XIV. G. Licensing of Child Placing Agencies

Effective 1/1/88

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XIV. G. Licensing of Child Placing Agencies

Effective 1/1/88

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PURPOSE

The licensing of child placing agencies is to protect the rights and meet the needs of the children for whom the agency accepts responsibility.  In order to do this it is necessary that the agency offer services to the child, biological and legal parents and in the case of agencies with adoption programs, the adoptive parents.  The serious responsibility for the provision of these services require skilled casework services offered by a staff of qualified personnel.  The licensing rules describe the organization and administration of child placing agencies, personnel requirements, goals of the program and standards for service to the applicant, the child and the biological and legal parents.

 

LEGAL BASE

Title 22 M.R.S.A. §8201 requires that any facility which advertises itself or holds itself out as finding homes for or otherwise placing children under the age of 18, in homes which provide care on the basis of 24 hours a day must obtain a license from the Department of Human Services.  Responsibility for such licensing has been delegated to the Division of Child and Family Services.  The rules that apply are for the licensing of:

1.Child Placing Agencies With and Without Adoption Programs.

 

2.Child Placing Agencies With Only Respite Care Programs.

 

An applicant who has been denied a license or who has been notified of denial or re-license, or who has been issued a conditional license, or whose conditional license has been voided, may request a fair hearing in writing in accordance with the provision of Title 5, MRSA, Section 10003, within ten days after receipt of notification of the above decision.

 

INQUIRIES

1.An inquiry is not an application, but it may lead to an application.

 

2.Persons inquiring about operating a child placing agency shall be given information about procedures for licensure in order for the inquirer to make an informed choice about whether to apply for a license.

 

APPLICATION

Procedure for New Applications.

1.Upon request inquirers are furnished with an application for a license to operate a child placing agency (form BSSLA-039) and a copy of the appropriate rules for the licensing of child placing agencies.

 

2.The application must be fully completed, signed and dated by the applicant(s).

 

3.Evaluation begins with the receipt of a signed and dated application and includes the following procedures to be performed by the child placing agency licensing specialist.
a.Screen all applicants through Child Protective Services to determine if the applicant(s) are known or have been known to the child protective services.
b.Request criminal history records from the Department of Public Safety, State Police, Bureau of Identification for the individual(s) who signed the application.
c.Visit the applicants' physical location for the purpose of explaining the licensing rules to the applicant and assuring the applicant's ability to comply.
d.Contact a minimum of three references.  The content of contact with references by telephone and face-to-face will be recorded in the licensing record.
e.Complete the licensing evaluation and a recommendation within 120 days of the date of the signed application for a license.

An extension request, if necessary is directed to the Substitute Care Program Manager or designee, including the reasons for the request.

f.Provide applicant(s) who do not meet licensing standards with an opportunity to discuss the reasons, discuss possible corrective action, if appropriate, and explain appeal rights and procedures as described in the Rules and Regulations.

 

4.If the applicant(s) are in compliance with licensing requirements prepare a form BSSIS-060 with licensing recommendation.

 

Release of Information

If it is necessary in a licensing evaluation to request additional information from Department or other agency’s' records, authorization must be given by the applicant(s).  That authorization may be on a standard release and must include the following specific information:

1.Type of application
2.Name of individual providing the release
3.Name of Department or agency being authorized to release information
4.Name of Department and specific individual to receive the information
5.Specific nature of the information to be released
6.Applicants signature and date of authorization.

 

Criminal History Records

The Department shall routinely request statewide criminal history records from the Department of Public Safety, State Police, Bureau of Identification for all applicants in any of the following categories:

1.New Applications
2.Re-Applications
3.Renewal Applications

 

The State Bureau of Identification is considered a confidential source.  (Note that the information in this central registry is usually available from the non-restricted sources listed below under Related Statutes, but they may be scattered around the State).  Relevant information will become a part of the licensing evaluation and no recommendation on the application shall be made without consideration of this report.

 

Out-of-state criminal history information may be requested by the Licensing Specialist.

