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

Date: September 2019

What Are Reasonable Efforts

Citation: Cent. Code § 27-20-32.2

The term 'reasonable efforts' means the exercise of due diligence by the agency granted authority over the child in using appropriate and available services to meet the needs of the child and his or her family in order to prevent removal of the child from the child's family or, after removal, to use appropriate and available services to eliminate the need for removal, to reunite the child and his or her family, and to maintain family connections. In determining reasonable efforts to be made with respect to a child under this section, and in making reasonable efforts, the child's health and safety must be the paramount concern.

When Reasonable Efforts Are Required

Citation: Cent. Code § 27-20-32.2

Reasonable efforts must be made to preserve families, reunify families, and maintain family connections, as follows:

  • Prior to the placement of a child in foster care, to prevent or eliminate the need for removing the child from his or her home
  • To make it possible for a child to return safely to his or her home
  • Whether, and if applicable, to place siblings in the same foster care, relative, guardianship, or adoptive placement, unless it is determined that such a joint placement would be contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings
  • In the case of siblings removed from their home who are not jointly placed, to provide for frequent visitation or other ongoing visitation between the siblings, unless it is contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings

If the court determines that continuation of reasonable efforts is inconsistent with the permanency plan for the child, reasonable efforts must be made to place the child in a timely manner in accordance with the permanency plan and to complete whatever steps are necessary to finalize the permanent placement of the child.

For the purpose of § 27-20-30.1 (concerning continued foster care for older youth), reasonable efforts must be made to meet the child's needs before a foster care placement for a child remaining in care for continued foster care purposes.

When Reasonable Efforts Are NOT Required

Citation: Cent. Code §§ 27-20-02; 27-20-32.2

Reasonable efforts are not required if any of the following apply:

  • The parent has subjected the child to aggravated circumstances, in which a parent does any of the following:
    • Abandons, tortures, chronically abuses, or sexually abuses a child
    • Fails to make substantial efforts to secure treatment for an addiction, mental illness, or other condition for 1 year or one-half a child's lifetime, whichever time period is less
    • Engages in deviant sexual acts, sexual abuse, etc., in which a child is the victim or intended victim
    • Commits murder, manslaughter, negligently causing the death of another, or abuse of a child and the victim is another child of the parent
    • Aids, abets, attempts, conspires, or solicits to commit murder, manslaughter, or negligently causes the death of another and the victim is a child of the parent
    • Commits aggravated assault in which the victim is a child of the parent and suffers serious bodily injury
    • Commits assault, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, or terrorizing in which a child is the victim or intended victim
    • Has been incarcerated under a sentence for which the release date is either of the following:
      • In the case of a child age 9 older, after the child's majority
      • In the case of a child under age 9, after the child is twice the child's current age
    • Subjects the child to prenatal exposure to chronic or severe use of alcohol or any controlled substance in a manner not lawfully prescribed by a practitioner
    • Allows the child to be present in an environment subjecting the child to exposure to a controlled substance, chemical substance, or drug paraphernalia
  • The parent has had parental rights to another child terminated involuntarily.