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The Path to Permanency. Hall County Justice For Children Summit October 9, 2008. Why do you care about Permanency?. Outcomes for children and youth in foster care Requirement of federal (ASFA) and state law Federal audits (Title IV-E, CFSR, etc.) ASFA (1997)

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The Path to Permanency

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The Path to Permanency

Hall County

Justice For Children Summit

October 9, 2008

Why do you care about Permanency?

  • Outcomes for children and youth in foster care

  • Requirement of federal (ASFA) and state law

    • Federal audits (Title IV-E, CFSR, etc.)

    • ASFA (1997)

      • Shortens timeframes for achieving permanency

      • Requires permanency hearings

      • Establishes permanency goals

      • Provides for expedited permanency process when aggravated circumstances exist

  • Other reasons?

The movement to a outcome based system means that child welfare professionals must find ways to incorporate their good clinical skills with a outcomes management approach.

This training will focus on achieving timely permanency.


Achieving Permanency

  • The essence of permanency outcomes is to reduce the length of time to achieve permanent living arrangements while ensuring that children receive consistent, stable care.

  • When children must be removed for their safety, permanency planning efforts focus on:

    • Returning them home as soon as safe to do so

    • Placing them with another permanent family

  • What is your definition of “permanency”?

  • What is your role in this process?

Permanency Hearings

  • What are they?

    • Represents a deadline for the court to determine the final plan that will move the child out of temporary foster care and into a permanent home

  • Review Hearing “Plus”

Review Hearing

  • Consider the safety of the child

  • Examine the need for and appropriateness of placement

  • Review compliance w/ the case plan and determine extent to which reasons for removal have been alleviated

  • Set a projected date for permanency, consider all barriers to achievement of goal, fine-tune

  • Modify visitation if necessary

  • Seek relative resources

Permanency Hearing

All of the above PLUS:

  • Choose the plan by systematically ruling out more permanent options

  • Consider the health and well-being of the child

  • Order the next steps necessary to achieve the permanent plan

  • Rule on whether the agency has made RE to finalize the permanent plan

  • If the child remains in foster care, seek connections for the child

What Triggers a Permanency Hearing?

  • 3 scenarios:

    • (1) Judicial Determination that RE are not required (O.C.G.A. §15-11-58(a)(5))

    • (2) Submission of a plan that does not contain a plan for reunification services (O.C.G.A. §15-11-58(e))

    • (3) In anticipation of child’s 12th month in care (O.C.G.A. §15-11-58(o)(1)) and not less than every 12 months thereafter during the time the child remains in DFCS custody

Permanency Hearings in GA

  • Must be held within 30 days after a judicial determination that RE are not required to be made

    • Subjected the child to aggravated circumstances which, including but not limited to abandonment, torture, chronic abuse, and sexual abuse;

    • Committed murder of another child of the parent;

    • Been convicted of the murder of the other parent of the child;

    • Committed voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent;

    • Aided or abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent; or

    • Committed a felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the child or another child of the parent; or

    • The parental rights of the parent to a sibling have been terminated involuntarily

Permanency Hearings in GA (cont’d)

  • Required to be held within 30 days from submission of “non-reunification” plan

    • Legal Standard: Clear and convincing evidence that reunification efforts detrimental to the child. Referral to TPR/adoption not in BIOC

    • Presumption that RE should not be provided when:

      • Parent unjustifiable failed to comply w/ previously ordered reunification plan

      • Child removed on 2 previous occasions and reunification services were provided

      • Grounds for TPR exist

      • Circumstances listed in § 15-11-58(4) exist, making RE to reunify unnecessary

  • Available dispositional options: relative, non-related individual, suitable individual in another state, agency or organization operated like a “family home”

  • Permanency Hearings in GA (cont’d)

    • No later than 12 months after the child is considered to have entered foster care

    • Thereafter, at least every 12 months during the time the child continues in custody

    • May be held at the time of a hearing on a motion to extend custody

      • BUT, a permanency hearing is more than a hearing on the motion

    DFCS’ Permanency Plan (O.C.G.A. §15-11-58(o)(2))

    • At the time of the permanency hearing, DFCS must recommend a permanency plan for the child

      • Whether/when child shall be:

        • returned to the parent(s);

        • referred for TPR and adoption;

        • referred for legal guardianship*;

        • placed permanently w/ a fit and willing relative*; or

        • placed in another planned permanent living arrangement (APPLA)

          • DFCS provides “compelling reason” that no other option is in BIOC


    Child is returned to the birth parent.

