The federal and state laws which are the basis for these rules include a number of mandatory protections and safeguards which are intended to assure timely permanency for children and to protect the rights of children, their families and their tribes. (3-30-01)

01. Reasonable Efforts. Services offered or provided to a family intended to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the child from the family, to reunify a child with their family, to finalize a permanent plan, or prevent a seriously emotionally disturbed child from having to move to a more restrictive setting. Efforts must be made as follows and specifically documented by the Department in reports to the court. The court will make the determination of whether or not the Department's efforts were reasonable: (5-3-03)

a. Efforts to prevent or eliminate the need for a child to be removed from his home; and (5-3-03)

b. Efforts to return a child home are not required due to a judicial determination of aggravated circumstances; and (5-3-03)

c. Efforts to finalize a permanent plan, so that each child in the Department's care will have a family with whom the child can have a safe and permanent home. (5-3-03)

02. Active Efforts. For an Indian child, a description of the active efforts made to provide remedial services and rehabilitative programs designed to prevent the breakup of the Indian family; that these efforts have proved unsuccessful; and that based on qualified expert information, continued custody by the parent(s) or Indian custodian(s) is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child. (5-3-03)

03. ICWA Preferences. If appropriate, application of the placement preference for placement in accordance with the Indian Child Welfare Act, or a detailed explanation of good cause for not applying the preferences. (3-18-99)

04. Least Restrictive Setting. Efforts shall be made to assure that any child in the Department's care, especially those children in care due to an emotional or behavioral disturbance, reside in the least restrictive, most family-like setting possible. Placement shall be made in the least restrictive setting and in close proximity to the parent(s) or if not, written justification that the placement is in the best interest of the child. For an Indian child, placement in the least restrictive setting is that setting which most approximates a family and is within reasonable proximity to the child's home taking into account any special needs of the child. (5-3-03)

05. Legal Requirements For Indian Children. In the case of an Indian child, notice of the pending proceeding shall be sent by Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested to the parent(s) or Indian custodian(s) and the Indian child's tribe, including notice of their right to intervene; their right to twenty (20) days additional time to prepare for the proceeding; the right to appointment of counsel if the parent(s) or Indian custodian(s) is indigent; the right to examine all documents filed with the court upon which placement may be based; and the right to withdraw consent to a voluntary foster placement. (5-3- 03)

06. Visitation For Child's Parent(s) Or Legal Guardian(s). Visitation arrangements shall be provided to the child's parent(s) or legal guardian(s) unless visitation is contrary to the child's safety. (5-3-03)

07. Notification Of Change In Placement. Written notification to the child's parent(s) or legal guardian(s) within seven (7) days of a change of placement of the foster child if a child is relocated to another foster care setting, or similar notice to the parent(s) or Indian custodian(s) of an Indian child, and the Indian child's tribe, which includes the information described in Section 051 of these rules entitled Notice Required for ICWA. (5-3-03)

08. Notification Of Change In Visitation. Written notification to the child's parent(s) or legal guardian(s) if there is to be a change in their visitation schedule with their child or ward in foster care. (5-3-03)

09. Notification Of Right To Participate And Appeal. Written notification to the child's parent(s) or legal guardian(s) shall be made regarding their right to discuss any changes and the opportunity to appeal if they disagree with changes in placement or visitation. (5-3-03)

10. ICWA Placement Preferences. Compliance with the foster care placement preferences of the Indian Child Welfare Act. (3-18-99)

11. Compliance With Requirements Of The Multiethnic Placement Act And Interethnic Adoption Provisions. (3-30-01)

12. Family Decision Making And Plan Development. (3-30-01)

a. A family plan shall be completed within thirty (30) days of the date the case was opened. (3-30-01)

b. Families shall be given ample opportunity to participate in the identification of issues, their strengths and developing service objectives and tasks. The family plan and any changes to it shall be signed and dated by the family. If the family refuses to sign the plan, the reason for their refusal shall be documented on the plan. (3-30-01)

c. Plans are to be reviewed with the family no less frequently than once every three (3) months. When there are major changes to the plan including a change in the long term goal, the family plan must be renegotiated by the Department and the family as well as signed by the family. A new plan must be negotiated at least annually. (3-30-01)

13. Compelling Reasons. Reasons why the parental rights of a parent of a child in the Department's care and custody should not be terminated when the child has been in the custody of the Department for fifteen (15) out of the most recent twenty-two (22) months. These reasons must be documented in the Alternate Care Plan, in a report to the court, and the court must make a determination if the reasons are sufficiently compelling. A compelling reason must be documented when a child's plan for permanency is not adoption, guardianship, or return home. When compelling reasons are not appropriate, the petition for termination of parental rights must be filed by the end of the child's fifteenth month in foster care. (5-3-03)

14. ASFA Placement Preferences. The following placement preferences will be used when recommending and making permanency decisions: (3-30-01)

a. Return home if safe to do so; (3-30-01)

b. Adoption or legal guardianship by a relative; (3-30-01)

c. Adoption or legal guardianship by kin; (3-30-01)

d. Adoption or legal guardianship by non-relative; (3-30-01)

e. Other planned permanent placement such as long-term foster care. (3-30-01)

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