Effective Date: 7-2-21
Permanency Planning (including concurrent planning) should begin immediately after removal of the child from the home.
It is the Division’s responsibility to work with the child and family to gather comprehensive information that allows the establishment of appropriate goals for the case circumstances. This includes engaging in discussion with the parents, establishment of paternity, exploring relative care and working with the child as age appropriate.
The initial interactions with the family are imperative in collecting information to develop appropriate permanency plans for the child to meet the child’s needs in a timely way and promote stability.
While the Division strives to keep children with their parents if possible, the agency recognizes this is not always the best option for all children.
- The permanency goal must be established for each child at their 72 hour meeting upon entry to alternative care.
- If a child’s primary goal is determined to be reunification, a concurrent goal is required and must be established within 30 days of the child entering alternative care.
- The concurrent goal must be in the child’s best interest, appropriate to meet their needs and attainable. For example, guardianship would not be considered appropriate if the child had no identified resources who could provide this permanency option.
- To address the child’s need for timely permanency, staff shall continue discussion with the family during case planning interactions to establish an alternate plan for the child should the primary goal prove unattainable.
- Case planning and permanency discussions, including Family Support Team conversations, with the family should occur throughout the life of the case shall be documented in the case record.
- The concurrent plan shall be documented in FACES and on the Social Service Plan.
- The concurrent plan must include placing with relatives unless such placement is contrary to the welfare of the child. If the placement is considered contrary, documentation shall be made in FACES to reflect the determination
- If relative placement is out of state, a timely referral to the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) is needed to ensure the process is in place as it may take time to process between states.
Decision-making regarding family reunification or other permanency plans is not done solely by the Children’s Service Worker. The worker is to be supported by the Family Support Team, agency supervisors, and other individuals and agencies familiar with the parent and child.
Concurrent Permanency Planning
Concurrent planning is a process of working towards reunification while at the same time, establishing and implementing an alternative permanency plan for a child.
Appropriate establishment of placement for the child to meet the child’s needs is critical to the concurrent plan. Placement should be thoughtful and consider the child’s goal. While moves may occur for some children, careful planning and selection of placement may help to minimize disruptions and provide stability.
Concurrent rather than sequential planning efforts are utilized to more quickly move a child from the uncertainty of foster care to the security of a safe and stable permanent placement. Concurrent planning should include steps to place the child for adoption, guardianship, or in another approved permanent placement, including youth with a goal of Another Permanent Planned Living Arrangement.
Concurrent Planning involves meaningful family engagement throughout the case. It occurs through engagement with the child or youth, their parents and caregivers, and other people involved in the plans by way of on-going, consistent, clear, and honest conversations. The following tools are available to staff and can be used to assist them in engaging parents in conversations around concurrent planning throughout the life of a case: Handbook for Parents of Children in Foster Care (CS-304), the Concurrent Planning Checklist (CD-139), ecomap, genogram and CS-1.
Reasonable efforts to finalize a concurrent goal should be made at the same time as efforts to reunify the child and family. Examples of reasonable efforts include:
- Establishment of paternity.
- Identification of relatives both in and out of state.
- Place child(ren) with relative or kinship provider.
- Ask a parent about Indian heritage, and notify Indian tribe or Bureau of Indian Affairs office, if applicable.
- Educate child, parents and relatives on what permanency options are available.
- Discuss permanency goals with the parent, child (if appropriate), relatives, child’s placement monthly and family support team; confirming whether or not they would like to be a permanency option if the child’s goal changed from reunification.
- Engage child’s therapist in concurrent planning therapeutic conversations if applicable.
- Document permanency conversations that are had with the Family Support Team, family, child and permanency resource.
- Complete timely requests to ICPC for out of state relatives; engage and encourage developing the relationship with the relative and child.
- Prepare the child’s adoption profile.
- If applicable, refer to the Chafee program.
Additional definition and examples of reasonable efforts and diligent efforts can be found in Section 4, Chapter 8 and Chapter 10 Subsection 2.
If a child has met the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) timelines by being in care 15 out of 22 months and the current permanency goal is not working; the family support team must consider changing the permanency goal to an identified appropriate concurrent goal.
Chapter 211.181, RSMo, provides that within 30 days of the Division receiving custody of a child, a long-range permanency treatment plan shall be developed.
To meet these requirements, the case manager shall complete a CS-1 in FACES after assessing the family. The first CS-1 case plan is due 30 days after the case is opened. This will be updated and completed again at each six (6) month FST meeting. This must be done for all children in custody.
To clarify treatment needs for each family and/or child, the following procedures shall be followed:
- The worker shall ensure the Social Service Plan is completed with Parent/Caregiver/Guardians, Worker and Supervisor signatures within 30 days of the child(ren) coming into care.
- The Harm and Existing Safety section of the Social Service Plan identifies the threats of harm to the child(ren), the actual physical and emotional impact to the child(ren) and who caused or contributed to the harm. It also identifies the actions the Parent/Caregiver/Guardians have taken in the past to keep the child(ren) safe when the concerning behaviors were occurring, what supports they utilized to do so and what is currently occurring to keep the children safe.
