Case Planning for Families Involved With Child Welfare Agencies - New Jersey

Date:

When Case Plans Are Required

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 30:4C-55; Admin. Code § 3A:12-1.4

A placement plan must be prepared for each child placed outside of his or her home.

In regulation: A case plan shall be developed with each family for whom services will be provided. The representative of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in the Department of Children and Families shall prepare the case plan:

  • Within 60 calendar days of receipt of a report of abuse or neglect or a child welfare services referral or application
  • Within 30 calendar days of a child entering or reentering out-of-home placement

The division representative also shall prepare the case plan at least once every 6 months after the previous case plan. The case plan shall be revised more often if the case situation shows significant change.

Who May Participate in the Case Planning Process

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 30:4C-55; Admin. Code § 3A:12-1.5

The department shall prepare the plan in consultation with the child's parents or legal guardian and, when appropriate, the child.

In regulation: The division representative shall develop the case plan with the child's parent, unless he or she is unwilling to participate; any person appointed by the court for this purpose; and the child, if the division representative determines that the child is willing and able to participate in the development of the case plan. Other interested parties or service providers may be invited to participate.

In addition to the above, when the child lives in an out-of-home placement, the division representative shall develop the case plan in consultation with the child's out-of-home placement provider.

Contents of a Case Plan

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 30:4C-55; Admin. Code § 3A:12-1.4.7

The placement plan shall include the following:

  • The goal for the permanent placement or return home of the child and anticipated date that goal will be achieved
  • The intermediate objectives for achieving the goal
  • The duties and responsibilities of the department, the parents or legal guardian, and the temporary caregiver, including the services to be provided by the department
  • The services to be provided to the parent or legal guardian or an exception to the requirement to provide reasonable efforts toward family reunification
  • A permanency plan for the child and the department's reasonable efforts to achieve that plan, if the department has established an exception to the requirement to provide reasonable efforts toward family reunification or the child has been in placement for 12 months

The permanency plan shall include whether and, if applicable, when:

  • The child shall be returned home, if the child can be returned home without endangering the child's health or safety.
  • The department has determined that family reunification is not possible, and the department shall file a petition for the termination of parental rights for the purpose of adoption.
  • The department has determined that termination of parental rights is not appropriate, and the child shall be placed in an alternative permanent placement.

In regulation: The written case plan for a family with the child living at home shall include the following:

  • The reasons for the division's current involvement
  • The division's history with the family
  • The schedule for contacts between the department and family members
  • The supports and services offered to, provided to, and used by the family
  • The behavioral and other changes expected from each person
  • The services or activities that are intended to facilitate the changes and who will accomplish or provide them
  • Progress toward achieving the case goal by each family member

The case plan for a child in an out-of-home placement shall include the following:

  • The efforts made to prevent placement, the reasons for the placement, efforts made to reunify the family, and the impact of those efforts
  • The case goal for each child, the progress toward its achievement, and any obstacles to reaching it
  • An assessment of the safety and appropriateness of the current placement
  • The efforts made to find a missing mother and father or relative
  • The schedule for contacts between the department and the family members
  • The plan for visits between the child and parents, siblings, and other relatives
  • The needs of the child, the parent, and the child's care provider in order to meet the case goal
  • The behavioral and other changes expected from each person
  • The services or actions intended to meet the identified needs and who is responsible to provide the services and complete the activities, with projected timeframes, as well as the appropriateness of the services for the child
  • A description of the type of out-of-home placement
  • How the placement is safe, near the parent's home, and the least restrictive and most familylike available, consistent with the best interests and special needs of the child
  • Documentation of the appropriateness of the child's current educational setting
  • Why the child was placed a substantial distance from his or her parents or out-of-State, when applicable
  • The child's health and education records
  • For a child age 14 or older, programs and services to help the child transition from out-of-home placement to self-sufficiency skills

The case plan for a child whose case goal is either adoption or kinship legal guardianship shall include the steps the department is taking to finalize a placement with an adoptive family or a relative or caregiver who is willing to become a kinship legal guardian.