DCS

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DCS follows a 6 stage process:
Intake
Screening the Report
Investigation/Assessment
Case Decision and Disposition
Treatment/Case Management
Case Closure

Click here for more information.

Please contact the Child Abuse Hotline at (888) 767-2445 or call your local DCS office; click here for the list of DCS offices and telephone numbers.

When a child is placed in your home, you should receive the following paperwork from DCS:

  • Notice to Providers (Out-of-home, Educational, and Medical) [CSO-1035A] – completed at the time of placement
  • Child’s Health and Medical report – printed by DCS caseworker from DCS information system
  • CMDP insurance number
  • Information that DCS knows about the child’s special needs

Foster parents provide temporary homes for children who have been removed from their homes because of abandonment, abuse or neglect. While foster parents are charged with the care of children in foster care, they are not the legal guardian of a child. The Arizona Department of Child Safety depends on foster parents to meet many expectations regarding daily care of a child in foster care. Those expectations can be found here.

Additional information about DCS’s expectations for confidentiality can be found here.

Additional information about DCS’s expectations for discipline can be found here.

We highly recommend getting the contact information for all three and having it on hand in case of an emergency. The caseworker's contact information is on the Notice to Provider. You can call the assigned DCS office and ask for the supervisor and APM contact information; click here for the list of DCS offices and telephone numbers.

Some DCS contacts can be found here.

Go through the chain of command by contacting your caseworker and their supervisor. Click here for the list of DCS offices and telephone numbers. If that does not work please call the DCS Ombudsman at 602-255- 2666 or email Ombudsman@azdcs.gov.

Licensed foster parents are to notify DCS and their licensing agency within 24 hours if their child has an illness, injury, change of medication, or medication error that results in seeking medical attention.

Licensed foster parents are to notify DCS and their licensing agency immediately if their child dies, has a serious illness or injury requiring hospitalization, or receives urgent care or emergency room treatment and whenever emergency services (911) is contacted.

Within 24 hours of any of the above noted incidents, licensed foster parents shall complete an Unusual Incident Report form and submit it to their licensing agency.

Unlicensed kinship foster parents are to notify DCS within 2 hours of the following: death of a child or hospitalization (medical or psychiatric.

Unlicensed kinship foster parents are to notify DCS within 48 hours if the child becomes seriously ill.

If you are a licensed foster parent, R21-6-326 requires you to notify DCS and your licensing agency within 24 hours if any of the following incidents occur:

  • Injury, illness, change of medication, or medication error that requires medical attention
  • Theft of money or property belonging to a foster child
  • Significant damage to the property of a foster child
  • Injury to others or significant damage to the property of others caused by a foster child
  • Using physical restraints to control a foster child’s sudden, out-of-control behavior
  • Arrest of a household member or involvement of a household member with law enforcement that does not lead to an arrest
  • Household changes that affect the foster parent’s ability to meet the foster child’s needs
  • Life-threatening illness, injury, or the death of a household member
  • Incidents involving a DCS report or investigation

If you are a licensed foster parent, R21-6-326 requires you to notify DCS and your licensing agency immediately if any of the following incidents occur:

  • Death of a foster child
  • Unexplained absence of a foster child
  • Unauthorized removal or attempted removal of a foster child from the care and supervision of the foster parent
  • A serious illness, injury, or mental health crisis of a foster child that requires hospitalization or emergency room treatment
  • An allegation or the discovery of a sign of abuse or neglect of a foster child
  • Arrest of a foster child or involvement of a foster child with law enforcement that does not lead to an arrest
  • Fire or other situation requiring overnight evacuation of the home
  • Incidents that involve or are likely to involve the media
  • Any other unusual incident that seriously jeopardizes the health, safety, or well-being of a foster child

Within 24 hours of any of the above noted incidents, licensed foster parents shall complete an Unusual Incident Report form and submit it to their licensing agency.

Unlicensed kinship foster parents are to notify DCS within 2 hours of the following: death of a child or hospitalization (medical or psychiatric), alleged abuse, or other emergency threatening the child’s placement.

Unlicensed kinship foster parents are to notify DCS within 48 hours if the child becomes seriously illness, death of a caregiver, change in family composition, or involvement with law enforcement.

Yes, you can take your child in care on a trip under the following guidelines:

If you are traveling within Arizona or another state for more than 2 days but less than 7 days, you must notify the child’s DCS case manager and your licensing agency of the dates of travel, destination, and your contact telephone number.

DCS must authorize any trips within Arizona or another state that are 7 or more days long.

A court order is required if the trip is out of state and is for 30 or more days.

Traveling outside of the country requires a court order, passport, and any necessary immunizations. Discuss your travel request with the child’s DCS case manager and your licensing agency as early as possible to allow the child’s DCS case manager to request the court’s permission for the trip. You will need to get a passport for the child after obtaining a copy of the child’s birth certificate from the DCS case manager or Vital Records (if the child was born in Arizona; you will need a court order stating the child is in your custody). To apply for a passport for a foster child who is under 16, you will need a notarized document from DCS stating that you (the foster parents) are allowed to apply for a passport for the child and are permitted to take the child out of the county in addition to other required documents and fees (click here for more information).

To see a chart about these guidelines, click here.

If the trip will interfere with parental visitation, the DCS case manager may deny permission for the trip and/or require make-up visits for any missed visits. Also, the child’s parents may refuse to give permission for their child to go on the trip.

