DCFS INFO MEMO 2005 - 08        October 12, 2005

STATE OF WISCONSIN
Department of Health and Family Services
Division of Children and Family Services

To: Area Administrators/Assistant Area Administrators
Bureau Directors
County Departments of Community Programs Directors
County Departments of Developmental Disabilities Services Directors
County Departments of Human Services Directors
County Departments of Social Services Directors
Section Chiefs
Tribal Chairpersons/Human Services Facilitators
From: Burnie Bridge
Administrator
Re:  Voluntary Placement Agreements

This memo clarifies the new Wisconsin Title IV-E policy for Voluntary Placement Agreements (VPA) regarding the requirement to obtain a signature of a child age 12 or older. This new policy clarification supersedes the current policy that is found in the Wisconsin Title IV-E Eligibility and Reimbursability Policy Manual, sections 6.4, 6.7, and appendix B - page 49.

On February 2005 the current Title IV-E Eligibility and Reimbursability Policy Manual was released for distribution. This policy manual stated that "a Voluntary Placement Agreement is a signed written agreement between the agency, the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of the child, and the child if the child was age 12 or older". This required that all children age 12 or older must sign a voluntary placement agreement in order for said agreement to meet the requirements for Title IV-E reimbursability. To meet such a requirement some county agencies revised their voluntary placement agreement forms to include a signature block for children age 12 or older, however, many agencies did not make such form revisions. In order to create a consistent process and allow for variations in county procedures a new Title IV-E voluntary placement agreement policy was created.

Agencies are no longer required to obtain the signature of a child age 12 or older on voluntary placement agreements to be IV-E eligible, as long as there is documentation that the child consents. Wisconsin statute 48.63(1) states the following:

Voluntary placement agreements may be made only under this subsection and sub. (5) (b) and shall be in writing and shall specifically state that the agreement may be terminated at any time by the parent or guardian or by the child if the child's consent to the agreement is required. The child's consent to the agreement is required whenever the child is 12 years of age or older.

For Title IV-E purposes, agencies are no longer required to ensure that a child age 12 or older consents in writing to the voluntary placement agreement. Consent is not limited to the existence of the child's signature on the agency's voluntary placement agreement form.

Best practices would include continuing to obtain the signature of the child age 12 or older if available, however, the new policy interpretation provides for other types of consent to be used in lieu of the child's signature. Any type of consent to a voluntary placement agreement by a child age 12 or older must be noted and recorded in the agency and/or worker case notes if the child's signature is not obtained.

NOTE: The signature of the agency representative and the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of the child is still required for all voluntary placement agreements.

Currently there is no state-wide voluntary placement agreement form available, therefore, agencies should continue to utilize their local forms for all future voluntary placement agreements between the agency, parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of the child, and the child, if their consent is required.

Example
Chad is a 13 year old male who is being placed into out-of-home care through a voluntary placement agreement. The agency's representative and Chad's parents have already signed the voluntary placement agreement form and the agency does not have a signature block for children age 12 or older on its standard voluntary placement agreement form. Chad has verbally consented to the voluntary placement agreement and his out-of-home care placement. At this point Chad's signature is not required on the agency's voluntary placement agreement form. Chad has verbally consented to the written agreement. Case notes should reflect Chad's verbal consent to the voluntary placement agreement.

 

REGIONAL CONTACT:  Area Administrator
CENTRAL OFFICE CONTACT:  David Timmerman
Office of Policy, Evaluation and Planning
1 W. Wilson, Street, Room 550
Madison, WI 53708
Phone: (608) 261-8895
Email: timmedj@dhfs.state.wi.us

Title IV-E Manual Web Site:
 http://dhfs.wisconsin.gov/children/TitleIV-E/progserv/progserv.htm 

Attachment: Title IV-E Eligibility and Reimbursability Policy Manual update, Release 05-01 (PDF, 9 kb)

 


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