Permanency Alternatives to TPR

Question: If a child in foster care is not going to be returning home – what are the alternatives?

The answer often: Traditional termination of parental rights procedures with goal of adoption.

  • final, safe, permanent
  • not enough to simply be the right thing for the child law mandates that it can only happen with good casework, good legal work on part of agency
  • can take years, more if agency and/or court allow suspended judgements or if appeals occur
  • if child is close to or over 14 and does not want to be adopted – this option may not make sense

Question: Are there other alternatives?

  • Traditional surrender by parents with goal of adoption.
    • final, safe, permanent
    • often would include a subsidy for child
    • could be quicker than TPR, although may take a long time for parent to come to decision, no appeal
    • can’t be mandated or required of parent
    • if child is close to or over 14 and does not want to be adopted – this option may not make sense
  • Surrender by parents with conditions — adoption within the conditions.
    • safe, permanent
    • may be shorter than TPR process, may take awhile to negotiate conditions, no appeal
    • lingering questions on finality
    • often would include a subsidy for child
    • if child is close to or over 14 and does not want to be adopted – this option may not make sense
  • Court ordered custody
    • ends agency’s custody of child which may have good and bad points
    • ends agency monetary support of child
    • not permanent and custodian will have to deal with that themselves
    • parent might be more willing to agree to this alternative than others so may be quicker
    • allows parent to be able to maintain¬† relationship and even obtain child back
    • very easy to do if parent is in agreement, hard if parent is opposed
  • Court ordered guardianship
    • same advantages and disadvantages as custody plus often viewed by others as more permanent than custody
    • can take a little longer than custody to get court order as requires a check of SCR
  • Independent living
    • really means growing up in foster care
    • can be considered when none of above are viable
    • child would continue to receive agency assistance and subsidy
    • child would be assisted to learn to live as productive adult
  • ¬†Adult custodial care situations
    • really means growing up in foster care
    • can be considered when none of above are viable
    • child would continue to receive agency assistance and subsidy
    • agency would help child transition into an appropriate adult placement

Source: NYSCCC conference workshop presentation by Margaret A. Burt, Esq., mburt5@aol.com. Copyright 2010, Reprinted with permission of the author.

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