children who are placed in temporary foster care for an extended period of time develop many difficulties (Herring, 1992). Consequently, these children spend more time in temporary foster care due to emotional difficulties and become increasingly less attractive to potential adoptive parents. As a result, it is more likely that they will remain in foster care and continue to develop even more emotional difficulties (Herring, 1992).
With the many possible pitfalls that exist for a child who is in the care of the state, the federally required case plan becomes an integral part of protecting that child's welfare. By laying out the steps that will be taken by the state on the child's behalf, the case plan can be the cornerstone that ensures a child's well-being. A case plan requires an outline of the reasons for the child's separation from his or her parents, efforts taken to improve the circumstances that led to the separation, and a projected time when the child and parents may be reunited (Sudia, 1989). In addition, it is necessary that the case be reviewed to ensure progress and needed refinements of goals. The result is a well-formed case plan through which society is better able to protect children not only from abuse and neglect but also from becoming a victim of the state's child welfare bureaucracy.