B. Mandatory Findings
During a Status Hearing, the court shall make findings as to whether:
- DFPS has exercised due diligence to locate all necessary persons, including an alleged father of the child, regardless of whether the alleged father is registered with the paternity registry under Tex. Fam. Code § 160.402. DFPS is required to file a report under Tex. Fam. Code § 263.007 detailing its efforts to identify, locate, and provide information to each adult described by Tex. Fam. Code § 262.1095(a). Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(f) requires that the court review the report and order DFPS to make further efforts, if warranted. Tex. Fam. Code § 262.202(a)(1); Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(f); Tex. Fam. Code § 262.1095(a); and Tex. Fam. Code § 263.007.
- The child and each parent, alleged father, or relative of the child before the court have furnished to DFPS all available information necessary to locate another absent parent, alleged father, or relative of the child through the exercise of due diligence. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(a)(2).
- A plan that has the goal of returning the child to the parent adequately ensures that reasonable efforts are made to enable the child’s parents to provide a safe environment for the child. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(b)(1). The court shall give the child’s parents the opportunity to comment on the service plan. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(g).
- The parents have reviewed and understand the plan, the plan is reasonably tailored to address any specific issues identified by DFPS, and the child’s parents and the representative of DFPS has signed the plan. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(b)(2), (3) and (4).
- The court has identified the individual who has the right to consent to medical treatment for the child under Tex. Fam. Code § 266.004. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(e).
- The court is directed to inquire at the Status Hearing whether parents or other parties have provided information necessary to locate an alleged father, an absent parent, or a relative of the child. It is left to the court to decide what action, if any, should be taken in response to a negative answer. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(a)(2).
- The court is required, after reviewing and making any necessary modifications, to incorporate the service plan into the orders of the court and may render additional appropriate orders to implement or require compliance with the plan. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.202(b-1).
Special Issue: DFPS is required to involve the parents in developing the Service Plan. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.102(a)(3). Parent attorneys are entitled to attend any case staffing in which the parent is invited to participate, including to develop a family service plan. Tex. Fam. Code §107.0131(a)(2)(F). Courts might consider whether DFPS has involved counsel for the child and whether the parent has substantial input as to what services are appropriate to help the family reunify and ensure the child’s well-being. Courts might also consider including language which takes into account the individualized needs and circumstances of the family and the reasons the child was removed rather than the use of boilerplate language.