Jefferson Fam. Ct. R. 6 app.

Kentucky Revised Statutes

Rules of Practice of the Jefferson Family Court

Rule 6. Dependency, Abuse, and Neglect


Dependency, Abuse, and Neglect Appendix


TABULAR OR GRAPHIC MATERIAL SET FORTH AT THIS POINT IS NOT DISPLAYABLE   


CASE NO. _____________________                         JEFFERSON FAMILY COURT

                                                         DIVISION __________


IN THE INTEREST OF CHILD(REN)


ORDER APPOINTING GUARDIAN AD LITEM

Good cause appearing, IT IS ORDERED that pursuant to KRS 625.041, 625.080 that a practicing attorney of this Court be, and is hereby, appointed Guardian ad Litem to protect the interest of child(ren) until the disposition of the case or unless sooner discharged by the Court subject to the "duties of a Guardian ad Litem" set forth on the reverse side of this Order and incorporated herein.


IT IS ALSO ORDERED that the said Guardian ad Litem shall serve effective immediately and shall receive reasonable fees and costs.


IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Guardian ad Litem shall:


A. Be allowed access to the child by the caretaker of the child whether caretakers individuals, authorized agencies or health care providers;


B. Have, upon presentation of this Order to any agency, hospital, organization, school, individual, or office, including, but not limited to the Clerk of this Court, human services and/or child caring agencies, public or private institutions and/or facilities, medical and mental health professionals, law enforcement agencies and the Attorney General, the authority to inspect and receive copies of any records, notes, and electronic recordings concerning the child that are relevant to the proceedings filed under this chapter without the consent of the child or individuals and authorized agencies who have control of the child;


C. Hold any information received from any such source as confidential, and shall not disclose the same except to the Court and where allowed by the Court, to other parties to this case and where provided by law;


D. Be given notice of all hearings and proceedings including, but not limited to, administrative, family, civil, criminal Grand Juries, or appellate;  and all conferences including, but not limited to, multi-disciplinary team meetings, individual educational program meetings or inter-agency cluster meetings involving the child and shall protect the best interest of the child therein, unless otherwise ordered by the Court;


E. Appear at all hearings, court proceedings, and monitor or attend case planning conferences to protect the best interest of the child unless otherwise directed by the Court;  and,


F. Have party status in any agreement or plan entered into on behalf of the child.


                                                   ________________________

                                                   JUDGE


                                                   ________________________

Court Date:               ________________________  DATE


Time:                     ________________________


Family Court #:           ________________________


THE DUTIES OF A GUARDIAN AD LITEM (GAL)

The Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is a full participant in the court proceeding and is the only party whose sole duty is to protect the child's needs and interests.  The GAL assumes the role of an advocate for the child's interests and in no way represents the petitioner (usually an agency) or the respondents (usually the parents or custodians).  A GAL is appointed because of the child's immaturity and lack of judgment.  Therefore, the GAL stands in the child's shoes and exercises substitute judgment for the child.


In fulfilling this child centered role, the GAL performs ten important and interrelated duties.  The GAL:


A. Acts as an independent fact finder (or investigator) whose task it is to review all relevant records and interview the child, parents, social workers, teachers and other persons to ascertain the facts and circumstances of the child's situation;


B. Ascertains the interest of the child taking into account the child's age, maturity, culture and ethnicity including maintaining a trusting meaningful relationship with the child via face-to-face contact;


C. Seeks cooperative resolutions to the child's situation within the scope of the child's interest and welfare;


D. Provides information through testimony or report with recommendations to the Court to assure that all relevant facts are before the Court.