When you are traveling with a child in care, be sure to take the following: a copy of the court order placing the child in out of home care; the child’s Notice to Provider; a copy of the child’s birth certificate; the child’s passport (if traveling outside of the country); any available photo ID for the child (for example, school ID); the child’s CMDP card; all medications in their original bottles and placed in a locked container; and contact information for your DCS case manager and licensing agency.

Engaging in shared parenting with a child’s primary family can help the child adjust to your foster home and increase the chance of reunification. Click here for some shared parenting ideas, remembering to always abide by any guidelines provided by the child’s DCS case manager. Discuss any questions or concerns about shared parenting with the child’s DCS case manager and/or your licensing worker.

Yes, Reasonable and Prudent Parenting Standards (RPPS) discuss careful and sensible parental decisions that maintain the health, safety, and best interests of a child while at the same time encouraging the emotional and developmental growth of the child. Click here for a RPPS manual. Click here to view a summary table covering different categories of activities.

A visitation and contact plan is part of every foster child’s case plan. As stated in DCS’s Go-To- Guide, this contact “preserves and enhances relationships with and attachments to the family of origin.”

The visitation plan is developed by the child’s DCS caseworker in collaboration with the child’s parent(s) and the child (if age appropriate). Sometimes the specifics of a visitation plan (for example, frequency or length of visits) are changed by the DCS caseworker in response to a court order. Visitation should occur in the most natural environment possible and with the least level of supervision possible while ensuring the child’s safety.

There are 3 different types of visitation – therapeutic, supervised, and unsupervised. Therapeutic visitation is when visitation is supervised by a therapist in the therapist’s office. Supervised visits can occur in a variety of settings and are supervised by a case aide or parent aide or another DCS approved third party. Unsupervised visits are when the parent(s) are permitted to be alone with their child.

DCS may request that you transport the child to visits, but if you are not able to provide this transportation, DCS will make alternate arrangements. Having the foster parent transport a child to visits can make visits easier for the child because you are a person the child already knows.

DCS may request that you supervise visits, especially if you are a kinship foster parent, but it is not required.

Engaging in shared parenting with a child’s primary family can help the child adjust to your foster home and increase the chance of reunification. Click here for some shared parenting ideas, remembering to always abide by any guidelines provided by the child’s DCS case manager. Discuss any questions or concerns about shared parenting with the child’s DCS case manager and/or your licensing worker.

A foster home investigation occurs when an allegation of abuse or neglect is received by the Arizona Child Abuse (DCS) Hotline or when the police are called to the foster home due to incident that could be considered abuse or neglect of a child. When an allegation is made regarding a foster child, the details and context of the situation are assessed just as in any other Hotline call. DCS and/or the Police are responsible for determining whether or not an investigation is warranted. As you can imagine, this is not an easy task. In every situation, the goal is to make sure that every child in care is safe and receiving the quality of care that he or she deserves.

Foster home investigations may involve several agencies such as the Police Department, DCS, the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) and the Office of Licensing, Certification and Regulation (OLCR)/Office of Licensing and Regulation (OLR). Each agency has a specific role. The police department conducts criminal investigations. DCS investigates allegations of abuse and/or neglect of children. DDD investigates client and human rights violations. OLCR/OLR is concerned with licensing violations and determines the impact of the investigation on the family’s license; OLCR/OLR is only involved if the foster family is licensed or has started the licensing process.

When a foster home investigation is initiated, the licensing agency and OLCR/OLR are notified immediately (if the foster family is licensed or has started the licensing process) along with the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) and the child’s DCS worker. A DCS investigator and/or a police investigator will typically show up at the foster home unannounced. This is standard procedure for investigations. If the police are involved, the intent is to determine whether or not any criminal charges should be filed. DCS will typically not continue its investigation until the police investigator determines that there are no criminal charges to be filed. Regardless of which agency is conducting the investigation, it is the foster parent’s responsibility to cooperate with the investigator. The investigator may interview the children involved (this can include biological and foster children), depending on their ages. The investigator may have already interviewed the children at school. The investigator will want to spend some time with the foster family to discuss any information relevant to the allegations. After the information is gathered, DCS will propose finding the allegation Substantiated or Unsubstantiated. Statistically, most investigations are found to be Unsubstantiated. All investigative reports are forwarded to OLCR/OLR (if involved) and OLCR/OLR then determines the impact of the investigation on the foster home license.

If the allegations are found to be unsubstantiated, the investigation may be closed with no further action needed. However, an open investigation can have a significant impact on the foster home license. If a family is near renewal, the renewal will be delayed until the investigation is completed. If a family is close to finalizing an adoption, the adoption will be delayed. Other outcomes will depend on the findings of the investigation. OLCR/OLR (if involved) may request additional information from the licensing agency in the form of a licensing inquiry. Click here for more information about licensing inquiries.In the case of substantiated abuse, OLCR/OLR may elect to revoke or suspend the foster license. Whenever OLCR/OLR takes an action regarding the foster home license, OLCR/OLR will notify you in writing and inform you of any appeal rights. If a family chooses to close their license with an open investigation or prior to completing a Corrective Action Plan (CAP), OLCR/OLR will deny any re-applications and the family will not be eligible for licensure in the future (R21-6-414.I.2). If the police were involved and criminal evidence is found, the family could face criminal charges.

Families do have some appeal rights. DCS will provide the results of the investigation in writing to the family. Likewise, OLCR/OLR (if involved) will notify families in writing regarding any licensing actions. In both cases, families will be advised of any appeal rights. If the family is facing criminal charges, it will be up to them to procure their own legal counsel.

Unfortunately, there is no way to predict how long an investigation will take. Some investigations are wrapped up in a few weeks, but others, especially those that involve the police department, can take several months.