Concurrent Planning for Timely Permanency for Children - Montana

Date: August 2021

Defining Concurrent Planning

Citation: Ann. Code § 41-3-102(8)

'Concurrent planning' means to work toward reunification of the child with the family while at the same time developing and implementing an alternative permanent plan.

State Approaches to Concurrent Planning

Citation: Ann. Code § 41-3-423(6); CFSD Pol: Concurrent Planning

Reasonable efforts to place a child permanently for adoption or to make an alternative out-of-home permanent placement may be made concurrently with reasonable efforts to return a child to the child's home. Concurrent planning, including identifying in-State and out-of-State placements, may be used.

In policy: The purpose of this procedure is to provide guidelines to Child Family Services Division (CFSD) staff on using a concurrent-planning approach€¯when a child has been removed€¯and placed into€¯substitute€¯care. This includes conducting€¯diligent searches for unidentified parents and relatives who may be options for achieving permanency for the child. It also includes preserving relationships and connections for children in care, as well as permanency placement options.

CFSD will make reasonable efforts to finalize an alternative permanency plan concurrently with reasonable efforts to reunify the child and family by pursuing two different permanency goals simultaneously. Each case has a primary and an alternate permanency goal. Working on both outcomes at the same time allows the child to achieve positive permanency as quickly as possible.

By using a concurrent-planning approach from the time of first interaction with the family, CFSD ensures that permanency can be achieved more quickly. This procedure is implemented effectively when children have the following outcomes:

  • Permanency and stability in their living situation
  • The opportunity to keep relationships with their family and other natural supports

Within 10 days of the out-of-home placement of the child, the caseworker will discuss with the parent(s) the concurrent-planning process, outlining surrounding connections and alternative placement options.

CFDS must exercise due diligence to identify relatives of the child, including all grandparents, all parents of a sibling of the child when the parent has legal custody of the sibling, and other adult relatives of the child and parents (including any other adult relatives suggested by the parents).

The child in an out-of-home placement must have two permanency plans running concurrently, and the initial goals must be established no later than 90 days from the date of removal. This includes explaining the following to the parent(s):

  • The permanency options include reunification, guardianship, adoption, and long-term custody.
  • The permanency option goals can be identified and tasks assigned to the caseworker to help support and achieve both goals concurrently.

If the parent disagrees with the permanency goal at any point of the case, the caseworker must document the parent's reasons for disagreeing. CFSD can still select the permanency goal, even if a parent or other party disagrees.