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Guardian ad Litem

Guardian ad Litem

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Guardian ad Litem

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  1. Guardian ad Litem Attorney Training

  2. TRAINING AGENDA Foundational Issues Path of a Case Appellate Practice Residential Treatment Centers and Psychotropic Medications Federal Legislation

  3. Duties of the GAL Team • GAL Volunteer • Visits the child on a monthly basis and collects all information necessary to make a recommendation as to what is in the child's best interests. • Compiles information in a report to the court and keeps GAL Program informed as to the child’s status. • GAL Case Coordinator • Provides support and resources to the volunteer. • Maintains contact with other agencies and ensures services for the child are in place. • Maintains contact with volunteer and updates Program Attorney as to status of the child. • GAL Program Attorney • Advocates for the best interests of child in court and dependency proceedings related to the child. • Program Director • Manages the GAL Program and directs the case work activities of Program staff and volunteers. • Performs a broad variety of tasks including recruiting, screening and training volunteers, assisting staff in Program responsibilities and submission of recommendations to the court. • Ensures proper maintenance of case management records. • Monitors and evaluates staff and volunteer compliance with Program Standards of Operation.

  4. Guardian ad Litem Program Attorney Standards • Attorney Standards • Professional and Practice Standards applicable to all Program Attorneys. • The Program Attorney shall at all times advocate for the best interest of the child. • The Program Attorney represents the GAL Program as a legal entity and the GAL Program team, which includes the GAL volunteer and the Case Coordinator. • The Program Attorney Standards of Practice can be found on the P drive in the Attorneys folder. All Program Attorneys must review the Standards regularly to ensure compliance.

  5. Confidentiality of Records and Open Hearings • All records and information required in dependency proceedings are confidential and exempt from public inspection or access. § 39.0132. • The statute lists who can access this information without court order: • the child; • the child’s parents; • authorized court personnel; • correctional probation officers; • law enforcement agents; • the guardian ad litem; and • others entitled under chapter 39. See § 39.0132(3). • Dependency court records are only admissible in the following civil and criminal proceedings: • appeal; • perjury; • disqualification; • adoption; and • those related to placement, parental time, adoption or termination of parental rights for the child or the sibling of a child whose rights have already been terminated. § 39.0132(6).

  6. Confidentiality of Records and Open Hearings • Abuse hotline reports and records are not open to public inspection. • Section 39.202 governs the confidentiality of all reports and records held by the department, including reports made to the central abuse hotline regarding a child’s abandonment, abuse or neglect. Such reports and records are not open to public inspection. • Anyone who “knowingly and willfully” discloses confidential information contained in the central abuse hotline or departmental records of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect, is guilty of a 2nd degree misdemeanor. §39.205(3). • Dependency hearings are open to the public, however the court may close any hearing or exclude someone in particular if the court determines “that the public interest or the welfare of the child is best served by doing so.” § 39.507(2). • Termination of Parental Rights hearings are closed to the public. §39.809(4). • See Natural Parents of J.B. v. Florida DCF, 780 So. 2d 6 (Fla. 2001) (holding that closure is statutorily mandated, therefore the court need not make particular showing to justify closure).

  7. PRACTICE TIPS • The Program Attorney’s role is to keep volunteers operating within the legal parameters of the dependency court. • This is especially important with regard to confidentiality of records. • Volunteers may not fully appreciate the significance of maintaining confidentiality and it is important for the attorney to remind them of this. They are receivers of information not distributors of information.

  8. Jurisdiction and Venue in Dependency Proceedings • Jurisdiction attaches either when the department takes a child into custody or when a shelter, dependency or TPR petition is filed, whichever is first. § 39.013(2). • Jurisdiction may be transferred within a circuit, between circuits, and between states. • Once TPR has occurred, the court retains jurisdiction over the child until the adoption is finalized. § 39.812(4). • ICWA determines the jurisdiction for Indian children, or those eligible for tribal membership. ICWA and its implications are detailed later in the presentation.