E. Appears at all hearings to represent the child's interest, providing testimony when required;


F. Explains the court proceedings to the child in language and terms that the child can understand;


G. Asks that clear and specific orders are entered for the evaluation, assessment, services, and treatment of the child and the child's family;


H. Monitors implementation of service plans and dispositional orders to determine whether services ordered by the Court are actually provided, are provided in a timely manner, and are accomplishing their desired goal;


I. Informs the Court promptly in writing or orally if the services are not being made available to the child and/or families, if the family fails to take advantage of such services, or if such services are not achieving their purpose and brings to the Court's attention any violation of orders, or new developments requiring the Court's attention;  and


J. Advocates for the child's best interests in mental health, educational, family court, juvenile justice, criminal justice, and other community systems.


GUIDELINES FOR ATTORNEYS REPRESENTING CHILDREN IN DEPENDENCY CASES

I. TRAINING


A. REQUEST PRIOR TO REPRESENTATION


Prior to being appointed to represent any party in a dependency matter, all attorneys should:


1. Be familiar with dependency law and related areas;


2. Visit a shelter/emergency foster home/juvenile detention center;  and,


3. "Actively participate" in at least three (3) dependency actions from the Temporary Removal Hearing or pretrial through disposition.  (One means of doing this is to spend a period of apprenticeship with experienced attorneys, which would involve all aspects of representing clients in dependency matters).


B. CONTINUING EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS


1. All attorneys should have at least eight (8) hours of mandatory continuing training each year.


2. Suggested subject areas of instruction include the following:


a. Child development;


b. Family dynamics, with an emphasis on cultural aspects of families;


c. Special resources for children/families;


i. Special education programs


ii. Regional centers


iii. Adoption assistance subsidies


iv. Victim witness assistance


v. Mental health services


vi. Social Security/SSI/AFDC, etc.


vii. Private insurance


viii. Other litigants (PI, family law, UCCJA, Parental Kidnapping Protection Act, Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children, Interstate Compact on Juveniles, Indian Child Welfare Act)


d. Substance abuse;


e. Reasonable efforts;


f. Risk assessment/case plans;


g. Adoptability issues;


h. Guardianship, including funding issues;


i. Placement preferences;


j. Relative placements;  and,


k. Writ/appeal procedures.


II. INVESTIGATION


Note:  All attorneys should investigate as necessary to ascertain the facts, including the interviewing of witnesses, and maintain written records available for inspection by judges at any time.  Attorneys should not rely solely on the report of the social worker.


A. INTERVIEWS


1. Child/Client--the attorney should determine the following from the client or social worker if appropriate:


a. Extent of contact agency has had with child prior to removal;


b. What services would have been helpful in avoiding removal;


c. If the child is old enough, his or her goals and concerns about placement and whether there are relatives or close family friends who would be willing to take the child;


d. Regarding the child, the attorney should:


i. Meet with child away from court setting and try to provide continuity and develop a trusting relationship.  Explain, in age-appropriate language, the nature of the attorney/client relationship;


ii. Visit child in his/her home and observe child and child's interactions with others in the home.  Assess the severity of the injuries and the child's general health and condition;


iii. Ask about and investigate resources that the child can think of, including relatives or friends;


iv. Regardless of the child's age, attempt to interview or at least observe the child.  Observations are helpful in determining the accuracy of the petition and court report, or the statements of witnesses or parties;  and,


v. Investigate the interests of the child beyond the scope of juvenile proceeding and report to the court other interests of the child that may be protected by other administrative or judicial proceedings.


2. Agency Social Worker


The attorney should determine:


a. Family's prior contacts with Child Protective Services;


b. Who made decision to remove child:  Child Protective Services worker or police;


c. Basis for removal, specific harms which removal was designed to prevent;


d. Alternatives to removal such as in-home services or removal of the perpetrator, and whether these services were considered prior to removal;  and,


e. Contacts agency has made with parent and child since child was removed.


3. Witnesses


Where appropriate the attorney should interview:


a. Representatives of other agencies with whom the family has been involved, either through Child Protective Services referral or on the family's own initiative;  and,


b. Persons who have had significant contact with the child and may have relevant information about the child.


