Professional Stakeholders’ Concerns about Reunification Case Plan Requirements

Amy C. D’Andrade - Social Service Review


Parents whose children have been removed from their care because of maltreatment must resolve their problems within a limited time period for the family to be reunified. Child welfare workers create case plans outlining a set of services intended to facilitate this, but evidence on the best approach for helping these often highly challenged parents is limited. In this qualitative study, attorneys, caseworkers, managers, and service providers from four jurisdictions are interviewed to understand practice and decision-making in reunification case planning and service delivery. A thematic analysis of the data reveals these stakeholders have serious concerns about the number of services case plans entail, and report that heavily loaded case plans can hinder reunification. To ensure agency efforts are effective rather than overwhelming, case planning and service delivery should better accommodate parents’ circumstances. Program models that ease parents’ access to services are also needed.