H. Best Interest

1. Presumption

The prompt and permanent placement of the child in a safe environment is presumed to be in the child's best interest. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.307(a).

2. Factors

The following factors should be considered by the court and DFPS in determining whether the child's parents are willing and able to provide the child with a safe environment:

•   The child's age and physical and mental vulnerabilities;

•   The frequency and nature of out-of-home placements;

•   The magnitude, frequency, and circumstances of the harm to the child;

•   Whether the child has been the victim of repeated harm after the initial report and intervention by DFPS;

•   Whether the child is fearful of living in or returning to the child's home;

•   The results of psychiatric, psychological, or developmental evaluations of the child, the child's parents, other family members, or others who have access to the child's home;

•   Whether there is a history of abusive or assaultive conduct by the child's family or others who have access to the child's home;

•   Whether there is a history of substance abuse by the child's family or others who have access to the child's home;

•   Whether the perpetrator of the harm to the child is identified;

•   The willingness and ability of the child's family to seek out, accept, and complete counseling services and to cooperate with and facilitate an appropriate agency's close supervision;

•   The willingness and ability of the child's family to effect positive environmental and personal changes within a reasonable period of time;

•   Whether the child's family demonstrates adequate parenting skills, including, providing the child and other children under the family's care with:

◦   minimally adequate health and nutritional care;

◦   care, nurturance, and appropriate discipline consistent with the child's physical and psychological development;

◦   guidance and supervision consistent with the child's safety;

◦   a safe physical home environment;

◦   protection from repeated exposure to violence even though the violence may not be directed at the child; and

◦   an understanding of the child's needs and capabilities; and

•   Whether an adequate social support system consisting of an extended family and friends is available to the child. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.307(b).

3. Child Age 16 or Older

The following guidelines should be considered by the court when determining whether to adopt the permanency plan submitted by DFPS for a child 16 and older:

•   The permanency plan submitted to the court includes the services planned for the child to make the transition from foster care to independent living; and

•   This transition is in the best interest of the child. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.307(c).