Reasonable Efforts to Preserve or Reunify Families and Achieve Permanency for Children - District of Columbia

Date: September 2019

What Are Reasonable Efforts

Citation: Ann. Code § 4-1301.02

Family preservation services are services for children and families that are at risk of abuse or neglect, or are in crisis, and include the following:

  • Services designed to help children return to families from which they have been removed, or be placed for adoption, when safe and appropriate, or with a legal guardian, or, if adoption or legal guardianship is determined not to be safe and appropriate for the child, in another permanent living arrangement
  • Replacement prevention services
  • Services that provide follow-up care to families to whom a child has returned after commitment
  • Respite care services
  • Services designed to improve parenting skills and abilities

Family support services promote the safety and well-being of children and families, are community-based, and are designed to do the following:

  • Increase family strength and stability
  • Increase parent confidence and competence
  • Afford children safe, stable, and supportive family environments
  • Enhance child development

Time-limited family reunification services are services and activities provided to a committed child and to the child's parent, guardian, or custodian in order to facilitate the safe, appropriate, and timely reunification of the child during the 15 months following the child's entry into foster care. Time-limited family reunification services include the following:

  • Individual, group, and family counseling
  • Inpatient, residential, or outpatient substance abuse treatment services
  • Mental health services
  • Assistance to address domestic violence
  • Services designed to provide temporary child care and therapeutic services for families
  • Transportation to or from any of the services and activities described above

When Reasonable Efforts Are Required

Citation: Ann. Code § 4-1301.09a

The Child and Family Services Agency shall make reasonable efforts to preserve and reunify the family, as follows:

  • Prior to the removal of the child from the home to prevent or eliminate the need for removing the child
  • To make it possible for the child to return home safely
  • To place the child in accordance with that plan in order to finalize a permanent placement if return home is inconsistent with the child's permanency plan

When Reasonable Efforts Are NOT Required

Citation: Ann. Code § 4-1301.09a

Reasonable efforts to reunify the parent with his or her child are not required if the any of the following applies:

  • The parent has subjected the child, a sibling, or other child to cruelty, abandonment, torture, chronic abuse, or sexual abuse.
  • The parent has committed, aided, abetted, solicited, or attempted to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of a sibling or other child.
  • The parent has committed a felony assault against the child, a sibling, or other child.
  • The parent has had his or her parental rights terminated involuntarily with respect to a sibling of the child.
  • The parent is required to register with a sex offender registry under 42 U.S.C. § 16913(a).