  9. Jurisdiction and Venue in Dependency Proceedings • Subject Matter Jurisdiction • Jurisdiction over dependency and TPR proceedings is vested in the circuit court. §§ 39.013(2), 39.801(2). • The court hearing the dependency matter may also exercise jurisdiction over guardianship proceedings (Chapter 744) and relative custody proceedings (Chapter 751) involving the same child. § 39.013(3). • The court that conducted TPR proceedings is granted continuing jurisdiction for purposes of adoption (Chapter 63). § 39.813. • Dependency issues may arise in other cases such as dissolution, custody, delinquency, and criminal. In the absence of local rules, transfer of such issues (custody, visitation, dependency, child support) to the court that hears dependency cases is provided by Rule 8.205(a). • The shelter hearing shall be held by the circuit court, or the county court if so designated by the chief judge of the circuit court. §39.402(6)(a). Pursuant to § 39.402(12), all hearings conducted by a judge other than the juvenile court judge must be reviewed within 2 working days of the original shelter hearing by the juvenile court judge.

  10. Jurisdiction and Venue in Dependency Proceedings • Personal Jurisdiction • Jurisdiction over the child attaches upon the first of the following taking place: • when a child is taken into custody by the department; or • when a shelter, dependency, or TPR petition is filed. See § 39.013(2). • Other States’ Involvement • Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). Dependency proceedings are included in the UCCJEA’s definition of “custody proceeding,” and as a result are subject to the UCCJEA. §§ 61.501-61.503. • Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) involves the placement of children by the sending agency to receiving state, typically under supervision of the child welfare agency in the other state, rather than the transfer of the court’s jurisdiction from one state to another. §§ 409.401- 409.405. • Transfer of Jurisdiction. Jurisdiction over dependency cases can be transferred within a circuit, between circuits, and between states, typically for reasons dealing with venue issues and convenience. Rule 8.205.

  11. CASE LAW Jurisdiction and Venue in Dependency Proceedings • Retention of Jurisdiction • If a child has been adjudicated dependent, the court retains jurisdiction over the child until adoption or the age of 18 unless the court affirmatively relinquishes jurisdiction. §§ 39.013(2), 39.811(9). • Dependent children may petition the court to retain jurisdiction for one year past their 18th birthday to determine whether appropriate aftercare support and other services have been provided or to meet any federal requirements with respect to the court’s ongoing jurisdiction pending issuance of a Special Immigration Juvenile Visa. § 39.013(2). • TPR cases • Following TPR and permanent commitment of a child to the department, the court retains jurisdiction over the child until adoption is finalized, §39.812(4); during this time, the court may consider continued relative and parental contact, as well as appropriateness of adoptive placement under §39.811(7); under §39.813, the court that granted TPR retains jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to the adoption. • Termination of Jurisdiction • The court in a dependency proceeding may terminate its jurisdiction under the following circumstances: • the court finds that the department has not proved its case and the child is not dependent, and dismisses case, § 39.507(4); • the court adjudicates the child dependent while in custody of one parent, and places the child with the non-custodial parent, §39.521(3)(b)1.; (continued on next slide)

  12. Jurisdiction and Venue in Dependency Proceedings • Termination of Jurisdiction (cont’d) • The court in a dependency proceeding may terminate its jurisdiction under the following circumstances: • the court must retain jurisdiction in cases of placement with a fit and willing relative or another planned permanent living arraignment. §§ 39.6221(5), 39.6231(5), 39.6241; • the child has been returned to parents or legal custodians, residing safely and continuously with the parents for at least 6 months. § 39.521(7); or • termination in such cases is not mandatory, and many courts will choose to terminate supervision while retaining jurisdiction until the child reaches the age of 18. § 39.521(7). • A motion may be filed by any party to terminate department supervision, jurisdiction of the court, or both, pursuant to Rule 8.345(b). • However, the court cannot terminate its jurisdiction unless child is returned to parents or placed in a home providing child with permanency, and has been there for six months. Rule 8.345(b), 8.415(f)(5). • Venue • The venue in a dependency case is in either the county in which the child and parents reside, or the county where the alleged abandonment, abuse or neglect occurred. • Venue can also be with an Indian tribe, if the child is Indian, pursuant to ICWA.

