Duration of Time Children Remain in Agency Placement
In 1997, the ADOPTION AND SAFE FAMILIES ACT (ASFA) was signed into Federal Law. It established that substitute care is meant to be temporary. Placement is to last no longer than necessary and the parents and the agency are required to jointly develop a plan which includes the services and assistance needed so that children can be safely reunified with their parents as soon as possible. A return home is meant to be permanent and replacements are to be prevented through careful planning. A process called FAMILY GROUP CONFERENCING is available to families who choose to take part. It is an effort to utilize their own connections and community resources to develop an individualized plan that is designed and carried out by family members.
A child's placement is reviewed by the court no less than once every six months. Parents and children have attorneys who are able to advocate for a return as soon as the issues negatively impacting the child's safety have been corrected. Children can return to their family as soon as the parents complete their plan and the court releases them into the care of their parents.
CONCURRENT PLANNING means that there will be two plans operating at the same time so that the child is able to enter a foster home where the parents are willing to adopt or become a SUBSIDIZED PERMANENT LEGAL CUSTODIAN should reunification not be successful. It is vital to the well being of a child to be placed with a safe but potentially permanent resource as quickly as is possible.