Concurrent Planning for Timely Permanency for Children - North Carolina

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Defining Concurrent Planning

Citation: Child. Welf. Man., Perm. Planning Serv.

From the North Carolina Child Welfare Manual: Concurrent permanency planning is the process of working toward a primary permanent plan for a child, such as reunification, while developing at least one alternative, or secondary, permanent plan at the same time. Concurrent planning is used to keep the focus on the child's urgent needs for safety and permanence and to reduce the length of time a child spends in county child welfare services agency custody.

Concurrent planning ensures a secondary plan is developed if efforts to achieve the primary plan are unsuccessful. A secondary permanency plan is developed, and efforts to achieve the primary and secondary plan are made concurrently. If the primary plan is unsuccessful, the secondary plan has been developed and can be fully implemented. It is not inconsistent to work toward reunification while building a case that will support concurrent planning and alternative resolutions.

State Approaches to Concurrent Planning

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 7B-906.2(a1), (b); Child. Welf. Man., Perm. Planning Serv.

Concurrent planning shall continue until a permanent plan has been achieved.

At any permanency planning hearing, the court shall adopt concurrent permanent plans and shall identify the primary plan and secondary plan. Reunification shall be a primary or secondary plan unless the court has made any of the following findings:

  • That aggravated circumstances make reasonable efforts for reunification unnecessary under § 7B-901(c)
  • That efforts to reunite the child with either parent clearly would be unsuccessful or inconsistent with the child's health or safety and need for a safe, permanent home within a reasonable time under § 7B-906.1(d)(3)
  • That the permanent plan has been achieved

The finding that reunification efforts clearly would be unsuccessful or inconsistent with the juvenile's health or safety may be made at any permanency-planning hearing. Unless permanence has been achieved, the court shall order the county Department of Social Services to make efforts toward finalizing the primary and secondary permanent plans and may specify efforts that are reasonable to timely achieve permanence for the juvenile.

In policy: When a child enters county child welfare services agency custody, the primary plan is usually reunification with the parents or caregivers from whom the child was removed. In concurrent planning, the county child welfare worker is developing at least one secondary permanent plan jointly with the family.

County child welfare agencies must develop concurrent plans for each child in county child welfare services agency custody. In addition, agencies must make diligent efforts to achieve both the primary and secondary permanent plans. Concurrent planning must continue throughout the case until a permanent plan is achieved.