2. Status Hearing

15 minutes; up to 25 suggested best practice

Prior to Hearing, review court file to determine:

⧠ Hearing set no later than 60 days after DFPS appointed TMC unless aggravated circumstances. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.201

⧠ Persons entitled to notice given 10 days’ notice of hearing. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.0021

⧠ DFPS filed copy of Visitation Plan at least 10 days before Status Hearing. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.107(d)

⧠ DFPS filed Family Plan of Service (Service Plan) not later than 45th day after appointed TMC. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.101

⧠ Form 2085-E designating education decision-maker filed with court. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.004

⧠ Notification regarding consent for medical care filed with the court. Tex. Fam. Code § 266.004(c)

⧠ Parent attorneys appointed. Tex. Fam. Code § 107.013

⧠ Dismissal date set. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.401

⧠ Child received developmentally appropriate assessment by no later than 45th day after child entered TMC of DFPS. Tex. Fam. Code § 266.012

At Hearing:

Due Process and General Matters

⧠ Identify those present, note those not present, determine service on parties, and swear witnesses. Tex. Fam. Code § 102.009

⧠ Review DFPS due diligence to locate parties not present. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(a)(1)

⧠ Confirm that DFPS notified relatives about removal. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.007

⧠ Determine if language interpretation is needed. Tex. Gov. Code § 57.002

⧠ Advise parents of right to counsel; determine indigence; appoint counsel. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.203; Tex. Fam. Code § 263.0061

⧠ Determine whether parent, alleged father, or relative before the court submitted Child Placement Resources Form. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.201(c)

⧠ Determine status of paternity issues and whether Paternity Registry searched. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(a)(1)

⧠ Determine status of home studies initiated. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.114(a)(b) [BP at Status Hearing]

⧠ Review current and alternative placements. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.002

⧠ Review the conservatorship appointment and substitute care of the child. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.002(1)

⧠ Inquire about Indian/Native American Heritage. 25 U.S.C. Ch. 21; Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(f-1)

•   Inquire of all parties if there’s Indian heritage in the family.

•   Determine which tribes may be involved.

•   Ensure proper notice to parent, tribe, if known, and Bureau of Indian Affairs, if tribe unknown. (See Topical Checklist: ICWA)

⧠ Determine if DFPS held or plans to hold Permanency Planning Meeting. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.009(a)

⧠ Ask Attorney Ad Litem if has seen client and when.

•   If AAL has not seen client, ensure form is provided. Tex. Fam. Code § 107.004(d)(2)

⧠ Determine whether child or parent is a citizen of the United States. 8 C.F.R. § 204.11

•   If not, determine if Special Immigrant Juvenile Status for the child (or teen parent) is appropriate, and issue Order for DFPS to initiate the process.

•   Determine if notice given to appropriate Consulate.

⧠ Review medical care provided child since last hearing. Tex. Fam. Code § 266.007(a)

Family Plan of Service

⧠ Determine if:

•   Original Service Plan was developed jointly with child’s parents. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.103(a)

•   Each term and element discussed and parents informed of rights in connection with service plan process. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.103(a-1)

•   If parent not able or willing to participate in development of Service Plan, it is noted in the plan. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.103(a)

•   Parents have reviewed and understand the plan. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(b)2)

•   The plan has both a primary and a concurrent goal. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.102(e)

•   Plan is signed by parents and DFPS. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.103(b)

⧠ Provide parent opportunity to comment on Service Plan. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(g)

⧠ Court can modify service plan at any time. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.105(c)

Visitation Plan

⧠ Review Visitation Plan and consider:

•   Age and safety of child at/during visitation;

•   Desires of each parent regarding visitation;

•   Location of each parent and child;

•   Transportation to/from visits; and

•   Resources available to DFPS, including transportation and those necessary to ensure visitation is properly supervised. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.107(c)

⧠ Court may modify visitation plan at any time. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.108(b)

⧠ If court finds visitation is not in child’s best interest, include in order the reasons and the specific steps parent must take to have visitation. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.109(b)

At the End of the Hearing:

Determine whether the Service Plan is reasonably tailored to address any specific issues identified by DFPS. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(b)(3)

Determine whether any Service Plan that has the goal of reunification adequately ensures that reasonable efforts are made to enable the parents to provide a safe environment for the child. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(b)(1).

Advise/Warn Parents & Parties.

•   That custodial rights and duties may be subject to restriction or termination or child not returned unless parent demonstrates willingness and ability to provide child with safe environment. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(b)(2)

•   Progress under Service Plan is reviewed at all hearings, including review of newly acquired knowledge or skills. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.203(b)

Incorporate Service Plan into the Court Order and render additional appropriate orders to implement or require compliance with the Service Plan. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.106; Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(b-1)

ISSUE COURT ORDER and include or address:

•   Dismissal date. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.401

•   Transfer to court of continuing, exclusive jurisdiction, if applicable. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.203

Best Practices:

Set first Permanency Hearing Before Final Order and announce in open court. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.304

Engage parties with direct questions.

•   Do you understand the purpose of this hearing?

•   Do you understand the purpose of the Service Plan?

•   Were you given the chance to discuss or provide input into the Service Plan?

•   Do you understand what I’ve explained about your parental rights?

Ask direct and specific questions of the Department about reasonable efforts.

•   What about this plan is reasonably tailored to address specific issues present in Ms. Smith’s case?

•   What about this service plan will help Ms. Smith provide a safe environment for her child?

Ask the following questions:

•   What is preventing this child from returning home today?

•   How is my decision specific to this child and this family?

•   Are there cultural issues we need to understand?

Well-being issues that may be pertinent at Status Hearing:

Education Decision-maker, school stability, education goals, progress, school-related issues. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.004

Medical Consenter may need to be identified or updated. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(e)

Review psychiatric care, especially if child or youth prescribed psychotropic medication. Tex. Fam. Code § 266.007(a)(4)

Young adult presence at hearing or opinion about education or medical care. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.302 (BP at Status Hearing); Tex. Fam. Code § 266.007(c)