State Codes and Statutes

State Codes and Statutes

Statutes > North-carolina > Chapter_7B > GS_7B-907

§ 7B‑907.  Permanencyplanning hearing.

(a)        In any case wherecustody is removed from a parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker, the judgeshall conduct a review hearing designated as a permanency planning hearingwithin 12 months after the date of the initial order removing custody, and thehearing may be combined, if appropriate, with a review hearing required by G.S.7B‑906. The purpose of the permanency planning hearing shall be todevelop a plan to achieve a safe, permanent home for the juvenile within areasonable period of time. Subsequent permanency planning hearings shall beheld at least every six months thereafter, or earlier as set by the court, toreview the progress made in finalizing the permanent plan for the juvenile, orif necessary, to make a new permanent plan for the juvenile. The Director ofSocial Services shall make a timely request to the clerk to calendar eachpermanency planning hearing at a session of court scheduled for the hearing ofjuvenile matters. The clerk shall give 15 days' notice of the hearing and itspurpose to the parent, the juvenile if 12 years of age or more, the guardian,the foster parent, relative, or preadoptive parent providing care for thechild, the custodian or agency with custody, the guardian ad litem, and anyother person or agency the court may specify, indicating the court's impendingreview. The department of social services shall either provide to the clerk thename and address of the foster parent, relative, or preadoptive parentproviding care for the child for notice under this subsection or file writtendocumentation with the clerk that the child's current care provider was sentnotice of hearing. Nothing in this provision shall be construed to make thefoster parent, relative, or preadoptive parent a party to the proceeding solelybased on receiving notice and the right to be heard.

(b)        At any permanencyplanning review, the court shall consider information from the parent, thejuvenile, the guardian, any foster parent, relative or preadoptive parentproviding care for the child, the custodian or agency with custody, theguardian ad litem, and any other person or agency which will aid it in thecourt's review. The court may consider any evidence, including hearsay evidenceas defined in G.S. 8C‑1, Rule 801, that the court finds to be relevant,reliable, and necessary to determine the needs of the juvenile and the mostappropriate disposition. At the conclusion of the hearing, if the juvenile isnot returned home, the court shall consider the following criteria and makewritten findings regarding those that are relevant:

(1)        Whether it ispossible for the juvenile to be returned home immediately or within the nextsix months, and if not, why it is not in the juvenile's best interests toreturn home;

(2)        Where the juvenile'sreturn home is unlikely within six months, whether legal guardianship orcustody with a relative or some other suitable person should be established,and if so, the rights and responsibilities which should remain with theparents;

(3)        Where the juvenile'sreturn home is unlikely within six months, whether adoption should be pursuedand if so, any barriers to the juvenile's adoption;

(4)        Where the juvenile'sreturn home is unlikely within six months, whether the juvenile should remain inthe current placement or be placed in another permanent living arrangement andwhy;

(5)        Whether the countydepartment of social services has since the initial permanency plan hearingmade reasonable efforts to implement the permanent plan for the juvenile;

(6)        Any other criteriathe court deems necessary.

(c)        At the conclusionof the hearing, the judge shall make specific findings as to the best plan ofcare to achieve a safe, permanent home for the juvenile within a reasonableperiod of time. The judge may appoint a guardian of the person for the juvenilepursuant to G.S. 7B‑600 or make any disposition authorized by G.S. 7B‑903including the authority to place the child in the custody of either parent orany relative found by the court to be suitable and found by the court to be inthe best interest of the juvenile. If the juvenile is not returned home, thecourt shall enter an order consistent with its findings that directs thedepartment of social services to make reasonable efforts to place the juvenilein a timely manner in accordance with the permanent plan, to complete whateversteps are necessary to finalize the permanent placement of the juvenile, and todocument such steps in the juvenile's case plan. Any order shall be reduced towriting, signed, and entered no later than 30 days following the completion ofthe hearing. If the order is not entered within 30 days following completion ofthe hearing, the clerk of court for juvenile matters shall schedule asubsequent hearing at the first session of court scheduled for the hearing ofjuvenile matters following the 30‑day period to determine and explain thereason for the delay and to obtain any needed clarification as to the contentsof the order. The order shall be entered within 10 days of the subsequenthearing required by this subsection.

If at any time custody isrestored to a parent, or findings are made in accordance with G.S. 7B‑906(b),the court shall be relieved of the duty to conduct periodic judicial reviews ofthe placement.

If the court continues thejuvenile's placement in the custody or placement responsibility of a countydepartment of social services, the provisions of G.S. 7B‑507 shall applyto any order entered under this section.

(d)        In the case of ajuvenile who is in the custody or placement responsibility of a countydepartment of social services, and has been in placement outside the home for12 of the most recent 22 months; or a court of competent jurisdiction hasdetermined that the parent has abandoned the child; or has committed murder orvoluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent; or has aided, abetted,attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit murder or voluntary manslaughterof the child or another child of the parent, the director of the department ofsocial services shall initiate a proceeding to terminate the parental rights ofthe parent unless the court finds:

(1)        The permanent planfor the juvenile is guardianship or custody with a relative or some othersuitable person;

(2)        The court makesspecific findings why the filing of a petition for termination of parentalrights is not in the best interests of the child; or

(3)        The department ofsocial services has not provided the juvenile's family with such services asthe department deems necessary, when reasonable efforts are still required toenable the juvenile's return to a safe home.

(e)        If a proceeding toterminate the parental rights of the juvenile's parents is necessary in orderto perfect the permanent plan for the juvenile, the director of the departmentof social services shall file a petition to terminate parental rights within 60calendar days from the date of the permanency planning hearing unless the courtmakes written findings why the petition cannot be filed within 60 days. If thecourt makes findings to the contrary, the court shall specify the time frame inwhich any needed petition to terminate parental rights shall be filed.

(f)         If the courtdetermines that the juvenile shall be placed in the custody of an individualother than the parents or appoints an individual guardian of the personpursuant to G.S. 7B‑600, the court shall verify that the person receivingcustody or being appointed as guardian of the juvenile understands the legalsignificance of the placement or appointment and will have adequate resourcesto care appropriately for the juvenile.  (1998‑229, ss. 8.1, 25.1; 1999‑456, s.60; 2001‑208, ss. 5, 20; 2001‑487, s. 101; 2003‑62, s. 3;2003‑140, s. 9(d); 2005‑398, s. 7; 2007‑276, s. 4; 2009‑311,s. 7.)