Goals for Children in Agency Custody
Upon entry into out-of-home care and Agency custody, children will most often have a primary goal of reunification with parents and concurrent goal of adoption. This primary goal remains in effect unless until the Court approves a plan that removes parental involvement from the case plan. The Agency caseworker refers the family to any of a number of supportive services to assist in completion of the case plan.
This is the most permanent option for a child in out-of-home placement, after reunification. Under the requirements of concurrent planning, the Agency is required to place children in foster homes that will be potentially permanent resources, should reunification no longer be a viable option. Ideally, the child is placed such a home at the beginning of the time in out-of-home custody and will remain in that home for the duration of time in care. Should the identified foster home not be a permanent option for the child, referrals are made for Child Specific Recruitment through the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network, or through the Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange.
Subsidized Permanent Legal Custodianship (SPLC)
For some children, adoption is not in the child’s best interests (for example a youth age 12 or older who, despite permanency counseling, refuses to consent to adoption). In these instances, SPLC is the next most permanent option for children in out-of-home care. The child must be placed with the SPLC resource for a period of 6 months prior to the guardianship being finalized by the Court. The SPLC resource will be granted by the Court to have full medical and educational rights. However, most often the parents’ parental rights are not terminated, and they retain the right to request visitation or custody through the Court system. Children under an SPLC arrangement also do not have inheritance rights from their SPLC resource.
Release to kin (or PLC)
This permanency option is used when the kinship care resource does not require a formal SPLC arrangement (i.e.: continued subsidy assistance); the child and kinship foster parent are not in agreement with adoption and reunification is not a viable option.
Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement
This permanency option is only available to youth over the age of 16 and only to be considered after the Agency has exhausted all efforts to: reunify; identify an adoptive or SPLC resource or identify a kinship resource to release custody of the child. This is the least most permanent option for a youth as there are no concrete supports available to the youth after discharge.