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

Date: September 2019

What Are Reasonable Efforts

Citation: Ann. Code § 78A-6-312

The Division of Child and Family Services shall make reasonable efforts to provide services to the child and the child's parent for the purpose of facilitating reunification of the family for a specified period of time. In determining reasonable efforts to be made with respect to a minor, and in making reasonable efforts, the minor's health, safety, and welfare shall be the paramount concern.

When Reasonable Efforts Are Required

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 62A-4a-203; 78A-6-312

Because the removal of a child from his or her home affects protected, constitutional rights of the parent and has a dramatic, long-term impact on a child, the division shall do the following:

  • When possible and appropriate, and without danger to the child's welfare, make reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of a child from the child's home prior to placement in substitute care
  • Determine whether there is substantial cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected or is in danger of abuse or neglect prior to removing the child from his or her home
  • When it is possible and appropriate, make reasonable efforts to make it possible for a child in substitute care to return to his or her home
  • Take measures in a timely manner to place the child in accordance with the permanency plan and complete whatever steps are necessary to finalize the permanent placement of the child if continuation of reasonable efforts to reunify a minor is determined to be inconsistent with the final permanency plan for the child

When Reasonable Efforts Are NOT Required

Citation: Ann. Code § 78A-6-312

Reasonable efforts are not required if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that any of the following circumstances exist:

  • The parent's whereabouts is unknown.
  • The parent suffers from a severe mental illness that renders the parent incapable of using reunification services.
  • The child previously was adjudicated as an abused child, was removed from the home, was returned home, and is being removed due to additional abuse.
  • The parent has done any of the following:
    • Caused the death of another minor through abuse or neglect
    • Committed, attempted, or conspired to commit murder or manslaughter of a child
    • Committed sexual abuse against the child
    • Is a registered sex offender or required to register as a sex offender
    • Has caused, is identified as a suspect, or is being prosecuted for intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing the death of another parent of the child
  • The child suffered severe abuse by the parent or by a person known by the parent, and the parent knew or reasonably should have known about the abused.
  • The parent has severely abused the child.
  • The parent's rights were terminated with regard to any other child.
  • The child was removed from his or her home on at least two previous occasions, and reunification services were offered or provided to the family at those times.
  • The parent abandoned the child for 6 months or longer.
  • The parent permitted the child to reside, permanently or temporarily, where the parent knew or should have known that a clandestine laboratory operation was located.
  • With respect to the child's birth mother, the child has fetal alcohol syndrome, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or was exposed prenatally to an illegal or prescription drug, unless the mother completes an approved substance use disorder treatment program.
  • Other circumstances preclude reunification efforts or services.