Case Planning for Families Involved With Child Welfare Agencies - Delaware

Date: April 2018

When Case Plans Are Required

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 29, § 9003; Pol. Man. #3, C-1; #4, E-1, E-3

A written case plan must be prepared for each child under the supervision or custody of the Department of Services for Children, Youth, and Their Families.

In policy: All families active with the Division of Family Services (DFS) have a right to a written family service plan that clearly spells out goals and objectives in positive, measurable terms.

DFS is responsible for planning and meeting the child's needs while in out-of-home care. A plan for a child in care must be completed for every child within 5 days of placement.

Who May Participate in the Case Planning Process

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 29, § 9003; Pol. Man. #3, C-1; #4, E-5

The department must prepare and maintain the written case plan.

In policy: Caseworkers must make attempts to develop written service plans with each parent for each child, including the nonresidential parent. Case plans must be individualized for each parent and should take into account the parents' relationship with their child. Caseworkers must involve the parents in the development of the family service plan, and it must be written in language that the parents can understand.

Until the court terminates parental rights, parents must be included in the development and review of the plan for a child in care. They also must be given the opportunity to review and sign all plans related to the child. Youth must always be included in the development and review of the plan.

Contents of a Case Plan

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 29, § 9003; DFS User Man. C-7; C-16; Pol. Man, #3, C-3; #4, E-1, E-3

The case plan shall include, but not be limited to the following:

  • A description of the child's problems
  • The care and treatment of the child
  • Any other services to be provided to the child and the child's family
  • A goal to achieve any placement of the child outside of the child's home in the least restrictive setting available and in close proximity to the child's home, consistent with the best interests and special needs of the child

In policy: A written family service plan will be developed for each family opened for treatment services with DFS. When children are in foster care, the caseworker shall complete the family service plan and child plan.

The family service plan is used to outline the activities that the caseworker, client, and others undertake to resolve the problems that place the child at risk. At all points of service delivery, including assessment, selection of services, case planning, and closure, the safety of the child is the primary focus.

The child plan must be completed whenever DFS obtains custody of a child, regardless of the placement the child may be in, and includes the following:

  • A 5-day plan (for a child in care 5-30 days) addresses circumstances surrounding the placement and the child's immediate needs. The plan identifies the child's medical conditions and current medications, if any, health provider, and current school information, including grade and educational classification. This must be completed within 5 working days of the child's placement.
  • The child plan (for a child in care 30 days or more) addresses the child's needs while in placement and until permanency is achieved. The areas specifically addressed are medical, dental, educational/vocational, and social/emotional needs; behavior management; preparation for independent living; court requirements; visitation; and activities to locate a permanent home. This plan must be completed within 30 days every time a child moves to a new placement and be updated annually.

For youth age 14 and older, the child plan must be developed in consultation with the youth and, at the option of the youth, up to two members of the case-planning team who are chosen by the youth and who are not the youth's foster parent or caseworker. The State may reject an individual selected by the youth to be a member of the case-planning team at any time of the State believes it has good cause to believe that the individual would not act in the youth's best interests. One individual selected by a youth to be a member of the youth's case-planning team may be designated to be the youth's advisor and as necessary, advocate, with respect to the application of the reasonable and prudent parent standard to the youth. The plan also must include a written description of the program and services that will help the youth prepare for the transition from foster care to successful adulthood.