  13. PRACTICE TIPS • Department policy is that they cannot transfer a case to another circuit without the receiving circuit’s permission. • Remember that you can still request that the court transfer a case over the department's objection, if a transfer is in the child’s best interests, but remember to also address issues of delay in this request (assignment of a courtesy worker, referrals for services, relative caregiver funds and any other task the receiving department district will need to address).

  14. Defining Parties and Participants • Parties to dependency proceedings include the parents, the petitioner, the department, the GAL and the child. § 39.01(50). • Section 39.820 defines the GAL to include, among others, the Program. Thus, it is the Program and not the child, volunteer or staff GAL that is the client. • Participants to dependency proceedings include any person who is not a party but should receive notice of hearings involving the child. • Examples of potential participants are foster parents, prospective parents, grandparents, actual custodians of the child or any other person whose participation may be in the best interest of the child. § 39.01(49). • The safe and timely interstate placement of foster children requires notification of some participants. • The child has the right to be present unless the court finds that appearance is not in the best interests of the child. §39.01(50), Rule 8.255(b). • The child’s mental and physical condition and age should be considered in making this determination. Rule 8.255(b).

  15. CASE LAW Continuances • The Program Attorney shall: • Advocate for timely hearings to ensure that permanency for the child is reached as quickly as possible; and • Only request case continuances in extraordinary circumstances and shall make reasonable efforts to expeditiously conclude litigation. • There are specific time limitations that affect when shelter, arraignment, adjudicatory and disposition hearings must be held . • The court is required to: • Limit continuances to the amount absolutely necessary to preserve the best interests of the child or the rights of a party. § 39.0136. • Limit the cumulative days permitted for continuances permitted by ALL parties to 60 days. § 39.0136(3).

  16. PRACTICE TIPS • Because continuances delay permanency for the child, it is crucial that the Program Attorney scrutinize each request for a continuance and only agree when necessary and in the child’s best interests.

  17. Presence of the Child • Presence in Court • The child has the right to be present unless the court finds that the child’s appearance is not in the best interests of the child. § 39.01(50). • The Program Attorney shall take steps necessary to ensure the child’s attendance at hearings when appropriate. • In making this determination with the GAL Program, the Program Attorney shall consider: the age, maturity and desires of the child; the purpose of the hearing; the advice of those consulted; and the potential risk of trauma to the child evoked by such attendance. • Testifying • If the child has been subpoenaed by another party to testify at hearing, the Program Attorney and the GAL Program shall determine if testifying is in the child’s best interests. • The Program Attorney and the GAL Program must determine the possible benefits and repercussions of testifying and the necessity of the child’s direct testimony. • Consideration should be given to the availability of other evidence or hearsay exceptions that may substitute for direct testimony. • If it is determined that it would not be in the child’s best interest to testify, the Program Attorney should seek an agreement of the parties not to call the child as a witness or utilize other remedies such as an order from the court to limit the scope or circumstances of the testimony. • If the child is compelled to testify, the Program Attorney should seek to minimize the consequences by seeking appropriate accommodations as allowed by law such as in camera testimony, videotaped testimony or testimony via closed circuit television (all require motion and hearing as well as specific findings of fact). • The court can limit the number of times a child is subject to testimony. See § 92.55(3); Rule 8.245(i)(4).

  18. CASE LAW Appointment of the Guardian ad Litem Program • Appointment of Guardian ad Litem (GAL) shall occur at the earliest possible time in any civil or criminal abuse, neglect, or abandonment judicial proceeding. • See §§ 39.402(8)(c)(1); 39.807(2); 39.822. Rule 8.215; 8.305(b)(7)(A); 8.510(a)(2)(C). • The GAL Program is required to accept the appointment and shall assign staff or a volunteer within 30 days of the order of appointment or shall file a motion for discharge. • Once appointed, the GAL Program remains appointed until discharged by the court.

  19. Q&A The Program Attorney’s Client is …? The Program Attorney represents the GAL Program as a legal entity. The GAL Program is the clearly defined client.

