Permanency Outcome 1

Children have permanency and stability in their living situations.

Item 5: If the agency filed, or should have filed, for termination of parental rights (TPR) prior to the period under review (PUR) because the child was in care for 15/22 months prior to the start of the PUR, are reviewers supposed to assess whether the TPR was filed timely when they respond to question 5F?

No, question 5F is determining whether (1) a TPR was filed at any point prior to the PUR OR (2) if it was filed in a timely manner (in accordance with ASFA) during the PUR if the child reached the 15/22-month mark during the PUR. Reviewers only assess the timeliness of the TPR filing if it was due during the PUR. We do not assess the timeliness of a TPR filing in Item 5 when it occurred outside the PUR. • If a TPR was filed prior to the PUR, the answer to 5F is Yes. Timeliness is not considered because it occurred outside the PUR. • If the child has already been in foster care for 15 out of 22 months prior to the start of the PUR, and the agency DID NOT file a TPR prior to the PUR, there is no need to look for a TPR filing during the PUR. The answer to 5F in this case will always be No. • If the child reached the 15/22 mark during the PUR, but the TPR filed during the PUR was not done timely (i.e. not by the 15/22-month timeframe) reviewers should answer 5F with No.

Item 5: When a child is in foster care and placed with a relative, do reviewers need a “compelling reason” documented in a case plan or court order to permit the 5G1 exception to TPR to be noted?

No, as long as the child is placed with a relative at the 15/22-month timeframe, a documented compelling reason is not required for the purposes of question 5G1. In this scenario, the first option for G1, "At the option of the state, the child is being cared for by a relative at the 15/22-month time frame." would be answered Yes.

Item 5: If, prior to the PUR, the child was in care 15 out of 22 months and an exception was in place because the child was placed with relatives at the 15/22-timeframe, but during the PUR the exception no longer exists as the child has been moved to another non-permanent placement, do we consider the ASFA TPR requirement met in Item 5?

Yes. Title IV-E agencies need only apply the TPR requirement in section 475(5)(E) to a child once. If, when a child reaches 15 months in foster care, the state/Tribe does not file a petition for TPR because one of the exceptions applies, the state/Tribe does not need to begin calculating another 15 out of 22 months in foster care for that child. Therefore, the answer to 5F in this case is No because the agency didn’t file a petition to terminate parental rights prior to the PUR or in a timely manner during the PUR, and the answer to 5G, “Did an exception to the requirement to file or join a termination of parental rights petition exist?” would be Yes because the first option in 5G1, "At the option of the state, the child is being cared for by a relative at the 15/22-month time frame." would be answered Yes.

Item 4: A child moved up to a higher level of care and the reviewer believes that the child’s behavior warranted the restrictive placement, so the move was in the child’s best interests. When could this be a Strength? What are the factors to support this?

Placements for children should be in the most family-like setting and the least restrictive environment that ensures safety. When a child is moved to a more restrictive higher level of care, reviewers must determine if appropriate measures were first taken to stabilize the initial placement through services and supports for foster parents. Ensuring that foster parents receive needed training, respite arrangements, and ongoing support is critical in supporting the stability of placements. If efforts were not made to stabilize placements before moving a child, that should be reflected in Item 4 in support of an “Area Needing Improvement” rating because the move to a more restrictive placement without first attempting to stabilize the previous placement would not have been the best way to meet the child’s needs. If the child’s safety could not be ensured while making efforts to stabilize a placement, then it could be determined that a move to a more restrictive setting was in fact in the child’s best interests to meet his or her needs, and this would be reflected as a Strength. Likewise, if the agency made efforts to support the placement through services to the foster family, and it was determined that the child later needed to be moved to a more restrictive placement, this too could be reflected as a Strength.

Item 4: A state places a child in a 30-day Assessment program; all children going into the program are court-ordered into it. The program is designed to assess the child’s needs and determine appropriate placement and services for the child. Many, but not all, of the children ordered into the program are Juvenile Justice youth. If this is the first placement for the child, who is then reunified, how would we answer Question 4C regarding the stability of the placement?

