In some instances, cases that are included in the State sample may need to be eliminated from consideration. This will normally happen during the case selection process, although in some instances it may become necessary during the onsite review. States should only eliminate a case after consultation with the Children's Bureau, and generally only if one or more of the following reasons apply:
- Key individuals are unavailable during the onsite review week or are completely unwilling to be interviewed, even by telephone. The key individuals in a case are the child (if school age), the parents, the foster parents, the caseworker, and other professionals knowledgeable about the case. Before eliminating these cases, the State should determine whether sufficient information and perspectives can be obtained from the available parties.
- The case involves out-of-county or out-of-State family members or services that may not be readily available during the review week. Children on runaway status should not be eliminated from the sample unless it has been determined that pertinent information needed to complete the OSRI cannot be obtained from other available parties, such as the guardian ad litem or other significant individuals. Local Site Coordinators should make reasonable efforts to seek the participation of key individuals in the case to ensure the validity of the random sample.
- An in-home services case open for fewer than 60 consecutive days during the PUR.
- An in-home services case in which any child in the family was in foster care for more than 24 hours during the PUR.
- An in-home services case in which any child in the family was in foster care during the 8-month sampling period or who entered foster care from the period after the 8-month sampling period up to the first day of the onsite review.
- A foster care case open fewer than 24 hours during the PUR.
- A foster care case in which a child was on a trial home visit (placement at home) during the entire PUR. If the child was in a foster care placement for any portion of the PUR, the case should stay in the foster care sample.
- A case reported to AFCARS in error, such as a foster care case that was officially closed before the PUR, resulting in no State responsibility for the case; or a case in which the target child reached the age of majority as defined by State law before the PUR.
- A case appearing multiple times in the sample, such as a case that involves siblings in foster care in separate cases or an in-home services case that was opened more than one time during a sampling period. If siblings appear on the list, the State should select the case of the child that appears first on the list and skip the cases of the other children or other cases involving the same family.
- A foster care case in which the child’s adoption or guardianship was finalized before the PUR and the child is no longer under the care of the State child welfare agency.
- Situations in which case selection would result in over-representation of child welfare agency staff, such as when more than two cases in one site are from the caseload of a single caseworker.
- Situations in which case selection would result in over-representation or under-representation of juvenile justice cases.
- A case in which the child was placed for the entire PUR in a locked juvenile facility or other placement that does not meet the Federal definition of foster care.
The cases in the sample of approximately 150 cases that are not selected for review may serve as substitute cases to replace any selected cases that are eliminated on site or to resolve discrepancies.
Case Sampling Issues During the Onsite Review
The NRT Local Site Leader and the Local Site Coordinator will need to approve decisions to eliminate a case because of last-minute developments that result in insufficient information being available to review the case. If an interview with a critical party to the case is cancelled at the last minute, for example, the case should be eliminated from the sample. The NRT Local Site Leader and Local Site Coordinator then should consider whether sufficient time exists to use a substitute case.
If the State already has identified alternate cases, it should substitute those cases by following the numerical order provided in the sample. If the State has not previously identified alternate cases, it should use the original sample and sampling procedures to select substitutes. The State also may draw from these cases to resolve discrepancies between information in the Statewide Assessment and the findings of the onsite review should additional cases need to be reviewed to resolve the discrepancies.
In addition, if during the onsite review an in-home services case is found to have included an episode of foster care during the PUR, it may be reviewed as a foster care case only when an alternative in-home services case cannot be substituted. A foster care case found during the onsite review to involve a family that has received in-home services during the entire PUR may be reviewed as an in-home services case only when no alternative foster care cases can be scheduled, provided no child in the family was in foster care during the PUR.