  20. Q&A When does Jurisdiction attach? Jurisdiction attaches either when the department takes a child into custody or when a shelter, dependency or TPR petition is filed, whichever is first. § 39.013(2).

  21. Q&A • Abuse hotline reports are open to public inspection. • True • False • False. Abuse hotline reports are confidential, even from the GAL.

  22. Q&A • Which of the following is not a party to the dependency preceding? • The child • The parents • The grandparents • Grandparents may petition to become participants but they are • not a party to the case. § 39.01(50).

  23. Q&A • The child may only attend court proceedings if absolutely necessary. • True • False • The child has the right to be present unless the court finds that appearance is not in the best interests of the child. §39.01(51), Rule 8.255(b).

  24. Q&A • The GAL Program remains appointed until: • Discharged by the court • The Termination of Parental Rights hearing • Judicial Review • Case Plan Conference • The GAL Program remains appointed until discharged by the court.

  25. TRAINING AGENDA Foundational Issues Path of a Case Appellate Practice Residential Treatment Centers and Psychotropic Medications Federal Legislation

  26. Path of a Case Abuse Report & Investigation Placed in Shelter or with Relative Shelter Hearing (within 24 hours) Mediation or Case Plan Conference Dependency Petition Filed (within 21 days) Arraignment & Shelter Review (within 28 days) Pretrial Conference Adjudicatory Hearing (within 30 days after arraignment) Concurrent Case Planning. 39.621 Disposition (15 days after Arraignment if consent or admit, within 30 days from last day of adj. hearing) Case Plan Approval (Approve at time of disposition or within 30 days after disposition) Initial Judicial Review (90 days after disposition hearing, or date court approved case plan, or 6 months after child’s removal from home) Reunification Adoption (If TPR filed) Judicial Review Permanent Guardianship Judicial Permanency Review Determine Permanency Goal (12 months placed in shelter) Relative Placement

  27. Shelter Hearing

  28. Shelter Hearings • Summary and Purpose • The shelter hearing is a non-adversarial hearing, which takes place within 24 hours of removal. §§ 39.402(8)(a), 39.401(3). • Shelter hearing means a hearing in which the court determines whether probable cause exists to keep a child in shelter status pending further investigation of the case. § 39.01(68). • The court considers the department’s affidavit and petition and other evidence, if presented, to determine if probable cause exists to remove a child or keep a child in shelter status pending further investigation of the case. § 39.402(1). • The shelter hearing is comparable to a first appearance, except that parents have the right to be heard and present evidence. § 39.402(5)(b)(1). • Shelter is temporary placement for the child with a relative or nonrelative, or in a licensed home or facility, for the temporary care of the child who is alleged to be or has been found to be dependent, pending disposition before or after adjudication. § 39.01(67). • GAL Program (Case Coordinator and Program Attorney) attends and the GAL Program is appointed.

  29. Shelter Hearings • Probable Cause for Removal • The court must find probable cause (standard of proof necessary for an arrest warrant) that: • the child has been abused, neglected or abandoned; or • there has been a material violation of a condition of placement; or • the child has no parent; AND • available services will not eliminate the need for removal. §§ 39.402(8)(d)1, 39.402(2). • The court may base its determination on the sworn complaint, testimony or affidavit, or written/oral reports. • Evidence may be considered to the extent of its probative value even though it would not be competent for an adjudicatory hearing. • This determination must include a description of which specific services, if available, could prevent the need for removal or continued removal from the home and the date by which the services are expected to become available. § 39.402(10)(a). If services are not available, there must be an explanation as to why. § 39.407(10)(b). • The court is also required to: • ask the parents whether there are any potential relative placements, • § 39.402(17); • 2) find that the department did (or did not) make reasonable efforts to prevent removal; and • 3) inform the parents that if they fail to comply with their case plan, the Court may terminate their parental rights. § 39.402(18).

