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2000 Jordan Institute
for Families

Vol. 5, No. 4
October 2000

Visits are a Crucial Part of the Principles of Concurrent Planning


  1. Differential Assessment/Diagnosis: After evaluation of family strengths/resources, all families in North Carolina are given a concurrent plan.

  2. Full Disclosure: Tell parents about concurrent plan (as well as urgency of reunification and detrimental effects of out-of-home care). The families' options are thoroughly and repeatedly reviewed with them in an open, honest manner.

  3. Visitation: "Vigorous efforts are made to institute frequent parental visiting, even with ambivalent or unresponsive parents. The agency's zeal in promoting visiting will result in either faster reunification or early decision-making in favor of an alternative permanent plan" (Katz, 1999). "Accurate and descriptive documentation of visitation patterns and progress serves the dual purpose of providing clear evidence for discharge or termination of parental rights" (Wattenberg, 1997).

  4. Plan A and Plan B: Have an alternate plan if reunification does not occur. Start an early search for immediate and extended relatives. Identify relatives or foster families ready to adopt, become guardians, or accept custody of the children involved.

  5. Written Agreement and Time Line: Outline short-term goals and long-term permanency goals and highlight how visitation fits in the picture. Adhere to and make sure families are informed of time lines and expectations. Draw parents/relatives into case planning early and clarify time lines as needed. Parents should have an overall case plan in small steps that can be documented to evaluate progress.

  6. Behavior, Not Promises: Make it clear to parents that what matters is what they do, not what they say they will do. Documented behaviors are the only evidence that can be reported in court. Make sure there is accurate and descriptive documentation while tracking actual events—describe what the parents did.

  7. Forensic Social Work: Legally sound casework/case planning supports concise court reports and competent testimony.

  8. Success Redefined: Primary goal is timely permanency, with family reunification as the first, but not the only, option.

    (Source: Katz, L. (1999). Concurrent planning: Benefits and pitfalls. Child Welfare, 78(1), 71-87.)


2000 Jordan Institute for Families