Answers to Foster Parent Questions

During the Experts Panel at our last Resource Family Conference (December 2018), we received many questions from our foster parents who are currently caring for children. See below for answers to those questions!

We want to provide support you in every way possible so you can focus on caring for children in need! If you have any questions not addressed here, please contact your Family Service Coordinator (FSC). You can also contact Lindsey Stephenson, Vice President of Operations, at (913) 499-8100 or


Questions About Birth Families of Children in Foster Care

Addiction treatment options vary depending on where the person lives. Heartland Regional Alcohol and Drug Assessment Center conducts assessments and makes recommendations regarding level of services for consumers struggling with substance addiction ( These assessments can be conducted by other licensed addictions counselors as well. Heartland RADAC should be able to assist in identifying what treatment options are available in certain areas.

It is possible that even though a grandparent is not an option for placement, they may still be considered as an adoptive resource. This would depend heavily on the reason the grandparent was not able to be a placement option. For example, a grandparent who lives out of state may not be a placement option initially due to the child needing to be near the parent in order to work towards reintegration; however, this would not exclude the grandparent from being considered as an adoptive resource.

When children are temporarily in the custody of the Department for Children and Families, the parental rights of the parent remain in tact unless a Judge terminates their rights. With that being the case, DCF and KVC work to engage parents and work in partnership with them to care for their children. Out of respect for that working relationship and their parental rights, we strive to obtain their permission for things such as haircuts beyond a basic trim and trips out of state. This helps build trust and a positive working relationship with that parent. While the parent might be inconsistent in the frequency and intensity of their involvement in their child’s care, it is our responsibility to continually model the type of positive working relationship we want to have. Regardless of the extenuating circumstances, this is always in the best interest of the child.

Making a recommendation or a decision to end parent/child visitation is very serious in nature and one not taken lightly. It is best practice to consult with providers who have been working with the family to process the potential benefits as well as potential harmful effects of ending visitation between a child and a parent.

KVC case workers can and should work to inform themselves on the complexities of a family and child’s situation in order to make their own recommendation regarding visitation between the parent and the child.

DCF’s policy regarding parent/child visitation and exceptions is included below. The policy lists four potential situations that would allow for an exception for a parent to have weekly visitation with their child. One of these is due to visitation being found therapeutically inappropriate based on recommendation of a physician or mental health practitioner and another is due to a court order that limits contact. This is often why the case team seeks out support from the mental health provider and/or the court.

3237 Interactions/Visitations

A. Parent/Child Interaction
1. Parents retain the right of reasonable contact with their children, regardless of the case plan goal, unless parental rights have been legally terminated or the court orders no contact. Maintaining connections for a child in foster care is important, and interactions/visitations shall not be based on whether the parent/child is completing case plan tasks or behaving appropriately. For allowable exceptions to visits, see H, below.

a. If the case plan goal is reintegration, in person parent/child interaction shall occur at least once a week, with telephone and email contact if deemed appropriate and in the best interests of the child. Parent/child interaction shall increase in duration, as appropriate.
b. If the case plan goal is other than reintegration, the in-person parent/child interaction shall occur at least once a month, or more frequently if deemed in the best interest of the child.
c. Parent/child interactions shall occur in naturally occurring settings, and foster parents shall have input and opportunity for involvement in these interactions.

2. The location of the parent/child interactions shall be determined based on the best interests of the child, and the activity in which the parent and child shall be engaged. When possible, parent/child interactions shall occur unsupervised.

3. Parent/child interactions may occur in the foster home. Prior to a first interaction in the foster home, roles and expectations shall be reviewed with the birth parents, child, and foster family.

4. Plans for required interactions between the parent and child, and the schedule for interactions shall be documented on the PPS 3053,Parent/Child Interaction Schedule. The PPS 3053 is a stand-alone document that shall be updated and sent to all affected parties whenever the Interaction Schedule changes. Illness, inclement weather or other situations may arise which may affect a planned interaction, however, documented interactions should demonstrate a pattern of consistent and frequent visitation.

Parent/child interactions shall be documented in the case file. An encounter data code has been created for these interactions, and these interactions shall be included in the monthly submission of encounter data to PPS.

H. Exceptions for Interactions/Visitations
Exceptions to interactions/visitations shall be made only when:
1. There are safety issues that threaten participants, or;
2. The whereabouts of a participant are unknown, or;
3. They are therapeutically inappropriate, based on the recommendation of a physician or mental health practitioner, or;
4. There is a court order that limits contacts.

Exceptions to having interactions/visitations in the home or where the child is living may be made for the same reasons, or if the parents are homeless. The reason for any exception shall be clearly documented and based on input from team members. Plans for other ways to stay connected (i.e. phone calls, other media, letters) shall be made.

