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

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What Are Reasonable Efforts

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-720

Reasonable efforts include services that are reasonably available and timely, reasonably adequate to address the needs of the family, reasonably adequate to protect the child, and realistic under the circumstances.

When Reasonable Efforts Are Required

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 63-7-720; 63-7-1640

When the Department of Social Services has assumed legal custody of a child, the court must determine whether reasonable efforts were made by the department to prevent removal of the child and whether continuation of the child in the home would be contrary to the welfare of the child. The court shall specifically review the following:

  • The services made available to the family before the department assumed legal custody of the child and how they related to the needs of the family
  • The efforts of the department to provide services to the family before assuming legal custody of the child
  • Why the efforts to provide services did not eliminate the need for the department to assume legal custody

When this chapter requires the department to make reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify a family and requires the family court to determine whether these reasonable efforts have been made, the child's health and safety must be the paramount concern.

The family court may rule on whether reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify a family should be required in hearings regarding removal of custody, review of amendments to a placement plan, review of the status of a child in foster care, permanency planning, or in a separate proceeding for this purpose.

When Reasonable Efforts Are NOT Required

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-1640

The department may terminate or forego reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify a family when the family court determines that one or more of the following conditions exist:

  • The parent has subjected the child or another child while residing in the parent's domicile to one or more of the following aggravated circumstances:
    • Severe or repeated abuse or neglect
    • Sexual abuse
    • Torture
    • Abandonment
  • The parent has been convicted of murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child.
  • The parent has been convicted of aiding, abetting, attempting, soliciting, or conspiring to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of the child or another child residing in the parent's domicile.
  • Physical abuse of a child resulted in the death or admission to the hospital for in-patient care of that child, and the abuse was committed by the parent.
  • The parent has been convicted of committing, aiding, abetting, conspiring to commit, or soliciting any of the following:
    • An offense against the person
    • Criminal domestic violence
    • Criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature
    • Assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature
  • The parental rights of the parent to another child of the parent have been terminated involuntarily.
  • The parent has a diagnosable condition unlikely to change within a reasonable time including, but not limited to, alcohol or drug addiction, mental deficiency, mental illness, or extreme physical incapacity, and the condition makes the parent unable or unlikely to provide minimally acceptable care of the child.
  • Other circumstances exist that the court finds make continuation or implementation of reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify the family inconsistent with the permanent plan for the child.