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

Date: September 2019

What Are Reasonable Efforts

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 620.020

The term 'reasonable efforts' means the exercise of ordinary diligence and care by the department to utilize all preventive and reunification services that are available to the community and necessary to enable to child to live safely at home.

When Reasonable Efforts Are Required

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 620.020; 620.130

Reunification services are remedial services that are designed to do the following:

  • Strengthen the family unit
  • Secure reunification of the family and child, where appropriate, as quickly as practicable
  • Prevent the future removal of the child from the family

When the court is petitioned to remove or continue the removal of a child from the custody of his parent or other person exercising custodial control or supervision, the court first shall consider whether the child may be reasonably protected against the alleged dependency, neglect, or abuse by alternatives less restrictive than removal. Such alternatives may include, but shall not be limited to, the provision of medical, educational, psychiatric, psychological, social work, counseling, day care, or homemaking services with monitoring wherever necessary by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services or other appropriate agency. When the court specifically finds that such alternatives are adequate to reasonably protect the child against the alleged dependency, neglect, or abuse, the court shall not order the removal or continued removal of the child.

If the court orders the removal or continues the removal of the child, services provided to the parent and the child shall be designed to promote the protection of the child and the return of the child safely to the child's home as soon as possible. The cabinet shall develop a treatment plan for each child designed to meet the needs of the child.

When Reasonable Efforts Are NOT Required

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 610.127; 600.020

Reasonable efforts shall not be required if a court determines the following:

  • The parent has subjected the child to aggravated circumstances, including any of the following:
    • The parent has not had contact with the child for more than 90 days.
    • The parent is incarcerated for at least 1 year, will be unavailable to care for the child, and there is no appropriate relative to care for the child.
    • The parent has sexually abused the child and refused available treatment.
    • The parent has engaged in abuse of the child that required removal two or more times in the last 2 years.
    • The parent has caused the child serious physical injury.
  • The parent has been convicted of having caused the death of another child of the parent.
  • The parent has committed a felony assault that resulted in serious bodily injury to the child or another child of the parent.
  • The parent had his or her parental rights to another child terminated involuntarily.
  • The parent has engaged in a pattern of conduct due to a substance use disorder that has rendered the parent incapable of caring for the immediate and ongoing needs of the child, and has refused or failed to complete a treatment plan.
  • The parent has a mental illness or retardation that places the child at substantial risk of harm even if services were provided to the parent for 12 months.
  • The parent has sexually abused the child or is required to register on a sex offender registry under 42 U.S.C. § 16913, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.
  • Other circumstances make reasonable efforts inconsistent with the best interests of the child and the permanency plan for the child.