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STANDARDS OF CONDUCT:

Employee and Contractor/Provider Compliance with

MEPA and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Effective February 1, 2005

 

Washington County Children Services has established the following Standards of Conduct with regard to the performance of employees and contractors/providers related to compliance with the Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 as amended by Section 1808 of the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996, 42 U.S.C. 622(b)(9), 671(a)(18), 674(D) AND 1996(B) (MEPA) and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U>S>C> 2000d, et seq (Title VI), as they apply to the foster care and adoption process.  These Standards of Conduct prohibit policies, procedures or actions which serve to:

 

·         Deny any person the opportunity to become a foster caregiver or an adoptive parent on the basis of race, color or national origin of that person, or of the child involved; or

·         Delay or deny any placement of a child in foster care or for adoption on the basis of the race, color or national origin of the foster caregiver(s), of the adoptive parent(s) or of the child involved.

 

Permissible Actions:

MEPA and Title VI permit the following actions as they apply to the foster care or adoption process:

 

1.     Asking about and honoring any initial or subsequent choices made by prospective foster or adoptive parents regarding what race, color, or national origin of a child the prospective foster or adoptive parents will accept.

2.     Honoring the decision of a child twelve years of age or older to not consent to an adoption when that decision has been approved by a court pursuant to section 3107.06 of the Ohio Revised Code.

3.     Providing information and resources about fostering or adopting a child of another race, color or national origin to prospective foster or adoptive parents who request such information and making known to all families that such information and resources are available.

4.     Considering the request of a birth parent(s) to place the child with a relative or non-relative identified by name.

5.     Considering the race, color or national origin of the child as a possible factor in the placement decision when compelling reasons serve to justify that race, color or national origin need to be a factor in the placement decision pursuant to 5101:2-48-13 and 5101:2-42-18.1 of the Ohio Administrative Code.  These rules permit consideration of race, color or national origin if an Individualized Child Assessment (JFS 01688) completed pursuant to these rules indicates the child has needs related to race, color or national origin that should be taken into account when placing the child.  Even when the facts of a particular case allow consideration related to race, color, or national origin, this consideration shall not be the sole determining factor in the placement decision.

6.     Promoting cultural awareness, including awareness of cultural and physical needs that may arise in the care of children of different races, ethnicities, and national origins as part of the training which is required of all applicants who seek to become foster or adoptive parents. 

7.     Documenting verbal comments, verbatim, or describing in detail any other indication made by a prospective foster or adoptive family member living in the household or any other person living in the household reflecting a negative perspective regarding the race, color or national origin of a child for whom the prospective foster or adoptive family has expressed an interest in fostering or adopting.  The documentation shall indicate whether those comments were made before or after completion of the cultural diversity training which is required for all foster and adoptive applicants.  Documentation shall be included in the family’s home study, update, or an addendum to the home study or update prior to consideration of placement or a matching conference.  A matching conference is the process of determining the most appropriate adoptive family for the child based on the child’s special needs.  The matching committee may consider the information in determining if the placement is in the child’s best interest.

 

Prohibited Actions:

MEPA and Title VI prohibit the following actions as they apply to the foster care or adoption process:

 

1.     Using the race, color or national origin of a prospective foster or adoptive parent to differentiate between placements.

2.     Honoring the request of a birth parent(s) to place a child with prospective foster or adoptive parent(s) identifies a relative or non-relative by name and that person is found to meet all relevant state child protection standards, provided that the agency determines that the placement is in the best interests of the child.

3.     Requiring a prospective adoptive family to prepare or accept a transracial adoption plan.

4.     Using “culture” or “ethnicity” as a proxy for race, color or national origin.

5.     Delaying or denying placement of a child based upon the geographical location of the neighborhood of the prospective foster or adoptive family whenever geography is being used as a proxy for:

·         the racial or ethnic composition of the neighborhood

·         the demographics of the neighborhood; or

·         the presence or lack of presence of a significant number of persons of a particular race, color, or national origin in the neighborhood or any similar purpose.

6.     Requiring extra scrutiny, additional training, or greater cultural awareness of individuals who are prospective foster caregivers or adoptive parents of children of a different race, color or national origin than required of other prospective foster caregivers or adoptive parents.

7.     Relying upon general or stereotypical assumptions about the needs of children of a particular race, color, or national origin.

8.     Relying upon general or stereotypical assumptions about the ability of prospective foster caregivers or adoptive parents of a particular race, color, or national origin to care for or nurture the sense of identity of a child of another race, color, or national origin.

9.     “Steering” prospective foster caregivers or adoptive parents away from parenting a child of another race, color, or national origin.  “Steering” is any activity that attempts to discourage prospective caregivers or adoptive parents from parenting a child of a particular race, color, or national origin.

10.  Requiring an ongoing, foster care or adoption caseworker or contractor to justify a proposed placement for the reason that the race, color, or national origin of the child is different from that of the family whom the worker is proposing as the child’s foster caregiver or adoptive parent.