Since these assessment centers are generally meant to be temporary, 4C1 would be answered, “The child’s current setting is in a temporary shelter or other temporary setting,” and 4C would be answered “No” because the most recent placement was not stable because it was a temporary assessment program.

Item 4: In the placement table, if there are two foster care episodes during the PUR, what reason is used for the first one? Would it be “not applicable, this is the current placement,” or “other” with an indication that the child returned home?

Reviewers should use “other” and explain the circumstances.

Item 5: A child was placed in foster care from February 1, 2013, and was discharged from foster care May 31, 2013. The child then re-entered foster care on September 1, 2013, and then was placed back with the parent for a trial home visit from February 1, 2014, to June 1, 2014. The child was then removed again on October 1, 2014, and placed in foster care, and remained in foster care at the time of the review. Does the count for 15 out of 22 months include the trial home visit months while the child was in the care of the state but placed in the home with the parent?

No, we do not include trial home visits (or runaway episodes) in calculating 15 out of 22 months in foster care (see 45 CFR § 1356.21(i)).

Item 5: How do reviewers consider the timeliness and appropriateness of permanency goals when answering questions 5 B and C?

The expectation is that goal(s) are established with the child’s best interest for permanency in mind and drive the planning and activities to accomplish permanency for the child. Whether single or concurrent goals are in place, reviewers should consider whether each permanency goal was established timely and was based on the needs of the child and the case circumstances for the period of time in which the goal is in place. Reviewers should also factor in whether single and concurrent goal changes are being made timely and appropriately Reviewers should consider goals as inappropriate if they are selected or changed primarily due to the agency’s lack of resources, such as few preadoptive families, subsidy limitations, or agency and court process delays related to permanency.

Item 5: A child was placed in foster care in State A but then the child was moved to a relative placement in State B where the case was transferred and is being reviewed. In calculating 15/22 months for ASFA in Item 5, would the count for length of time in out-of-home care begin with the date the child entered care in State A or the date the child's case transferred to State B?

The count for 15/22 begins with the date of the judicial finding of child abuse and neglect (usually the adjudicatory hearing) or 60 days after the child’s entry into foster care, whichever is earlier, so it would begin when the child first entered foster care in State A.

Item 5: If there were concurrent goals established, but subsequently one goal is dropped and the other goal becomes the primary goal, which date should be used to determine when the primary goal was established—the date when it was established originally as a concurrent goal or the date when it changed to become a single goal?

Reviewers should use the date it was first established as a concurrent goal.

Item 5 (Permanency Goal Established): If a child was placed in detention during a foster care episode, would the time in detention count toward the 60-day time frame for establishing a case plan?

No, a child’s time in detention should not be counted because the child is not considered to be “in foster care” due to the nature of the placement facility. The 60-day requirement for establishing a case plan is based on 60 days from the date on which the child was placed in foster care.

Item 5: What if a family is receiving in-home services when the child's case is adjudicated, but then the child is removed from home a few months later? Would the count for 15 out of 22 months start at adjudication or at the removal date?

The provision to file a petition for a child who has been in foster care for 15/22 months only applies to children while they are in foster care, so the count would begin on the date the child entered foster care.

Item 5: In determining the date on which the permanency goal was established, do reviewers need to use the date on which the goal was first indicated in a court order?

No. We do not require that the case plan goal be court-ordered for it to be considered “established” for CFSR purposes. If the case plan goal is identified in the child’s case plan, or described in an administrative review or case plan meeting, reviewers can consider this as the date on which the goal was established.

Item 5 (G): If a compelling reason not to file termination of parental rights (TPR) was found, but that reason was not relevant during the entire period under review (case circumstances changed), is question G answered “yes”?

Yes. A compelling reason for not filing TPR needs to be made only once.

Item 6: A child was on an Other Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (OPPLA) plan and there was no signed agreement with her placement (C2). The child was in a Supervised Independent Living (SIL) program and she did remain there beyond her 18th birthday. It was a stable placement for her and her own baby. From the reviewer guide, it seems that we can rate the item as a Strength even if there is no date for question C because the living arrangement was permanent. Is this correct?

