Client Rights & Grievances

Policy

All services provided by the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition (Coalition) are voluntary and of no cost to the client.  Clients are defined as: being current or former foster youth and their families, and individuals and/or families who contact the agency about becoming foster and adoptive parents. Clients may choose to decline services at any time.  The Coalition is committed to a high standard of service for all clients.  All clients are to be treated with personal dignity and respect, and confidentiality will be maintained.

The Coalition requires a parent or legal guardian to consent to services for a minor, except under the following circumstance:

  • Participation in Youth Support Groups is open to all foster/adopted youth, ages 13 to 19, and welcomes drop-ins. Parent/guardian consent is not required.

Client Rights

All services are provided on a voluntary basis.  Each client has the right to:

  • Know that the services provided to them will not be affected by their race, religion, gender, gender identity, national origin, sexual orientation, age or disability.
  • Expect that all communications and records pertaining to their services will be treated as confidential and protected to the best of our legal ability.
  • Request to review their record, in compliance with State laws and the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition’s Access to Case Records policy.
  • Submit a written statement to their case record, as outlined in the Coalition’s Access to Case Records policy.
  • File a grievance about Coalition services provided or denied to them, according to the Coalition’s grievance procedures.
  • Know that certain information may be released without their authorization under the following legal circumstances:
    • The receipt of a legitimate subpoena or court order, unless a protection order within the timeframe established by Missouri State Law.
    • If ordered by a judge or other judicial officers.
    • In the event of a medical emergency.
    • The receipt of information that suggests child abuse or neglect has occurred. Coalition employees are mandated to report any such information to the Missouri Children’s Division.
    • In the event of threat of harm to someone, if that threat is perceived to be serious, the proper individuals must be contacted.
  • Receive communication in the format preferred, including verbal, written, or interpreted, if requested.
  • Be informed of the hours services are available.
  • Have the rules, expectations, and other factors that can result in discharge or termination of services explained.

Client Responsibilities

Clients of the Coalition have the following responsibilities:

  • Actively participate in services
  • Participate as a member of the team, including making service decisions
  • Be respectful of Coalition staff and others encountered during service delivery
  • Report any concern regarding services, past or present, as outlined in the Client Grievance Procedures
  • Provide feedback about Coalition services to help the agency continually improve

Procedure

All staff must be knowledgeable with the agency policy on client’s rights.  The policy is posted in the lobby area of the office and included on all informed consent forms.

Staff will verbally review and provide a copy of this policy (included on the Informed Consent form) to each new client upon their initial meeting, and/or direct the client to the Coalition website.  If a client has any questions or concerns about their rights, staff will thoroughly explore them.  If staff members are unable to provide an adequate answer, the client will be referred to the program supervisor or Director of Programs.  Clients will be asked to sign the Informed Consent form, stating they have been informed of their rights.  This form will be retained in the client’s file.

Client Grievance Procedures

Each client has the right to file a grievance, without fear of retaliation, if their concerns are not being addressed satisfactorily, as indicated in the Clients Rights and Responsibilities. Clients, their guardians or legal representation are encouraged to communicate with the Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition (Coalition) openly where there are concerns or issues regarding services provided or denial of services.

Definition of Grievance:

The Coalition defines a grievance as a written report submitted to the Director of Programs or the program supervisor.  The Coalition encourages open and honest discussion between service recipients and program staff and expects that most concerns can be addressed satisfactorily through such discussions.  Verbal reports of concern are not considered grievances.  When verbal reports and discussions do not lead to resolution of concerns, service recipients are encouraged to file written reports.  These reports are considered grievances.

Who May File Grievances:

All service clients and applicants may file a written grievance with the Coalition.

Grievances may not be filed for:

  • Denial of services if clients are denied services because they do not meet program eligibility
  • Services for which another agency is solely responsible
  • Adjustments made in services required by a change in State or Federal Law
  • An issue which is not defined as part of program service delivery by the Coalition

Informing Clients of the Grievance process:

Client grievance procedures are summarized in the Informed Consent and/or Participation Agreement for each of the Coalition’s programs, which are signed by clients at the start of services.  Other clients have access to the Grievance Form and grievance procedures through the Coalition’s website.

Grievance Process:

The following steps should be taken if a client would like to file a grievance:

  1. First, the client should discuss the complaint with the staff member assigned to him or her.
  2. If the client is unable to resolve the problem, he or she should contact the Director of Programs or the direct supervisor in writing via US mail, fax, hand delivery, or e-mail to file a grievance.
  3. The Director of Programs or Program Supervisor will investigate the complaint and issue a written response to the client within (5) business days, including an explanation of further appeal. The investigation may include interviews, review of documentation, or meetings with involved parties. The client will receive the written response in the same manner in which the grievance was delivered to the Coalition or via First Class Mail.
  4. If the client is not satisfied with the decision of the Director of Programs or Program Supervisor, he or she has the right to appeal the decision by contacting the Executive Director*. The Executive Director will have five (5) business days to conduct further investigation and issue a final written decision. The decision of the Executive Director is final.

Documentation of the client’s grievance and all written responses will be placed in the client’s file when there is a final resolution.  Grievances will be reviewed on a quarterly basis by Coalition staff not involved in the grievance.  Observed trends will be summarized and addressed.

*If the initial complaint/concern/grievance is regarding the Executive Director, and the client would like to appeal the initial agency response, he or she may contact the designated member of the Board of Directors, who will form an internal review committee to hear the grievance.  The internal review committee will have five (5) business days to issue a final written decision.  The internal review committee will be led by the Director of Operations and will include administrative and program staff.