14 Day Notice of Removal and Grievance Review Rights
14 Days Written Notice is Required Prior to a Placement Change
Removals (i.e. placement changes) in foster care are sometimes necessary but often times are unnecessary and can be avoided. Before a placement change is to be made for a child or youth in foster care, a written notice of removal is required.
California state law requires a social worker or placing agency to provide a minimum of 14 Days Written Notice of Removal. Welfare and Institutions Code Section 16010.7
It was the intent of the California Legislature to prevent children or youth in foster care from experiencing unnecessary or abrupt placement changes that negatively impact their well-being or sense of security. In that regard, the Legislature recognizes the need of preserving and strengthening placements whenever possible. Further placing emphasis on trauma informed best practices, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) issued an All County Letter No. 19-26 (5/8/19) detailing how county agencies should stabilize placements in order to avoid sudden and traumatic moves.
"Thoughtful, trauma-informed, and intentional transitions are best practices for any child or young person in out-of-home placement." ACL No. 19-26 continues with examples of best practices for transitions, including but not limited to:
- Maintaining and preserving sibling relationships in accordance with WIC 16002;
- Maintaining all supportive, healthy and important lifelong relationships and
connections to the child/youth by providing contact information and action plans
to support all lifelong connections;
- Coordination with the youth’s education rights holder to ensure they can remain
in their school of origin when it is determined to be in their best interest;
- Planning transitions to occur during natural school breaks, after holidays, or special occasions as permitted; and/or
- Providing the youth with tote bags and boxes to pack items and allowing the youth to pack their own belongings.
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The notice requirements set forth in Welfare and Institutions Code Section 16010.7 supersede the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) regulations that provided for 7 days notice. See All County Letter 19-26 (5/8/19)
Additionally, the CDSS Regulations provide for an intra-agency grievance review process. See below for more information about the procedures pertaining to grievance review hearings.
Placement Preservation Strategy Must be Implemented Prior to 14 Days Written Notice of Intent to Move is Given
It is the intent of the Legislature to prevent children or youth in foster care placement from experiencing unnecessary or abrupt foster care placement changes that negatively impact their well-being or sense of security. Prior to making a change in the foster care placement of a child or youth, a social worker shall develop with the caregiver a placement preservation strategy, which shall be done in consultation with the child and family team. The strategy may include, but is not limited to, conflict resolution practices and facilitated meetings (i.e. holding a CFT meeting). Welfare and Institutions Code Section 16010.7(b)
Per the CDSS's All County Letter 19-26 (5/8/19), the placement preservation strategies may include, but are not limited to the following:
- Initiating a strengths-based youth and family–centered CFT meeting to collaboratively develop and implement an individual plan designed to meet the youth and family’s needs;
- Applying conflict resolution practices to address conflict and concerns, and discuss solutions;
- Reviewing the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) assessment tool to identify and discuss strengths and unmet needs to guide case planning;
- Reviewing previous CFT meeting notes to identify any delays or barriers to implementing recommendations agreed to by the previous CFT that may impact placement stability or a youth meeting their goals;
- Actively engaging or recruiting CFT members such as educational and natural community supports, family members, professionals, and other individuals identified by the child/youth or family; and/or
- Making every effort to ensure the timely provision of support services, as deemed appropriate by the CFT, for specific services to support placement stability such as respite services, referral for assessment for mental health services, or wraparound.
If, after implementing the placement preservation strategy, the social worker or placement agency finds that a placement change is necessary, the social worker or placing agency shall serve written notice at least 14 days prior to the change on:
- The dependent child’s parent or guardian.
- The dependent child’s caregiver, including resource families and foster family agencies.
- The dependent child’s attorney.
- The dependent child, if he or she is 10 years of age or older.
The social worker is NOT permitted to remove the child between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. unless there is mutual agreement between the child, caregivers (current and prospective), and the social worker in the form of a written waiver.
**NOTE: absent a unanimous decision to waive these requirements, the written notice and preservation strategy must be implemented unless it is determined that the existing placement or providing prior written notice of that placement change poses an imminent risk to the health or safety of the dependent child or other children in the home or facility. Welfare and Institutions Code Section 16010.7(h)(1)
**NOTE: there are additional notice requirements if the foster/child youth has an IEP. See All County Letter 19-26 (5/8/19) for more information.
IMPROPER NOTICE OF REMOVAL SHOULD BE REPORTED TO THE OMBUDSPERSON
If you receive a verbal notice of removal only, or notice that was otherwise in violation of Welfare and Institutions Code section 16010.7, a complaint should be made to the California Ombudsperson for Foster Care according to subsection (g). If a complaint is made and the Ombudsperson conducts an investigation, those findings are to be reported to the county child welfare director.
IF NOTICE OF REMOVAL IS RECEIVED WITHOUT PLACEMENT PRESERVATION PLAN
If you are a caregiver who has received a Notice of Removal without the "placement preservation plan" implemented prior as outlined in Welfare and Institutions Code section 16010.7, you can utilize this Placement Preservation Strategy Request-Template Letter in communicating with the placing agency (i.e. case worker, supervising worker). You may or may not need all sections in the letter so please edit accordingly to tailor to your specific situation.