    • The preferred permanent placement for most children.

      Barriers to reunification:

    • Parental capacity

    • Child’s needs

    • Services not available


    The social and legal process designed to establish a new

    legal family giving a child the same rights and benefits of

    those born into a family.

    When is Adoption an appropriate permanency plan?

    • When reunification with birth parents is not possible

    • When a suitable permanent home is not provided by


    • When permanent, legal separation from the birth family

      is necessary and sanctioned by the court

    • When a child is capable of accepting and responding to

      family life and a home of his/her own


    Guardianship is granted to a relative or non-relative for a child who is:

    • Unlikely to return home

    • Adoption is not in the child’s best interest.

      Why Select Guardianship?

    • Guardianship does not sever birth parents' rights/responsibilities

    • Maintains the bond/connection between the child and family.

    • May be considered when a TPR has occurred.

    • Relatives and non relatives can receive subsidized guardianship payments

      Barriers to achieving permanency through Guardianship:

    • Birth parents can petition the court to dissolve the guardianship.

    Permanent Placement w/ a Fit & Willing Relative

    The development of a relationship between a related adult and child that is permanent.

    Why Select Placement with Fit and Willing Relative?

    • Custody until 18

    • Adoption and Guardianship have been considered, but ruled out

    • Supports family continuity and support

    • Does not require TPR

    • Relative Care Subsidy

    Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA)

    Child/Youth remains in agency custody until he/she reaches age of majority.

    • Long Term Foster Care – Agreement with a caregiver for placement until foster care is no longer needed.

    • Emancipation – A planned arrangement for maintaining the child in foster care until he/she is emancipated.

      Why Select APPLA as the Permanency Plan?

    • Youth does not want to be adopted.

    • Youth is in a stable, safe placement with an adult who is committed to the youth until he/she reaches the age of majority

    Reasonable Efforts to Reach Permanency

    • To place the child in a timely manner in accordance w/ the permanency plan and to complete whatever steps are necessary to finalize the permanent placement of the child (O.C.G.A. §§15-11-58(a)(5), (o)(6)).

    • Finding made at every permanency hearing

    • Concurrent planning

    The Court’s Permanency Order (O.C.G.A. §15-11-58(n)(5) and (6))

    • The court enters a supplemental order incorporating:

      • the permanency goal,

      • findings of fact regarding RE to finalize the permanency plan in effect at the time of the hearing,

      • findings of fact regarding whether (if applicable) an out-of-state placement continues to be appropriate and in the BIOC, and

      • in the case of a child age 14+, a determination of services needed to assist the child to make a transition from foster care to independent living

    Other voices (O.C.G.A. §§15-11-55 & 15-11-58)

    • Child/youth must be consulted

      • Home At Last youth survey (My Voice, My Life, My Future)

      • Child & Family Svcs Improvement Act of 2006 (See 42 U.S.C.§ 675(5)(c); SB 128, amending O.C.G.A. § 15-11-58(o)(4))

    • Foster parents, preadoptive parents, and relatives providing care for the child

      • All foster care proceedings (O.C.G.A.§ 15-11-55.1)

      • Court shall include findings of fact reflecting consideration of oral and written testimony (O.C.G.A. § 15-11-58(p))

      • 5 days advance notice for permanency hearings

    “Listen to us. Find out what our style is. Talk to other people that know us, if we say it’s okay. Check with us about things. Remember the motto, ‘Nothing About Me Without Me!’ Don’t make choices for us or make fun of us. Know that we have thoughts, feelings, and ideas just like you.”Sara Erstad-Landis, “What I Would Like to Say to Lawyers,” Youth Law News

    Poetic - Ronald, age 18

    What’s YOUR role in the Path to Permanency?

    • Melissa D. Carter

      • Office of the Child Advocate

      • Tel: 404-463-5724

      • Em:

    • Bobby Cagle

      • DFCS

      • Tel: 404-463-7285

      • Em:

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