B. DISCOVERY/DOCUMENT PRODUCTION


1. The attorney should obtain and review the agency's records.  Where necessary, attorneys for children should determine and utilize available discovery procedures.  The attorney should look for:


a. Case plan.  Was parent involved in its development? Are the goals in the plan related to the reasons for which child was removed?:


b. Services provided or requested by the family prior to the child's removal;


c. Arrangements for visitation;  and,


d. Projected date of the child's return.


2. The attorney should obtain and review all court pleadings and support documents.


3. The attorney should obtain and review all necessary and relevant records, including medical, psychological, school, etc.


C. CONSULTATION WITH EXPERTS


Attorneys should be familiar with local experts who can provide attorneys with consultation and testimony on the reasonableness and appropriateness of efforts made to maintain the child in the home.


III. HEARINGS


Note:  All attorneys should be aware of the statutory requirements regarding time limits and continuances.


A. JURISDICTION HEARING


1. Adjudication without trial:


a. If the attorney concludes, after full investigation and preparation, that the petition will probably be sustained, the attorney should so advise the client and request consent to discuss settlement of case, if appropriate;


b. The attorney should keep the client advised of all settlement discussions and communicate all proposals made by the other parties when appropriate;


c. Where client's participation in psychiatric, medical, or other diagnostic treatment program is significant in obtaining client's desired result, the attorney should so advise client;  and


d. The attorney should explore options to removal of child such as informal supervision, mediation, and intensive in-home services.


2. Where circumstances warrant, the attorney should promptly make any motions material to the protection of the client's rights, such as motions to dismiss the petition, to suppress evidence, or for mental examination.   Such motions should ordinarily be in writing and should be scheduled for hearing prior to the jurisdiction hearing.


3. Contested Jurisdiction Hearing:


a. Present all evidence relevant to the allegations in the petition obtained during the attorney's pretrial investigation;  and,


b. Attorney should be familiar with those statutes that deal with children as witnesses.


B. DISPOSITION HEARING


1. The attorney should be familiar with dispositional alternatives and community services that might be useful in the formation of a dispositional plan.


2. The attorney should investigate all sources of evidence that will be represented at the hearing and interview material witnesses.  The attorney also has an independent duty to investigate the client's circumstances, including such factors as previous history, family relations, economic condition, and any other information relevant to disposition.


3. The attorney, where appropriate, should seek to secure the assistance of psychiatric, psychological, medical or other expert personnel needed for purposes of evaluation, consultation, or testimony with respect to formation of a dispositional plan.  The attorney should inquire into local procedures for retention and appointment of experts.


4. Counseling of client prior to disposition, when appropriate:


a. The attorney should explain to client the nature of the hearing, the issues involved, and the alternative open to the court.  He should also explain fully the nature, obligations, and consequences of any proposed dispositional plan; and,


b. When psychological or psychiatric evaluations are ordered or arranged by the attorney prior to disposition, the attorney should explain the nature of the procedure and encourage the client's cooperation.


5. The attorney should examine fully any witness whose evidence is damaging to the client's interests and challenge the accuracy, credibility, and weight of any reports or other evidence before the court.


6. When a dispositional decision has been reached, it is the attorney's duty to explain the nature, obligations, and consequences of the disposition to the client, and the need for the client to cooperate with the dispositional orders.


C. REVIEW HEARINGS


1. Planning for the hearing:


a. All attorneys should confer periodically with their clients and the social worker and review:


i. Service plan;


ii. Extent of compliance with plan;  and,


iii. Continued appropriateness of plan.


b. In monitoring the provisions of dispositional services, the attorney should return the matter to court if necessary to protect the client's interest;  and,


c. Attorneys should make sure they receive a supplemental report and a notice of the hearing from the social worker or probation officer at least ten (10) calendar days before the hearings.


2. At all review hearings, attorneys for all parties should present evidence relevant to the appropriateness of the child's continued dependency and placement, including but not limited to, evidence regarding the provision of reasonable services and ensure that appropriate findings are made.


