Concurrent Planning for Timely Permanency for Children - West Virginia

Date: August 2021

Defining Concurrent Planning

Citation: DHHR Foster Care Policy § 4.5

In policy: Concurrent planning supports intensifying and expediting efforts to achieve permanency for a child within 1 year€”a timeframe that reflects a child's sense of the passage of time. Concurrent planning safeguards opportunities for secure childhood attachments by safely building a stronger bond between the child and parent through reunification efforts and by supporting the tie between the child and the caregiver through relative care, adoption, or legal guardianship when appropriate. Effective use of concurrent planning allows the child to have an alternative permanency option that is being worked on at the same time as efforts are made to achieve the primary permanency plan for the child.

State Approaches to Concurrent Planning

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-4-604(a)(2); DHHR Foster Care Policy § 4.5

The case plan must include a plan to facilitate the return of the child to his or her own home or the concurrent permanent placement of the child.

The term 'permanency plan' refers to that part of the case plan that is designed to achieve a permanent home for the child in the least restrictive setting available. The plan must document efforts to ensure that the child is returned home within approximate timelines for reunification as set out in the plan. Reasonable efforts to place a child for adoption or with a legal guardian should be made at the same time, or concurrent with, reasonable efforts to prevent removal or to make it possible for a child to return to the care of his or her parent(s) safely. If reunification is not the permanency plan for the child, the plan must state why reunification is not appropriate and detail the alternative, concurrent permanent placement plans for the child to include approximate timelines for when the placement is expected to become a permanent placement.

In policy: All children whose permanency plan is reunification must have a concurrent permanency plan. For other children, concurrent planning should be utilized to expedite the achievement of permanency for these children. Concurrent planning has several practices that are designed to make cases move quickly through the foster care system until permanency is achieved. Some of these primary objectives include the following:

  • Attendance at the multidisciplinary treatment team meetings by everyone involved in the child's life
  • Identification of services for the child's parents that are appropriate, intensive, and address the reasons the child was removed from the home
  • Full disclosure of information to parents regarding the importance of their regular involvement in planning for the return of the child, their rights and responsibilities, and the legal consequences of their inaction or continued inappropriate behavior must be stated in a manner that they understand
  • Placement of the child in the most family-like setting appropriate to meet the child's needs, if possible, in a foster/adoptive home that is willing to help facilitate reunification with the child's family while also willing to become a permanent placement for the child if reunification efforts do not work
  • Frequent visitation with birth parents as long as the child's safety can be assured
  • Aggressive search for absent or noncustodial parents within the first 3 months of placement
  • Search for appropriate relatives who might have an interest in caring for the child within the first 30 days of placement
  • Assessment of the birth family's strengths, needs, and current or past problems to assist the caseworker in determining the risk of foster care drift and the need to place the child with a foster/adoptive family who will actively engage in supporting family reunification efforts and also commit to serve as a permanent home for the child if reunification is not possible
  • Frequent and substantive case reviews that carefully assess the efficacy of services being provided to assist the family to achieve the case plan goals and modify the case plan as required
  • Respect for the sense of time of young children because separations and relationship disruptions in the early months and years of life interfere with the younger child's initial capacity to learn how to trust and form secure attachments with adults