4. Permanency Hearing Before Final Order

15 Minutes; up to 25 suggested best practice

Prior to Permanency Hearing (PH):

⧠ If first PH, scheduled within 180 days after DFPS named TMC

⧠ If subsequent PH, scheduled within 120 days of last PH

⧠ 10 days’ notice provided

⧠ DFPS Permanency Progress Report filed at least 10 days before PH and includes:

•   Child’s Permanency Plan

•   Summary of Medical Care

⧠ The court file includes:

•   Notification of consent for medical care

•   Education decision-maker Form 2085-E

•   Visitation Plan

At Hearing:

⧠ Identify those present

⧠ Child in attendance

⧠ DFPS due diligence to locate and serve parties not present

⧠ Parent, alleged father or relative provided locating information for absent parents, alleged fathers, or relatives

⧠ Paternity issues/Paternity Registry

⧠ Need for language interpretation

⧠ Advise parents of right to counsel

⧠ Determine indigence

⧠ Indian/Native American Heritage

⧠ Citizenship issues, consulate notified

⧠ Compliance with orders/Service Plan and progress made

⧠ Parties and those present heard and provided opportunity to present evidence

⧠ If AAL has not seen child, form filed

⧠ Review Permanency Progress Report:

•   Safety and well-being of child

•   Child’s needs (medical/special)

•   Child’s placement

•   Child’s primary and alternative permanency goals

•   DFPS reasonable efforts to finalize permanency plan

•   Child provided opportunity to express opinion about medical care

•   For child receiving psychotropic medication, whether child has:

o been provided non-pharmacological interventions.

o seen prescribing physician every 90 days for review

•   Child’s education decision-maker identified, education needs and goals identified and addressed, and major changes in school performance or disciplinary events

•   If 14 or older, transition services to assist from care to independent living

•   For child with goal of APPLA:

o child’s desired permanency outcome; and

o whether APPLA best permanency plan; if so, provide compelling reasons why not in child’s best interest to:

▪   return home,

▪   adoption,

▪   placed with legal guardian, or

▪   placed with a fit and willing relative

⧠ Child receiving appropriate medical care

⧠ Child has regular, ongoing opportunities for age-appropriate normalcy activities, including those not in child’s service plan

At End of Hearing:

Determine whether to return child if parents willing and able to provide safe environment and in child’s best interest

Advise/Warn custodial rights and duties subject to restriction or termination

Incorporate changes or modifications to Service Plan into order

Likely date child returned home, placed for adoption, or placed in PMC

Set next PH within 120 days or sooner

Announce dismissal date and any upcoming hearings

Best Practices:

If lack of notice, consider resetting hearing to secure attendance

Engage parties with direct questions

Engage youth

Ask DFPS direct, child-specific questions about primary and concurrent goal

If not moving to positive permanency, set timelines and tasks to be completed prior to next hearing

AAL knowledgeable about child’s needs and legal objectives

Set next PH 90 instead of 120 days

For Older Youth:

•   Family group decision-making

•   Preparation for Adult Living (PAL)

•   If turn 18 while in foster care:

o extended foster care and trial independence

o referrals to Texas Workforce Commission

o appropriate documents in possession before leave care

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 at Permanency Hearing:

Medical Care and Mental Health:

Summary of medical care:

•   Nature of emergency medical care

•   All medical and mental health treatment receiving and progress

•   Any medication prescribed/progress

•   Caregiver compliance with treatment plan

•   Adverse reaction or side effects

•   Diagnosis or diagnostic tests

•   Activity to avoid that affect effectiveness of treatment

•   Other info required

Education and Educational Decisions:

Enrolled and in appropriate grade

Remain in current school, even if placement changes

If change placement, determine:

•   Where child wants to attend school

•   Whether transportation is available

•   Whether change coordinated with grading and testing periods

•   Whether records/credits transferred

If 0-3, child assessed for developmental milestones through ECI

If 0-5, enrolled in Early Head Start, Head Start, or Pre-Kindergarten

Educational Decision-maker/Form 2085E on file

School supports and disciplinary issues

Extracurricular activities/normalcy

Evaluated for/receiving special education

If 14 or older, postsecondary education plan