Section 4, Chapter 8 (Permanent Outcomes) – Overview

Effective Date:  7-2-2021


This chapter contains the follow sub-sections:

8.1 – Reunification

8.1.1 – Process of Returning a Child Home

8.2 – Adoption

8.3 – Guardianship

8.4 – Placement with a Fit and Willing Relative

8.5 – Another Planning Permanent Living Arrangement

Philosophical Basis for Permanency Planning
Permanency planning and its inherent decision making permeates the child’s placement in out-of-home care. The goal of out-of-home care is to provide to each child who enters a stable and continuous relationship with nurturing and loving parents. No child should be allowed to drift in out-of-home placement. Decisions must be made in a timely manner.

Children in the CD’s custody, regardless of their permanency goal, shall continue to have regular FST meetings and support services provided until permanency is reached and the court releases the Division from jurisdiction.

Decision making in permanency planning involves risks, and the gravity of the risks is compounded by the serious implications the decisions will have on the lives of parents and children. But timidity in the face of difficult decisions will not achieve a stable future for the foster child. The Children’s Service Worker does not make these decisions alone, but does have responsibility of seeing that they are made, and made with as much judgment and knowledge as possible.

Reasonable Efforts
Public Law 96-272, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, states that “in each case, reasonable efforts will be made: “Reasonable efforts means the exercise of reasonable diligence and care by the Division to utilize all available services related to meeting the needs of the juvenile and the family.”  These efforts must occur prior to the placement of a child in foster care to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the child from his home, and to make it possible for the child to return to his home.

In order to make “reasonable efforts,” a case plan must be developed. The purpose of the case plan is to assure that a child in placement receives proper care; that services are provided to the parents, child and placement provider in order to improve the conditions in the parents’ home; to facilitate return of the child to his own home or to another permanent placement, and to address the needs of the child while in foster care, including a discussion of the appropriateness of the services that have been provided to the child under the plan. The reasonable efforts shall be documented in the Social Service Plan throughout the life of the case.

Chapter 211.183, RSMo, asserts that in juvenile court proceedings the Children’s Division (CD) shall have the burden of demonstrating “reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the child and, after removal, to make it possible for the child to return home. If the first contact with the family occurred during an emergency in which the child could not safely remain at home even with reasonable in-home services, the Division shall be deemed to have made reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need for removal.”