The term concurrent planning simply means that two plans are being worked on at the same time. This kind of planning started in 1997 when President Clinton signed the Adoption and Safe Families Act, or ASFA.
The government was concerned that children were spending too much time in foster care, and evidence shows that is not a good option for children as they tried to grow up and become healthy and productive adults. ASFA says that the child welfare system must pay attention to three things; the safety of a child, the well-being of a child and ultimately, permanency for the child. You can read more about the different permanency options elsewhere in this section.
Typically, when children enter the child welfare system and are removed from their parents' care, they enter kinship care, foster care or go to a group living facility, often called a group home. Most cases start with a primary plan, or "goal," of reunification. That means everyone is making an effort to safely return the children to their parents' home. Concurrent Planning requires that there be a back-up plan for the child in addition to the primary plan. While efforts are being made to reunite the children with their parents, efforts are also being made to find a family that would be willing to adopt or become the legal custodian of the children if, after a set amount of time, the child cannot safely be returned to his or her parents.
As a parent, it might seem like the goal of concurrent planning is to take the child away from you forever, but really, it is about making sure a child has everything needed to be a successful adult when he or she grows up. Foster care is intended to be temporary and children should not grow up in temporary living situations. Children need safe and stable families, and concurrent planning ensures that all children find one in a timely fashion.