For many reasons, including the dissatisfaction of law-makers, the rules and expectations for placement agencies and foster parents have changed. At the top of the change list is how long a child can remain in care. Although the exact limit varies some from state to state, a child can't continue on foster care status indefinitely. Planning for the child's future starts on the first day of placement and has to lead to permanence either back with his family or with another permanent family. In every case, though, foster care is a step toward permanence for the child.
Planning for permanence for children while also working with their families so children can return home if possible is called "concurrent planning." Those working with children in care have two goals. First, if the child's parents can work through their problems and issues so their child can come home within a reasonable amount of time, that is the preferred outcome. Second, if the first goal isn't reached, there is an alternative permanence plan.
For most children in care, the primary plan is returning to their families. This is called "reunification." The second or backup plan is permanence for the child with other relatives or in an adoptive home. The special challenge is being sure both the primary and backup plans are receiving everyone's best and most thoughtful efforts. They must work on both plans concurrently.
From your point of view:
Write your thoughts after each question.
• What does it mean for children that a limit is put on how long they are left in care?
• What special challenges are there for foster parents, knowing planning for children in care either returning home or being in an alternative, permanent home starts on the first day of placement?
• How important is it for the placement of a child to work well and to avoid his being moved to a second or third foster home?