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Unlocking "Reasonable Efforts"

Kinship Is Key

By Rose Marie Wentz & Kelly Lynn Beck

When a child enters the child welfare system, state agencies and courts often focus on nonkinship foster care and services as the exclusive pathway to satisfying the reasonable-efforts requirement that appears throughout federal and state child protection law. Extended family usually does not enter the picture. Advocates should push state agencies and courts to move beyond traditional service plans to involve extended family at every stage of a child welfare case. Incorporating a family finding and engagement model into child welfare practice can help families reunite sooner and more safely.

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