There are many potential contributing factors that may have led to permanent custodianship being pursued in this case. If the permanent custodianship has been finalized already, you might consider seeking private legal counsel to explore any options for adoption that might exist. If the custodianship has not been finalized yet, another option for proceeding, which you may have already tried, would be reaching out to the child’s Guardian ad Litem and/or the District Attorney to discuss the child’s wishes.

Termination of parental rights does not alter or eliminate the blood relationship to other relatives. While the child remains in DCF custody, the grandparent maintains rights to visitation and may still be considered as a placement or adoptive resource for the child, depending on the specific circumstances involved.

Termination of parental rights does not alter or eliminate the blood relationship to other relatives. Grandparents in particular are required to be given substantial consideration by DCF with regard to placement and as an adoptive resource. While a child remains in DCF custody, the grandparent retains rights for visitation. Once the child is adopted, the adoptive parent gets to determine who the child maintains a relationship with and has visitation with.

It is nearly impossible to completely protect children from the impacts of their parents struggling with ongoing substance abuse and/or other forms of instability. Regardless of how much parents are struggling with these issues, children most often continue to have or desire a connection with their parents. Providing children with as much stability and consistency as possible outside of this is the best way to nurture their wellbeing while still being respectful of how complicated it is for them to have a parent they love, but who doesn’t always do what is in their best interest.

Parents retain the right to have visits with their children, even when struggling with substance use and addiction. KVC’s goal is to continue to provide a connection between the parent and the child as long as it can be done in a safe environment.

Parents retain the right to have visits with their children, even when struggling with substance use and addiction. When this is the case, safety is the main deciding factor with regard to continuation of visitation. If a parent can interact with their child safely and appropriately under the supervision of a KVC staff member, visitation between the parent and the child will continue to occur while KVC works with the parent to engage in addiction treatment.

DCF and KVC have rolled out Icebreakers Conversations to all pilot sites. KVC offices participating in the pilot program include Topeka, Pittsburg, and Olathe. Starting March 1st, KVC will implement Icebreakers Conversations in all of the additional offices who were awarded continuation of services with the new grants starting beginning in July. Thus in addition to the pilot offices, Lawrence, Hiawatha, and the rural counties surrounding Topeka will begin participating in Icebreakers beginning March 1st. Complete state-wide implementation won’t be in effect until July 1st. Therefore, if you take placement of a youth from the Ottawa office for example, an Icebreakers Conversation will not occur, unless placement takes place after July 1st.

DCF conducts an investigation to assess the risk and safety concerns present in the current home environment. KVC cooperates with this investigation by providing DCF with any/all information they have regarding the parents’ ability to keep the child safe and any risk factors present in the family environment.

If a parent has had their parental rights terminated previously, the court can take that information into consideration when determining how to proceed with a current case. The case team will also take a parents history into account when assessing their needs and making recommendations for how to move forward.

KVC works diligently with families receiving Family Preservation Services and Aftercare Services to maintain youth in the home safely. Staff members and leadership in these departments meet with families in their home as many as several times a week depending on the level of need and risks involved. Case workers strive to assist families in stabilizing their situation and supporting the family by helping them access any available community services.

CASA volunteers are assigned as a special advocate for the child, which might include having contact with the biological family and working to support the biological family. Regular contact with the child would also be an expectation of a CASA volunteer. The CASA program employees supervisors over their volunteers who can discuss case specific situations as needed.

While the experience of a parent not following through on their responsibilities can be extremely frustrating and upsetting, KVC is involved to help the parent receive help and to help maintain a safe connection between the parent and child while that is occurring. KVC is tasked with working to support parents who need to make significant changes in their lives and continually being punitive can negatively impact that process. Restricting visitation should not be based on a parent’s progress or lack of progress with case plan tasks or behaving appropriately. DCF policy states the following regarding visitation between parents and children:

3237 Interactions/Visitations

  1. Parent/Child Interaction
  2. Parents retain the right of reasonable contact with their children, regardless of the case plan goal, unless parental rights have been legally terminated or the court orders no contact. Maintaining connections for a child in foster care is important, and interactions/visitations shall not be based on whether the parent/child is completing case plan tasks or behaving appropriately.

As foster parents you are invited to attend court hearings and case plans which are the two main settings where parent progress is discussed. Due to limits of confidentiality, it is not appropriate for case teams to discuss a parent’s progress or lack of with a foster parent when the parent is not also involved in that conversation.

KVC or DCF will still have to complete a report on substantial consideration if the grandparent expresses an interest in being an adoptive resource and there is sufficient justification for ruling them out.

Direct Support

We originally anticipated a goal for digital red books by July 1, 2019. However, due to Governor Kelly and DCF making some changes to the new child welfare contracts/grants, the timeline may be impacted.