IV. SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR ATTORNEYS APPEARING IN DEPENDENCY ACTIONS


A. GENERAL


All attorneys appearing in dependency actions have the same general mandate:  to vigorously represent their client's interests within applicable legal and ethical boundaries.  This includes:


1. Investigating the allegations;


2. Advising client of risks and benefits of possible courses of action;


3. Determining clients' interests;  and,


4. Representing those interests vigorously to the Court and other parties.


The attorney must, first and foremost, strive to acquire and develop basic advocacy skills such as client interviewing, case investigation, negotiation and trial practice.


B. ATTORNEYS FOR CHILDREN


1. Communications skills/knowledge of child development:  Communicating with child clients for whatever purpose and especially with regard to legal matters may require efforts beyond those normally required for effective communications with adult clients.  Attorneys for children should therefore be especially sensitive to the child's background and stage of development.  Knowledge of the basic stages of child development will help the attorney develop that sensitivity and age-appropriate communications skills.  Effective establishment of any meaningful attorney-client relationship.  Knowledge of child development will also help the attorney to assess the evaluations that are so often a factor in dependency cases.


2. Investigation:


The attorney for the child has the same ethical duties as attorneys for the other parties to independently investigate the facts and conduct discovery (see previous section on INVESTIGATION).  In many cases a child will be especially concerned with issues regarding his or her placement.  The child's attorney should investigate as many placement alternatives as possibly appropriate to the child's situation and discuss these possibilities with the child. Knowledge of community and other resources independent of the child's social worker will be helpful in this regard.


3. Litigation practice and strategy:


Again, the child's attorney has the same rights and duties as other attorneys to prepare and conduct litigation in the furtherance of the child's interests. Knowledge of the substance and procedure of dependency actions is, of course, important for all attorneys.  The child's attorney should be especially aware of statutory or case law that pertains particularly to children who are the subject of dependency actions or their attorneys.


RESOURCE GUIDELINES IMPROVING COURT PRACTICE IN CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT CASES

RESOURCE GUIDELINES:  Improving Court Practice in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases, publishes by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Reno, Nevada 1995.  All rights reserved.


PRELIMINARY PROTECTIVE HEARING CHECKLIST

Persons Who Should Always Be Present At The Preliminary Protective Hearing:


A. Judge or judicial officer


B. Parents whose rights have not been terminated, including putative fathers


C. Relatives with legal standing or other custodial adults


D. Assigned caseworkers


E. Agency attorney


F. Attorney for parents (separate attorneys if conflict warrants)


G. Legal advocate for the child and/or GAL/CASA


H. Court reporter or suitable recording technology


I. Security personnel


Persons Whose Presence May Also Be Needed At The Preliminary Protective Hearing:


A. Age appropriate children


B. Extended family members


C. Adoptive parent(s)


D. Judicial case management staff


E. Law enforcement officers


F. Service providers


G. Adult or juvenile probation or parole officer


H. Other witnesses


Courts Can Make Sure That Parties and Key Witnesses Are Present By:


A. Requiring quick and diligent notification efforts by the agency;


B. Requiring both oral and written notification in language understandable to each party and witness;


C. Requiring notice to include reason for removal, purpose of hearing, availability of legal assistance;  and,


D. Requiring caseworkers to encourage attendance of parents and other parties.


Filing The Petition


A. A sworn petition or complaint should be filed at or prior to the time of the preliminary protective hearing.


B. The petition should be complete and accurate.


Key Decisions The Court Should Make At The Preliminary Protection Hearing:


A. Should the child be returned home immediately or kept in foster care prior to trial?


B. What services will allow the child to remain safely at home?


C. Will the parties voluntarily agree to participate in such services?


D. Has the agency made reasonable efforts to avoid protective placement of the child?


E. Are responsible relatives or other responsible adults available?


F. Is the placement proposed by the agency the least disruptive and most family-like setting that meets the needs of the child?


