Overcoming Barriers to Making Meaningful Reasonable Efforts Findings

NEW ARTICLE

January 30, 2019

Overcoming Barriers to Making Meaningful Reasonable Efforts Findings
by Judge Leonard Edwards, ret.*
 

Certain changes in juvenile court practice can lead to more meaningful reasonable efforts findings. Granted, there are many barriers that prevent judges from making these findings. This article explains what reasonable efforts findings the judge must make, some of the most challenging barriers that prevent the judge from making these findings, and a solution that could make reasonable efforts findings more meaningful.

Understanding Reasonable Efforts
“Reasonable efforts” findings are judicial rulings that the child welfare agency (the agency) has or has not provided appropriate services at different times during a child welfare case. According to federal and state laws judges must make reasonable efforts findings at least three distinct times during the case.[1]

The judge must make:

  1. a finding that the social worker provided reasonable efforts (services/interventions) to prevent removal of the child from parental care;
     
  2. findings that during the reunification period, the social worker provided reasonable efforts (meaningful services) to promote reunification between the parents and their child; and
     
  1. reasonable efforts findings that the social worker has taken steps to make and finalize alternate permanency plans for each foster child in a timely fashion.[2] The permanent plan could be with parents, a legal guardian, a relative, or an adoptive home.

View the full article. This information is published in the ABA Child Law Practice Today. This is an online resource, click here for this issue and archived issues.

 

[1] Social Security Act §§471(a)(15), 472(a)(1), 42 U.S.C.A. §§671(a)(15), 672(a)(1)(West Supp. 1981).
[2] 42 U.S.C. §§672(a)(2)(A)(ii); 45 C.F.R. §1356.21(b)(2)(2006).

 This information is published in the ABA Child Law Practice Today. This is an online resource, click here for this issue and archived issues.

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