Concurrent Planning for Timely Permanency for Children - Massachusetts

Date: August 2021

Defining Concurrent Planning

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

State Approaches to Concurrent Planning

Citation: DCF Pol. # 2013-01

In policy: Permanency planning involves a mix of child-centered, family-empowering casework and legal strategies that ensure children have caring, stable, lifetime families and that safety remains the paramount concern throughout the family's involvement with the Department of Children and Families. Permanency planning begins with the goal of safely maintaining a child at home. If placement becomes necessary to ensure safety, the child's first goal is reunification with her or his family.

If the risk posed to the child's safety by her or his family remains high and the prognosis for reunification is poor, an alternative plan for permanency is developed concurrently with the family. As soon as the department determines that reunification is not in the child's best interests, an alternative permanency plan is established. This permanency plan will be adoption, guardianship, or permanent care with kin, or an alternative planned permanent living arrangement (e.g., continued placement with a permanent foster family, living independently, or long-term care with an adult service agency).

Within 12 months following the date of placement, the child's permanency plan is reviewed by the court at a permanency hearing. At all permanency hearings, until the court approves a permanency plan other than reunification, the department continues to make, document, and provide the court with information demonstrating the reasonable efforts made to reunify the child with her or his parent(s). Once the court approves a permanency plan other than reunification, and also determines that the approved permanency plan is inconsistent with reunification or that continuation of reasonable efforts to reunify is no longer required, the department is required to make reasonable efforts to achieve the permanency plan determined by the court.