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New Jersey Department of Children and Families Policy Manual




Child Protection and Permanency

Effective Date:




Case Management



Case Planning

Revised Date:







Case Planning




This issuance establishes policies and procedures relating to the case plan. The case plan is an individualized working agreement which clearly delineates specific action to be taken by family members and CP&P.




·         N.J.A.C. 3A:12-1.6, Process of developing the case plan

·         N.J.S.A. 30:4C-53, Placement of Child Outside Home; Notice; Filing; Form; Contents; Jurisdiction of Court; Notice of Permanent Placement




A.   Parties Involved

1.    The family and child who are the subject of the plan should be the primary authors of the plan. In order to establish an effective case plan, it is necessary to engage the family and their support network in a strength based, solution oriented, consensus building process.

2.    The case plan is based on mutual understanding and acceptance of what the problems are and what changes need to take place. It is the Division’s view that family involvement in the case planning process increases the rate of successful goal achievement and result in reduction of risk of future maltreatment. The plan specifies the services or actions needed to:

                   i)      Address the issues/needs related to the safety, permanency, and well-being of the child.

                  ii)      Resolve the problems which caused the Division to become involved with the family.

                 iii)      Achieve the case goal. See CP&P-III-B-4-400, Case Goals.

                 iv)      The case plan provides:

a)    A written working agreement which states the problems that need to be resolved and the proposed solutions;

b)     A record to help the participants remember what each person promised to do for the child and family;

c)     A yardstick to mark progress (or lack of progress) throughout the life of a case;

d)     A useful monitoring and accountability tool for the family, the Worker, Supervisors, Managers, the courts, and others involved in providing services to the family.

3.    The case plan is written in a “family friendly” format, allowing family strengths, needs, concerns, goals and tasks to be in the family‘s own words. Integrate targeted outcomes documented in the Family Agreement into the formal case plan (CP&P Form 26-81, Case Plan Assessment). See CP&P-III-B-5-500, Family Engagement.

4.    The goal is for a single, coordinated case plan to be in place for all agencies or providers involved with the family. The CP&P Worker takes the lead by bringing individual service providers together in the planning and development process.

5.    When domestic violence is alleged or present, prepare separate case plans with: a) the batterer, and b) the non-offending parent/caregiver and the child. See CP&P-VIII-B-1-100, Domestic Violence, Section K, Case Planning.

B. Time Frames     

1) The case plan is prepared:

                             i)        Within sixty (60) calendar days of SCR assigning a CPS report or a CWS referral to the field office for investigation or response; or

                            ii)        Within thirty (30) calendar days of a child entering (or reentering) out-of-home placement; and

                           iii)        Every six months thereafter.

2). Case planning may occur at any time during the life of a case when case circumstances change and a new plan is needed. The Investigator, during the intake, or the permanency Worker, may complete the initial case plan.

3). If an investigation extends beyond sixty (60) days, the assigned Worker/Investigator is required to complete a Case Plan, CP&P Form 26-81, Case Plan Assessment, to justify continued investigation efforts for a prolonged period of time. See CP&P-II-C-5-125, Good Cause to Extend Investigations Beyond 60 Calendar Days.

4)    Note: At this point the case is considered to be opened. “An open case is defined as a family or child assigned to a Local Office Worker from SCR or other means (e.g., courts, interstate etc.) to determine risk, safety, or service needs. After the initial investigation or assessment, a determination is made to keep the case open for permanency services or terminate involvement.” In addition, Intake cases are to be seen at least every 30 days and Permanency cases are seen at least monthly.

C.  Developing a Case Plan        

1. The Worker personally interviews all household members to gather information to assess the full circumstances of the family and the need for services.

2. Engage the family members to develop the case plan. Encourage parents to invite other interested relatives (including paternal relatives), friends, neighbors, ministers - any and all who can provide support and help to the family. Routinely engage fathers and their families in the process from the very beginning. If it is not possible to hold a family team meeting, consult all interested parties and incorporate their issues and concerns into the case plan.

3. When domestic violence is alleged or present, hold separate family team meetings, and prepare separate case plans with: a) the batterer, and b) the non-offending parent/caregiver and the child. See CP&P-VIII-B-1-100, Domestic Violence, Section J, Decision Making (Immediate Action Required), and Section K, Case Planning.

4)    For an in-home case plan, complete the following:

                     i)        CP&P Form 22-22, New Jersey CP&P Safety Assessment;

                    ii)        CP&P Form 22-23, New Jersey CP&P Family Risk Assessment;

                   iii)        CP&P Form 22-26, New Jersey CP&P Family Risk Reassessment.

5.    For an out-of-home case plan, complete the following as well:

                     i)        CP&P Form 22-6, New Jersey Child Safety Assessment (Resource Homes); and

                    ii)        CP&P Form 22-27, New Jersey Family Reunification Assessment.

D. Case Plan           

1. The written case plan is documented in New Jersey SPIRIT (NJS), Case Plan Windows, to produce the CP&P Form 26-81, Case Plan Assessment. The form includes:

                     i)        The reason the Division became involved with the family;

                    ii)        The results that shall occur before the case is closed;

                   iii)        The case goal for each family member receiving services and progress made towards achieving the goal;

                   iv)        The schedule for contacts between the Worker and the family members. See CP&P-III-C-3-100, In-Person Visits with Clients and Out-of-Home Providers (MVRs); and

                    v)        The services or actions intended to meet identified needs, and who is responsible to provide the services and complete activities within the projected time frames.

