Child Welfare Policy Manual

October 20, 2014

8.3C.5  TITLE IV-E, Foster Care Maintenance Payments Program, State Plan/Procedural Requirements, Trial home visit

1. Question: What is the regulatory definition of a trial home visit?

Answer: There is no regulatory definition of the term "trial home visit," as it is within the State's discretion to define. We do not think that it would be appropriate for us to develop a regulatory definition. We also do not believe that we could develop a definition that would be inclusive of the variety of State policies on trial home visits or that a definition would be helpful. In practice, a trial home visit is intended to be a short term option in preparation for returning the child home permanently.

2. Question: Often, courts do not specify time periods for trial home visits for children in foster care. If a court does not specify a time period, should we assume it cannot be longer than six months without having to re-establish eligibility for title IV-E foster care payments?

Answer: Pursuant to 45 CFR 1356.21 (e), six months is the outside limit for a trial home visit without having to re-establish title IV-E eligibility if the child re-enters foster care, unless there is a court order extending the trial home placement beyond six months. If there is a court order extending the trial home visit beyond six months, and the trial home visit does not exceed the time frame in the court order, the child retains title IV-E eligibility upon returning to foster care following the trial home visit.

3. Question: Would a continuance of a hearing scheduled to address the trial home visit satisfy the requirement that for title IV-E funding to continue, a court must order a longer visit?

Answer: No. The regulations establish a six-month outer limit for a trial home visit, except when a court orders a longer visit. A court continuance of a hearing regarding the trial home visit does not satisfy this requirement.

  • Source/Date: Preamble to the Final Rule (65 FR 4020) (1/25/00)
  • Legal and Related References: 45 CFR 1356.21 (e)
4. Question: Must the State hold six-month periodic reviews and permanency hearings for children on trial home visits?

Answer: Historically, this has been an area in which States have had some flexibility. If the State considered a child who is on a trial home visit to be "in foster care," then it was required to continue holding six-month periodic reviews and permanency hearings during that visit. If not, then the State was not required to hold such reviews or hearings. If the trial home visit ends within the six months allotted in the regulations at 45 CFR 1356.21 (e), then the foster care placement is considered continuous and the State should hold six-month periodic reviews and permanency hearings in accordance with the original schedule.

  • Source/Date: Questions and Answers on the Final Rule (65 FR 4020) (1/25/00)
  • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act - section 475 (5); 45 CFR 1356.21 (e)