 75 Pa.C.S 4571 (relating to restraint systems).

[Children must be securely buckled at all times while in a car. Children up to 4 years of age must be in an approved car safety seat at all times. All foster children must be either in a seat belt or a child safety restraint seat at all times while riding in a car.]

[This Agency prefers that all school-age children ride the school bus to and from school rather than driving or riding with friends. If there is a good reason to do otherwise such as going to work after school, please discuss the situation with the client supervisor.]

3680.43 Agency discipline. (in addition to 3700.63)

(c) The policy shall:

(2) Prohibit abusive or degrading practices, including:

(i) Ridicule, verbal abuse or threats, or derogatory or humiliating remarks.

(v) Denial of food, water, shelter, sufficient sleep, clothing or bedding.

(viii) Assignment of physically strenuous exercise or work solely as punishment.

(ix) Requiring a child to remain silent for long periods of time.

(x) Group punishment for the misbehavior of an individual child.

(xi) Delegation of discipline to persons not known by the child.

(d). . . no programs operated by the agency may use a method of physical restraint, isolation, security or physical barriers which prohibit a childs egress. Locks may be used only as a means of external security to keep persons out or to deny access to a certain area of the facility in which the program operates.

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