When negotiating adoption subsidy with DCF, you can provide documentation of childcare costs. DCF will take this information into consideration when determining the amount of subsidy they can provide.

Yes, there are efforts being made to advocate for the expansion of Medicaid towards the goal of supporting prevention of child removal in at-risk families. There are cross-system collaborative groups advocating to legislators for these systemic changes.

We apologize that some case teams have not provided this information. Our agency works closely with the Managed Care Organizations to provide services to our joint clients.

If DCF agreed to provide ongoing Medicaid coverage as part of your adoption subsidy package, you can continue to access PRTF and Acute Hospital services as long as the child medically qualifies for these services through the screening process. You can reach out to KVC Aftercare for guidance and assistance with this process. You can also seek out support and resources through Kansas Post Adoption Resource Center:

There are many variables that contribute to a teen’s plan for aging out and whether KVC ends up recommending that the teen remain in DCF custody until they graduate. Depending on the teen’s living situation, they may be able to be released from DCF custody and still continue attending high school until graduation. If attending high school after release from custody is not possible for one reason or another, KVC does support teens remaining in custody until they graduate. There are numerous factors and case specific details that could impact this.

Due to limitations with insurance coverage, KVC staff are not able to transport adults. However, we are able to support them in other ways such as providing gas cards, bus passes, or assisting them in setting up transportation through Medicaid.

A member of the case team (case manager or FSW) gathers the information on the needs and services being provided to a child from various sources and uses this information to complete the Level of Care. There are numerous questions within the LOC scoring tool related to medical needs and services.

An updated/corrected LOC can be submitted at any time. If the case team does not proceed with submitting an updated LOC with the information at hand, having your FSC discuss next steps with their supervisor, and the supervisor reaching out to leadership of the case team, is the best option for successfully getting the corrected LOC submitted.

Having a plan for childcare, including an interim childcare plan that can be used until long term child care is set up, can be a very challenging part to being a working foster parent, especially due to the ever changing attendance and waitlists that daycare can have. Your FSC can work with you to explore childcare options ahead of time so a tentative plan is in place for when you are ready to accept placement of a child. This can include a list of childcare providers you can call once you accept placement as well as developing a list of natural supports in your life you might be able to assist with child care temporarily. Your FSC may also be able to connect you with another foster parent who can provide temporary childcare during the day while you work to secure a long term care plan.

In this situation described above, please reach out to a Director so they can follow up immediately on what has or hasn’t been done to obtain medications for the child. See this page for a full staff list by office. The director can determine what the barriers are and can also potentially work internally with our Outpatient Department to obtain a script for the child.

The court appoints CASA workers to cases. If someone involved in the case believes a CASA worker might be beneficial, they can bring this to the court’s attention to see if the court agrees and is willing to appoint one. Guardian ad Litems vary in the way they practice; however, it is common that a youth might only see their GAL at court.

Guardian ad Litems are assigned to represent the best interest of the child. They vary in the way they practice.

The GAL might try to get to know the youth some and talk to them about what they are going through. The GAL might ask if they need anything.

Please reach out to the case worker’s supervisor to discuss your experience. The supervisor can follow up and assist the case worker in obtaining and providing the information needed. See here for a list of staff by office location.

Placement Questions

The family is given the opportunity to resolve the issue related to the citation. Sometimes this can be done through some type of immediate action or change made by the foster parent in the home and sometimes this involves a lengthier plan with certain steps that must be taken (ex. additional training courses).

The most effective way to determine if there are any pending legal cases for children you are getting ready to adopt is to contact the court in the areas the youth has been placed in previously.

If you are interested in being an adoptive resource for a child who is legally free for adoption, please contact our office and asked to speak with an Adoption Resource Coordinator. These staff members walk you through the process of being an adoptive resource for a child and answer all questions.

You would need to seek out legal advice from an attorney regarding steps to adopt a youth who has already aged out of the system including how to ensure they would maintain their medical benefits.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a system wide salutation to this issue thus we have to work on a case by case basis to examine the options available and creatively use what is available to us. Several factors impact determining the options available such as the location of the foster home, age of the child, behaviors/needs of the child, etc. The FSC for your home can work with you to explore a variety of options available for providing supervision for teens who are not approved for self-care time. Involving the CPA supervisor is another option for expanding this conversation and brainstorming further.

Saint Francis is participating in the Icebreakers Pilot Program as well; however, the pilot program included distance limitations (Icebreakers only occurred for children who are placed within 60 miles from their home of referral).

