Keeping Families Together

Keeping Families Together

Federal and State law require that reasonable efforts are made to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the child from the home and to make it possible for the child to be returned home. Reasonable efforts are efforts to provide services to children and their families utilizing community resources with the goal of preserving family unity. They include efforts to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of a child from their home and to reunite the child with their family.

At the time of the initial court hearing to commit a child to the custody of the agency, a judicial determination must be made as to whether reasonable efforts have been made.

After an agency receives custody of a child they must document reasonable efforts to reunify the child and family or achieve a permanent placement for the child. During the temporary placement in foster care, a range of services are offered to children and parents designed to improve conditions and return the child home, or to place the child in another permanent living arrangement as soon as possible.


Exceptions to the requirement to make reasonable effort to reunite children with a parent are when:

  • The parental rights of a sibling of the child in foster care have been previously involuntarily terminated.
  • The parent has been convicted of murder or voluntary manslaughter, or a felony attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit such an offense against a child of the parent, a child with whom the parent resided, or the other parent of the child.
  • The parent has been convicted of felony assault or bodily wounding resulting in serious bodily injury or felony sexual assault of a child of the parent or a child living with the parent. Serious bodily injury means bodily injury resulting in substantial risk of death, extreme physical pain, protracted or obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of a bodily member, organ or faculty.