Standards for private organizations

2020 Edition

Family Foster Care and Kinship Care (FKC) 6: Child Permanency

The organization participates in or facilitates permanency planning to promote physical, emotional, and legal permanence for children.

Interpretation

When the organization is not responsible for facilitating permanency planning, it documents all participation in the process and any efforts to connect children to positive relationships with significant adults. 

In addition, organizations demonstrate their role in supporting timely permanency planning through regular case record documentation and official reports provided to the local child welfare agency or the court which comment on children’s and/or families’ progress towards permanency goals.


Interpretation

The permanency planning process for American Indian and Alaska Native children and families must always involve tribal representatives and service providers to ensure compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act’s placement preferences and support culturally responsive planning that recognizes and incorporates tribal definitions of permanency and tribal perspectives of the best interests of the child into the permanency plan. To facilitate full participation, the organization must ensure that the tribe or local Indian organization receives timely notification of court or administrative case reviews and is informed of any changes made to the permanency plan.
2020 Edition

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Purpose

Children in Family Foster Care and Kinship Care live in safe, stable, nurturing, and often temporary family settings that best provide the continuity of care to preserve relationships, promote well-being, and ensure permanency.
Note: Permanency planning often occurs in conjunction with service planning.
1
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
2
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions, procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Proper documentation is the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations and training; or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
3
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Timeframes are often missed; or
  • Several client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent. 
4
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • No written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or 
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing.      

FKC 6.01

Permanency planning:
  1. occurs with families and the team of people that support them, including resource families, service providers, and extended family members or othfer supportive individuals identified by the family, as appropriate;
  2. is scheduled at times when appropriate parties can attend; and
  3. is child-driven, with children actively involved in every stage of the process as appropriate to their age and developmental level.
Examples: Child-driven permanency planning can include, but is not limited to, involving children in:
  1. conversations about what permanency means to them;
  2. the discovery of extended family and other significant adults; and 
  3. the formation of a permanency team that will support their desired outcomes and have an ongoing role in their lives. 

FKC 6.02

The organization collaborates with children, parents, and the local child welfare agency to identify, notify, and engage relatives and other close, supportive adults that can be resources or supports for placement and permanency for children of all ages, regardless of whether or not they currently wish to be adopted.

Interpretation

Intensive efforts should be made to identify and notify at least relatives up to the third degree, and procedures for family-finding should include: 
  1. engaging children and family members in identification; 
  2. conducting a thorough review of the case record; 
  3. using technological resources;
  4. providing notification in family members’ preferred languages; and
  5. providing notifications in multiple forms, including written form.

FKC 6.03

Concurrent planning is documented and includes: 
  1. early, preliminary, and reasoned assessment of the potential for reunification, the best interests of the child, and the need for an alternative plan; 
  2. full disclosure to all involved parties of all permanency options, including expectations, implications, available supports, and legal timelines; 
  3. joining a resource family that is prepared to develop a lifelong relationship with the child; and 
  4. counseling parents about relinquishment and alternative permanency options if needed. 

FKC 6.04

Permanency plans document:
  1. permanency goals;
  2. why goals are in the best interest of children and their well-being;
  3. why other permanency options are not appropriate; and
  4. how service plans and identified interventions support permanency and child well-being.

Fundamental Practice

FKC 6.05

In compliance with applicable law and regulation, legal permanency planning occurs with children and families according to the following standard timeframes:
  1. within 60 days of placement a court-determined permanency plan is developed;
  2. at least every 6 months a court or administrative review of progress towards permanency occurs;
  3. within 12 months of placement, and every 12 months thereafter, a permanency hearing evaluates the permanency goal and  determines the need for an alternative goal; and
  4. after a child has been in placement for 15 of the most recent 22 months, a legally-exempted permanency decision is made or proceedings are initiated for the termination of parental rights.

Interpretation

Resource parents should be notified of and are entitled to participate in any review or hearing.  

Interpretation

The length of time a child has been in care cannot be the only justification for terminating parental rights. In order to support parents that are actively making progress towards reunification but need more time, the organization can work with the public authority to determine a compelling reason for not filing for the termination of parental rights. Whenever possible, the permanency timeline for parents with substance use conditions should reflect the time needed to receive substance use treatment services and make progress towards recovery. The mental health status and readiness of the child should also be taken into consideration when assessing permanency goals.  

Interpretation

Regarding element (d), federal law permits American Indian and Alaska Native families to move forward with a customary adoption, without terminating parental rights. Customary adoptions, approved or adjudicated by the tribal court, are arranged through custom and tradition and allow for the transfer of custody while preserving parental rights. 

Other circumstances that preclude termination of parental rights when the case involves an American Indian or Alaska Native child include: placement with extended family per ICWA placement preferences; transfer of jurisdiction to the tribal court; insufficient provision of “active efforts” to support reunification; and inability to satisfy the legal requirements for termination of parental rights under ICWA. 
NA The organization only provides services to children in which there is no dependency/family court involvement, such as in many kinship care programs or foster care programs for unaccompanied minors.

FKC 6.06

Case records document efforts made to support parents towards reunification, including: 
  1. involvement in assessment, service planning, and service selection;
  2. diligent efforts to provide parents with needed services and supports, including both formal and informal community resources; 
  3. ongoing, constructive, and progressive contact with their children; and
  4. reduction of barriers to contact and involvement in their children’s care.

Interpretation

When the organization is working with American Indian and Alaska Native children and families, the Indian Child Welfare Act requires active efforts be provided to support reunification. Active efforts require affirmative, thorough, timely, and culturally responsive engagement with families to satisfy the case plan by accessing resources and services and partnering with the tribe. Early consultation with the child’s tribe is critical to ensuring that a full range of resources have been made available to the family and that active effort requirements are fulfilled. Organizations may work with tribal leadership, elders, religious figures, or professionals with expertise concerning the given tribe to determine culturally-responsive active efforts and identify culturally appropriate services for the family. 
NA The organization, by virtue of law or contract, does not provide services to parents.

FKC 6.07

To support permanency goals resource families are informed about, and assisted in, pursuing permanency options such as adoption or guardianship, as appropriate.