There are no requirements for where Icebreakers have to be held. The goal is to have it be a successful meeting between the parent and the placement to initiate an ongoing conversation about the youth and their care. KVC is not able to provide transportation to parents using our own vehicles due to insurance reasons; however, we are able to assist parents with other supports such as gas cards or bus passes, which ever makes most sense. We are also able to utilize technology to reduce barriers and make the Icebreaker Conversation process as successful as possible. Staff can work with foster parents to utilize options such as FaceTime or Skype or simply phone participation if that’s all technology will allow.

Many factors contribute to the decision to move a child to a different home. There is no exact formula for making this decision; however, the basis of the decision is safety and risk. Examining those areas and the factors that contribute to those help workers make a determination about what is in the best interest of the child.

KVC does not choose to have children sitting in offices awaiting placement. Staff supervising youth work hard to implement structure, routine, discipline, and activities beyond that of TV and video games. Unfortunately, some youth spend an extended amount of time in the office and eventually they are allowed to have some down time to relax, watch TV, and play video games. This helps keep the environment well rounded.

It is possible that the family member will be given consideration as a possible adoptive resource. However, the Best Interest Staffing team gives consideration to the amount of time a child has been placed with a resource, the bond they have developed, and reason other resources did not previously take steps to become placement.

Unfortunately as a case team works with a family towards the goal of reunification, there can be numerous setbacks and challenges. The case team is faced with working to determine if the challenge is something that can be worked through or if it’s severe enough that reintegration may no longer be possible.

The District Attorney would need to file for termination of parental rights in order for the case to be set for trial. Many different factors play into whether the DA feels there is sufficient evidence to support that type of motion. It is possible a child’s GAL may be able to provide some additional information on this from a legal aspect.

Communication Questions

Utilizing your FSC as well as the CPA Supervisor as resources to assist in communicating your points to the case team is one of the most effective options available. Your FSC will likely have insight an knowledge of the situation, as will the supervisor, and can have additional internal conversation with the case team about the situation at hand, what the options are, and what solutions can be implemented. See here for a list of all staff by office location.

The assigned Permanency case workers as well as Child Placing Agency staff including FSCs and Kinship Care Coordinators all play a role in researching and reaching out to potential NR-Kins. The Permanency case workers can reach out to potential contacts directly or if they learn about potential contacts in their conversations with a youth or family member, they can request the Kinship Care Coordinator or another staff member in CPA to reach out and explore the potential connection further. If foster parents learn of potential connections through conversations with a youth or through other avenues, we appreciate greatly when those are passed along to the case team and to the FSC so the leads can be followed up on and researched further.

DCF Child Welfare Contract/Grant Questions

For family preservation, due to some of DCF’s internal findings which may be similar to concerns described in an article in the Kansas City Star, DCF will issue a new request for proposals. The work will be posted again for qualified organizations to bid on. This is hopeful news for KVC because, as the state’s leader in family preservation outcomes, we are eager to be reconsidered for this very important prevention work with children and families. While DCF plans to move quickly, the bidding process will take at least a few months.

For foster care case management, reunification and adoption (permanency), DCF will move forward with the new providers it previously announced on November 1, 2018, however the start date has been moved back to October 1, 2019 to support a smooth transition. Starting October 1:

  • KVC Kansas will continue to provide foster care case management, reunification and adoption in Area 6 (Johnson and Douglas counties) and Area 3 (Shawnee, Jefferson, Wabaunsee, Jackson, Pottawatomie, Marshall, Nemaha, Brown & Doniphan counties).
  • KVC Kansas will transition its foster care case management responsibilities to Cornerstones of Care in Area 5 (Wyandotte, Leavenworth and Atchison counties) and to TFI in Area 4 (the 16 counties we serve in Southeast Kansas: Miami, Franklin, Osage, Coffey, Anderson, Linn, Woodson, Allen, Bourbon, Wilson, Neosho, Crawford, Chautauqua, Montgomery, Labette and Cherokee).

We expect that the placement matching system contract will proceed to support the new foster care case management providers.

Foster families supported by our child placing agency (CPA) will experience new to no changes. That’s because our work recruiting, licensing and supporting foster families is not based on a state contract or grant. We can recruit foster families in any area of the state and we are reimbursed when we, through a family, provide care to a child. Our CPA is focused on some of the highest need areas of the state and working to attract caring families so that we can provide the best match for each child in care.

While we anticipate some foster care case management contract changes on October 1, 2019, these changes will have little to no impact on you. There is no need to change to a different child placing agency. That’s because DCF encourages child placing agencies like ours to recruit, train and support foster families in ALL Kansas counties, and our foster family support is separate from case management contracts. We hope to earn your loyalty by providing you with the very best support and the unique benefits that are only available to KVC foster homes such as our Resource Family Conference, help with holiday gifts and school supplies, and other appreciation events throughout the year. Please reach out to us if you have specific questions!