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

Date: April 2018

When Case Plans Are Required

Citation: Soc. Serv. Laws § 409-e

Upon completion of any assessment of a family's needs and circumstances, and no later than 30 days after a child is removed from his or her home or is placed in foster care, the local social services district shall establish or update and maintain a family service plan based on an assessment of the family's needs and circumstances.

Who May Participate in the Case Planning Process

Citation: Soc. Serv. Laws § 409-e; N.Y. Reg. Tit. 18, § 428.3

The family service plan shall be prepared in consultation with the child's parent or guardian, unless such person is unavailable or unwilling to participate or such participation would be harmful to the child; with the child if the child is age 10 or older; and, when appropriate, with the child's siblings. Such consultation shall be done in person, unless such a meeting is impracticable or would be harmful to the child. If it is impracticable to hold such consultation in person, such consultation may be done through the use of technology, including, but not limited to, videoconferencing and teleconference technology. If the parent is incarcerated or residing in a residential drug treatment facility, the plan shall reflect the special circumstances and needs of the child and the family.

In regulation: Each service plan must document the involvement of or the efforts to involve the parent or guardian in the development of the plan, as well as the involvement of or efforts to involve children age 10 or older, when appropriate, including children in foster care and their siblings or half-siblings and children placed by a court in the direct custody of a relative or other suitable person.

With respect to a child in foster care who has reached age 14, the service plan must be developed in consultation with the child and, at the option of the child, up to two members of the child's case-planning team who are chosen by the child and who are not the child's foster parents, case manager, case planner, or case worker. The agency may reject an individual selected by the child if the agency has good cause to believe that the individual would not act in the child's best interests. One individual selected by the child to be a member of the child's case-planning team may be designated to be the child's advisor and, as necessary, advocate with respect to the application of the reasonable and prudent parent standard for the child.

Contents of a Case Plan

Citation: Soc. Serv. Laws § 409-e; N.Y. Reg. Tit. 18, § 428.6

The plan shall include at least the following:

  • Timeframes for periodic reassessment of the care and maintenance needs of each child and the manner in which such reassessments are to be accomplished
  • Short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals for the child and family and actions planned to meet the needs of the child and family and each goal
  • Identification of necessary and appropriate services and assistance to the child and members of the child's family
  • Any alternative plans for services where specific services are not available and any viable options for services considered during the planning process
  • Where placement in foster care is determined necessary, specification of the reasons for such determination, the kind and level of placement, any available placement alternatives, an estimate of the anticipated duration of placement, and plan for termination of services under appropriate circumstances

In regulation: Each family service plan must include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • A program choice or choices for each child receiving services
  • A goal and plan for child permanency
  • A description of legal activities and their impact on the case
  • A thorough and comprehensive assessment or reassessment and analysis of the family members' strengths, needs, and problems
  • Immediate actions or controlling interventions that must be taken or have been provided
  • The family's view of its needs and concerns
  • A plan of services and assistance made in consultation with the family and each child over age 10, whenever possible, that utilizes the family's strengths and addresses the family members' needs and concerns
  • The status of the service plan, including service availability and a description of the manner of service provision
  • The family's progress toward plan achievement
  • Essential data relating to the identification and history of the child and family members and a summary that documents the involvement of the parent(s) or guardian, child(ren), and any others in the development of the service plan
  • Safety assessments in all cases
  • Risk assessments in child protective services cases
  • Assessments of family functioning

For children placed in foster care, the plan also must include the following:

  • A description of the reasonable efforts made to prevent or eliminate the need for placement or the justification for the determination that reasonable efforts were not necessary
  • Identification of all available placement alternatives and the specific reasons why they were rejected
  • Efforts made to locate any absent parents
  • Documentation that continuity in the child's environment has been maintained or the reasons why this is not practicable or in the best interests of the child
  • Information about whether the child will be placed with the child's siblings and, if not, the reasons why and the arrangements made for contact with the siblings
  • An estimate of the anticipated duration of the placement and the circumstances and conditions that must be met to safely discharge the child from placement
  • A visiting plan for the child with his or her parent(s), guardian, siblings, and other significant family members
  • A description of the reasons identified for not filing a petition to terminate parental rights for any child in foster care for at least 15 of the most recent 22 months
  • Where concurrent planning is determined through assessment to be warranted in the case, a description of the alternate plan to achieve permanency for the child if the child cannot be safely returned home