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The Path to Permanency Melissa D. Carter Committee on Justice for Children Parent Attorney Conference May 8-9, 2007.

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Presentation on theme: "The Path to Permanency Melissa D. Carter Committee on Justice for Children Parent Attorney Conference May 8-9, 2007."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Path to Permanency Melissa D. Carter Committee on Justice for Children Parent Attorney Conference May 8-9, 2007

2 The movement to a outcome based system means that child welfare professionals must find ways to incorporate their good clinical skills with a outcomes management approach. This training will focus on achieving timely permanency. 7

3 STRATEGIC PLANNING OUTCOME: The final result you are trying to achieve (or that was achieved) Example: Finalized Adoption OBJECTIVE: A required or recommended interim goal toward the achievement of the desired outcome. Example: Termination of parental rights ACTION STEP: Plans, conversations, reports, court appearances and decisions that are undertaken to achieve objectives. Example: Diligent search for parents 49

4 Group Exercise What does “Permanency” mean?

5 Achieving Permanency The essence of permanency outcomes is to reduce the length of time to achieve permanent living arrangements while ensuring that children receive consistent, stable care. What is your role in this process?

6 Permanency Hearings What are they? –Represents a deadline for the court to determine the final plan that will move the child out of temporary foster care and into a permanent home Review Hearing “Plus”

7 Review Hearing –Consider the safety of the child –Examine the need for and appropriateness of placement –Review compliance w/ the case plan and determine extent to which reasons for removal have been alleviated –Set a projected date for permanency, consider all barriers to achievement of goal, fine-tune –Modify visitation if necessary –Seek relative resources

8 Permanency Hearing All of the above PLUS: –Choose the plan by systematically ruling out more permanent options –Consider the health and well-being of the child –Order the next steps necessary to achieve the permanent plan –Rule on whether the agency has made RE to finalize the permanent plan –If the child remains in foster care, seek connections for the child

9 What Triggers a Permanency Hearing? 3 scenarios: –(1) Judicial Determination that RE are not required (O.C.G.A. § (a)(5)) –(2) Submission of a plan that does not contain a plan for reunification services (O.C.G.A. § (e)) –(3) In anticipation of child’s 12 th month in care (O.C.G.A. § (o)(1)) and not less than every 12 months thereafter during the time the child remains in DFCS custody

10 Permanency Hearings in GA Must be held within 30 days after a judicial determination that RE are not required to be made –Subjected the child to aggravated circumstances which, including but not limited to abandonment, torture, chronic abuse, and sexual abuse; –Committed murder of another child of the parent; –Been convicted of the murder of the other parent of the child; –Committed voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent; –Aided or abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent; or –Committed a felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the child or another child of the parent; or –The parental rights of the parent to a sibling have been terminated involuntarily

11 Permanency Hearings in GA (cont’d) Required to be held within 30 days from submission of “non-reunification” plan Legal Standard: Clear and convincing evidence that reunification efforts detrimental to the child. Referral to TPR/adoption not in BIOC Presumption that RE should not be provided when: –Parent unjustifiable failed to comply w/ previously ordered reunification plan –Child removed on 2 previous occasions and reunification services were provided –Grounds for TPR exist –Circumstances listed in § (4) exist, making RE to reunify unnecessary Available dispositional options: relative, non-related individual, suitable individual in another state, agency or organization operated like a “family home”

12 Permanency Hearings in GA (cont’d) No later than 12 months after the child is considered to have entered foster care Thereafter, at least every 12 months during the time the child continues in custody May be held at the time of a hearing on a motion to extend custody –BUT, a permanency hearing is more than a hearing on the motion

13 DFCS’ Permanency Plan (O.C.G.A. § (o)(2)) At the time of the permanency hearing, DFCS shall submit a report recommending a permanency plan for the child –Whether/when child shall be: returned to the parent(s); referred for TPR and adoption; referred for legal guardianship*; placed permanently w/ a fit and willing relative*; or placed in another planned permanent living arrangement (APPLA) –DFCS provides “compelling reason” that no other option is in BIOC

