Following the assessment of a child’s safety, related to incidents of abuse or neglect, there are occasions when it is necessary for Berks County Children and Youth Services to remove a child from their living situation. The agency must document, to the Juvenile Court, an adverse effect on the child’s well-being in order to be granted custody of the child.
Children placed in Out-of-Home placements live in a variety of arrangements. These arrangements include living with relatives, residing in a foster home, a group home or a residential placement. In most cases the goal is to reunify the child with their parents. The agency develops a Service Plan relative to the issues that required his or her placement, stating the goals and responsibilities of all parties. These Service Plans are reviewed every six months by the Juvenile Court, to assure the progress of the case and the advancement toward reunification, or some other permanent plan for the child.
While a child is in out-of-home placement the parents are encouraged to maintain a meaningful relationship with their child. This occurs through regular visitation, participation in medical and dental appointments, contact during counseling sessions and attendance at court hearings. Often as a case progresses toward family reunification, visitation is increased and supervision of the visits is decreased.
Berks County Children and Youth Services has initiated our Partners in Parenting program to allow for direct contact between a child’s parents and his or her foster parent. This program allows for active modeling of appropriate parenting techniques and a sharing of child-raising techniques for a particular child.
Berks County Children and Youth Services is required to see that children do not languish in the foster care system. Federal Law requires that a plan be enacted to ensure each child a permanent living situation. This permanent situation may include living with a suitable relative or a move toward adoption. Often more than one plan per child is actively being pursued.