Ottawa County Children Services recognizes that some families need services after the investigative portion of their case is completed. To this end, we offer families, sometimes voluntary and sometimes through a court order, Ongoing Services.
The goal of ongoing services is to help link families with supports and services within the community that could reduce risk in their home. With these interventions it is often possible to maintain children safely in their parental home. The first step in an ongoing case is to design a plan for individuals involved in the case to follow. This plan is called a case plan and is completed by the family, social worker, and sometimes a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL.) The GAL is appointed by the court. The case plan is what could be referred to as a road map for everyone involved. It spells out what services may be beneficial to the family and the time frames, in which those services should be completed. The ongoing social worker can assist by providing the family with contact information for service providers and may make the initial referral.
Every three months the progress on the case plan is formally reviewed at a case review meeting. At six month intervals the plan is reviewed at a semiannual administrative review (SAR) meeting. If the case is court ordered, review hearings will also be held by the court. At least one time each month, the ongoing social worker meets with family members and discusses any other interventions needed and the success or failure of the services being provided.
Sometimes families continue to struggle with child safety issues and there is a need for the child to be placed outside of the family home. When this occurs, the goal is to locate other relatives or kin that could care for the child until such time that it would be safe for them to return home. Family members, kin, and family friends who are interested in being considered as a temporary home must go through a home study process. This is completed by an agency worker and includes such things as criminal background checks and a home safety assessment. If there are no relatives, kin or family friends, foster care is explored.
When children must be placed outside of their home for safety reasons, the agency and family continue to work to resolve the issues that led to the child’s out of home placement in order to help the child return to their home as soon as possible. If the removal issues are not resolved in a reasonable amount of time, the agency is required to look toward other options which include legal custody to the person providing care for the child, or to free the child up for adoption by terminating the parent’s rights.