Concurrent Planning for Timely Permanency for Children - Wisconsin

Date: August 2021

Defining Concurrent Planning

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.355(2b); DCF Ongoing Serv. Stds.

'Concurrent planning' means appropriate efforts to work simultaneously toward achieving more than one of the permanency goals listed in § 48.38(4)(fg), for a child who is placed in out-of-home care and for whom a permanency plan is required.

A county department, the Department of Children and Families in a county having a population of 750,000 or more, or the agency primarily responsible for providing services to a child under a court order shall determine, in accordance with standards established by the department, whether to engage in concurrent planning. If, according to those standards, concurrent planning is required, the county department, department, or agency shall engage in concurrent planning unless the court or permanency review panel determines under § 48.38(5)(c)5m that concurrent planning is inappropriate.

In policy: Concurrent planning is a process of working on one permanency goal while at the same time establishing and implementing an alternative permanency goal that involves simultaneous activities to move a child more quickly to permanence. It involves a mix of meaningful family engagement, targeted case practice, and legal strategies aimed at achieving timely permanence.

Concurrent planning must include the following core components:

  • Assessment/determination
  • Full disclosure
  • Family search and engagement
  • Teaming
  • Family interaction
  • Clear timelines
  • Transparency
  • Collaboration with stakeholders

State Approaches to Concurrent Planning

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.38; DCF Ongoing Serv. Stds.

Effective September 29, 2021: For each child living in out-of-home care, the agency that placed the child shall prepare a written permanency plan. The permanency plan shall include the goal of the permanency plan or, if the agency is engaging in concurrent planning, the permanency and concurrent permanency goals of the permanency plan. If a goal of the permanency plan is to place the child for adoption, with a guardian, or with a fit and willing relative, the permanency plan shall include the rationale for deciding on that goal and the efforts made to achieve that goal, including, if appropriate, through an out-of-State placement. If the agency determines to engage in concurrent planning, the permanency plan shall include the rationale for that determination and a description of the concurrent plan. The agency shall determine one or more of the following goals to be the goal or goals of a child's permanency plan:

  • Return of the child to the child's home
  • Placement of the child for adoption
  • Placement of the child with a guardian
  • Permanent placement of the child with a fit and willing relative
  • In the case of a child who is age 16 or older, placement of the child in some other planned permanent living arrangement that includes an appropriate, enduring relationship with an adult

The court shall review the permanency plan for each child for whom a permanency plan is required no later than 6 months after the date on which the child was first removed from his or her home and every 6 months after a previous review for as long as the child is placed outside the home. At the review, the court or the panel shall determine the continuing appropriateness, according to standards established by the department, of the permanency goal and any concurrent permanency goals for the child.

In policy: Assessing the need for concurrent planning involves early assessment of the conditions that led to the child's placement into out-of-home care, the strengths of the family, and the likelihood of reunification within 12 to 15 months that is culturally respectful and based on the family's history and current functioning. The assessment is based on a review of factors that make timely reunification more or less likely. This allows the caseworker and child's team to make determinations about the family's capacity to benefit from reunification services and the need for alternative planning. By no means should the presence of such conditions be construed to mean reasonable efforts to reunify the child are not required unless they meet the statutory criteria for instances where reasonable efforts are not required.

Concurrent planning involves the practice of engaging parents in a discussion about all the permanency options, including the steps necessary for reunification, the possibility of a voluntary termination of parental rights (TPR), and the likelihood of an involuntary TPR if reunification goals are not accomplished within specified time limits. It is not a fast track to adoption but to permanency. Effective concurrent planning ensures that the parents recognize that they choose outcomes for their child through their actions.

Family teaming is a critical component of concurrent-planning practice. Concurrent planning and family teaming are approaches that happen at the same time. Family teams support the concurrent-planning process by providing a format to share knowledge, planning, and decision-making with the family and providers regarding goals, timelines, and options for permanence.