Permanency Planning and Subsidized Permanent Legal Custodianship (SPLC) Eligibility Criteria
Permanency planning is designed to help children live in families and offer continuity of relationships with nurturing parents or caretakers, as well as provide the opportunity to establish lifetime relationships. The goal of permanency planning is to implement a plan ensuring that the child will be placed in a permanent family home in a timely manner. The child’s developmental needs should guide both the content of the plan and the timeframe in which it is implemented.
Principles of permanency planning:
- Children deserve consistent, healthy and permanent attachments. All efforts should be made to minimize the number of times a child must move to avoid disrupting healthy attachments and to minimize the amount of time a child spends without permanency.
- Incorporate multi-disciplinary concepts into case planning. Law, psychology and social work professionals should have significant input. All professionals should work toward a specific timeframe for permanency.
- Sibling bonds should be strongly nurtured. Whenever possible, siblings should be placed together.
- The lifelong emotional connection to birth parents and legally responsible caregivers must be acknowledged.
Reunification is at the forefront and typically the first choice of kinship care. Once safety issues have been addressed and there has been significant change with the birth parents, reunification may be possible. Returning children home is the favorable permanency option, and often requires intensive, family-centered, supportive services to ensure stability. Services are tailored to each family’s service plan goals. Every effort is made to help birth parents regain physical custody of their children.
In kinship care, adoption is one of the foundational options of choice, in which a family-based decision guides how a child or youth will leave the system. With adoption, permanent legal decisions are made regarding full-time guardianship. The integrity of the triad, however, must remain central as adoption has strong influences on the child or youth’s social and emotional connections to his/her birth family. In kinship care, adoption is a realignment of family structure and hierarchy.
SPLC Eligibility Criteria
Subsidized permanent legal custodianship is the third of five permanency goals for children in out-of-home placements authorized under the Juvenile Act. As a permanency option, it is available when children and youth are no longer viable candidates for reunification with their parents or adoption.
Pennsylvania provides funds to enable an approved custodian to receive a subsidy to assist in the care of the child. In most cases, the subsidy equals the foster care board rate.
Pursuant to state law, kinship caregivers can be approved as custodians in order to care for children until they are 18. Therefore, the custodian has the legal right to make decisions and provide consent regarding care, custody and supervision of the child. DHS and Juvenile Court would no longer be involved with the child.
child must qualify in the following areas:
- In the legal custody of the DHS a minimum of six consecutive months of placement; and
- Residing with custodian for a minimum of six consecutive months.
- The child must participate in an age-appropriate discussion on the meaning of legal custodianship, particularly if the child is over the age of 12 and capable of understanding the information presented.
- The child must not be a candidate for reunification or adoption.
- The consent of the birth parent is not required.
- Foster homes should be safe, nurturing and stable (i.e., kinship caregiver(s) must be willing to provide a permanent home for the child when unable or unwilling to adopt).
- Full foster home approval status is not required at the time of a permanency planning conference; however, it is required to recommend a goal change to Juvenile Court. For two-parent foster homes, both adults must be fully state-approved for a recommended goal change to SPLC.
- Foster/adoptive care applicants, emergency caregivers, foster home studies, caregivers with no income and court-ordered/noncertified homes are ineligible for custodianship until they are fully approved foster homes.
Children are oftentimes lost or forgotten after reunifying with birth parents, or after entering into independent living. Birth parents often require assistance in restructuring various aspects of their lives and their children’s lives, due to the length of the typical separation period. Guidance may be required on necessities like enrollment in school, proper medical/dental care, budgeting and researching and utilizing family support programs within their communities.
Recognizing the seriousness of this missing link, A Second Chance, Inc., designed an aftercare program for cases closed to reunification, adoption and SPLC. The main objective of the aftercare program is to provide follow-up services to families for approximately six months (1-, 3- and 6-month intervals).
The ultimate goal of the program is to be proactive in ensuring kinship families receive all necessary services to promote the safety, permanency and well-being of the children in care.