G. Will implementation of the service plan and the child's continued well-being be monitored on an ongoing basis by a GAL/CASA?


H. Are restraining orders, or orders expelling an allegedly abusive parent from the home appropriate?


I. Are orders needed for examinations, evaluations, or immediate services?


J. What are the terms and conditions for parental visitations?


K. What consideration has been given to financial support of the child?


Additional Activities At The Preliminary Protective Hearing:


A. Reviewing notice to missing parties and relatives;


B. Serving the parties with a copy of the petition;


C. Advising parties of their rights;  and


D. Accepting admissions to allegations of abuse or neglect.


Submission Of Reports To The Court


A. The Court should require submission of agency and/or law enforcement reports at least one hour prior to the preliminary protective hearing.


B. Reports to the Court should describe all circumstances of removal, any allegations of abuse or neglect, and all efforts made to try to ensure safety and prevent need for removal.


The Court's Written Findings Of Fact and Conclusions Of Law At The Preliminary Protective Hearing Should:


Be written in easily understandable language which allows the parents and all parties to fully understand the Court's order.


If Child Is Placed Outside The Home:


A. Describe who is to have custody and where child is to be placed;


B. Specify why continuation of child in the home would be contrary to the child's welfare (as required to be eligible for federal matching funds);


C. Specify whether reasonable efforts have been made to prevent placement  (including a brief description of what services, if any, were provided and why placement is necessary);  and,


D. Specify the terms of visitation.


Whether Or Not The Child Is Returned Home:


A. Provide further directions to the parties such as those governing future parental conduct and any agency services to the child and parent agreed upon prior to adjudication.


B. Set date and time of next hearing.


Resource Guideline:


It is recommended that sixty (60) minutes be allocated for each preliminary protective hearing.


ADJUDICATION HEARING CHECKLIST

Persons Who Should Always Be Present At The Adjudication Hearing:


A. Judge or judicial officer


B. Parents whose rights have not been terminated, including putative fathers


C. Relatives with legal standing or other custodial adults


D. Assigned caseworker


E. Agency attorney


F. Attorney for parents (separate attorneys if conflict warrants)


G. Legal advocate for the child and/or GAL/CASA


H. Court reporter or suitable technology


I. Security personnel


Persons Whose Presence May Also Be Needed At The Adjudication Hearing:


A. Age-appropriate children


B. Extended family members


C. Adoptive parents


D. Judicial case management staff


E. Law enforcement officers


F. Service providers


G. Other witnesses


Key Decisions The Court Should Make At The Adjudication Hearing:


A. Which allegations of the petition have been proved or admitted, if any;


B. Whether there is a legal basis for continued court and agency invention;  and,


C. Whether reasonable efforts have been made to prevent the need for placement or to safely reunify the family.


Additional Decisions At The Adjudication Hearing:


If the disposition hearing will not occur within a short time after the adjudication hearing, the judge may need to make additional temporary decisions at the conclusion of adjudication.  For example, the judge may need to:


A. Determine where the child is to be placed prior to disposition hearing;


B. Order further testing or evaluation of the child or parents in preparation for the disposition hearing;


C. Make sure that the agency is, in preparation for disposition, taking prompt steps to evaluate relatives as possible caretakers, including relatives from outside the area;


D. Order the alleged perpetrator to stay out of the family home and have no contact with the child;


E. Direct the agency to continue its efforts to notify non-custodial parents, including unwed fathers;  and


F. When the child is to be in foster care prior to disposition, set terms for visitation, support, and other intra-family communication including both parent-child and sibling visits.


The Court's Written Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law At The Adjudication Hearing Should:


A. Accurately reflect the reasons for state intervention.


B. Provide sufficiently detailed information to justify agency and court choices for treatment and services.


C. Provide a defensible basis for refusing to return a child home or terminating parental rights if parents fail to improve.


