Concurrent Planning:
Ideals and Realities
Jill Duerr Berrick
U.C. Berkeley
Race and Child Welfare:
Disproportionality, Disparity, Discrimination:
Re-Assessing the Facts, Re-Thinking the Policy Options
Harvard Law School
January 29, 2011
Concurrent Planning:
What is it?
Reasonable efforts toward an alternative
permanent placement, should reunification
Elements include:
• Development of a concurrent plan;
• Reunification prognosis;
• Full disclosure
• Discussion of voluntary relinquishment
• Fost-adopt placement
(D’Andrade, 2009)
Concurrent Planning:
What is the Legal Framework?
Adoption and Safe Families Act (1997)
Clarifies that reasonable efforts may be
made concurrently
Concurrent Planning:
Who Does it?
51 of 52 CFSR state reports mention Concurrent
(Children’s Bureau, 2004)
87% of local public child welfare agency
administrators indicate implementing
concurrent planning
(Mitchell, et al., 2005)
At least 36 states have formal policies
4 states require it
(Gerstenzang & Freundlich, 2005)
Theoretical Benefits of
Concurrent Planning
1. Reduced length of stay in care
2. Increased likelihood of permanency,
including reunification
3. Increased placement stability
4. Increased opportunity for stable
attachment relationships.
5. Increased opportunity for positive
and ongoing relationships between
birth and foster parents
Findings from Concurrent Planning
Pre-experimental studies show positive
effects on permanency
(Katz, 1990)
Non-experimental comparison group
studies show positive effects on
placement stability and time-toadoption
(Brennan et al., 2003; Cooperative Ventures, n.d.; Martin, et al.,
2002; Monck, Reynolds, & Wigfall, 2003; Schene, 1998)
Single-group correlational studies show
positive effects on timely permanency
(Potter & Klein-Rothschild, 2001)
Findings (con’t)
CA Observational study (n=885)
• Concurrent Planning not associated
with overall permanency.
• Full Disclosure associated with a
lowered likelihood of reunification
• Discussion of voluntary relinquishment
associated with increased likelihood of
(D’Andrade, 2009)
Is Concurrent Planning Really
“Concurrent planning efforts are not
being implemented on a consistent
basis when appropriate”
(Children’s Bureau, 2004)
A Look at
Concurrent Planning Activities
in California
Reunification prognosis
Concurrent Plan identified (at Dispo)
Concurrent Plan identiied (later court
2 social workers
SW explored permanency with FP
SW searched for alternative perm plan
Child in fost-adopt home
Voluntary relinquishment discussed
Full disclosure
(D’Andrade, Frame, & Berrick, 2006)
A Look at Concurrent Planning
Guidelines in New York State
Five Core Elements of practice:
• Differential assessment to determine
likelihood of reunification
• Open, honest dialogue between
caseworker, parents, and foster parents
• Good family assessments and constant
evaluation of progress towards reunification
• Extra emphasis on visiting
• Early seeking out and assessment of relatives
for possible placement, or alternatively, early
determination that a relative would be an
inappropriate placement for the child.
(Gerstenzang & Freundlich, 2005)
Concurrent Planning is Hard to Pull Off
• Concurrent Planning is:
Resource intensive for agencies
Emotionally-intensive for foster
parents and birth parents
Inappropriate for the majority of
children entering care as they are
likely to reunify
Poor Prognosis Indicators
Younger child
Behavior problems
Child health problems
Child of color
Limited or no visiting
Multiple placements in care
Prior removals
Neglect or emotional abuse
Parent “emotional problems”
Parent commission of a criminal
• Parental housing problems
• Parental substance abuse
Are Some Expedited Permanency
Decisions More Clear?
• Reunification
Bypass provisions
• Murder of another
• Voluntary
• Aided, conspired etc.
to commit murder;
• Felony assault resulting
in injury to child
• Parental rights
terminated for a sibling
From Concurrent Planning Promise
Concurrent Practice
What will it Take to Implement
Concurrent Planning?