2.  For children out of home, the Case Plan includes:

                     i)        The authority for placement

                    ii)        The efforts made to prevent placement, the reasons for making the placement or for continuing the placement, and the efforts made to reunify the family;

                   iii)        The secondary/concurrent goal, when the primary goal is reunification;

                   iv)        An assessment of the current placement for the particular child;

                    v)        The efforts made to find a missing parent or kin;

                   vi)      The plan for visits between the child and parents, siblings and other relatives. See CP&P-IV-A-5-100, Visitation Between the Child and His or Her Family;

                  vii)      The views of the child, parent, and caregiver toward the placement and the case plan;

·      For children under CP&P guardianship, efforts made towards adoption or Kinship Legal Guardianship (KLG).

3)    Note:  When a child’s case plan is Kinship Legal Guardianship (KLG), supported by a KLG subsidy, see CP&P-IV-D-2-200, Case Plan Documentation When KLG Is Child‘s Permanency Placement, for additional required case plan components.

E. Complete vs. Modified Version of the Plan

When the Worker prints either case plan form from the Case Plan Window, the Worker has the option to select either “a,” COMPLETE REPORT, which contains confidential information, or “b,” MODIFIED REPORT, which automatically excludes some confidential information. The case plan form instructions clearly state how reports are to be distributed. See CP&P Form 26-81.

F. Repeated Placement Plan                  

1. In accordance with N.J.S.A. 30:4C-53.3(c)1-5, whenever a child re-enters placement after having been returned home, the Division prepares a repeated placement plan, with the goal of reunification through the safe return of the child to his or her parents.

2.  This is not possible, the Division:

                 i)    Prepares for the State’s assumption of guardianship for the purpose of finding the child an adoptive home; or

                ii)    Plans for an alternative permanent placement, kinship legal guardianship (KLG), 3. The plan is prepared within 30 calendar days after the child is again placed, and submitted to the court. The case plan includes:

                 iii)      Reasons for the repeated placement, including a description of the problems or conditions in the home which necessitated the child to be removed again;

                 iv)      Specific actions to be taken by the parent or guardian to eliminate the identified problems, and a specific time limit for taking action;

                  v)      Services to be provided to the child, parents or guardian, and the resource parents;

                 vi)  A search for missing parents and extended family, in the event adoption or KLG becomes the case goal (see CP&P-III-C-4-100, Locating a Missing Child/Family and Searching, and CP&P-III-B-2-100, Locating a Missing Parent);

                  vii)      Efforts made to place the child in his or her former resource home to provide continuity, if in the child‘s best interest;

                viii)Efforts to place the child with siblings (see CP&P-III-B-2-200, Case Management Activities Related to Reasonable Efforts; CP&P-IV-A-3-200, Federal and State Legal Requirements; CP&P-IV-B-2-100, et seq., Resource Home Selection; CP&P-IV-B-2-200 et seq., Efforts to Promote Placing Siblings Together; CP&P-IV-A-11-100, Child Strengths and Needs; CP&P-IV-A-11-100, Suitability of Kin to Meet Child’s Needs and Make a Commitment to the Child; and CP&P-IV-D-2-200, Placing Siblings Together; and

                   ix)      Efforts made to obtain a certified copy of the child‘s long form birth certificate within 30 days of the child’s placement, if the Division does not already have one from the child‘s previous placement(s). See CP&P-II-C-2-700, Identify Child’s Place of Birth and Obtain Long Form Birth Certificate; CP&P-III-C-6-100, Requesting Long Form NJ State BVS Certificates from DCF BVS Liaison; and the CP&P Form 26-8, Request for NJ Birth/Death/Marriage/Civil Union/Domestic Partnership Certificate, located in the on-line Forms Manual.

4. When the Division has established an exception to the requirements to provide reasonable efforts toward family reunification, or a child has been in placement for 12 of the most recent 22 months, a permanency plan for the child shall be documented and include reasonable efforts by the Division to achieve that plan.


Related Policy        


·         CP&P-III-B-4-400, Case Goals

·         CP&P-III-C-6-100, Case Recording

·         CP&P-IV-A-5-100, Visitation Between the Child and His or Her Family

·         CP&P-III-B-6-600, Structured Decision Making, SDM™


Related Forms


·         CP&P Form 26-81, Case Plan Assessment

·         CP&P Form 26-83, Visitation Plan

·         CP&P Form 26-87, Desired Family Outcomes and Specific Activities

·         CP&P Form 11-10, Health Passport and Placement Assessment

·         CP&P Form 5-43, Transitional Plan for Adolescents

·         CP&P Form 5-16, Child‘s Education Record

·         CP&P Form 22-6, New Jersey Child Safety Assessment (Resource Homes)

·         CP&P Form 22-22, New Jersey CP&P Safety Assessment (In-Home Cases)

·         CP&P Form 22-23, New Jersey CP&P Family Risk Assessment

·         CP&P Form 22-26, New Jersey CP&P Family Risk Reassessment for In-Home Cases

·         CP&P Form 22-27, New Jersey Family Reunification Assessment

·         CP&P Form 22-45, Guideline for Minor Parents in Resource Care


Key Terms:


·         Open Case - An open case is defined as a family or child assigned to a Local Office Worker from SCR or other means (e.g., courts, interstate etc.) to determine risk, safety, or service needs. After the initial investigation or assessment, a determination is made to keep the case open for additional services or terminate involvement.


Policy History:


·         10-4-21

·         2-1-2021

·         3-20-2017

·         5-28-2013

·         11-30-2012

·         5-10-2010

·         11-9-2009

·         4-28-2008