D. Be written in easily understandable language so that all parties know how the Court's findings relate to subsequent case planning.


E. Set date and time of next hearing, if needed.


Resource Guidelines


It is recommended that a minimum, of thirty (30) minutes be allocated for each adjudication hearing.


DISPOSITION HEARING CHECKLIST

Persons Who Should Always Be Present At The Disposition Hearing:


A. Judge or judicial officer


B. Parents whose rights have not been terminated, including putative fathers


C. Relatives with legal standing or other custodial adults


D. Assigned caseworker


E. Agency attorney


F. Attorney for parents (separate attorneys if conflict warrants)


G. Legal advocate for the child and/or GAL/CASA


H. Court reporter or suitable technology


I. Security personnel


Persons Whose Presence May Also Be Needed At The Disposition:


A. Age-appropriate children


B. Extended family members


C. Adoptive parents


D. Judicial case management staff


E. Law enforcement officers


F. Service providers


G. Adult or juvenile probation or parole officer


H. Other witnesses


Submission Of Reports To The Court


Predisposition reports should include:


A. A statement of family changes needed to correct the problems necessitating state intervention, with time tables for accomplishing them;


B. A description of services to be provided to assist the family;  and,


C. A description of actions to be taken by parents to correct the identified problems.


When The Agency Recommends Foster Placement, And Affidavit Of Reasonable Efforts Should Be Submitted.  The Following Are Some Additional Key Elements Of The Affidavit:


A. A description of the efforts made by the agency to avoid the need for placement and an explanation why they were not successful;


B. An explanation of why the child cannot be protected from the identified problems in the home even if services are provided to the child and family; and,


C. Identification of relatives and friends who have been contacted about providing a placement for the child.


Other Information That Should Be Included Either In The Affidavit Of Reasonable Efforts Or An Accompanying Court Report Is:


A. A description of the placement and where it is located;


B. Proposed arrangements for visitation;


C. Placement of the child's siblings and, if they are to be apart, proposed arrangements for visitation;


D. An appropriate long-term plan for the child's future;  and,


E. Proposed child support.


Key Decisions The Court Should Make At The Disposition Hearing:


A. What is the appropriate statutory disposition of the case and long-term plan for the child?


B. Where should the child be placed?


C. Does the agency-proposed case plan reasonably address the problems and needs of child and parent?


D. Has the agency made reasonable efforts to eliminate the need for placement or prevent the need for placement?


E. What, if any, child support should be ordered?


F. When will the case be reviewed?


The Court's Written Findings Of Fact And Conclusions Of Law At The Disposition Hearing Should:


A. Determine the legal disposition of the case, including the custody of the child, based upon the statutory options provided under state law.


B. State the long-term plan for the child (e.g.  maintenance of the child in the home of a parent, reunification with a parent or relative, permanent placement of child with a relative, placement of the child in a permanent adoptive home.)


C. When applicable, specify why continuation of child in the home would be contrary to the child's welfare.


D. Where charged with this responsibility under state law and based upon evidence before the court, approve, disapprove or modify the agency's proposed case plan.


E. Determine whether there is a plan for monitoring the implementation of the service plan and assuming the child's continued well-being? Is a GAL/CASA available to do this?


F. When placement or services are ordered that were not agreed upon by the parties, specify the evidence or legal basis upon which the order is made.


G. Specify whether reasonable efforts have been made to prevent or eliminate the need for placement.


H. Specify the terms of visitation.


I. Specify parental responsibilities for child support.


J. Be written in easily understandable language so that parents and all parties fully understand the Court's order.


K. Set date and time of next hearing, if needed.


Resource Guideline:


It is recommended that a minimum of thirty (30) minutes be allocated for each disposition hearing.


