Q: How much notice do you get before CPS moves your children in foster care?
A: This is such a big deal for us! As with all things foster care, it seems nothing is guaranteed but I can provide you with information from our experience. Seeing as how we're on the eve (?) of an interesting removal, it seems apropo to discuss.
Notice before removal really depends on the case cirucumstances and the reason for removal from the foster home. I'll bucket them into three types: Emergency, CPS initiated, or Foster-Parent initiated.
In an emergency situation there is no notice. A situation could be considered an emergency if there is a situation in the foster home that requires immediate removal, if there is an emergency with the child that requires removal, or if the judge orders immediate placement with a relative or birth parents (as in when a case is dismissed, especially unexpectedly). I know a foster family where the dad broke his neck in an accident - in that case, depending on the circumstances of the placement, CPS might request immediate change of placement. A foster family might have an inspection or allegation followed by investigation that might require immediate removal of the child (See this for an example). I suppose there could be situations with the child that requires immediate removal - I can't think of an example but its possible. Basically what happens is someone dictates there is a need to move the child and then in a few minutes to a couple hours the child is gone. Sometimes the caseworker simply says to pack there stuff up and it will get picked up or shipped to the child later. Emergency removals suck for all involved, in my opinion.
All of our removals have been CPS initiated. This is, in my opinion, the best type of removal ou can have, even though it sucks at the time (usually, but not always). This type is a non-emergency removal. It is usually driven by a decision to move the child to a kinship placement (relative's home) after an approved homestudy or a return to the people the child was removed from after a successful visit. In our history, we've had anywhere from 2-10 days official notice prior to removal in these cases. It *could* happen more quickly than that (especially if the foster parent wants it to). You *could* have longer official notice, but its not likely. The reason its not likely is that in this type of situation CPS is saying the child's placement would be better to be with someone else (family usually) and therefore there is a bit of an obligation to get the child to the best placement ASAP. There are cases where CPS will decide to move the child to another foster home in a non-emergency situation. I've never experienced that but it would generally be a situation where the foster child has requested to be moved (if they are older), the ad-litem expresses concerns about the current foster home, or CPS generally has concerns about the home. It also could be caused by a desire to move the child to a foster-to-adopt home rather than a foster-only home if the child is expected to be adoptable at some point in the future.
In our current scenario, #11 is expected to go home sometime soon. I got word from the ad-litem on Monday that his kinship placement had been approved but even today have not heard from the caseworker. For reasons I won't get into, we would like him to be moved before Monday if he is going to be removed and therefore we're sitting on the edge of our seats waiting for word of when he'll actually be moved. It's not looking pretty right now. I expect we'll either hear that he won't be moved before Monday (which will not be good for him or our family) or that he will be picked up with 30 minutes notice. Neither one is good. :(
(Edited to add - after CW threw me under the bus with the ad litem who proceeded to call me on every number she had with an extremely urgent message only to tell me the CW said she couldn't get a hold of me after I had answered her phone call on the first ring...I digress...we arranged for me to transfer #11 to the kin placement tomorrow (Sat) at 10. We'll miss him greatly but are glad we finally have it worked out. If you count the time from when the CW told us he was going home until the time he will actually go home it will be 24 hours.)
Foster Parent Initiated
There are times when foster parents initiate a move. It might be caused by a need for a break. It might be due to a child wihth behaviors or conditions that the foster parents were unaware of prior to the placement or have come to elarn they are unable to handle. Maybe the foster parents are quitting foster parent-dom altogether. In these times foster parents have the ability to request a child be moved to a newhome. In these cases though, the foster parents usually have a long wait unless all the stars align just right for the CW to move the child quickly. Usually the contracted agency or the state itself will have rules governing how long they can wait to respond to moving a child (usually 14-30 days) and a foster parent asking for a move can expect to wait the maximum time. I will say that we experienced this, inadvertantly, one time. We told the CW that we would need to have the kiddos moved "months from now" when Summer's brother was to be born because we would be outside our ratio. With that in mind, our caseworker decided it would be better to move them quikcly rather than let them get bonded to us and then have them moved. It was ony 7 days later that they were moved from our home. I suppose that is kind of a CPS initiated move and kind of a Foster-parent initatied move.
So there you have it. A summary of how much notice you get. On one hand, its not much. On the other, in foster care land you're always (usually) very aware that the children could be moved at any time. It;s a constant reality we face.
I pro ised to tell you more about the doctoral stuff and I will. Just have to get back into the habit of being on the computer for non-work events and that has been difficult.