Department for Community Based Services

Standards of Practice Online Manual

4.37 Working with Incarcerated Parents

Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Department for Community Based Services
Division of Protection and Permanency
Standards of Practice Online Manual
Chapter 4-Out of Home Care Services (OOHC)
4.37 Working with Incarcerated Parents

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Legal Authority/Introduction


Incarceration of a parent alone does not relieve the SSW of the requirement to provide services in accordance with SOP 1.2 Reasonable Efforts, unless reasonable efforts to work toward reunification have been waived by the court. Even in circumstances where the length of incarceration makes reunification unlikely, The SSW provides it services that promote parental attachment and facilitate contact.


  1. When a case is opened, transferred to a new SSW or a parent is recently incarcerated during an open case, the SSW arranges to meet with the incarcerated parent.
  2. As necessary, the SSW establishes a case plan within the timeframes outlined in SOP 4.14 Timeframes for All OOHC cases. 1 2
  3. The SSW documents the services provided to the parent.
  4. The SSW documents the pattern of contact between parent/child(ren), noting relevant details related to visitation activities and parent/child(ren) interaction; etc. 
  5. The SSW visits with the incarcerated parent frequently enough to:
    1. Facilitate reasonable efforts;
    2. Communicate effectively about case plan objectives;
    3. Identify and resolve barriers to case objectives; and
    4. To assess whether or not there has been a reduction in any high risk patterns of behavior.
  6. The SSW has quarterly contact with any service providers working with the parent on case objectives and tasks.
  7. The SSW works in conjunction with the court and correctional facility to ensure that the incarcerated parent is present for all court hearings.
  8. If an incarcerated parent cannot attend a court proceeding, the SSW notifies the incarcerated parent within five (5) working days of the outcome of all court proceedings, and of the next court date.
  9. The SSW documents parental progress towards case plan objectives as part of the ongoing assessment. 


  1. Whenever possible, the correctional facility social worker or service coordinator should be included in case planning with the incarcerated parent to ensure collaboration in the provision of services.
  2. The SSW contacts the correctional facility to obtain information regarding guidelines for visitation and services available to the parent within the facility upon incarceration of the parent.


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