REVIEW HEARING CHECKLIST

Persons Who Should Always Be Present At The Review Hearing:


A. Judge or judicial officer


B. Parents whose rights have not been terminated, including putative fathers


C. Age-appropriate children


D. Relatives with legal standing or other custodial adults


E. Foster parents


F. Assigned caseworker


G. Agency attorney


H. Attorney for parents (separate attorneys if conflict warrants)


I. Legal advocate for the child and/or GAL/CASA


J. Court reporter or suitable technology


K. Security personnel


Persons Who Presence May Also Be Needed At The Review Hearing:


A. Extended family members


B. Adoptive parents


C. Judicial case management staff


D. Services providers


E. Adult or juvenile probation or parole officer


F. Other witnesses


G. School officials


Key Decisions The Court Should Make At The Review Hearing:


A. Whether there is a need for continued placement of a child;


B. Whether the court-approved, long-term permanent plan for the child remains the best plan for the child.


C. Whether the agency is making reasonable efforts to rehabilitate the family and eliminate the need for placement of a child.


D. Whether services set forth in the case plan and the responsibilities of the parties need to be clarified or modified due to the availability of additional information or changed circumstances.


E. Whether the child is in an appropriate placement which adequately meets all physical, emotional and educational needs.


F. Whether the terms of visitation need to be modified.


G. Whether terms of child support need to be set or adjusted.


H. Whether any additional court orders need to be made to move the case toward successful completion.


I. What time frame should be set forth as goals to achieve reunification or other permanent plan for each child.


Submission Of Reports To The Court:  Pre-Review Report:


Pre-review reports by the child welfare agency and the GAL/CASA can serve the same purpose as predisposition reports.  Pre-review reports should include:


A. A statement of family changes needed to correct the problems necessitating state intervention, with time tables for accomplishing them;


B. A description of services to be provided to assist the family;  and,


C. A description of actions to be taken by parents to correct the identified problems.


Affidavit Of Reasonable Efforts:


When the agency recommends continued foster placement, an affidavit of reasonable efforts should be submitted.  The following are some key elements of the affidavit:


A. A description of the efforts made by the agency to reunify the family since the last disposition or review hearing and an explanation why those efforts were not successful;


B. An explanation why the child cannot presently be protected from the identified problems in the home even if services are provided to the child and family.


The Court's Written Findings Of Fact and Conclusions Of Law At the Review Hearing Should:


A. Set forth findings as to why the children are in need of continued placement outside the parents' home or continued court supervision, including the specific risks to the child;


B. Set forth findings as to whether and why family reunification and an end to court supervision continues to be the long-term case goal;


C. Set forth findings as to whether the agency has made reasonable efforts to eliminate the need for placement, with specific findings;


D. Set forth detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law as to whether the parents are in compliance with the case plan and identify specifically what further actions the parents need to complete;


E. Set forth orders for the agency to make additional efforts necessary to meet the needs of the family and move the case toward completion;


F. Be written in easily understandable language which allows the parents and all parties to fully understand what action they must take to have their children returned to their care;


G. Approve proposed changes in the case plan and set forth any court-ordered modifications needed as a result of information presented at the review;


H. Identify an expected date for final reunification or other permanent plan for the child;


I. Make any other orders necessary to resolve the problems that are preventing reunification or the completion of another permanent plan for the child;  and,


J. Set date and time of next hearing, if needed.


Resource Guideline:


It is recommended that thirty (30) minutes be allocated for each review hearing.


PERMANENCY PLANNING HEARING CHECKLIST

Persons Who Should always Be Present At the Permanency Planning Hearing:


A. Judge or judicial officer


B. Age-appropriate children


C. Parents whose rights have not been terminated, including putative fathers


D. Relative with legal standing or other custodial adults


E. Assigned caseworker


F. Agency attorney


G. Attorney for parents (separate attorneys if conflict warrants)


H. Legal advocate for the child and/or GAL/CASA


I. Court reporter or suitable technology


J. Security personnel


Persons Whose Presence May Also Be Needed At The Permanency Hearing:


