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

Date: September 2019

What Are Reasonable Efforts

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4041(1-A)

The Department of Health and Human Services shall develop a written rehabilitation plan that includes:

  • Services that must be provided to address the problems in the family that present a risk of harm to the child
  • Provisions to ensure the safety of the child while the parent engages in those services
  • A means to measure the extent to which progress has been made
  • Visitation that protects the child's physical and emotional well-being

When Reasonable Efforts Are Required

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4036-B

The department shall make reasonable efforts to do the following:

  • Prevent removal of the child from home, unless the court finds the presence of an aggravating factor
  • Rehabilitate and reunify the family, as provided in § 4041(1-A), unless the court has ordered that the department need not commence or may cease reunification
  • Finalize the permanency plan

When Reasonable Efforts Are NOT Required

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 22, §§ 4041(2)(A-2); 4002(1-B)

The court may order that reunification efforts are not required if it finds one of the following:

  • The existence of an aggravating factor
  • That continuation of reunification efforts is inconsistent with the permanency plan for the child

An aggravating factor includes any of the following circumstances with regard to the parent:

  • The parent has subjected a child for whom the parent was responsible to rape, gross sexual misconduct, gross sexual assault, sexual abuse, incest, aggravated assault, kidnapping, promotion of prostitution, sexual exploitation of a minor, sex trafficking or aggravated sex trafficking, abandonment, torture, chronic abuse, or any other treatment that is heinous or abhorrent to society.
  • The parent refused for 6 months to comply with treatment required in a reunification plan with regard to the child.
  • The parent has been convicted of any of the following crimes and the victim of the crime was a child for whom the parent was responsible or was a child who was a member of a household lived in or frequented by the parent:
    • Murder, felony murder, or manslaughter
    • Aiding, conspiring, or soliciting murder or manslaughter
    • Felony assault that results in serious bodily injury
    • Any comparable crime in another jurisdiction
  • The parental rights of the parent to a sibling have been terminated involuntarily.
  • The parent has abandoned the child.