  30. Shelter Hearings • Issues to be considered at Shelter Hearing • Placement • If the court grants the shelter petition, the court must determine placement. • Safety of the child is the paramount consideration in making placement decisions. 42 U.S.C. § 671 (15)(A). • Placement options • any person for whom the department has a positive home study; or • custody to the department with permission to release without further hearing to court specified person upon positive home study; or • custody to the department with permission to release without further hearing to person selected by the department upon positive home study; or • custody to the department with directions for a home study for a specified person. • the child MUST be placed with a non-offending parent who seeks custody of the child if there is a completed home study and the placement does not endanger the safety, well-being or physical, mental or emotional health of the child. § 39.521(3)(b). • Visitation • Visitation should be ordered unless there is a clear and convincing showing that visitation is not in the best interests of the child. § 39.402(9). • Visitation should begin within 72 hours of the shelter hearing. § 39.402(9). • Visitation with siblings should occur at least once a week and visitation with parents should occur at least once a month unless the court orders otherwise. §§ 39.4085(15), 39.4085(16).

  31. Shelter Hearings • Issues to be considered at Shelter Hearing (cont’d) • Child Support • Parents to pay child support if the child is placed outside of the home. • School • Consideration should be given to location of child’s previous school and new school if necessary. • If it appears that the child’s placement out of his or her previous school district will be limited or temporary, the GAL Program may consider asking the court to order the department or other approved person to provide transportation to maintain continuity for the child. • The department, the Department of Education and local district school boards are required to enter into interagency agreements to keep foster children in their home schools,  stabilize their education and improve planning for their educational goals. • Counseling • Counseling may be appropriate and necessary and can begin immediately. • Program Attorney should ask that counseling be ordered to ensure department’s compliance. • Potential Need to Impose Restrictions (no-contact orders) or Consideration of any Other Orders • Substance abuse assessments • can be ordered for anyone with custody or anyone requesting custody of the child. § 39.407 (16).

  32. PRACTICE TIPS • To avoid conflicting orders, the Program Attorney should inquire about any other restrictions/orders arising from other cases involving the family (delinquency, domestic relations, or domestic violence) at the Shelter Hearing. • See Checklist

  33. Q&A • The Shelter Hearing takes place within 36 hours of the child’s removal. • True • False • The shelter hearing takes place within 24 hours of removal. • §§ 39.402(8)(a), 39.401(3).

  34. Path of a Case Abuse Report & Investigation Placed in Shelter or with Relative Shelter Hearing (within 24 hours) Mediation or Case Plan Conference Dependency Petition Filed (within 21 days) Arraignment & Shelter Review (within 28 days) Pretrial Conference Adjudicatory Hearing (within 30 days after arraignment) Concurrent Case Planning. 39.621 Disposition (15 days after Arraignment if consent or admit, within 30 days from last day of adj. hearing) Case Plan Approval (Approve at time of disposition or within 30 days after disposition) Initial Judicial Review (90 days after disposition hearing, or date court approved case plan, or 6 months after child’s removal from home) Reunification Adoption (If TPR filed) Judicial Review Permanent Guardianship Judicial Permanency Review Determine Permanency Goal (12 months placed in shelter) Relative Placement

  35. Dependency Petition • Contents of Dependency Petition • A dependency petition shall: • Allege sufficient facts showing the child to be dependent based upon applicable laws. Rule 8.310(a)(1). • Contain allegations as to the identity and residence of the parents or legal custodians, if known. Rule 8.310(a)(2). • Identify the age, sex, and name of the child. • Two or more children may be the subject of the same petition. Rule 8.310(a)(3). • The dependency petition may be amended at any time prior to the conclusion of the adjudicatory hearing. Rule 8.310(c). The dependency petition may be amended after an adjudication by permission of the court or consent of all parties. Rule 8.310(c).

  36. PRACTICE TIPS • The Program Attorney may file a dependency petition when necessary. • Before filing, the Program Attorney should thoroughly review Rule 8.310 and § 39.501. • Remember to comply with the Rules of Juvenile Procedure regarding service of the petition and diligent searches.

  37. Discovery • Demands for Discovery • The Program Attorney shall file a demand for discovery in each case. • The Program Attorney must ensure a discovery request is for information that cannot be obtained from another source that may be more timely and responsive. • Response to Demand for Discovery • A response to a demand for discovery must be filed within 15 days of service of the request. Rule 8.245(d)(2). • The Program Attorney shall redact any work product from GAL Program files before the file is reviewed by any other party. • Depositions • Any party may take the deposition upon oral examination of any person who may have information relevant to the allegations in the petition. Rule 8.245(g).

