Case Planning for Families Involved With Child Welfare Agencies - Virginia

Date:

When Case Plans Are Required

Citation: Ann. Code § 16.1-281

A foster care plan shall be prepared for a child in any case in which:

  • A local board of social services places a child through an agreement with the parents or guardians where legal custody remains with the parents or guardian.
  • Legal custody of a child is given to a local board of social services, a child welfare agency, or the local department of social services.

The individual family service plan developed by the family assessment and planning team pursuant to § 2.2-5208 may be accepted by the court as the foster care plan if it meets the requirements of this section.

The plan must be filed with the juvenile and domestic relations district court within 45 days following the transfer of custody or the board's or public agency's placement of the child unless the court, for good cause shown, allows an extension of time that shall not exceed an additional 60 days.

Who May Participate in the Case Planning Process

Citation: Ann. Code § 16.1-281

The local Department of Social Services or child welfare agency shall prepare the foster care plan.

The representatives of the department or agency shall involve the child's parent(s) in the development of the plan, except when parental rights have been terminated or the local department or child welfare agency has made diligent efforts to locate the parent(s) and the parent(s) cannot be located, and any other person or persons standing in loco parentis at the time the board or child welfare agency obtained custody or the board placed the child.

The representatives of the department or agency shall involve a child who is age 14 or older in the development of the plan and, at the option of such child, up to two members of the case-planning team who are chosen by the child and who are not the child's foster parent or caseworker. A child younger than age 14 may be involved in the development of the plan, if such involvement is consistent with the best interests of the child.

If either the parent or child is not involved in the development of the plan, the reasons why must be documented.

Contents of a Case Plan

Citation: Ann. Code § 16.1-281

The foster care plan shall describe the following in writing:

  • The programs, care, services, and other support that will be offered to the child and his or her parents and other prior custodians
  • The participation and conduct that will be sought from the child's parents and other prior custodians
  • The visits and other contacts that will be permitted between the child and his or her parents and other prior custodians and between the child and his or her siblings
  • The nature of the placement or placements that will be provided for the child
  • For school-age children, the school placement of the child
  • For a child age 14 and older:
    • The child's needs and goals in the areas of counseling, education, housing, employment, and money management skills development, along with specific independent living services that will be provided to the child to help him or her reach these goals
    • An explanation of the child's rights with respect to education, health, visitation, court participation, and the right to stay safe and avoid exploitation
    • All documentation specified in 42 U.S.C. § 675(5)(l) and § 63.2-905.3

In cases in which a foster care plan approved prior to July 1, 2011, identifies independent living as the goal for the child, and in cases involving children admitted to the United States as refugees or asylees who are age 16 or older and for whom the goal is independent living, the plan shall also describe the programs and services that will help the child prepare for the transition from foster care to independent living.

If consistent with the child's health and safety, the plan shall be designed to support reasonable efforts to return the child to his or her parents or other prior custodians within the shortest practicable time, which shall be specified in the plan. The child's health and safety shall be the paramount concern of the court and the agency throughout the placement, case planning, service provision, and review process.

If the department or child welfare agency concludes that it is not reasonably likely that the child can be returned to his or her prior family within a practicable time, consistent with the best interests of the child, the department, child welfare agency, or team shall (a) include a full description of the reasons for this conclusion; (b) provide information on the opportunities for placing the child with a relative or in an adoptive home; (c) design the plan to lead to the child's successful placement with a relative if a subsequent transfer of custody to the relative is planned, or in an adoptive home within the shortest practicable time, and if neither of such placements is feasible; (d) explain why permanent foster care is the plan for the child or independent living is the plan for the child in cases involving children admitted to the United States as refugees or asylees who are age 16 or older and for whom the goal is independent living.