- The Caregiver Danger/Safety Concerns/Risk of Harm section of the Social Service Plan is specific to each Parent/Caregiver/Guardian and contains everyone’s worries around the identified threats of harm (the Danger Statement(s)), the potential emotional and physical impact to the child(ren) if the harm were to continue and identification of the child(ren)’s vulnerabilities which cause them to be more susceptible to the harm. The Safety Goal(s), which include the behavioral changes which must be demonstrated by the Parent/Caregiver/Guardian so the team will be prepared to make a recommendation to move forward toward the next steps in the case goal and the anticipated positive emotional and physical impact these behavioral changes will have on the child(ren) when demonstrated. The continued reassessment of the Parent/Caregiver/Guardians protective capacities and identification of how the Parent/Caregiver/Guardian will be interacting with the children when they have successfully reached the Safety Goal(s). This section also contains the Next Steps, identification of supports/resources and plan(s) to address any complicating factors which cause the family difficulty or delay in successful completion of their Safety Goal(s).
- The Progress Assessment section of the Social Service Plan gathers each participant’s response during each reassessment period to ‘What good things are you seeing this Parent/Caregiver/Guardian doing and what progress have you observed toward the safety goal? ?’, their response to ‘What concerns do you still have regarding the progress or behaviors of the Parent/Caregiver/Guardian? ?’, their response to ‘What more needs to happen in relation to the Parent/Caregiver/Guardian behavioral changes to bring them closer to the safety goal? ?’ and any next step suggestions to help the family reach their safety goal(s). When gathering this information, be specific about documenting observed behavioral changes within the family. These individual responses, including those of the family, all natural supports, other members of the FST and Children’s Division shall be documented thoroughly in the Social Service Plan Progress Assessment section. Progress documented at the meeting will help the Family Support Team formulate a recommendation about any changes to the child’s permanency plan and placement, including reunification.
- The Long Term Safety/Support plan section of the Social Service Plan identifies the triggers that may lead to the harmful behavior, the Preventative Action Plan to help reduce the triggers from occurring, the signs that the harmful behavior may be starting or has started, the Response Action Plan to include who is responsible for keeping the child(ren) safe if the harmful behaviors do start, the date(s) Practice drills have occurred and who was involved, and Safety Network contact information.
- The Child section of the Social Service Plan will contain all identified needs of the child(ren) (i.e., physical, emotional, social, relational, medical, behavioral, mental health, etc.) through the life of the case and will identify the plan to meet those needs and the progress made towards completion and the child(ren)’s strengths.
- The Social Service Plan reassessments should occur every 90 days after the last completion date following the initial 30 day assessment through closing.
- The Social Service Plan closing reassessment should be completed within 15 days prior to the anticipated case closing date. The closing reassessment with Worker and Supervisor signatures should be reviewed with, signed by the family and a copy provided to the family at the closing visit.
- Provide a copy of the Social Service Plans Long Term Safety/Support Plan section to all parties who are noted to be participating in the Long Term Safety/Support plan.
Example of Case Planning with a goal of Reunification
See example of Social Service Plan on the SSP Instruction form
Referral to Treatment Services
During the treatment planning process, the FST will identify specific, culturally relevant resources to assist the family in accomplishing certain tasks and achieving stated goals. The FST should carefully consider the family’s capacity to benefit from the resource and the capacity of the resource to meet the needs of the family. Example: A parent with limited reading and social skills and poor parenting skills would benefit more from Parents as Teachers than formalized parenting classes. Also, the Team should not overlook resources, which can be provided by other agencies, community organizations and natural helpers (family friends and kin). For any resources the family utilizes, these will be noted in the Social Service Plan’s Progress Assessment section under ‘Who will assist or services to be accessed?’ All referrals or resources provided to the family, utilized or not, should be documented in the contact note in FACES.
Housing Services – Coordinated Entry System
When families experience homelessness or are at risk for homelessness the Coordinated Entry System (CES) should be accessed to connect them to housing services. The CES is Missouri’s primary resource to connect families to housing services no matter how or where they present. This resource allows staff to connect youth and families to Missouri’s array of housing services with one referral to an Access Point. A listing of Coordinated Entry Access Points by region and county can be found HERE. All Access Point agencies will complete a pre-screening tool with clients and connect them with the appropriate level of housing services.
A referral to the CES may be made at any point of involvement with CD when housing stability is a challenge. Population served includes, but is not limited to intact families, birth parents, potential relative placement providers, guardians, and older youth.
Scenarios where CES referral MUST be made include the following:
- Case goal is reunification and the primary barrier is parents’ housing stability.
- Children who are on trial home visit and housing stability is preventing case closure.
- Older Youth preparing to exit care to independence and housing stability is at risk.
All referrals and activities involving the CES shall be documented in a contact note in FACES.
If permanent housing cannot be secured at the time of case closure, the efforts made and reasons housing could not be secured shall be documented in the closing summary.
Related Memo and Practice Alerts: