CSA - Information for Parents
If your child has or is at risk of having serious emotional or behavioral difficulties, they may be referred to receive help and services through the Virginia Children's Services Act (CSA) for At-Risk Youth and Families, which provides assistance to children and their families in need of services from multiple agencies.
The Children's Services Act (CSA)
The CSA is a Virginia law enacted in 1993 to “create a collaborative system of services and funding that is child-centered, family-focused and community-based when addressing the strengths and needs of troubled and at-risk youths and their families in the Commonwealth”. (Virginia Acts of the Assembly, Chapter 880, Section 2.5-745). This act is intended to improve efforts to meet the needs of families with children and youth who have or who are at risk of having serious emotional or behavioral difficulties. The goal of the CSA is to keep families together and to provide services within the community whenever possible.
How does CSA work?
A Family Assessment and Planning team meeting is scheduled with the FAPT Team and members of the family:
- The child and family take an active part in the FAPT meeting to discuss their needs
- A service plan is developed
- The family signs the service plan if they agree with the plan
- Services begin as soon as possible
- If the family disagrees with the plan, they may ask for a review with the local CPMT
- Emergency services may begin immediately
- Parents may be required to make co-payments for non-foster care services
- Parents may be required to make child support payments for foster care services
- Parents are not required to make co-pay payments for special education services
What are my rights?
Most importantly, you have the right to understand the local CSA process:
- You have the right to receive information on the local CSA process and timelines for receiving referrals
- You have the right to be notified before your child is assessed for offered services
- You have a right to understand the information that you receive and delivered in your native language, if possible
- You have the right to consent and agree in writing before beginning any services, except when ordered by the court
- You have the right to read records, challenge information, give permission for the release of records, and be provided a written copy of the records unless ordered otherwise by the court
- You have the right to assistance from someone assigned to you as the Case Manager from the FAPT as well as a member of your family, friend, advocate, or support person
- You have the right to review the assessment and service plan
- You have the right to disagree with the assessment and service plan and place your concerns in writing to the FAPT and/or CPMT
- You have the right to participate and be present for the entire FAPT meeting and discuss your child’s and family’s situation as well as participate in decisions that apply to you and your family
What about children and youth eligible for special education?
If your child is eligible for special education, all the rights and protections of special education continue to be available to you and your child:
- You have the right to notice before a child's educational service begins or changes
- You have the right to consent before certain evaluations or placements
- You have a right to an independent educational evaluation if you disagree with the school’s evaluation
- You have the right to participate in the preparation of your child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP)
- You have the right to inspect and review your child's education records
- You have the right to file a complaint or request a due process hearing
If you think that your child may be eligible for special education, you can access the Department of Education’s A Parent’s Guide to Special Education for additional information.
What about children and youth receiving foster care?
If your child is in foster care you can ask the foster care social worker for help. Unless the court has taken away your parental rights, you have a right to be involved in making decisions about your child and the following:
- You have the right to have contact with your child, including telephone calls, visits, and or letters, unless the court has determined you cannot have contact
- You have the right to receive services or help that will allow the child to be returned to you
- You have the right to be informed by the agency about how your child is doing
- You have the right to be consulted when there are important decisions to be made about your child
- You have the right to participate in service planning for your child
- You have a right to be informed and invited to all court hearings and reviews concerning your child
- You have a right to legal representation at court hearings that involve your child
- You and your child have a right to confidentiality
Where can I go for help?
The Children's Services Act process can seem overwhelming and impersonal. Help is available at every step of the CSA process. Please contact Tiffany Woodward, the Madison County CSA Coordinator at 540-948-5521 with any questions.