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

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What Are Reasonable Efforts

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 384-b(7)(f)

Effective October 27, 2019: The term 'diligent efforts' means reasonable attempts by an agency to assist, develop, and encourage a meaningful relationship between the parent and child, which include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Consulting and cooperating with the parents to develop a plan for appropriate services to the child and his or her family
  • Making suitable arrangements for the parent to visit with the child
  • Providing services and other assistance so that problems preventing the child's discharge from care can be resolved or ameliorated
  • Informing the parents of the child's progress, development, and health
  • Making suitable arrangements with a correctional facility for an incarcerated parent to visit with the child, if such visiting is in the best interests of the child
  • When the child is in the custody of authorized agency, providing information outlining the legal rights and obligations of a parent who is incarcerated or in a residential substance abuse treatment program and on social or rehabilitative services available in the community, including family visiting services, to aid in the development of a meaningful relationship between the parent and child

Wherever possible, such information shall include transitional and family support services located in the community to which an incarcerated parent or parent participating in a residential substance abuse treatment program shall return.

When Reasonable Efforts Are Required

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 358-a(3)(a)

Reasonable efforts must be made to do the following:

  • Prior to placement to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the child from the home
  • To make it possible for the child to return home
  • If the permanent plan for the child is other than reunification, to make and finalize the alternative permanent placement

When Reasonable Efforts Are NOT Required

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law §§ 358-a(3)(b); 384-b(7)(e)

Reasonable efforts are not required when the court determines the following:

  • The parent has subjected the child to aggravated circumstances, including any of the following:
    • The child has been either severely or repeatedly abused.
    • A child has subsequently been found to be an abused child within 5 years after return home following placement in foster care.
    • The parent of a child in foster care has refused and has failed completely, over a period of at least 6 months from the date of removal, to engage in services necessary to eliminate the risk of abuse or neglect if returned to the parent and has failed to secure services on his or her own or otherwise adequately prepare for the child's return home.
  • The parent has been convicted of murder or manslaughter, and the victim was another child of the parent. However, the parent must have acted voluntarily in committing such crime.
  • The parent has been convicted of an attempt to commit any of the above crimes, and the victim or intended victim was the child or another child of the parent, or the parent has been convicted of conspiring, soliciting, or facilitating any of the above crimes, and the victim or intended victim was the child or another child of the parent.
  • The parent has been convicted of assault or aggravated assault upon a person younger than age 11, and the crime resulted in serious physical injury to the child or another child of the parent.
  • The parental rights of the parent to a sibling of the child have been involuntarily terminated, unless the court determines that providing reasonable efforts would be in the best interests of the child, would not be contrary to the health and safety of the child, and would likely result in the reunification of the parent and the child in the foreseeable future.

Evidence of diligent efforts by an agency to encourage and strengthen the parental relationship shall not be required when the following apply:

  • The parent has failed to keep the agency apprised of his or her location for a period of 6 months.
  • An incarcerated parent has failed on more than one occasion while incarcerated to cooperate with an authorized agency in its efforts to help the parent plan for the future of the child or in the agency's efforts to plan and arrange visits with the child.