C. Permanency Plan for Child is Required

1. Permanency Plan

DFPS must prepare a permanency plan for each child in its care. DFPS must give a copy of the plan to each person entitled to notice pursuant to Tex. Fam. Code § 263.0021(b) not later than 10 days before the date of the first Permanency Hearing. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.3025(a).

The permanency plan must contain information required by Tex. Fam. Code § 263.303 and DFPS shall modify the permanency plan as required by the circumstances and the needs of the child. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.3025(b) and (c).

2. Permanency Goals

The permanency plan must include concurrent permanency goals consisting of a primary goal and at least one alternative permanency goal. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.3025(d). Appropriate and legally recognized permanency goals include (in order of preference):

•   Reunification of the child with a parent or other individual from whom the child was removed;

•   Termination of parental rights and adoption of the child by a relative or other suitable individual;

•   Award of permanent managing conservatorship of the child to a relative or other suitable individual; or

•   Another planned, permanent living arrangement for the child (APPLA). Tex. Fam. Code § 263.3026(a).

Special Issue: With passage of the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (SFA) into law in 2014, there are NO permissible uses of APPLA for any child under 16 years of age and use of APPLA is limited for youth ages 16 and older. Courts must ask each youth with a permanency plan of APPLA about their desired permanency outcome and determine at each permanency review hearing that APPLA is the best permanency plan for the child. Texas law also requires courts to document the agency's unsuccessful efforts to achieve a more preferred outcome. With passage of SFA, courts must find that APPLA is the best permanency plan. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.306 (a-1)(5)(I)(ii).