Reasonable Efforts to Preserve or Reunify Families and Achieve Permanency for Children - Arkansas

Date: September 2019

What Are Reasonable Efforts

Citation: Ann. Code § 9-27-303

'Reasonable efforts' are measures taken to preserve the family and can include reasonable care and diligence on the part of the Department of Human Services or agency to utilize all available services related to meeting the needs of the juvenile and the family.

'Reasonable efforts' include efforts to involve an incarcerated parent. The department shall do the following:

  • Involve an incarcerated parent in case planning
  • Monitor compliance with services offered by the Department of Correction to the extent permitted by Federal law
  • Offer visitation in accordance with the policies of the Department of Correction, if visitation is appropriate and in the best interests of the child

Reasonable efforts may include the provision of 'family services,' which are relevant services provided to a juvenile or his or her family, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Child care
  • Homemaker services
  • Crisis counseling
  • Cash assistance
  • Transportation
  • Family therapy
  • Physical, psychiatric, or psychological evaluation
  • Counseling or treatment
  • Postadoptive services

Family services are provided in order to do the following:

  • Prevent a juvenile from being removed from a parent, guardian, or custodian
  • Reunite the juvenile with the parent, guardian, or custodian from whom the juvenile has been removed
  • Implement a permanent plan of adoption or guardianship for a juvenile in a dependency-neglect case
  • Rehabilitate a juvenile in a delinquency or family in need of services case

When Reasonable Efforts Are Required

Citation: Ann. Code § 9-27-303

Reasonable efforts shall be made as follows:

  • Before the placement of a child in foster care to prevent the need for removing the child from the child's home
  • To reunify a family after a child has been placed out of the home to make it possible for the child to return home safely
  • To obtain permanency for a child who has been in placement more than 12 months, or 15 of the previous 22 months

The juvenile division of circuit court may deem that reasonable efforts have been made when the court has found that the first contact by the department occurred during an emergency in which the child could not safely remain at home, even with reasonable services being provided.

When Reasonable Efforts Are NOT Required

Citation: Ann. Code § 9-27-303

Reasonable efforts to reunite a child with his or her parent or parents shall not be required in all cases. Reunification shall not be required if a court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the parent has done any of the following:

  • Subjected the child to aggravated circumstances, which may include the following:
    • A child has been abandoned, chronically abused, subjected to extreme or repeated cruelty; sexually abused or sexually exploited; or a determination has been made by a judge that there is little likelihood that services to the family will result in successful reunification.
    • A child has been removed from the custody of the parent or guardian and placed in foster care or in the custody of another person three or more times in the past 15 months.
    • A child or a sibling has been neglected or abused such that the abuse or neglect could endanger the life of the child.
  • Committed or attempted to commit murder or manslaughter of any child
  • Committed felony battery to any child that results in serious bodily injury
  • Had parental rights terminated to a sibling of the child
  • Abandoned an infant
  • Registered with a sex offender registry under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006