XI. AA. Reasonable Efforts

Effective 10/1/87

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XI. AA. Reasonable Efforts

Effective 10/1/87

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Prior to taking legal action which affects the relationship between a child and his family, the Department must make reasonable efforts to prevent separation or to rehabilitate and reunify the family.  These efforts are expected in good casework practice and required by Title IV-E of the Social Security Act and federal regulations.



1.        Protection From Jeopardy

When a child/family is receiving Child and Family Services from the Department, the Department's primary responsibility is to protect the child from circumstances of jeopardy.


2.        Levels of Harm; Levels of Intervention

a.The level of intervention by the Department is directly related to the level of specific harm to a child determined by the intake study and/or case plan review and update.  Services offered/provided by the Department will not always be successful in alleviating/reducing the level of harm to prevent separation or to reunify a family.
b.When a child cannot safely remain in his own home, the department initiates and/or participates in child protection proceedings, and continues to offer/provide services to reduce the level of harm and, hence, the level of intervention.
c.When a child is in the custody of the department, the department initiates rehabilitation services and continues to offer/provide services to reduce the level of harm/risk of harm until a determination has been made by the department and the court that family reunification efforts will be discontinued (see Family Reunification, Section VII).
d.Levels of harm

(1)        Immediate risk of serious harm

(2)        Circumstances of jeopardy

(3)        Abuse/neglect

(4)        Potential abuse/neglect


3.        Reasonable Efforts

a.The reasonableness of the Department's efforts to prevent removal or achieve rehabilitation/reunification will be determined by the Court in every child protection proceeding.
b.While the Department is responsible to make these reasonable efforts, the family also has responsibility to care for and protect their child and to participate in the development and implementation of the case plan/working agreement or make an alternative plan to protect their child.
c.Providing/offering services
(1)Source of resources/services includes those from within the family, the Department, other public or private agencies or individuals.
(2)Selection of resources/services by the caseworker and family will be done by determining
(a)Relevance, i.e., whether the resource can be effective in alleviating the specific harm.
(b)Availability, i.e., whether the resource(s) can be provided when needed.

(c)        Acceptability, i.e., whether the family can and will use the resource(s).


(3)Provision of necessary resources/services includes

(a)        Direct provision by caseworker or family

(b)        Referral/application to the resource/service by caseworker or family.


(4)Follow-up and follow through will be done by the caseworker in accordance with the case plan.


4.        Time Frames  (policy updated 8/12/02)

a.Efforts for services offered/provided by the Department and/or family to alleviate the harm are directly related to the level of the specific harm:

(1)        Immediate risk of serious harm:  same day.

(2)        Circumstances of jeopardy

(a)        By the date of Final Protection hearing or Judicial Review.

(b)        By filing date of Petition for Termination of Parental Rights.

(3)Abuse/neglect:  as specified in case plan

(4)        Potential abuse/neglect:  as specified in case plan.

b.When efforts to prevent separation are not successful within these time frames, the Department initiates or participates in child protection proceedings to protect the child from jeopardy.
c.When a child is in the custody of the department and reunification efforts are unsuccessful, the department proceeds in accordance with Section VII, Family Reunification.


5.        Documentation

a.Services offered and services provided will be recorded in the case record (see Case Recording, Section XIII).
b.Information about services offered and services provided will also be provided to the Assistant Attorney General when a child protection hearing is pending (see Summary for Attorney in policy on Legal Representation in Section XI).