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 caregiver is present, must be given opportunity to provide information about the child.

⧠ 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:

â–ª   return home,

â–ª   adoption,

â–ª   placed with legal guardian, or

â–ª   placed with a fit and willing relative

o whether DFPS has conducted an Independent Living Skills (ILS) assessment

o whether DFPS has addressed the goals identified in the youth’s permanency plan.

o For youth 16 years of age or older, whether DFPS has provided documents required by Section 264.121(e)

o For youth 18 years or older, or has had disabilities of minority removed, whether DFPS has provided youth with documents and information listed in Section 264.121(e-1)

⧠ 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 will turn 18 while in foster care:

o Discuss extended foster care and trial independence

o Ensure referrals to Texas Workforce Commission

o Ensure 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