  38. Discovery • Depositions (cont’d) • Depositions may be used at any hearing for the purposes of: • Impeachment. • Testimonial evidence if the deponent is unavailable because: • he or she is dead; • he or she lives farther than 100 miles from the place of hearing or is out of state unless it appears that the absence of the witness was procured by the party offering the deposition; • no service (and proof that proper service attempted); • he or she is unable to testify because of age, illness, infirmity or imprisonment; • it has been shown on application and notice that such exceptional circumstances exist as to make it desirable, in the interest of justice and with due regard to the importance of presenting the testimony of witnesses orally in open court, to allow the deposition to be used; or • the witness is an expert. Rule 8.245(g)(3). • The court may set conditions for the depositions of a child under the age of 16 AFTER proper notice and an evidentiary hearing where good cause is shown. Rule 8.245(i)(2). • “good cause” is shown based on the following considerations: • the age of the child; • the nature of the allegations; • the relationship between the child victim and the alleged abuser; • the child has undergone previous interviews that were recorded; • the examination would adversely affect the child; or • the manifest best interest of the child require the limitations or restrictions.

  39. PRACTICE TIPS • Because the GAL Program will typically share a similar general position to either the department or the parents, the Program Attorney should discuss the possibility of another party setting the deposition and thus covering the costs. • Both the department and the court-appointed parent’s attorneys have resources for depositions and our funds are quite limited — save resources for when you are the only person requesting a deposition. • Requests for any legal expenses must be first approved by the Supervising Attorney who will then submit the request to the Statewide Office.

  40. Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) • The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children • A full text of the compact can be found at: http://icpc.aphsa.org. • ICPC is the only statutory mechanism the courts have to ensure that children who are placed across state lines are protected and provided proper service. • The law ensures that: • The child is placed in a suitable environment and supervised, if requested; • The receiving state has the opportunity to assess proposed placements; • The sending state obtains adequate information so that a placement may be evaluated; and • The appropriate jurisdictional arrangements are made for the care of the child, including financial support.

  41. Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) • An order is required before ICPC can be begun by the department. • Case law in Florida requires a completed ICPC before a child can be placed out of state. • See DCF v. Benway, 745 So.2d 437 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1999) where the court reversed an order placing a dependent child with the natural father in Vermont despite Vermont’s approval of the placement because the order did not comply with ICPC. • An expedited ICPC typically averages approximately 3 months and a regular ICPC averages 6 months. However, recent federal legislation gives financial incentives to states that move ICPC’s through more quickly so it is anticipated that the length of time will shorten. • ICPC approval is not automatic—some states will not approve nonrelatives until they have become licensed foster parents and some states require even relatives to become licensed foster parents. • Non-custodial parents • ICPC home study is required to place with a non-custodial parent. • Visits • With the receipt of an approved home study, the child may visit out of state for a maximum of 30 days. A visit may last longer than 30 days if during a school vacation (i.e. summer break) but there must be a definite ending date. • Out-of-State Funding • Be cautious about out-of-state placements because funding may not transfer with the child. • ICPC requires the sending state to retain financial responsibility for the child, but Florida often will not pay relative caregiver benefits to out-of-state placements. • The Florida case worker will often have to assist the out-of-state placement with applying for Medicaid in their own state (the Program Attorney may want to have court order this).

  42. ICPC – New Legislation • Safe and Timely Interstate Placement of Foster Children Act of 2006 • The Act will facilitate the adoption of children in foster care in the following ways: • Adds new federal requirements relating to the placement of children in foster care across state lines, ensuring that receiving states complete required home studies (assessment of the suitability of a possible placement) of prospective adoptive families within 60 days of receiving the request from the state with responsibility for the child; • Authorizes payment of incentives of $1,500 per interstate home study for home studies completed within 30 days; and • Requires more frequent visits by caseworkers to children placed outside the state with responsibility for the child (i.e., every 6 months rather than the current requirement of every 12 months).

