4.15 Family Attachment and Involvement


Engaging families in the case planning process promotes the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families in the child welfare system and is central to successful practice. Effective family engagement occurs when the SSW actively collaborates and partners with family members throughout their case, recognizing them as the experts on their respective situations, and empowering them in the process. Family-centered, strengths-based case planning and case management engages family members throughout the case to ensure services are tailored to best address the family's strengths and needs. Family members can recommend services that will be most helpful to them and their families.

Practice Guidance

  • The Cabinet for Health and Family Services (Cabinet/CHFS) is required to offer needed services to both parents. Failure to provide services to the absent parent may significantly impact timely permanency. 
  • Recognize that family members may be new participants in the child welfare and court system. Take the time to explain how these systems work and answer any questions asked by the family. Ensure the family understands that events can occur at certain timelines during the life of the case, (i.e., filing of termination petition at fifteen (15) months of child being in foster care). 
  • Respect the pace at which the family moves. Intervention is traumatic and the family may need time to process what is happening. Do not rush discussions and be sure to convey the importance of each contact. 
  • Recognize the value of the family members and value their expertise on the family history.

The SSW promotes:

  • Parent and child attachment through frequent visitation and other forms of regular contact; and 
  • Efforts to maintain attachment of the child to other significant family members that are involved in the life of the child, to include biological father or paternal family members.


The SSW:

  1. Contacts the father/mother or conducts an absent parent and relative search on all identified parents and relatives within thirty (30) calendar days of the child’s entry into out-of-home care (OOHC); 
  2. Documents efforts in TWIST and utilizes the Absent Parent and Relative Search Handbook to assist in completing searches; 
  3. Identifies and explores placement of the child with available relatives, if known (both maternal and paternal); otherwise follows the same procedures outlined in the absent parent search in locating family members; 
  4. Engages the father/mother and/or family members to solicit involvement in permanency planning for the child; 
  5. Conducts case planning, at a time convenient to the family, and provide needed/requested services; and 
  6. Includes the father/mother in a regular visitation schedule that promotes and maintains attachment unless the following exists: 
    1. Parental rights have been terminated; or 
    2. Participation would be contrary to the best interest of the child.

Contingencies and Clarifications

  • Case planning meetings should be held at a neutral location that is convenient for the family, caregivers, and other meeting attendees. Consideration should be given to resource limitations of the family.