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New paper explains reasonable efforts requirements in era of opioids

New paper explains reasonable efforts requirements in era of opioids

The opioid epidemic has raised familiar questions from policy makers and the media about Ohio practices for removing children from and reunifying them with birth parents. In response, PCSAO has published a new white paper, Best Interests for Abused and Neglected Children: Working Toward Reunification During the Opioid Crisis.

Child protection caseworkers are required by federal law to make “reasonable efforts” to keep children safely at home and to reunify them with their parents within prescribed timelines, but there are exceptions. States must follow these federal requirements at a minimum, and also have the option of including additional exceptions under state law. Ohio has done so, giving children services the ability to pursue termination of parental rights without making reasonable efforts in more situations than required by federal law and compared to some other states.

The paper describes the reasonable efforts that must be taken in the child’s best interest and the exceptions to these requirements, including:

  • Who decides children’s best interest?
  • What are reasonable efforts?
  • When are reasonable efforts not required?

The paper, which includes extensive citations, also covers the role of trauma in child protection and the role of kinship caregivers.