14 Reasonable Efforts to Reach Permanency To place the child in a timely manner in accordance w/ the permanency plan and to complete whatever steps are necessary to finalize the permanent placement of the child (O.C.G.A. §§ (a)(5), (o)(6)). Finding made at every permanency hearing Concurrent planning

15 The Court’s Permanency Order (O.C.G.A. § (n)(5) and (6)) The court enters a supplemental order incorporating: – the permanency goal, –findings of fact regarding RE to finalize the permanency plan in effect at the time of the hearing, –findings of fact regarding whether (if applicable) an out-of-state placement continues to be appropriate and in the BIOC, and –in the case of a child age 14+, a determination of services needed to assist the child to make a transition from foster care to independent living

16 Other voices (O.C.G.A. § (p)) Child/youth must be consulted Foster parents, preadoptive parents, and relatives providing care for the child –All foster care proceedings –Court shall include findings of fact reflecting consideration of oral and written testimony –5 days advance notice for permanency hearings

17 “Listen to us. Find out what our style is. Talk to other people that know us, if we say it’s okay. Check with us about things. Remember the motto, ‘Nothing About Me Without Me!’ Don’t make choices for us or make fun of us. Know that we have thoughts, feelings, and ideas just like you.” Sara Erstad-Landis, “What I Would Like to Say to Lawyers,” Youth Law News Poetic - Ronald, age 18

18 To review … Permissible permanency plans: –Reunification –TPR/Adoption –Permanent placement w/ fit and willing relative –Another planned permanent living arrangement (APPLA) Order of preference

19 Reunification Preferred permanency plan Safety is paramount concern Case plan compliance –Primary and secondary goals

20 TPR/Adoption Grounds for TPR : O.C.G.A. § –Clear and convincing evidence of parental misconduct or inability AND BIOC Voluntary surrender Failure to comply w/ order of support for 12 months Abandonment Parental Misconduct or Inability (Deprivation, caused by lack of parental care and control, likely to continue, will cause serious harm to the child) –Noncompliance with case plan for 12 months –Failure to provide care and support for child for 12 months –Failure to develop and maintain parental bond in meaningful, supportive manner for 12 month Parent convicted of murder of child’s other parent

21 TPR/Adoption (cont’d) 15/22 month rule (and exceptions) –Placement w/ relatives Identification of adoptive resource? Adoption Assistance Benefits

22 Permanent Placement w/ Relative Preference for placement w/ relative (O.C.G.A. § (a)(1)) –Diligent search Subsidies Residual parental rights

23 Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA) Characteristics: –Permanent; –Stability, predictability, continuity –Stable and enduring relationship w/ adult(s) Compelling reasons –Examples: Older teen specifically requests emancipation as permanency plan; Parent and child have significant bond but parent is unable to care for the child due to disability and foster parents have committed to providing long-term care and facilitating visitation; No general categories; case-by-case determination based on individual facts and circumstances

24 Case Scenario 3 year old whose biological mother has a substance abuse problem. The biological father is unknown. The child has lived in the same non-relative foster home for the past two years she has been in care. What is the permanency goal that is most likely to be pursued? What additional information is needed to determine the permanency goal for this case?

25 Case Scenarios (cont’d) Sibling group, ages 6, 9, and 14, have been in foster care w/ Mr. and Mrs. J. for 3 years. They visit regularly w/ their biological mother. The agency is not pursuing TPR. The children are bonded w/ Mr. and Mrs. J. who have committed to caring for the children on a permanent basis. APPLA: “permanent foster care w/ Mr. and Mrs. J.”

26 What’s YOUR role in the Path to Permanency? Melissa D. Carter –Supreme Court of Georgia Committee on Justice for Children –Tel: 404/ –Em:


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