Along with the letter, it is recommended that you include copies of the following documents referenced in the template letter to the case worker and supervisor:
- All County Letter 19-26 (5/8/19)
- All County Letter 20-33 (3/31/20) (may not be pertinent to your situation, please review)
- Welfare and Institutions Code Section 16010.7
**NOTE: you may email and/or send the above documents to the case worker and supervisor who noticed the removal.
**NOTE: we recommend that you “cc” the minor’s attorney in your above communications.
Right to Request an Intra-Agency Grievance Review Hearing
Each county has grievance procedures to review complaints from foster parents, legal parents, guardians and children concerning the placement or removal of a dependent child/youth from a foster home. All issues shall be resolved in the best interest of the child. Rights to grievance review procedures is still provided in the California Department of Social Services Regulations and has not been updated to reflect the recent changes in California law requiring 14 days written notice of a placement change contained in the Welfare and Institutions Code Section 16010.7. California DSS Manual 31-020.1
The CDSS Regulations provide that there is no right to a grievance review when:
- Removal of a child is for any of the reasons listed where the agency is not required to give notice of intent to remove the child (i.e. the child is in immediate danger or there is a court order, etc.)
- Removal of a child or modification of services results from an administrative review panel determination
- Removal of a child is for direct placement into an adoptive home
- The complaint regards only the validity of a law or statewide regulation
- The complaint regards an issue for which a fair hearing is available as specified in Welfare and Institutions Code §§ 10950, 10965.
The agency must explain the right to a review and provide a copy of the grievance procedure regulations to:
- The legal parent/guardian at the time of placement
- The foster parent at the time of licensing
- Any complainant at the time a complaint is filed.
Your request for a grievance review must:
- Be in the form of a written statement signed by the complainant (this can be a written letter sent by certified mail (or hand delivered) to the supervisor and director of the county department);
- Set forth the facts which the interested person believes provide a basis for reversal of the agency action of removal;
- Be sent or filed within ten (10) calendar days after becoming aware of the action under complaint. NOTE: In cases where the department must provide notice, the complainant must submit the review request to the agency at least two calendar days before the intended date of removal.
The agency must help the foster parent prepare the complaint, if assistance is requested or necessary. California DSS Manual 31-020.35
The review must be held within ten working days from the date the department receives the written complaint. California DSS Manual 31-020.4
All parties should receive notice of the date, time and place for the review not less than five calendar days prior to the hearing. California DSS Manual 31-020.41
How to Request a Grievance Review Hearing
Many counties have forms to request an intra-agency grievance review hearing. If you were not provided a grievance review request form along with the written notice of removal (or you were not provided with a notice of removal), you can use this Grievance Review Hearing Request Template to make the request to your agency.
*CASES IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY* To file for a grievance review hearing in Los Angeles County, please use DCFS Form 4161. Visit the LA County DCFS Policies on Grievance Review webpage for information, instructions, and required forms.
*CASES IN SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY* Please review the following San Bernardino County sample forms:
- Form CFS 2w -Grievance Procedures Regarding Placement, Care and Removal of Children
- Form CFS 7D - Notice of Removal and Grievance Review Request (fill out second page to request a grievance review hearing). If you didn't receive notice of removal and want to request a grievance review hearing, fill out page 2 of Form CFS 7d and attach to a request using our Grievance Review Hearing Request Template.
- Form CFS 7D.1 - Grievance Review Hearing Notification
- Form CFS 7D.2 - Denial of Grievance Review Request
- Form CFS 7D.3 - Grievance Review Hearing Decision
Grievance Review Hearing Process/Procedure
- Only someone not involved in the complaint, who is knowledgeable of the field and capable of objectively reviewing the complaint, may conduct a review.
- The review agent must try to conduct the hearing in a non-adversarial atmosphere. California DSS Manual 31-020.52
- The review agent must allow all parties and representatives to examine all documents and physical evidence introduced at the hearing. California DSS Manual 31-020.53
- Only the parties, their representatives, and witnesses while testifying, are authorized to be present during the review unless all parties and the review agent consent to the presence of other persons. California DSS Manual 31-020.54
- All witnesses must testify under oath or affirmation. California DSS Manual 31-020.55
- The review agent may continue the review for a period not to exceed ten calendar days if additional evidence or witnesses are necessary for determination of the issue. California DSS Manual 31-020.56
The Agency's Grievance Review Decision
- The review agent must issue a written recommended decision, and the agency director must issue a final written decision, within five calendar days after review/completion. California DSS Manual 31-020.61
- The decision must be based upon the evidence presented at the hearing. California DSS Manual 31-020.62
- The director’s decision must contain a summary statement of the facts, the issues involved, findings and the basis for the decision. California DSS Manual 31-020.63
- A copy of the decision must be sent to each party, their representatives, and the State DSS. California DSS Manual 31-020.64.641 -.643
Dependent Child/Youth Stays in Home Pending Receipt of Grievance Decision Unless in Imminent Danger
**PLEASE NOTE: Unless the child is in imminent danger, he/she SHALL remain with the foster parent(s), pending decision of the agency director, when removal is the basis for a complaint. California DSS Manual 31-020.7
Bringing Placement Change Issue to the Juvenile Dependency Court
If you receive a notice of removal or are informed that a placement change is planned, you may also consider bringing the issue straight to the juvenile dependency judge to decide. You can do this by filing a JV-180 Request to Change Court order. Often it is prudent to avail yourself of the intra-agency grievance review procedures discussed above and file a JV-180 with the dependency court simultaneously.
Interested in learning more about 14-day Notice of Removal? Check out our online training, How to Access the Juvenile Court: A Legal Training For Caregiver.
Legal Disclaimer: Advokids provides educational information and resources to those who use our website, call our hotline, or submit requests for information via the website. Any information provided may not be construed as the giving of legal advice to any person about a particular legal matter and should not be relied upon as the basis for taking a particular action or refraining from taking a particular action in any legal matter. If you want or need legal advice about a particular legal matter, you should consult a lawyer.
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