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Appendix 5531: Requirements for the Court in a Permanency Hearing Before the Final Order for a Child in TMC

CPS September 2015

The following is a summary of the state and federal requirements for the court at a permanency hearing regarding a child who is under DFPS temporary managing conservatorship (TMC).

Texas Family Code §§263.002, 263.306, and 266.007

42 U.S.C. §675(5)(B) and (C)

Persons Present

The court:

  •  identifies all persons and parties who are present at the hearing; and

  •  asks all parties present whether the child or the child’s family has a Native American heritage and identifies any Native American tribe with which the child may be associated.

Appointments

In a suit where DFPS is seeking termination or appointment of a conservator, the court advises each parent at the parent’s first appearance in court about:

  •  the right to representation, if not represented by an attorney; and

  •  the right to an attorney ad litem if the parent is indigent and appears in opposition to the suit.

Placement and Permanency

At each permanency hearing before a final order is rendered, the court:

  •  reviews DFPS’ efforts to:

  •  locate and request service of citation on all persons entitled to service;

  •  obtain the assistance of parents to locate a missing parent, alleged father, or relative;

  •  ensure that the child has regular, ongoing opportunities to engage in age-appropriate normalcy activities;

  •  ensure that substitute caregivers are following the reasonable and prudent parent standard by, without DFPS’s prior approval, making decisions similar to those a parent would be entitled to make regarding a child’s participation in age-appropriate normalcy activities;

  •  reviews the parties’ compliance with temporary orders and the service plan and the extent of progress toward improving the causes necessitating the placement of the child in foster care;

  •  determines whether to return the child to the child’s parents if the child’s parents are willing and able to provide a safe environment and the return is in the child’s best interests; and

  •  estimates a likely date by which the child may be returned to and safely maintained in the child’s home, placed for adoption, or placed in a permanent managing conservatorship.

The court reviews the permanency progress report to determine:

•     whether the child’s safety, well-being, and needs, including medical or special needs, are being met;

•     whether the placement of the child, including a child who has been placed outside the state, continues to be necessary and appropriate and in the child’s best interest;

•     the appropriateness of the permanency goals for the child developed in accordance with DFPS rule, and whether CPS has made reasonable efforts to finalize the permanency plan;

•     whether the child has been provided, in a developmentally appropriate manner, an opportunity to express the child’s opinion on any medical care provided;

•     whether a child receiving psychotropic medication has been provided appropriate non-pharmacological interventions, therapies, or strategies to meet the child’s needs, or has been seen by the prescribing physician at least once every 90 days;

•     whether an education decision-maker for the child has been identified, the child’s education needs and goals have been identified and addressed, and there have been major changes in the child’s school performance or serious disciplinary events;

•     whether services for a child aged 14 or older, that are needed to assist the child in transitioning from substitute care to successful adulthood, are available in the child’s community; and

•     whether the child has been consulted about the desired permanency outcome if the child’s permanency goal is another planned permanent living arrangement, and whether another planned permanent living arrangement is the best permanency plan for the child.

Special Living Arrangements

If a child is placed with his or her parents on a monitored return, the court:

  •  makes specific findings regarding the grounds for the order; and

  •  sets a new date not later than 180 days after the temporary order is rendered for dismissal, unless a trial on the merits is commenced.

If a child is in institutional care, the court assesses whether efforts have been made to find the least restrictive placement that is consistent with the child’s best interest and special needs.

If a child is committed to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) or released under TJJD’s supervision, the court:

  •  reviews the commitment or release; and

  •  determines whether the youth’s needs for treatment, rehabilitation, and education are being met.

Education

The court identifies a person to make education-related decisions for a child, if such a person has not already been identified.

If a child is eligible for special education services and it is necessary to ensure that the child’s educational rights are protected, the court appoints a surrogate parent to protect the child’s education rights in accordance with the eligibility and preference criteria outlined in statute.

Medical Care

The court reviews the child’s medical care, including whether the child was given an opportunity, in a developmentally appropriate manner, to give an opinion on his or her care.

If psychotropic drugs are prescribed, the court determines:

  •  whether the child has been provided appropriate psychosocial therapies, behavior strategies, and other non-pharmacological interventions; and

  •  whether the child has been seen by the prescribing physician, physician assistant, or advanced practice nurse at least once every 90 days for the required medication review.

Services and Hearings

The court assesses plans and services, and issues further orders to ensure that a final order is rendered before the dismissal date.

At the permanency hearing, the court schedules the next permanency hearing for no later than 120 days later.

The court gives in open court notice of the mandatory dismissal date, next hearing, and trial date to all parties.

The court reviews the child’s service plan, permanency report, and other information to determine:

  •  the safety of the child;

  •  the continuing necessity and appropriateness of placement;

  •  the extent of the parent’s compliance with the service plan;

  •  whether other plans or services are needed;

  •  whether the child’s education-related needs and goals have been identified and addressed;

  •  the extent of the progress made in alleviating the causes necessitating the child’s being placed in DFPS conservatorship;

  •  whether DFPS has made reasonable efforts to finalize the permanency plan, including the concurrent permanency goals; and

  •  a likely date by which the child may be returned home, adopted, or placed in permanent managing conservatorship.

If a child is 14 or older, the court orders any needed and available transitional living services.

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