fbpx

The following are practices and tips for interacting with non child parties and players for your child case

Child’s Attorneys

  • The primary way CASAs communicate with the attorneys is through email. It is the best way to share information about your case with the attorney.  It is fast, efficient and leaves a record of the conversation.  And there is no playing “phone tag”.  Consult with your Advocate Supervisor if you think that you need to speak to an attorney on the phone.  Your Advocate Supervisor can help you figure out the best way to contact the attorney.
  • Always CC your Advocate Supervisor- This is a standard protocol for communication with most professionals on your child’s case.  It facilitates record keeping for your child’s case file and ensures that you are meeting your requirement to keep your Advocate Supervisor up-to-date on your case.
  • Send regular updates- Once a month, send an email to the attorney with key observations and facts from the last month.   This helps the attorney stay up to date and provides and opportunity for them to ask questions.  Your updates are read by the attorneys, but may not receive a response or acknowledgment.  It is not personal, they are just busy.  If you are unsure what to report on, you can ask at the end of the report-  “Is there any other information I can provide?”
  • Keep the attorney informed and don’t ask them to inform you- While the attorneys may share information from time to time, the child’s attorney is not a source of information for CASAs.  In part, this protocol exists to avoid potential confidentiality/ conflict of interest issues.   If you have questions for the attorney, consult with your CASA about the best way to get the information. 
  • Consult with your CASA before bringing the attorney in on a concern- There are times when something comes up and you may want to bring the attorney into the situation before your regular update( IE a service is not being provided or concerns about the safety of a placement).  You need to consult with your Advocate Supervisor before you take action.  Your advocate supervisor can help you ensure that you choose the best way to involve the attorney.
  • Appropriate Questions to Asks-   Due to attorney client privilege there is very little information that they can provide you regarding the child, what they intend to do in court, etc.  the best question to ask is “Is there any other information I can provide?”

Social Workers

  • Email is the most common form of interaction. It works well for communicating when schedules and time priorities don’t line up. There are times when you will need to talk to a social worker.  Unless the social worker has invited you to call as needed, it is best to set up appointments times to call/ meet.
  • Always CC your Advocate Supervisor- This is a standard protocol for communication with most professionals on your child’s case.  It facilitates record keeping for your child’s case file and ensures that you are meeting your requirement to keep your Advocate Supervisor up-to-date on your case.
  • Appropriate and objective language in emails. Due to the emotional nature of our work, it is easy for our emotions to show up in our communications.  If you are emailing on an issue that you have strong emotions, run it by your Advocate Supervisor first.
  • Remember your unique roles on the team– The social worker is looking out for everyone on the case (the bio-parents too) and has the charge of the court to be responsible for the care and welfare of the child.  Your role is to collect information on your child’s needs and advocate by reporting information to the court and other court approved parties to the case.  As such, we report all relevant information on the case to the social worker.  We also collect information from the social worker to ensure that we are not missing anything.  Keeping that in mind:
    • Focus on sharing strength based observations- It is usually pretty easy to share the negative observation, so remember to share the strengths you observe. 
    • Focus your communication on the best interests of the child- Remember to use language that highlights how what you are sharing relates to the child’s best interest. This helps to avoid appearing to advocate for or against parents.
    • Do not insist on information– For 2 reasons: 1.  it doesn’t help your case and 2.  it doesn’t help other CASAs.  If you are having trouble getting information from a social worker, your will work with you to find ways to get the information.
    • Do not tell them how to “do their job”– We are not the social workers supervisors, we are the child’s advocate.  Effective advocacy is reporting a concern and developments related to that concern to the appropriate parties. 
      • Advocacy- “Johnny has been wetting his bed 3-4 nights a week since moving and I am concerned that he is not getting the emotional support he needs.”
      • Bossy- “You need to refer him to CALM.”
    • Information they can provide:
      • Their point of view and recommendations on the case
      • Placement information/ changes
      • Names and contact information for service providers
      • Referrals made
      • Some information on the parent’s progress toward reunification
      • Information on visitation

