Concurrent Planning for Timely Permanency for Children - Georgia
Defining Concurrent Planning
Citation: Child Welf. Pol. Man. # 10.22
In policy: Concurrent planning rather than sequential planning efforts help to move children more quickly from out-of-home care to permanency. Concurrent planning involves working toward a primary permanency plan of reunification while simultaneously working toward an alternative permanency plan of adoption or guardianship. The alternate plan is to prevent the child from lingering in out-of-home care and not an attempt to undermine the parent's, guardian's, or legal custodian's efforts toward reunification. It is necessary to work toward both plans simultaneously in order to achieve a timely permanency plan outcome. A concurrent plan should not be selected as a default plan, rather it should be selected based on an assessment of the family's circumstances and using the Concurrent Planning Assessment Guide.
State Approaches to Concurrent Planning
Citation: Ann. Code §§ 15-11-212(h); 15-11-216(c), (d); 15-11-218(a); Child Welf. Pol. Man. # 10.22
When the case plan requires a concurrent permanency plan, the court shall review the reasonable efforts of the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) to recruit, identify, and make a placement in a home in which a relative of a child adjudicated as a dependent child, foster parent, or other persons who have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to the child have agreed to provide a legally permanent home for the child in the event reunification efforts are not successful.
At the initial 75-day periodic review, the court shall approve the completion of the relative search, schedule the subsequent 4-month review to be conducted by the court or a judicial citizen review panel, and determine whether the existing case plan is still the best case plan for the child and his or her family and whether any changes need to be made to the case plan, including whether a concurrent case plan for nonreunification is appropriate.
If at any review subsequent to the initial 75-day review the court finds that there is a lack of substantial progress toward completion of the case plan, the court shall order DFCS to develop a case plan for nonreunification or a concurrent case plan contemplating nonreunification.
At the conclusion of a periodic review hearing, or upon review of a report by a judicial citizen review panel, the court shall issue written findings of facts that include whether the existing case plan is still the best case plan for a child adjudicated as a dependent child and his or her family and whether any changes need to be made to the case plan, including whether a concurrent case plan for nonreunification is appropriate.
In policy: All cases should be assessed for concurrent-planning services, but not all will be appropriate. For example, cases with a nonreunification court order in place are not appropriate for concurrent planning. When the family's circumstances indicate a poor prognosis for early reunification, then concurrent planning should be considered. In most cases, the decision to pursue a concurrent permanency plan will be made when the initial case plan is developed.
When assessing a family's suitability for concurrent-planning services, the Concurrent Planning Assessment Guide is used to target the specific strengths and needs of the family. The guide provides specific indicators for early reunification and indicators of poor prognosis for reunification. The guide is not a form but is rather a tool that should be used to help the agency make an informed decision regarding whether concurrent planning is appropriate in a case. The use of the guide may be appropriate in the following situations:
- When an investigation or family assessment determines a child will be placed in out-of-home care
- Within the first 30 days after a child has entered out-of-home care
- Periodically during the first 6 months of a case, when a case is deemed not appropriate for concurrent planning during the initial assessment
- When additional information is received indicating a change in the family's circumstances during the initial 6 months of a case
In accordance with the Adoption and Safe Families Act, a permanency plan is to be finalized within 12 months of a child entering care. Once a concurrent permanency plan has been approved by the court, court approval is required for the agency to cease reunification efforts and focus solely on the alternate permanency plan of adoption and guardianship. Reunification services must continue until the court approves another permanency plan. A permanency plan is finalized when the permanency outcome has been achieved.