Case Planning for Families Involved With Child Welfare Agencies - Arkansas

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When Case Plans Are Required

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 9-27-402; 9-28-111

A case plan shall be developed in all dependency-neglect cases or any case involving an out-of-home placement. The Department of Human Services shall be responsible for developing case plans in all dependency-neglect cases and in family in need of services or delinquency cases when custody is transferred to the department.

The Department of Human Services shall be responsible for developing case plans in all dependency-neglect cases and in family-in-need-of-services cases when custody is transferred to the department. The case plan shall be developed and filed with the court no later than 30 days after the date the petition was filed or the child was first placed out of home, whichever is sooner.

If the department does not have sufficient information before the adjudication hearing to complete all parts of the case plan, the department shall complete those parts for which information is available. All parts of the case plan shall be completed and filed with the court 30 days after the adjudication hearing.

Who May Participate in the Case Planning Process

Citation: Ann. Code § 9-28-111

The case plan shall be developed in consultation with the child's parent, guardian, or custodian and, if appropriate, the child, the child's foster parents, the court-appointed special advocate, the child's attorney ad litem, and all parties' attorneys.

If the parents are unwilling or unable to participate in the development of the case plan, the department shall document the parents' unwillingness or inability to participate and provide a copy of the written documentation to the parent, if available. The department shall then prepare a case plan conforming as nearly as possible to the requirements set forth in this section.

A parent's incarceration, by itself, does not make a parent unavailable to participate in the development of a case plan.

The parent, guardian, or custodian and child may choose additional members to be part of the case-planning team. The department may reject a selected individual for good cause.

Contents of a Case Plan

Citation: Ann. Code § 9-28-111

When the child is receiving services at home, the case plan shall include, at minimum, descriptions of the following:

  • The problems being addressed
  • The services to be provided to the family and child
  • Any reasonable accommodations made to the parents in accordance with the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 to assure meaningful access to services
  • How the child's health and safety will be protected

When the child is in an out-of-home placement, the case plan also must include the following:

  • A description of the permanency goal
  • The specific reasons for the out-of-home placement
  • A description of the type of out-of-home placement selected for the child, including a discussion of the appropriateness of the placement
  • A plan for addressing the child's needs while in the placement
  • The specific actions to be taken by the parent to correct the identified problems or conditions
  • The visiting rights and obligations of the parent
  • The services to be provided to the parent, and a timetable for providing the services, to strengthen family life and promote reunification
  • The child's health and education records
  • The parent's support obligation, including health insurance
  • A description of the location of siblings, with documentation of the efforts to:
    • Place siblings removed from their home in the same placement, unless the department documents that a joint placement would be contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings
    • Provide for frequent visits or other ongoing interaction between the siblings in the case of siblings removed from their home who are not placed together, unless the department documents that frequent visits or other ongoing interaction would be contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings
  • When appropriate for a child age 16 and older, the programs and services that will help the child prepare for the transition to independent living
  • A written notice to the parent that failure to comply substantially with the case plan may result in the termination of parental rights

The plan for a child in foster care must take into account the appropriateness of the current educational setting and the proximity of the school in which the child is enrolled at the time of placement. The department will coordinate with local educational agencies to ensure that the child remains in the same school, whenever possible, or to provide immediate and appropriate enrollment in a new school.

The department shall provide the juvenile with assistance and support in developing a transition plan that is personalized at the direction of the juvenile and includes specific options on housing, health insurance, educational opportunities, local opportunities for mentors and continuing support services, and workforce supports and employment services, and is as detailed as the juvenile may elect.

When a juvenile is age 14 or older, he or she shall be provided a separate document that describes the following:

  • The rights of the juvenile concerning education, health, visitation, and court participation
  • The right to obtain a copy of a credit report each year the juvenile remains in the custody of the department at no cost to the juvenile
  • The right of the juvenile to receive assistance in interpreting and resolving inaccuracies in the credit report