Discipline

For your information, the DHS policy regarding discipline and punishment has been included.

  1. Primary responsibility. A primary responsibility of foster families is to help children learn behaviors that promote their self-regard, personal ability, and socialization skills. The rules governing these efforts are outlined in OAC 340:75-7-38(b) through (d).
  2. Positive interactions. Foster family interactions with a child:
    1. Protect and nurture the child’s physical and psychological well-being
    2. Advance the child’s development
    3. Meet the child’s needs
    4. Teach the child ways to prevent and solve problems
    5. Maintain and build the parent and child relationship
    6. Build the child’s self-control and responsibility
    7. Comply with DHS rules on discipline to provide a safe, nurturing environment that allows the child to experience security and positive self-esteem
  3. Teaching techniques.
    1. Positive behavior management. Positive behavior management techniques include, but are not limited to:
      1. Rewards. Rewards may be small gestures of approval, such as treats, toys, and symbols of recognition such as stickers, stars, happy faces, or money. Rewards are for the interest, desire, and effort the child displays, not for performance, talent, or ability. This technique must not be used all the time
      2. Privileges. Privileges allow the child to experience greater freedom or opportunity and an increased responsibility. Privileges are used to encourage the child’s interest and
        talents by supporting the child’s efforts in pursuing interests
      3. Praise. Praise may be communicated with a smile or nod of approval, expressing to the child how pleased the person is with him or her
    2. Self-control. To promote the child’s self-control, foster parents clearly communicate expectations and provide structured, safe environments. The foster parent’s use of planning and preparation
      prevents confrontation, acting-out, and negative behaviors by:

      1. Establishing expectations. Children in out-of-home care experience varied expectations of foster parents in every placement setting. Since each placement setting is different, the foster parent must communicate expectations to the child. Expectations are communicated through setting rules, telling the child what to expect, and modeling. Clearly communicated expectations provide structure for the child and a structure for building and maintaining self-control
      2. Modifying the environment. Structured, safe environments allow children to succeed at identified tasks. Foster parents structure environments by removing sources of stimulation for the child and establishing routines and consistency in day-to-day schedules.
    3. Direct intervention. When the child does not have sufficient self-control to ensure acceptable behavior, the foster parent uses direct intervention and techniques. Techniques used are dependent
      upon the child’s developmental needs and anticipated outcomes. Techniques appropriate for responding to lack of self-control include:

      1. Rules. Rules are established guidelines that:
        1. Allow the child to know what can and cannot be done
        2. Help the child know right from wrong
        3. Communicate to the child how something is done and help prevent problems
        4. Provide a way to respond to a problem
      2. Time out. Time out provides space between the child and a situation where the child exhibits behavior that is not acceptable or where the situation is dangerous. Recommended time out is one minute per age of the child. Time out is typically used for the younger child.
      3. Restricting privileges. Privileges are restricted when a child is not allowed to do something for a specified period of time, such as not playing with a particular toy, watching television, playing the stereo, playing computer games, having phone privileges, or engaging in some other pleasant activity. Talking to parents or siblings is not included in restricting phone privileges.
      4. Grounding. Grounding involves imposing restriction on a child’s interaction and involvement with friends or activities outside of the placement setting, such as restriction to the house or leaving the premises to attend parties, movies, or visit friends. Grounding is typically used for the older child.
      5. Logical consequences. Logical consequences require the family to impose a response to the child’s behavior consistent with and connected to the unacceptable behavior exhibited.
      6. Natural consequences. Natural consequences occur in response to the behavior. This technique is most appropriately used with adolescents and for those who tend to get in power struggles. Natural consequences are never allowed when a child’s safety or well- being is in question.
    4. Physical discipline. DHS prohibits the use of any form of physical discipline for any child in DHS custody in an out-of-home placement or any act or omission that would emotionally, physically, or psychologically harm the child.
      1. The foster parent contacts the child’s Child Welfare (CW) worker or the resource specialist if he or she cannot discipline the child through appropriate non-physical means.
      2. DHS does not authorize any school personnel to administer corporal punishment to any child in DHS custody. The foster parent does not sign such authorizations, but refers school personnel to the child’s CW worker to establish alternative discipline methods.
      3. The developmental needs of a child and the desired outcomes define the discipline techniques used to modify the behaviors of the child. Some of the circumstances that may affect the technique used include:
        1. The behavior the child is exhibiting
        2. The foster parent’s feelings about the behavior
        3. The purpose assigned to the behavior
        4. Where the behavior occurs
        5. Who is present at the time of the behavior
    5. Punishment. Unacceptable behavior management methods and techniques promote negative behavior, are punitive, and do not promote self-control. Unacceptable behavior management techniques for a child include, but are not limited to:
      1. The use of the hand or any object, such as a board, fly swatter, paddle, belt, switch, electrical cord, hair brush or wooden spoon, to hit, strike, swat or physically discipline
      2. Deprivation of food or sleep
      3. Deprivation of family visits
      4. Slapping, pinching, shaking, biting, pushing, shoving, thumping or rough jerking
      5. Cursing or other verbal abuse
      6. Private or public humiliation or any act that degrades
      7. Derogatory remarks about the child, the child’s biological family, race, religion or cultural background
      8. Solitary confinement in areas such as closets, cellars, and rooms with locked doors (I) Threatening to move the child from the foster home
      9. Use of any chemical agent, such as mace, sleeping pills or alcohol
      10. Physical force or threat of physical force
      11. Assuming and maintaining an unnatural position, that may include holding arms out-stretched from the body, placing the nose against a wall, or forced squatting
      12. Tying with a rope, cord, or other object
      13. Ordering, allowing, or encouraging physical discipline or hitting by other children or anyone else in the home
      14. Washing the mouth out with soap, eating certain foods, that may include peppers or hot sauce for punishment
      15. Forced physical exertion, such as running laps and push-ups

Physical restraint. The use of physical restraint is only justified as an emergency safety measure in response to imminent danger to the child or others and when no alternative means are sufficient to accomplish the purpose. Physical restraint may only be used when the resource parent has been properly trained and practiced in the DHS- approved restraint technique. The resource parent contacts the child’s Child Welfare Specialist or Resource Specialist immediately when physical restraint has been utilized and completes the necessary paperwork as provided by Child Welfare.

DHS rules. The resource family must abide by DHS rules for discipline of a child in DHS custody even if there
is a difference between DHS discipline rules and the methods used to discipline the family’s own children.

Continue to Religious and Cultural Observation