When reunification with birth parents has been ruled out, the agency and the family explore all permanency options to determine if guardianship is the best permanency option for the child, birth parent, and prospective guardian.
Interpretation: Consideration of all permanency options can be demonstrated through the development of a mediated agreement signed by all parties invested in the child’s future. Child welfare mediation is conducted with a neutral third-party to improve communication, maximize family participation in decision making, and expedite permanency. Another way to demonstrate consideration of permanency options is through the use of permanency charts that compare and contrast permanency options according to their legal and financial distinctions, and the roles and responsibilities of caregiver and parent.
The agency clearly explains the differences between adoption, guardianship, and long-term foster care to the birth parent; the prospective guardian; and the child, as appropriate to their age, cultural needs, and developmental level, including:
The child is encouraged to discuss his or her interest in and understanding of guardianship, as appropriate to his or her age, cultural needs, and developmental level.
Interpretation: Children must consent to the guardianship placement consistent with state and tribal regulations.
The agency takes into account, whenever feasible and appropriate, birth parents’ expressed desires regarding the child’s placement, and when this consideration can delay placement, the agency:
Interpretation: Child welfare mediation with a neutral third-party can be used to resolve conflict among involved parties and expedite permanency.
Interpretation: In cases where the birth parent may be unable to participate in the process, such as incarceration or illness, the agency works with the individual to write down their expressed desires regarding the child’s placement for consideration by the court.
The permanency decision is based on what is in the best interests of the child and reasons for the decision are documented in the case record.
Interpretation: If guardianship is found to be an inappropriate permanency option for the child, the agency works with the family to determine a more viable permanency option. Other viable permanency options can include adoption or guardianship with another caregiver. Continued stays in foster care should only be considered if no other permanency options are available.
Interpretation: The agency documents why the goal is in the best interest of the child and why other permanency options were not appropriate in the case record. If siblings are not placed together, the agency documents the reason in the case record.