Methods: This study was descriptive and exploratory. The study’s main research question was, “What are the necessary training, assessment and policy changes required for successful implementation of Concurrent Planning in British Columbia?” Participants were recruited through facilitated contact with MCFD directors and course instructors. Data were gathered: 1) via expert interviews with opinion leaders in the field of concurrent planning, all from California (n=4); and 2) via a cross-sectional survey of adoptions social workers throughout BC (n=132) which included closed and open-ended questions. Interpretive description was the analytic framework used to analyze qualitative data (Thorne, et al., 1997). Interpretive description is a qualitative data analytic approach commonly used for “smaller scale qualitative investigation of…phenomenon of interest to the discipline for the purpose of capturing themes and patterns and…generating an interpretive description capable of informing clinical understanding” (5).
Results: Survey findings revealed that 98.46% of respondents did not feel that permanency for children in care is being achieved in a timely manner. More than three quarters (77.86%) of respondents were in favour of implementing a provincial concurrent planning program, while18.32% were unsure and 3.82% were not in favour. Respondents reported the major barriers to delayed permanency in BC included: 1) inadequate staffing/high caseloads; 2) inadequate training; 3) family court delays; 4) lack of quality foster/adoptive homes; and 5) legislative barriers related to Aboriginal/First Nations children in care. Major recommendations for implementing concurrent planning to emerge from opinion leader interviews and survey respondents included: 1) dual licensing of foster and adoptive homes; 2) increased staffing to accommodate dual-worker model; 3) comprehensive provincial administrative database; 4) one-to-one coaching of concurrent planning social workers; and 5) legislative changes in regard to timelines.
Implications: To implement concurrent planning in BC, study findings suggest changes to assessment, training, and policy. Notably, two assessments should be completed prior to placing a child in a potentially permanent home—a determination of a child’s eligibility for concurrent planning and a matching assessment to find suitable permanent caregivers. Training should be developed and delivered to caregivers, social workers, supervisors, and support staff; for successful implementation, one-on-one coaching should also be offered to staff. Finally, province-wide policy is necessary to create standardized practice and clear objectives.