When a child is taken from his or her family and placed in foster care, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) must develop a permanency plan for the child. Foster placement is temporary, and permanent placement is the ultimate goal. In fact, the DCP&P must develop a concurrent permanency plan to minimize the time the child is in temporary placement if reunification efforts fail.
Reunification with the family is always the preferred permanency option, but several permanency options that can be considered:
- Reunification with the child’s parents. Reasonable efforts must be made to reunify a child with his or her parents before any other option is explored.
- Adoption and termination of parental rights. Before a child can be adopted, the court must terminate his or her parent’s parental rights, which ends the legally recognized relationship between child and parent. The adoptive parent becomes the child’s new legal parent and assumes the parental rights.
- Guardianship. In some cases, an adult can step forward and become the legal guardian of a child. Legal guardians have the rights to take care of the child, but do not assume all rights and do not become the child’s legal parent.
- Kinship legal guardianship. When a relative takes care of a child when that child’s parents are unable to do so safely, that relative must take steps to become a licensed resource family. The relative then becomes the child’s kinship legal guardian. This does not end the legal rights of the parent but provides the relative with the rights needed to care for the child properly.
- Alternative permanent placement. When none of the above options for permanent placement are reasonable, a child may be placed in an alternative placement, such as continued placement with a resource family or even placement in an institutional home. These options are typically last resorts.
It is important to understand all the permanency options for your child because the DCP&P must work on a concurrent permanency plan while making efforts toward reunification with you. Concurrent planning minimizes the time your child spends in a temporary situation. Understanding the different placement options can help you make the best decisions regarding your child. Speak with an attorney if you have questions about permanent placement. A skilled New Jersey child welfare attorney can explain these options to you and help you ensure your child’s best interests are protected.
Do you have questions about permanent placement? The attorneys at the Williams Law Group, LLC understand how stressful your experience can be and will help ensure your child’s best interests are protected. Located in Union, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation so you can work with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.