Parent’s Attorneys

  • There . It is the best way to share information about your case with the attorney.  It is fast, efficient and leaves a record of the conversation.  And there is no playing “phone tag”.  Consult with your Advocate Supervisor if you think that you need to speak to an attorney on the phone.  Your Advocate Supervisor can help you figure out the best way to contact the attorney.
  • Always CC your Advocate Supervisor- This is a standard protocol for communication with most professionals on your child’s case.  It facilitates record keeping for your child’s case file and ensures that you are meeting your requirement to keep your Advocate Supervisor up-to-date on your case.
  • Send regular updates- Once a month, send an email to the attorney with key observations and facts from the last month.   This helps the attorney stay up to date and provides and opportunity for them to ask questions.  Your updates are read by the attorneys, but may not receive a response or acknowledgment.  It is not personal, they are just busy.  If you are unsure what to report on, you can ask at the end of the report-  “Is there any other information I can provide?”
  • Keep the attorney informed and don’t ask them to inform you- While the attorneys may share information from time to time, the child’s attorney is not a source of information for CASAs.  In part, this protocol exists to avoid potential confidentiality/ conflict of interest issues.   If you have questions for the attorney, consult with your CASA about the best way to get the information. 
  • Consult with your CASA before bringing the attorney in on a concern- There are times when something comes up and you may want to bring the attorney into the situation before your regular update( IE a service is not being provided or concerns about the safety of a placement).  You need to consult with your Advocate Supervisor before you take action.  Your advocate supervisor can help you ensure that you choose the best way to involve the attorney.
  • Appropriate Questions to Asks-  Due to attorney client privilege there is very little information that they can provide you regarding the child, what they intend to do in court, etc.  the best question to ask is “Is there any other information I can provide?”

Bio-Parents

  • Your court order isn’t enough… you still need to build rapport. Make sure that they understand your role before asking difficult/ intrusive questions.  Treat them with respect and let them be the expert on their child and situation.
  • Your observations are more important than their answers– Remember to balance your information gathering.  It may be easier to ask a list of questions and focus on the answers.  However, remember that your observations (Body language, how they interact with the child, etc) may give a more honest answer to your questions.
  • Remember your role and that you are there for the child. The following tips can help you avoid falling into these common “traps”
    • No Counseling, parent coaching, etc.
    • Be friendly, but do not become their best friend.
    • Do not give them rides, provide personal assistance, etc.
    • If they need additional help refer them to their social worker or the 211 hotline. Either source can help them, to locate the appropriate assistance.
  • Don’t share details about the case with them, they get that information from the social worker. They will ask and you may feel that they are entitled to know….. but maintaining confidentiality and avoiding conflicts of interest are far more important.
  • No contact if or when parental rights are terminated. This is vital for maintaining confidentiality and avoiding conflicts of interest.
  • Appropriate questions:
    • -How are they doing in their case plan?
    • -How are visits going?
    • -What do they want for their child?

Additional Tips/ Good Questions

  • Ask them to tell you about their child
  • Don’t hesitate to meet the parents…don’t avoid them
  • It’s important that Parents understand CASA’s role, that we’re here to help, we do it because we care

Teachers, day care providers and tutors-

  • Email/ Phone or in person meetings might be appropriate ways to meet get information from the teacher. It all depends on the teacher.
  • Only share that you are the CASA and your role, no history or specifics.- Teacher want to help and are used to getting information from people on how to help the kids in their classroom.  So it may feel uncomfortable, but it is very important that we protect the confidentiality of our CASA kids.
  • Do not set up any sort of school services. Advocating for an IEP or tutoring does not include arranging the services.
  • Ask general questions in regards to how the child is doing academically/ any behavior issues/ social skills. Teacher have more face time with the kids than most other people you will talk to and will have helpful observations regarding the child’s academics as well as their general well being.
  • In some situations it is appropriate to observe the classroom. Talk to your advocate supervisor if you think it would be helpful.  Always get permission before observing.
  • Appropriate questions to ask:
    • How are they doing behaviorally? Academically/cognitive development?
    • Arrive on time? Clean?
    • Do they need assistance to participate in activities? How is that provided?

For younger children

  • Do they take naps?
  • What are their eating habits while there as well as bathroom habits (potty trained or any issues)

Additional Tips/ Good Questions

  • Discuss attendance and tardiness
  • Ask if the child has friends and about their social development
  • Use Principal as liaison
  • Is there anything the CASA can reinforce?