While it is correct that the instrument does not require that there be a signed and dated agreement to justify a Strength rating, the reviewer must have evidence of formal steps that were completed to make the arrangement permanent to support the Strength rating. This should not be assumed solely because the child remained in the facility beyond her 18th birthday. Question 6C asks, “For a child with a goal of other planned permanent living arrangement during the period under review, did the agency and court make concerted efforts to place the child in a living arrangement that can be considered permanent until discharge from foster care?” And the instructions for that question ask the reviewer to consider: <ul> <li>The child’s current living arrangement and whether formal steps were completed to make this arrangement permanent.</li> <li>Whether this might have included the agency’s asking foster parents or relatives to agree to and sign a long-term care commitment, or ensuring that a child who is in a long-term care facility to meet special needs will be transferred to an adult facility at the appropriate time.</li> </ul> Finally, the Quality Assurance guide says, “If question C is answered Yes but question C2 is answered “no date,” ask reviewers why they believe the child’s living arrangement can be considered permanent.” The intent of all of these instructions is to find out from the reviewer what concerted efforts/formal steps were made to make the arrangement permanent that could lead to a Strength rating.

Item 6: If the agency achieves adoption for a child within 24 months, are there circumstances in which item 6 could be rated Area Needing Improvement?

Yes. The CFSR is not only a review of the child welfare agency, but the system as a whole, which includes the court and other entities working to achieve permanency for children. Item 6, Question B instructs reviewers to answer “no” to concerted efforts to achieve timely permanency if reviewers “determine that the agency and court have achieved the permanency goal before the suggested time frame, but there was a delay due to lack of concerted efforts on the part of the agency or court during the period under review”. Such delays could include or be a result of: not establishing timely and appropriate permanency goals, court docketing challenges, agency and/or court and attorney staffing limitations or high caseloads, agency policies and procedures that create barriers, etc. Reviewers will need to determine whether the delay is significant enough in light of the case circumstances to consider the item an area needing improvement.

Item 6: If a youth turns 18 during the period under review, is the permanency goal in Item 6 considered achieved?

No. Reviewers need to answer 6B, 6C, and 6C2 based on the efforts the agency made during the PUR prior to the youth turning 18.

Item 6 (B): The instructions for this item state: "If the only goal for the child during the period under review was other planned permanent living arrangement, select NA." If the child’s current permanency goal is OPPLA (established 2 months before end of PUR or case closure) and the child has no concurrent goal at that time, do the instructions guide reviewers to look at other goals that were in place during the PUR prior to the most current goal of OPPLA when answering 6B?

In Item 6, reviewers are asked to consider only current (or most recent) permanency goals. If the child's current goal is OPPLA and concurrent goals are not in place, 6B would be answered NA and only 6C would be answered Yes or No.

Item 6 (B, C): The third bullet in the instructions for this item states: "If concurrent goals are in place and one of the goals is other planned permanent living arrangement but permanency will not be achieved in a timely manner, answer questions B and C No and indicate in the documentation specific barriers to implementing concurrent planning." Does "permanency" in the instructions refer to the concurrent goal in place that is different from OPPLA?

The third bullet in the instructions for 6B and 6C refers to cases in which the child has a goal of OPPLA and a concurrent goal of reunification, guardianship, or adoption and neither goal will be achieved for the child in a timely manner. Permanency in this bullet refers to both the achievement of the goal of OPPLA and the achievement of the other concurrent goal. In determining whether permanency can be achieved timely for the goal of OPPLA, reviewers should consider whether formal steps were completed in a timely manner to establish a permanent living arrangement for the child.

Item 6 (C): Do reviewers always answer No to 6C if the concurrent goal other than OPPLA is not likely to be achieved but the child is placed in a living arrangement that can be considered permanent during the PUR?

No, if a child has a concurrent goal of OPPLA and the child is already placed in a living arrangement that can be considered permanent, question 6C would be answered Yes because the goal of OPPLA has already been achieved.