Case Planning for Families Involved With Child Welfare Agencies - Tennessee

Date: April 2018

When Case Plans Are Required

Citation: Ann. Code § 37-2-403; Admin. Pol. & Proc. # 16.31

Within 30 days of the date of foster care placement, an agency shall prepare a plan of care or a permanency plan for each child in its foster care.

In policy: A permanency plan shall be developed in collaboration with the child and family during a child and family team meeting (CFTM) for all children in the custody of the Department of Children's Services (DCS). The family permanency plan is completed no later than 30 calendar days of a child entering State custody.

Who May Participate in the Case Planning Process

Citation: Ann. Code § 37-2-403; Admin. Pol. & Proc. # 16.31

The agency shall prepare the plan. The plan shall be presented to the parent or guardian and approved by the court.

In policy: The initial permanency-planning CFTM includes the child and family team, the family and their support systems, foster parents, agency partners, and DCS staff. At a minimum, this CFTM should include the parents, the DCS team leader, and the DCS family service worker. If the child was being cared for by someone other than the parents, the primary caregivers also should be included. Children and youth who are at least age 6 and older are involved in the planning process to the extent that they are capable. All children age 12 and older are prepared and included in the initial permanency-planning CFTM.

Contents of a Case Plan

Citation: Ann. Code § 37-2-403; Admin. Pol. & Proc. # 16.31

The plan shall include one of the following goals for each child:

  • Return of the child to his or her parent
  • Permanent placement of the child with a fit and willing relative or relatives of the child
  • Adoption, giving appropriate consideration to § 36-1-115(g), when applicable
  • Permanent guardianship
  • A planned permanent living arrangement

The permanency plan for any child in foster care shall include a statement of responsibilities between the parents, the agency, and the caseworker of such agency. Such statements shall include the responsibilities of each party in specific terms and shall be reasonably related to the achievement of the goal.

In cases involving child abuse or child neglect, with such child being placed in foster care, the statement of responsibilities shall stipulate that the abusing or neglecting parent shall receive appropriate rehabilitative assistance through mental health consultation if so ordered by the court.

In policy: The family permanency plan establishes realistic goals, outcomes and action steps for the family, the child, and/or DCS necessary to achieve permanency. The outcomes and action steps address all of the concerns that brought the child into custody as well as those needs identified by the ongoing assessment process, including health and education information and needs. Plans are designed to utilize the strengths of the family and include designated time frames for the completion of actions that help the child and family achieve permanency and stability as soon as possible.

Specific components of the plan include the following:

  • Time periods for achieving permanency goals
  • A plan for visits
  • Major treatment issues for the child and family that are identified during the assessment process
  • Safety issues identified in the child protective services investigation, including drug treatment, sexual offense victim, or domestic violence, etc.
  • The activities necessary to address the issues that brought the child into care
  • Statements of responsibilities that specifically include both action steps that each party should take and the desired outcomes of those steps
  • Clearly defined, observable, and measurable outcomes and specific, time-limited action steps that need to be completed to reach each desired outcome
  • The services needed for the achievement of the permanency goal
  • Specific tasks as well as the names of the persons responsible for completion of each task
  • Efforts made by DCS to prevent the removal of the child and placement into custody
  • A description of the type of placement, including interstate placements when appropriate
  • A plan for ensuring that the child receives safe and proper care in the least restrictive, most familylike setting appropriate, in close proximity to the parents' home, consistent with the best interests and individual needs of the child
  • A discussion of the safety and appropriateness of the placement
  • To the extent available and accessible, the most recent health and education records of the child
  • The specific steps to be taken to ensure the child's health and education progress
  • For a child age 14 or older, a written description of the services that will help the child prepare for independence
  • The steps that DCS is taking to achieve permanency for the child