§4 ch9: Permanent Outcomes for Children
9.8.7 Changing the Permanency Plan and Case Activities
The parent should be complying with the established case plan, making significant measurable progress toward achieving the goals established in the case plan, and diligently working toward reunification in order to maintain it as the permanency plan at the permanency hearing (12 months). However, the decision to change the plan should include the ability to implement the plan. For example, there should be grounds and evidence for TPR if the intent is to change the permanency plan to adoption.
The following table provides examples of activities that should be completed simultaneously for both the primary plan and the concurrent plan.
Place the child with a family who is willing to work cooperatively with the biological parent(s) towards reunification, but is also willing to become the child’s permanent family if needed. This could be a relative or a non-relative resource family. The child should be placed with relatives or kin according to the law unless contrary to the welfare of the child.
Educate families about the detrimental effects of out-of-home care on children and the urgency of reunification or an alternate permanent plan such as legal guardianship or adoption.
Develop a genogram (and ecomap) with the family to identify strengths, resources, tensions and stressor in the family. This is a time to begin identification of the child’s father, and/or any absent parents or relatives who may serve as a family support or resource;
Explain ASFA timeframes for reunification and the consequences of not meeting the timeframes. This knowledge may help motivate parents to make more effective use of services by actively working toward the changes necessary to regain custody. It will allow them to make informed decisions.
Meet with the child’s family (all interested family members, relatives, or close family support persons) to develop a service plan that addresses reunification as the Primary Goal.
Conduct an immediate, diligent and continuous search for possible non-custodial parents and other family members, tribal or community members, or friends who are able to commit to participation in a permanent plan for placement;
Identify barriers to the family’s progress and work with the family to resolve them.
Begin genetic testing for paternity if needed;
Maintain frequent contact with the parents to support and encourage the parent and monitor their progress.
In evaluating the family’s progress, consider whether reunification should remain as the primary goal or be changed.
Ensure the availability of opportunities and supports needed for meaningful visitation.
Continue to maintain contact with possible non-custodial parents and other family members, tribal or community members, friends, or individuals who live in-state or out-of-state to encourage and assist them for preparing to be an alternate permanent placement.
Source: National Child Welfare Resource Center for Adoption and the National Resource Center for Foster Care and Permanency Planning.