State child protection agencies are required by federal law to exert reasonable efforts to keep families together before seeking termination of parental rights. Some states, however, have created an exception to this requirement when the parent involved suffers from a chronic mental illness. Moreover, even in those states that enforce the requirement, the reunification services provided to parents with a mental illness often do not meet the needs of those parents.
This Article argues that although parents with a mental illness face serious challenges in caring for their children, they should not be categorically excluded from reunification efforts by means of a state statute. It further contends that in order to be "reasonable" reunification services must be reasonably calculated to address the specific issues faced by parents with a mental illness. The Article concludes with several suggestions on how this goal can be accomplished even in the face of scarce resources.
11 Whittier J. Child & Fam. Advoc. 3 (2011)