Administrative Code

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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 22. Social Services
Agency 40. Department of Social Services
Chapter 201. Permanency Services - Prevention, Foster Care, Adoption and Independent Living

22VAC40-201-115. Foster care appeal process.

A. Any individual whose claim for benefits available pursuant to 42 USC § 670 et seq. or whose claim for benefits pursuant to § 63.2-905 of the Code of Virginia is denied or is not acted upon by the local department with reasonable promptness shall have a right to appeal to the commissioner.

B. A hearing need not be granted when either state or federal law requires automatic maintenance payment adjustments for classes of recipients unless the reason for an individual appeal is incorrect maintenance amount computation.

C. Placement decisions of local boards are final when in accordance with the relevant provisions of Title 16.1 of the Code of Virginia. However, in accordance with 42 USC § 671(a)(23), a hearing shall be granted for the denial or delay in placement of a child for adoption when an approved family is outside the locality with the legal custody of the child.

D. The hearing shall be face-to-face or, at the option of the commissioner or his designee, a hearing by telephone may be held if the individual agrees. The individual shall be afforded all rights as specified in this section, whether the hearing is face-to-face or by telephone.

E. The local department shall inform an individual in writing of the right to appeal the denial of a benefit or the delay of a decision regarding a benefit under this section at the time the applicable plan is written and at the time of any action affecting claim for benefit. This shall include a written notice to the birth parents or caretaker at the time a child comes into foster care, a written notice to the guardian ad litem, and written notice to foster parents at the time the foster care agreement is signed. The notice shall include:

1. The right to a hearing;

2. The method by which the individual may obtain a hearing; and

3. That the individual may be represented by an authorized representative, such as legal counsel, relative, friend, or other spokesman, or he may represent himself.

F. The local department shall provide timely notice of a decision to discontinue, terminate, suspend, or change a benefit for the child. Timely notice means the notice is mailed at least 10 days before the date the action becomes effective. If the individual requests a hearing within the timely notice period, the benefit shall not be suspended, reduced, discontinued, or terminated, but is subject to recovery if the action is sustained, until a decision is rendered after a hearing unless:

1. A determination is made at the hearing that the sole issue is one of state or federal law or policy or a change in state or federal law and not one of incorrect benefit computation;

2. A change affecting the individual's benefit occurs while the hearing decision is pending and the individual fails to request a hearing after notice of the change; or

3. The individual specifically requests that he not receive continued benefits pending a hearing decision.

G. An individual shall be allowed to request a hearing for up to 30 days after the denial of a claim for benefit. Reasonable notice of the hearing shall be provided to the individual. Within 90 days of the request for a hearing, the hearing shall be conducted, a decision reached, and the individual notified of the decision.

H. The commissioner may provide that a hearing request made after the date of action, but during a period not in excess of 10 days following such date, shall result in reinstatement of the benefit to be continued until the hearing decision unless (i) the individual specifically requests that continued benefit not be paid pending the hearing decision or (ii) at the hearing it is determined that the sole issue is one of state or federal law or policy. In any case where action was taken without timely notice, if the individual requests a hearing within 10 days of the mailing of the notice of the action and the commissioner determines that the action resulted from other than the application of state or federal law or policy or a change in state or federal law, the benefit shall be reinstated and continued until a decision is rendered after the hearing unless the individual specifically requests that he not receive continued benefits pending the hearing decision.

I. Pursuant to § 63.2-915 of the Code of Virginia, the commissioner may delegate the duty and authority to consider and make determinations on any appeal filed in accordance with this section to duly qualified officers.

J. The commissioner or designated hearing officer may deny or dismiss a request for a hearing where it has been withdrawn by the individual in writing or where it is abandoned. Abandonment may be deemed to have occurred if the individual without good cause fails to appear by himself or by authorized representative at the hearing scheduled for such individual.

K. The hearing shall include consideration of the denial of a claim for benefits or the local department's failure to act with reasonable promptness on a request for a benefit for the individual.

L. The individual requesting the hearing or his representative shall have adequate opportunity to:

1. Examine information relied upon by the local department, licensed child-placing agency, family assessment and planning team, or other multi-disciplinary team in considering the request for a benefit to the extent that the information does not violate confidentiality requirements;

2. Bring witnesses;

3. Establish all pertinent facts and circumstances;

4. Advance arguments without undue interference;

5. Question or refute testimony or evidence; and

6. Confront and cross-examine witnesses.

M. Decisions of the commissioner or designated hearing officer shall be based exclusively on evidence and other material introduced at the hearing. The transcript or recording of testimony and exhibits, or an official report containing the substance of what transpired at the hearing, together with all the papers and requests filed in the proceeding and the decision of the commissioner or hearing officer shall constitute the exclusive record and shall be available to the individual at a place accessible to him or his representative at a reasonable time.

N. Decisions by the commissioner or hearing officer shall consist of a memorandum decision summarizing the facts and identifying the regulations and policy supporting the decision.

O. The individual shall be notified of the decision in writing.

P. When the hearing decision is favorable to the individual, the local department shall promptly begin the process to provide the requested service or, in the case of foster care maintenance, make corrective payments retroactively to the date the incorrect action was taken, unless foster care maintenance payments were continued during the pendency of the hearing decision.

Q. The decision of the commissioner shall be binding and considered a final agency action for purposes of judicial review. The hearing decision shall be a memorandum decision summarizing the facts and identifying the statutes and regulations supporting the decision.

Statutory Authority

§§ 63.2-217, 63.2-900, and 63.2-915 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 32, Issue 17, eff. June 1, 2016.

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