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December/January 2019Vol. 19, No. 10Reasonable Efforts as Prevention

A new article written by Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau, and David Kelly, special assistant to the Associate Commissioner, highlights how high-quality legal representation for parents, children, and child welfare agencies at all stages of child welfare proceedings is key to avoiding the unnecessary removal of children from their homes and families and overly long stays in foster care, which have been shown to cause trauma to parents and children. In addition, reasonable efforts, such as establishing safety plans and identifying strengths, needs, resources, and supports to help keep parents and children safe and together, should be made before removing a child from his or her home.

The article suggests that attorneys for families and child welfare agencies can help reduce the number of children removed from their homes by taking the following actions:

  • Being active voices in and out of the courtroom for preventing the trauma of unnecessary family separation
  • Advocating for reasonable efforts to be made to prevent the removal of a child from his or her home or for a finding that reasonable efforts have not been made when that is the situation
  • Where removal is necessary, advocating that reasonable efforts be made to finalize permanency plans and, when not made, advocating for a finding of no reasonable efforts

Read the article, "Reasonable Efforts as Prevention," at