 

1.Legal Base

Under 22 MRSA §4021, the Commissioner, his delegates, or legal counsel for the Department are authorized to obtain criminal history record information relevant to child abuse and neglect.

Information obtained under this section shall be used only for the purpose for which it was given and shall not be further disseminated except in accordance with 16 MRSA §4021 et seq.

 

2.Related Statutes

Title 16 MRSA §611 et seq. governs access to information held by "criminal justice agencies", such as the State Bureau of Identification.

Access is not restricted to criminal record information in records normally available to the public, such as:

a.District or Superior Court records;
b.Police blotters and other original records of entry maintained by such agencies;
c.Secretary of State's traffic offense records, with a few exceptions.

 

3.Practice Standards

Crimes or offenses most likely to be relevant to the safety and protection of children would involve:

a.Violence, particularly in the family context, such as murder, assault;
b.Negligence with respect to family, such as endangering welfare of child, abandoning child;
c.Sexual misconduct, such as rape, incest, sexual misconduct or abuse;
d.Abuse of drugs or alcohol, so that general functioning is impaired, such as operating under the influence;
e.Serious antisocial or immoral behavior, such as serious property crimes.

Additional information about criminal activity may be obtained from the applicant.

Questions concerning relevancy of criminal activity shall be referred for an opinion by the Assistant Attorney General by the licensing specialist.

When a confidential criminal history record is obtained, any information which is not relevant will be deleted prior to the information becoming part of the Department's case record.

Confidential criminal history record information cannot be disseminated further except in accordance with 16 MRSA §611 et seq.  The confidentiality/disclosure provisions of 22 MRSA §4021 do not apply.

 

4.Procedures
a.Access to public records may be gained upon inquiry.  Public records include:
(1)District and/or Superior Court, filed by defendant's name and date of birth;
(2)Secretary of State, Division of Motor Vehicle, Driver Licensing and Control Unit;
(3)Local police department chronological logs (blotters) of arrests, charges, call-outs, etc.
b.Access to restricted records from the State Bureau of Identification will be made on a form letter, Request for Criminal History Record (Form BSSLA-014) which will be completed in the regional office upon receipt of a signed and dated application for a license.
c.The child placing agency licensing specialist shall be the designated agent of the Department responsible for signing the Request for Criminal History Record (Form BSSLA-014).

 

LICENSING RECOMMENDATIONS

1.Recommendations for Denial:
a.Provide sufficient documentation to support the reason(s) for denial.  Documentation must be attached to the recommendation Certification of Standards Form (BSSIS-060) to be forwarded to the Substitute Care Program Manager.  Documentation must include the specific reasons for denial which must be related to specific licensing standards including:
 The licensing standard(s) which is/are not met
 A description of how each standard is not met
 The date or approximate date of the violation(s)
 The location of the violation if it was other than within the agency
 Name of the individual causing the violation and relationship to the licensee
 Any admissions to the violation made by the agency or individual and the name and title of the person to whom the admission was made.
b.Attach appropriate documents in support of the recommendation for denial which may include any of the following information from:
 References from other collateral contacts
 Criminal history reports and supporting legal documentation.
c.Forward the licensing record and Certification of Standards Form (BSSIS-060) to the Substitute Care Program Manager for approval.

 

2.Recommendations for Conditional Licenses:
a.Follow procedures 1.a. through 1.c. of this section plus the following additional step:

Describe the recommended condition(s) to be applied to the license and the date by which each condition must be met.

The condition is intended to provide the applicant with an opportunity to come into compliance and must be related to the nature of the violation, and therefore to the licensing requirement violated.

 

PROVISIONAL LICENSES

See the addendum for the appropriate Licensing Evaluation Report Form for:

 Child Placing Agencies with and without Adoption Programs
 Child Placing Agencies with only Respite Care Programs

for the licensing requirements which must be met prior to recommending a provisional license.

 

ISSUANCE

The Certification of Standards Form (BSSIS-060) with the licensing recommendation is signed by the child placing agency licensing specialist and the Substitute Care Program Manager, Division of Child and Family Services.

