2008 Jordan Institute
13, No. 3
Recruitment and Concurrent Planning
There is a direct link between concurrent planning, a child welfare strategy authorized by the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, and recruitment of families for children in foster care.
Concurrent planning facilitates timely permanency by promoting (1) consideration of all reasonable permanency options as soon as a child enters care and (2) the simultaneous pursuit of those options that best serve the child’s needs. Typically the primary plan is reunification with the child’s family of origin. In concurrent planning, an alternative permanency goal is pursued at the same time (Katz, 1999; Lutz, 2000).
Often that alternative goal is adoption by the foster parent or relative providing temporary care for the child. This is clearly reflected in North Carolina’s adoption statistics. For example, in 2005-06, 1,234 children were adopted from foster care in our state. Of these children, 54.1% were adopted by their foster parents, 23.3% were adopted by a relative, and 22.6% were adopted by a non-relative (USDHHS, 2008).
The first round of CFSRs identified a link between concurrent planning and positive results for children, including reduced time to permanency, enhanced reunification or adoption efforts, and reduced time to adoption finalization. Yet the CFSRs also found many states have yet to actively and consistently apply this practice.
North Carolina, like other places, has had some difficulty with concurrent planning. Although it has been an established part of child welfare policy in our state since 1998 and agencies are required to list the concurrent plan for each child at key points during the child’s case (NCDSS, 2008), the second round of the CFSR concluded that the practice is not pursued with the same vigor for all children in care, in part because judges and attorneys do not sufficiently emphasize concurrent planning (USDHHS, 2007). As a result, our current Program Improvement Plan (PIP) calls for training of court personnel on this topic.
The upshot of all this? If your work with families involves developing and supporting concurrent planning, keep in mind that you are making a big contribution to your agency’s efforts to find families for children in foster care. You are part of its recruitment team.