1. A pro-concurrent planning philosophy
permeating the agency –
including an understanding that concurrent
planning may result in increased reunification
What will it Take to Implement
Concurrent Planning?
2. The availability of necessary services for
birth parents
What will it Take to Implement
Concurrent Planning?
3. The presence of formal systems to insure
concurrent planning occurs
procedures for resolution of paternity issues
early on
Family Finding to identify kinship supports
documentation of reunification prognosis
and concurrent plan
time-sensitive systems to track cases
procedures for referral to a concurrent
planning track,
regularly scheduled review meetings related
to the concurrent plan
What will it Take to Implement
Concurrent Planning?
4. The ability of child welfare staff to
actively embrace concurrent planning –
Including formal and informal training
A collaborative approach to casework and
case decision-making
Integration or communication between child
welfare and adoption units and/or agencies
What will it Take to Implement
Concurrent Planning?
5. The availability of an adequate pool of
concurrent planning caregivers
What will it Take to Implement
Concurrent Planning?
6. The active promotion of concurrent
planning in court.
(Berrick, Frame, & Coakley, 2006)
Berrick, J.D., Choi, Y., D’Andrade, A., & Frame, L. (2008). Reasonable efforts?
Implementation of the reunification exception provisions of ASFA. Child Welfare,
Berrick, J.D., Frame, L., & Coakley, J.F. (2006). Essential elements of implementing a system
of concurrent planning. Child and Family Social Work, 11(4).
Brennan, K., Szolnocki, J., & Horn, M. (2003). Lutheran Community Services concurrent
planning evaluation Stuart Foundation final report. Seattle, WA. University of
Washington, School of Social Work, N9rthwest Institute for Children and Families.
Child Welfare Information Gateway (2005). Concurrent planning: What the evidence
shows. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved
Children’s Bureau. (2004). General findings from the Federal Child and Family Services
Review. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of health and Human Services,
Administration for Children and Families. Retrieved from
Cooperative Ventures (n.d.). Concurrent permanency planning: Department of Human
Services report of evaluation. Report for the Minnesota Department of Human
Services. St Paul, MN: Author.
D’Andrade, A. (2009). The differential effects of concurrent planning practice elements
on reunification and adoption. Research on Social Work Practice, 19(4), 446-459.
D’Andrade, A., & Berrick, J.D. (2006). When policy meets practice: The untested effects of
permanency reforms in child welfare. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 33(1).
D’Andrade, A., Frame, L., & Berrick, J.D. (2006). Concurrent planning in public child
welfare agencies: Oxymoron or work in progress? Children and Youth Services
Review, 28(1), 78-95.
References (con’t)
Gerstenzang, S., & Freundlich, M. (2005). A critical assessment of concurrent planning in
New York State. Adoption Quarterly, 8(4).
Katz,, L. (1990). Effective permanency planning for chldren in foster care. Social Work, 35,
Martin, M.H., Barbee, A.P., Antle, B.F., & Sar, B./ (2002). Expedited permanency planning:
Evaluation of the Kentucky Adoptions Opportunities Project. Child Welfare, 81(2).
Mitchell, L.B., Barth, R.P., Green, R., Wall, A., Biemer, P., Berrick, J., Bruce Webb, M., and
the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being Research Group (2005). Child
Welfare Reform in the United States: Findings from a local agency survey. Child
Welfare, 83(1).
Monck, E., Reynolds, J., & Wigfall, V. (2003). The role of concurrent planning: Making
permanent placements for young children. British Association for Adoption and
Fostering, London.
Potter, C.C., & klein-Rothschild, S. (2001). Getting home on time: predicting timely
permanence for young children. Child Welfare, 81(2), 123-150.
Schene, P. (1998). Expedited permanency planning in Colorado: An evaluation prepared
for the Colorado Department of Human Services. Available from the Colorado
Department of Human Services, Office of Children, Youth and Families, Denver, CO.

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