 

Any exception to or waivers of the rules and regulations may be made only upon approval of the Substitute Care Program Manager, Division of Child and Family Services on the appropriate forms.

 

RELINQUISHMENT OF LICENSES

When a licensee indicates a willingness to relinquish their license the child placing agency licensing specialist shall:

 

1.a.        Request that the licensee surrender the original license;

 

b.Confirm the surrender in writing including informing the licensee of the legal consequence which is that that person may no longer operate that facility.

                                      OR

2.a.        If the licensee has lost the license, ask that that person put the intent to surrender the license in writing or prepare a statement for that person to sign to that effect, and

 

b.Confirm the surrender in writing and inform of consequences as described in 1.a. above.

 

REVOCATIONS

The law provides that a license may be revoked at any time that the licensee fails to comply with the law or the rules and regulations.

 

When revocation of a license is recommended, two copies of Recommendation on License in Effect (Form BSSIS-060) are prepared with additional documentation as required under Licensing Recommendations 1.a. through 1.c. of this policy concerning how the licensee has failed to comply with the law and/or the rules and regulations, and coordinate the action with the Assistant Attorney General.

 

A complaint is prepared by the Legal Division and filed with the Administrative Court pursuant to Title 22 MRSA  7803(1) and Title 5 MRSA §10051.  Further procedure required by this statute is followed including notification of the decision to the parties involved.

 

APPEALS

1.When the Substitute Care Program Manager, Division of Child and Family Services receives a recommendation to deny or condition a license or deny a waiver request, the manager will send a letter to the licensee/applicant, giving the reason(s), the right of appeal and copy of the letter will be sent to the regional office, with a copy of the Certification of Standards (Form BSSIS-060).  This letter will be mailed to the applicant by certified mail, return receipt requested.

 

2.Upon receipt of a written request for a fair hearing the Licensing Specialist will initiate a request to the Director, Special Services Unit, on a form provided by that unit with a copy to the regional office supervisor.

 

3.A copy of the request for a fair hearing and a copy of the licensing record and regional office documentation will be sent to the Assistant Attorney General when circumstances indicate this is necessary.

 

4.The Special Services Unit notifies the appellant and Licensing Specialist of the time and place set for the fair hearing.

 

5.The Licensing Specialist will coordinate with the regional office and the Assistant Attorney General, if necessary, for the witnesses for and documentation to be presented at the fair hearing.

 

PROCEDURE FOR RENEWALS

1.The licensing specialist must send the licensee application form BSSLA-039 for renewal of that facility's license at least 60 days before the expiration date of the license.

 

2.A site visit must be made for all renewals.

 

3.Criminal history records will be requested from the Department of Public Safety, State Police, Bureau of Identification.

 

4.Follow 3 (g) through 8 of this policy.

 

RECORDS

1.A separate licensing folder is prepared for each child placing agency.

 

2.The licensing record should contain the following information:

Application for a License

References or reports of contact with 3 references

Licensing Evaluation Report

Certification of Standards Report

Correspondence

Criminal History Information

Licensing/Approval Social Services Facesheet

 

As needed:

Copy of Waiver Request and Decision

Copy of Exception Requests

Letters of Acknowledgment of:

Withdrawals

Cancellations

Documentation to support decision to:

Condition

Deny

Revoke

Reports of Complaint Investigations and Outcomes

 

RECORD RETENTION

All closed (except by denial, revocation or voluntarily surrender) licensing records shall be retained in regional and central offices for ten years and then destroyed in regional offices.

 

After ten years, records for denial, revoked and voluntarily surrendered licenses shall be kept in regional and central office for ten years, then skeletonized and forwarded to central office for storage for ten more years (total retention period of 20 years).

 

RECORDS; DISCLOSURE

General licensing information that is available to the public is restricted to:

1.Whether an agency is licensed
2.Name and address of the licensee
3.Expiration date
4.Type of license including any condition placed on the license.

 

The law governing Records Disclosure Title 22 MRSA §7703 must be applied to all other requests for information.