VII. E-1. Trial Home Placements

Effective 5/15/04

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VII. E-1. Trial Home Placements

Effective 5/15/04

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Trial home placements may be used with children in the custody of the Department as the final step in the rehabilitation and reunification process.  The trial placement is made once parents or other caretaker with whom the child is being reunified have made the changes to ameliorate the issues that caused the child to come into the Department’s custody and have successfully managed increasing visitation with the child(ren).  Sufficient changes will have been made by the parent or caregiver to ensure the child(rens) safety in the home.  This will be evidenced and documented in the Child & Family Review.


Legal Base (Title 22 MRSA §4036 1)

1.Disposition.  In a protection order, the court may order one or more of the following:
a.No change in custody,
b.Departmental supervision of the child and family in the child’s home,
c.That the child, the custodians, the parents and other appropriate family members accept treatment of services to ameliorate the circumstances related to jeopardy.
2.For Trial home placements of a child being placed with a parent in another state or placement of a child in custody of another state being placed in Maine; ICPC regulations and policy must be followed.  (See policy section XV-D Interstate Compact on Placement of Children.)



The purpose of a trial placement is to:

a.Provide support to the parent(s) and child(ren) during this transition period,
b.Provide case management services to the parent(s) and child(ren),
c.Assess the placement to determine the child(ren)’s safety and well-being in their parent(s) home and
d.Ensure that the family continues in the appropriate services needed to meet the child(ren)’s needs.


The decision to have a trial placement is made with Supervisory approval through the team decision making process.


Prior to the Trial Placement

Prior to the child(ren) being placed home for a trial placement the caseworker shall:

a.Discuss and plan with the parents about the trial placement helping them to identify he strengths they bring to this phase of the reunification work and what challenges they may face;
b.As appropriate according to age and development, discuss with the child(ren) the planned trial placement.  Either the caseworker, the child’s therapist or another adult close to the child(ren) should assist the child in identifying their hopes and fears about the placement and provide support to the child;
c.Consult with the service providers for the child(ren) and parent(s) to discuss what services need to be in place in the family’s home community to ensure the success of reunification.  These services will whenever possible be set up in advance of the placement to ensure that adequate support is available to the family.  
d.Assure that the child(rens) medical care is up to date and that the parent or caregiver has identified who will be the child(rens) primary physician and dentist.  All ongoing health needs will be identified and a plan developed to meet those needs.
e.The guardian ad litem will be part of the planning process.
f.A clear educational plan for the child(ren) must be developed with the parent and school personnel.
g.Parents and child(ren) (age appropriate) will be given at least one phone number to call for assistance outside normal business hours.


A Family Team Meeting may be an effective method to develop the plan for the trial placement.


During the Placement

Caseworker visits during the trial placement should be frequent enough to ensure the safety and well-being of the child as well as assess how the family is adjusting to again living together as a family unit.  


1.Within the first week of placement the caseworker shall call the family and visit the home at least once.
2.During the trial placement the caseworker shall visit the family at least weekly if the child is not in school.   If the child is in school the school shall be informed that the child is home on a trial placement and the school will be provided with the caseworker’s name and phone number.  If the child is in school or another type of out of home setting during the day the child will be visited every other week.  The child and the parents will be met with separately at least once a month. At least one home visit per month will be unannounced.  The parents will be informed prior to placement that unannounced visits will occur.
3.The time frames for the Child Well-being & Safety Review Policy will be adhered to while the child is in a trial home placement.
4.The caseworker shall also be in contact with the service providers at least twice a month to ensure the family’s attendance at services and to determine if their needs are being met in a way that actively and practically supports the safe reunification of the family.


Financial Issues:

During the trial home placement, if it is determined necessary, the family may receive the Levels of Care - Level A payment rate, which is $16.50 per day.  They may also receive a daily clothing allowance.  The parent or caregiver will be entered as an unlicensed placement in the Community Resources section of the MACWIS Resource Module.


Recreational activities such as summer day or overnight camp may also be considered for payment on a case-by-case basis.  This must have the approval of the Program Administrator.



The duration of the trial home placement is determined by the needs of the child and family.

The outcome of the trial home placement is:

a.Custody of the child(ren) is dismissed to the parent or caregiver and the Jeopardy Petition is dismissed as the parent is successfully parenting the child(ren) and community resources are able to support the placement.
b.Custody is dismissed to the parent or caregiver and the family is referred to the contracted Community Intervention Agency for further services.
c.Custody of the child(ren) is dismissed to the parent or caregiver, however the Jeopardy Order remains in place to provide legal safe guards for the child and/or family.


If the trial home placement extends beyond six months and has not been authorized by the court, or exceeds the time period the court has deemed appropriate, and the child is subsequently returned to foster care, that placement must then be considered a new placement.  It must then follow the requirements of a new in care placement including determinations regarding contrary to the welfare and reasonable effort to prevent removal.