 

Prohibition of Retaliation:

WCCS employees and contractors/providers may not intimidate, threaten, coerce, discriminate against or otherwise retaliate against any individual who makes a complaint, testifies, assists or participates in any manner in an investigation related to alleged discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in the foster care or adoption process.

 

Additional Information:

Employees or contractors/providers who desire more information about MEPA and Title VI as related to the adoption and foster care process may contact:

·         Beth Palmer, WCCS MEPA monitor

(740) 373-3485

 

MEPA Complaint Procedure:

Any person who believes that WCCS, any other public or private Ohio adoption or foster care agency, or the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services have policies or procedures that violate MEPA and Title VI may file a complaint.  In addition, anyone who believes that he or she was intimidated, threatened, coerced, discriminated against or otherwise retaliated against in some way because he or she made a complaint, testified, assisted or participated in any manner in an investigation related to alleged discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in the foster care or adoption process may also file a complaint.  Individuals who may file a complaint include but are not limited to the following:

·         a foster caregiver or adoptive parent or other member of a foster or adoptive family

·         a prospective foster caregiver or adoptive parent or other family member

·         an employee or former employee of WCCS or of any other Ohio adoption or foster care agency

 

Individuals who wish to file a complaint must complete the”Discrimination Complaint Form” (JFS 0233).  This complaint may be filed with any of the following:

·         Washington County Children Services

      Attn. Beth Palmer, MEPA Monitor

      204 Davis Avenue

      Marietta, Ohio  45750

                       

·         Ohio Department of Job and Family Services

      Bureau of Civil Rights

      30 E. Broad Street, 37th floor

      Columbus, Ohio  43266-0423

 

·         U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

                        Office of the Chief Counsel, Region V

                        233 North Michigan Ave., Suite 700

                        Chicago, Illinois  60601             

 

·         Any other public or private Ohio foster care or adoption agency

 

If the complaint is filed with WCCS’s MEPA Monitor or with any other public or private Ohio foster care or adoption agency, the MEPA Monitor or other public or private agency must forward the complaint within 3 business days to the Bureau of Civil Rights of ODJFS for investigation.  ODJFS must complete the investigation within 90 days of receipt of the complaint, unless unusual circumstances prevent it from completing the investigation within that timeframe.  ODJFS will provide a copy of the investigation report to the complainant and to the agnecy that is the subject of the complaint.

 

 

Enforcement Requirements:

These standards of conduct include enforcement requirements to be used whenever an agency employee or contractor/provider engages in discriminatory acts, policies, or practices involving race, color, or national origin in the foster care or adoption process as determined by the Bureau of Civil Rights of ODJFS upon completion of the investigation conducted pursuant to rule 5101:2-33-03 of the Administrative Code.

 

For WCCS employees, these enforcement requirements shall include employee discipline in accordance with the Washington County Children Services Personnel Policy Manual.

 

For contractors/providers performing foster care or adoption services on behalf of WCCS these enforcement requirements shall include discipline in accordance with the contractor/provider’s personnel policy and may include contract termination.  Enforcement requirements for contractor/provider subcontractors shall include corrective action in accordance with the contractor/provider’s contract with the subcontractor and may include contract termination.

 

These enforcement requirements are applied in accordance with applicable employment law contracts.

 

Corrective Action Plan:

WCCS shall provide for the submission of a corrective action plan whenever an investigation conducted by ODJFS, pursuant to rule 5101:2-33-03 of the Administrative Code, results in a finding that an agency employee or contractor/provider engaged in discriminatory acts, policies, or practices.  If the finding involves a discriminatory act, policy or practice by a contractor/provider or subcontractor, WCCS shall develop the corrective action plan in collaboration with the contractor/provider or subcontractor.  WCCS shall develop the corrective action plan in collaboration with the contractor/provider or in collaboration with the contractor/provider and subcontractor.

 

The corrective action plan shall:

·         Address how WCCS will prevent future violations by that employee or contractor/provider or subcontractor, and

·         Be submitted to ODJFS within thirty days of notification of the findings of the investigation.

 

WCCS shall provide a copy of these Standards of Conduct to each employee or contractor/provider who is:

·         Engaged in the placement of children into foster care or for adoption, or

·         Engaged in the recruitment, assessment, approval, or selection of foster or adoptive families.

 

Employees or contractors/providers shall receive a copy of the written Standards of Conduct no later than March 3, 2005.  If these Standards of Conduct are revised, employees and contractors/providers shall receive a copy of the revised Standards of Conduct within thirty days of the completion of any revisions.  New employees or contractors, providers shall receive a copy of the written Standards of Conduct within thirty days of their hire date or the effective date of their contract.  WCCS and contractors/providers shall ensure that these Standards of Conduct are provided to their employees and subcontractors.