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Reasonable and Active Efforts, and Substance Use Disorders: A Toolkit for Professionals Working with Families in or at Risk of Entering the Child Welfare System

Klain, Eva J.; Laver, Mimi.; DeCerchio, Ken.; Shah, Ashay.; Garcia, Suzanne – 2020

This federally funded brief is designed to assist professionals working with families in or at risk of entering the child welfare system ensure reasonable and active efforts are made to prevent a removal of a child from his or her family or to reunify the family if a child has been placed in out-of-home care.. It begins by explaining reasonable and active efforts findings allow juvenile or family courts to determine whether a child welfare agency has satisfied its statutory requirement to prevent removal of a child or reunify the family; encourage State agencies to achieve timely permanency for the child; and assist parents and children in receiving needed services that may improve permanency outcomes. It notes, however, that less than 1% of appellate case law addresses reasonable efforts to prevent removal and identifies the reasons for this lack of attention. The brief then reviews the definition of reasonable efforts, explains statutory requirements relating to reasonable efforts, provides examples of reasonable and active efforts, discusses using reasonable efforts to support families affected by substance use disorders, describes applying the reasonable effort standard to Plans of Safe Care, and provides a resource guide for further reading.