  43. PRACTICE TIPS • It is crucial that the Program Attorney identify any potential out-of-state placements as early in the case as possible and ICPC is ordered as the process can take a long time. • Follow-up is mandatory.

  44. Path of a Case Abuse Report & Investigation Placed in Shelter or with Relative Shelter Hearing (within 24 hours) Mediation or Case Plan Conference Dependency Petition Filed (within 21 days) Arraignment & Shelter Review (within 28 days) Pretrial Conference Adjudicatory Hearing (within 30 days after arraignment) Concurrent Case Planning. 39.621 Disposition (15 days after Arraignment if consent or admit, within 30 days from last day of adj. hearing) Case Plan Approval (Approve at time of disposition or within 30 days after disposition) Initial Judicial Review (90 days after disposition hearing, or date court approved case plan, or 6 months after child’s removal from home) Reunification Adoption (If TPR filed) Judicial Review Permanent Guardianship Judicial Permanency Review Determine Permanency Goal (12 months placed in shelter) Relative Placement

  45. CASE LAW Case Plans • Case Plan Conferencing or Dependency Mediation are useful and efficient means of resolving contested issues and agreeing on the disposition of the case. • In many circuits, a Case Plan Conference, Family Team Conference or Dependency Mediation is scheduled at the inception of the case. • The case plan must be developed in a face-to-face conference with the parent of the child, the GAL, the custodian and if appropriate, the child. • The Case Plan • The case plan is a plan to address the parents’ behavior that created the risk to the child. • The services in the case plan must be designed to achieve permanency within the applicable time frames. • The services must be the least intrusive possible, must focus on clearly defined objectives and must provide the most efficient path to quick reunification or permanent placement. • The case plan must be signed by all parties and adopted by the court. • The case plan must include a description of the tasks with which the parent must comply and the services to be provided as well as: • the type of services or treatment; • frequency of services or treatment; • location of the delivery of services; and • the accountable department staff or service provider. § 39.6012(1)(b).

  46. Case Plans • The case plan must also include: • the permanency goal and type of placement for the child; • any concurrent planning goals; • the type of home or institution in which the child is placed; • the financial support obligation to the child; • the visitation rights and obligations of the parents; • the safety and appropriateness of the child’s placement; • the efforts to be undertaken to maintain the stability of the child’s educational placement; • the plan to ensure that appropriate services are provide to the parents, the child and the caretakers; and • written notice to the parent that the failure of the parent to comply with the case plan may result in TPR, and that a material failure to substantially comply may result in the filing of a TPR petition sooner than the compliance periods in the case plan. §§ 39.6011, 39.6012. • The case plan must be limited to as short a period as possible for the accomplishment of its provisions and in any case, expires 12 months after the date the child was initially removed from the home or the date the case plan was accepted by the court, whichever was first. § 39.6011(2)(d).

  47. Case Plans • Amending the case plan • The case plan can be amended by the court or motion of any party with a showing of the preponderance of the evidence to: change the goal; use concurrent planning; or add or remove tasks for the parents. § 39.6013(4). • To amend services for the child, party must show competent evidence showing need for amendment. § 39.6013(5). • The need to amend the case plan may be based on information discovered or circumstances arising after approval of the case plan: • a previously unaddressed condition; • the child’s need for permanency; • the failure of a party to substantially comply with a task in the original case plan, including the ineffectiveness of a previously offered service; or • an error or oversight in the case plan. § 39.6013(4).

  48. Case Plans • Concurrent Planning • Concurrent case plans • A concurrent case plan establishes a permanency goal that uses reasonable efforts to reunify the child with the parent, while at the same time establishing another permanency goal such as permanent guardianship or adoption. §39.01(18). • 6 Month Judicial Review • At this Judicial Review, the court must review the permanency goal and make findings regarding the likelihood of reunification within 12 months after removal. • If the court makes findings that reunification is not likely, the department must file a motion to amend the case plan and declare that it will use concurrent planning. • The department’s motion must be filed no later than 10 business days after receiving the written finding of the court. § 39.701(9)(e).