Foster Parents and FFA Social Workers

  • Have an introductory meeting with them to answer questions and discuss expectations- Done well this will set the tone and be the foundation for a working relationship.  It is important that they have time to understand your role and how it will fit with their lives.
  • Find out the communication method that works best for them. Ask them: phone, text, email, smoke signals J.  And then check in if it doesn’t seem to be working.  And remember that it may change or be situational (i.e. text during the day and call at night). 
  • Be consistent and flexible regarding visits especially with young children- This builds rapport and trust with the child and the foster family.  Consistency gives them predictability and a sense of security, flexibility respects the dynamic challenges of foster care.
  • Ask questions, listen, empathize… Don’t answer questions about the case– It is difficult and seems unnatural, but it is important to maintain confidentiality when communicating with the foster parent/ caregivers.  Redirect all inquiries about the case to the CWS or FFA social worker.  Empathize with the challenges of getting information and share communication tips… be careful not to express your own frustrations.  (Foster parents don’t have a confidentiality promiseJ)
  • Be friendly, not friends– This may seem unnatural and yet it is very important. 
  • Your observations are more important than their answers– Remember to balance your information gathering.  It may be easier to ask a list of questions and focus on the answers.  However, remember that your observations (Body language, interactions with the foster child, etc) may give a more honest answer to your questions.
  • Be respectful of their need for privacy– They lose a lot of privacy when they become foster parents (the home study is a very intrusive process) and may push back from time to time.  Don’t be alarmed. If your respect that need, it will often disarm a defensive response.
  • Information they can provide:
    • Childs behavior, emotions, triggers
    • Strengths, interests, hobbies
    • Permanency/ Concurrent plan (Are they willing to adopt? House after 18?)
    • Day to day issues/ safety concerns
    • Adjustments to visitation with parents

Health Professionals

  • Make sure they have the court order and understand your role– Plan to call first to explain who you are, what your role is, and get fax number and let them know you will be faxing your court order to them unless they would prefer you to bring it in.  They may ask for a signed release of information (ROI).  If they do, be patient as they may not understand that your court order should be sufficient to release information.
  • Do not just show up- Call them to schedule at time to come by.
  • Do not push for too much detail– You need enough information to know that the child is being diagnosed and treated for any significant health issue/ symptoms.  The specifics of diagnosis and treatment are not always necessary.  For Mental Health Professionals, the details may be even more protected.  If you are concerned about the amount of information you are receiving, consult with your advocate supervisor on the best way to get the information you need.
  • Understand that majority if not all communication will be over the phone.- Due to HIPPA confidentiality requirements, email communication can be difficult.
  • Respect that your communication might be with a nurse and that’s okay.
  • Make sure to ask specific questions if there are known healthcare issues.
  • Check back every few months
  • If you can, get permission from the caregiver and attend actual appointments

 Special tips for Mental Health Professionals

  • It may be difficult to get the information you want from them due to more complicated confidentiality requirements for mental health- If they work for a clinic/ agency, it is helpful to talk to an administrator to understand agency policies on releasing information.  If it is a private provider you will need to be patient as they figure out what information they can share.  Talk with your advocate supervisor if you are not able to gain cooperation.
  • Questions they usually can answer:
    • Is the child attending treatment according to the treatment plan?
    • What are the goals of the treatment plan?
    • Are there any interventions in the treatment plan that I can reinforce or be observing?
    • How is the child progressing in the treatment plan?
    • Is the treatment adequate? Would you make other referrals?
  • Questions they usually can’t answer:
    • What is the child sharing in treatment?
    • What is the child’s diagnosis?

ICWA Representative

  • They are like a second social worker– The ICWA representative carries many of the same responsibilities and privileges as the CWS social worker.  They need to be informed about developments in the case and can direct services and placement for the child.
  • Appropriate language– The ICWA representative is in place to represent the sovereign authority of the tribe in a matter of one of their children.  Communication with them should be careful to reflect respect for that authority and be free from language that can be misunderstood.
  • Information they can provide:
    • Preferences and recommendations of the tribe
    • Resources available through the tribe (services, etc)

Case Aides

  • Because they observe most visits, they can have helpful insight– They may share confirming observations from other visits, or be able to discuss changes they have seen over time.
  • Make sure that you interaction does not interfere with your roles during the supervised visit– You are both there to observe the interactions.  It can be tempting to talk about the case, it can create too many issues (confidentiality, missed observations etc).
  • Unlike the CWS social worker, the case aide is not privy to information we have regarding the case– As far a confidentiality, they should be treated in the same way as you would a teacher or a foster parent.
  • Don’t wait for the aide to report a concern– If you see concerning behavior during a visit, report it to the social worker.  The case aide may or may not report the issue ina timely manner.
  • Information they can provide:
    • Report on the visitation (impressions/ incidents/ attendance)

 

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!