3. Status Hearing Checklist

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

Notice of Education Decision-Maker (Form 2085-E) 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

Child received Texas Health Steps exam no later than 30th day after child entered TMC of DFPS.

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't Code § 57.002

Inform each parent not represented by an attorney of right to counsel; determine indigence; appoint counsel if indigent and in opposition to suit. 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(l)

Determine whether the child has had the opportunity to provide information about relative or designated caregivers. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(h).

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

Determine status of initiated home studies. 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 is Indian heritage in the family.

Determine which Tribes may be involved.

Ensure proper notice to parent, Tribe, if known, and Secretary of the Interior 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 Child's Attorney Ad Litem if has seen client and when.

If AAL has not seen client, determine whether the AAL has shown good cause for not meeting with the client. Tex. Fam. Code§ 107.004(e)

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)

Determine if child's caregiver is present and given opportunity to provide information about the child. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.0021

If the child has been placed with a relative or designated caregiver, inform the individual serving as a placement for the child of the ability to become a licensed foster parent and apply for the Permanency Care Assistance (PCA) program. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(i)

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, this 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 narrowly 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 and 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 necessary for convenience of parties and in child's best interest or order transfer of the SAPCR from the CCEJ if necessary for convenience of parties and in child's best interest. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.203

Best Practices [BP]:

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 narrowly 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; Tex. Educ. Code § 25.001(g); Tex. Educ. Code § 25.001(g-1)

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)