Concurrent Planning for Timely Permanency for Children - Iowa

Date: August 2021

Defining Concurrent Planning

Citation: DHS Emp. Man., Tit. 18, Ch. C(2)

In policy: Concurrent planning seeks to reunify children with their families while at the same time establishing an alternative permanency plan that can be implemented if reunification cannot take place. It is based on full disclosure, which requires open and honest discussions with all parties at all steps in the process. Concurrent planning is an effective tool when used in collaboration with the parents through meetings or other family engagement mechanisms to expedite permanency.

Effective concurrent planning requires individualized assessment, goal setting, and decision-making. The goals of concurrent planning are to do the following:

  • Engage families in early case planning and decision-making to meet children's need for stability and continuity in their family relationships
  • Reduce multiple placements
  • Promote early permanency decisions
  • Decrease the length of stay in foster care for children

State Approaches to Concurrent Planning

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 232.2(4)(i); 232.102(10); DHS Emp. Man., Tit. 18, Ch. C(2)

If reasonable efforts to place a child for adoption or with a guardian are made concurrently with reasonable efforts as defined in § 232.102, the concurrent goals and timelines may be identified. Concurrent case permanency plan goals for reunification and for adoption or for other permanent out-of-home placement of a child shall not be considered inconsistent in that the goals reflect divergent possible outcomes for a child in an out-of-home placement.

'Reasonable efforts' means the efforts made to preserve and unify a family prior to the out-of-home placement of a child in foster care or to eliminate the need for removal of the child or make it possible for the child to safely return to the family's home. Reasonable efforts shall include, but are not limited to, giving consideration, if appropriate, to interstate placement of a child in the permanency-planning decisions involving the child and when using concurrent planning.

The performance of reasonable efforts to place a child for adoption or with a guardian may be made concurrently with making reasonable efforts as defined in this section.

In policy: The caseworker uses concurrent planning in all foster care cases except when any of the following apply:

  • There is a good prognosis for rehabilitation of the child or parental conditions and the child is expected to return home within the first 6-month period.
  • At the 6-month case review, the child is expected to return home within 30 days.
  • Reasonable efforts to reunify the child with the parents are waived due to aggravated circumstances.

All persons involved in the family case plan need to be aware of and active participants in the concurrent-planning process. The caseworker must make an immediate search for noncustodial parents and all kin and fictive kin who may be able to commit to reunification or permanency. The caseworker also must ensure that Indian Child Welfare Act requirements have been followed.

Factors that suggest a good prognosis for reunification and indicate little or no need for concurrent planning include the following:

  • A positive parent-child relationship
  • Stable, consistent parental history and functioning
  • Strong family support systems

Factors that suggest a poor prognosis for reunification and indicate a need for concurrent planning, include the following:

  • Serious abuse or significant neglect
  • Parental ambivalence or lack of emotional commitment to the child
  • Unstable, inconsistent parental history and functioning, including previous lack of response to treatment and services and substance abuse, mental health, and domestic violence history
  • Significant child welfare service history