A. Extended family members


B. Foster parents


C. Prospective adoptive parents


D. Judicial case management staff


E. Service providers


F. Adult or juvenile probation or parole officer


G. Other witnesses


Key Decisions The Court Should Make At The Permanency Planning Hearing:


A. The child is to be returned home on a specific date.


B. The child will be legally freed for adoption.


C. The custody of the child will be transferred to an individual or couple on a permanent basis;


D. The child will remain in foster care on a permanent or long-term basis.


E. Foster care will be extended for a specific time, with a continued goal of family reunification.


Submission Of Reports To The Court:


A report for permanency planning hearing should:


A. Specify the relief being sought and address the same issues that the judge needs to determine;


B. Examine the reasons for excluding higher priority options;  and,


C. Set forth a plan to carry out the placement decisions.


When the Report Or Petition Requests That A Child Be Returned Home On A Date Certain, It Should Set Forth:


A. How the conditions or circumstances leading to the removal of the child have been corrected;


B. The frequency of recent visitation and its impact on the child;  and,


C. A plan for the child's safe return home and follow-up supervision after family reunification.


When The Report Requests Termination Of Parental Rights, It Should Set Forth:


A. Facts and circumstances supporting the grounds for termination;  and,


B. A plan to place the child for adoption.


When A Custody Award To An Individual Or Couple Is Proposed, The Report Should Set Forth:


A. Facts and circumstances refuting the grounds for termination of parental rights (demonstrating the fitness of the parents) or showing that although the child cannot be placed with parents, termination is not in the best interests of the child;


B. Facts and circumstances demonstrating the appropriateness of the individual or couple to serve as permanent caretaker of the child;  and,


C. A plan to ensure the stability of the placement.


When Permanent Foster Care With A Specific Family Is Proposed, The Report Should Set Forth:


A. Facts and circumstances refuting the grounds for termination of parental rights (demonstrating the fitness of the parents) or showing that, although the child cannot be placed with parents, termination is not in the best interest of the child;


B. Facts and circumstances explaining why custody is not practical or appropriate;


C. Facts and circumstances demonstrating the appropriateness of foster parents' and the foster parents' commitment to permanently caring for the child;  and,


D. A plan to ensure the stability of the placement.


When Long-Term Foster Care Is Proposed Because The Child Cannot Function In A Family Setting, The Report Should Set Forth:


A. Facts and circumstances leading to that conclusion;  and,


B. A plan to prepare the child to live in a family setting at the earliest possible time and for visitation with parents and siblings.


When Long-Term Foster Care In Connection With Independent Living Arrangements Is Proposed, The Report Should Set Forth:


A. Facts and circumstances refuting the grounds for termination of parental rights (demonstrating the fitness of the parents) or showing that, although the child's cannot be placed with parents, termination is not in the best interest of the child;


B. Facts and circumstances explaining why continued custody or permanent foster care is not appropriate at the same time that independent living services are being provided;  and,


C. A plan to prepare the child for independent living and for visitation between the child, parents, and siblings.


When An Extension Of Foster Care For A Time Certain Is Proposed With A Goal Of Reunification, The Report Should Set Forth:


A. Facts and circumstances showing that the parents and child have a strong and positive relationship, parents have made substantial progress toward the child's return home, and return home is likely within the next six months;


B. Facts and circumstances showing why it is too early to specify a time certain for reunification;  and,


C. A plan to achieve reunification within six months.


When Court's Written Findings Of Fact And Conclusions Of Law At The Permanency Planning Hearing Should:


A. Be prepared within a reasonable time after the permanency planning hearing;


B. Be written in easily understandable language so that parents and all parties fully understand the Court's order;


C. Provide documentation for further proceedings;


D. Address the same issues as those to be addressed in the report discussed above;  and,


E. Set date and time of next hearing, if needed.


Resource Guideline:


It is recommended that sixty (60) minutes be allocated for each permanency planning hearing.

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