Concurrent Planning for Timely Permanency for Children - Mississippi

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Defining Concurrent Planning

Citation: DFCS Policy, § D

In policy: 'Concurrent planning' is working toward the permanency plan while at the same time establishing a backup plan, thereby implementing primary and alternate plans simultaneously. For children with the goal of reunification, the Division of Family and Children's Services shall begin, within the first 6 months of the child's entry into care, to engage in concurrent planning.

According to Federal law (45 CFR 1356.21), reasonable efforts to finalize an alternate permanency plan may be made concurrently with reasonable efforts to reunify the child and family. It also states that reasonable efforts to place a child for adoption or with a legal guardian, including identifying appropriate in-State and out-of-State placements, may be made concurrently with reasonable efforts to reunify the child and family.

Concurrent planning is an approach designed primarily to facilitate timely permanency by having an alternate permanency plan in place ready for implementation in case the primary plan fails or falls through. Within the 'Mississippi Family Centered Practice' approach, concurrent planning involves the immediate and ongoing implementation of strategies. These strategies are designed to ensure the healthy development of the child through an ongoing sense of continuity and connectedness during periods of legal impermanency.

State Approaches to Concurrent Planning

Citation: Ann. Code § 43-15-13(2)(f), (8)

At the time of placement, the Department of Child Protection Services shall implement concurrent planning so that permanency may occur at the earliest opportunity. Consideration of possible failure or delay of reunification should be given to the end that the placement made is the best available placement to provide permanency for the child.

The legislature recognizes that the best interests of the child require that the child be placed in the most permanent living arrangement as soon as is practicably possible. To achieve this goal, the department is directed to conduct concurrent planning so that a permanent living arrangement may occur at the earliest opportunity. Permanent living arrangements may include prevention of placement of a child outside the home of the family when the child can be cared for at home without endangering the child's health or safety; reunification with the family, when safe and appropriate, if temporary placement is necessary; or movement of the child toward the most permanent living arrangement and permanent legal status.

When a child is placed in foster care or relative care, the department shall first ensure and document that reasonable efforts were made to prevent or eliminate the need to remove the child from the child's home. The department's first priority shall be to make reasonable efforts to reunify the family when temporary placement of the child occurs or shall request a finding from the court that reasonable efforts are not appropriate or have been unsuccessful.

At the time of placement, consideration also should be given so that if reunification fails or is delayed, the placement made is the best available placement to provide a permanent living arrangement for the child. The department shall consider the following factors when determining appropriateness of concurrent planning:

  • The likelihood of prompt reunification
  • The past history of the family
  • The barriers to reunification being addressed by the family
  • The level of cooperation of the family
  • The foster parents' willingness to work with the family to reunite
  • The willingness and ability of the foster family or relative placement to provide an adoptive home or long-term placement
  • The age of the child
  • Placement of siblings