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A43, R104, H3673
Sponsors: Rep. Harrison
Document Path: l:\council\bills\nbd\11277ac03.doc
Introduced in the House on February 20, 2003
Introduced in the Senate on April 8, 2003
Last Amended on May 15, 2003
Passed by the General Assembly on May 21, 2003
Governor's Action: June 2, 2003, Signed
Summary: Foster Care
HISTORY OF LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS
Date Body Action Description with journal page number ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2/20/2003 House Introduced and read first time HJ-38 2/20/2003 House Referred to Committee on Judiciary HJ-39 4/2/2003 House Committee report: Favorable with amendment Judiciary HJ-2 4/3/2003 House Amended HJ-10 4/3/2003 House Read second time HJ-11 4/3/2003 House Unanimous consent for third reading on next legislative day HJ-11 4/4/2003 House Read third time and sent to Senate HJ-1 4/8/2003 Scrivener's error corrected 4/8/2003 Senate Introduced and read first time SJ-30 4/8/2003 Senate Referred to Committee on Judiciary SJ-30 5/14/2003 Senate Committee report: Favorable with amendment Judiciary SJ-7 5/15/2003 Senate Amended SJ-34 5/15/2003 Senate Read second time SJ-34 5/19/2003 Senate Read third time and returned to House with amendments SJ-10 5/21/2003 House Concurred in Senate amendment and enrolled HJ-47 5/28/2003 Ratified R 104 6/2/2003 Signed By Governor 6/5/2003 Copies available 6/5/2003 Effective date 06/02/03 6/19/2003 Act No. 43
View the latest legislative information at the LPITS web site
VERSIONS OF THIS BILL
(A43, R104, H3673)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 20-7-776, AS AMENDED, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO PERMANENCY PLANNING HEARINGS FOR CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE, SO AS TO FURTHER SPECIFY PROCEDURES FOR THESE HEARINGS; TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES TO SHOW COMPELLING REASONS FOR A PERMANENCY PLAN THAT DOES NOT REUNITE A CHILD WITH HIS PARENTS OR A RELATIVE AND DOES NOT TERMINATE PARENTAL RIGHTS AND TO REQUIRE THE COURT TO FIND COMPELLING REASONS FOR APPROVING SUCH A PLAN; AND TO FURTHER SPECIFY THE COURT'S AUTHORITY AND STANDARDS THAT MUST BE MET AFTER ADOPTION VIABILITY IS CONSIDERED, FOSTER CARE IS CONTINUED, AND TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS IS NOT INITIATED; TO AMEND SECTION 20-7-768, RELATING TO STANDARDS FOR TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS, SO AS TO REQUIRE THE COURT TO FIND COMPELLING REASONS FOR NOT INITIATING TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES, RATHER THAN PRESUMING THAT SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES IN AND OF THEMSELVES ARE COMPELLING REASONS; AND TO AMEND SECTION 20-7-1640, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO FINGERPRINT REVIEWS OF FOSTER CARE LICENSE APPLICANTS, SO AS TO DELETE PROVISIONS AUTHORIZING THE DEPARTMENT TO ISSUE TEMPORARY LICENSES PENDING RECEIPT OF THE RESULTS OF THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION REVIEW.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
Permanency planning hearings
SECTION 1. Section 20-7-766 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 104 of 1999, is further amended to read:
"Section 20-7-766. (A) The family court shall review the status of a child placed in foster care upon motion filed by the department to determine a permanent plan for the child. The permanency planning hearing must be held no later than one year after the date the child was first placed in foster care. At the initial permanency planning hearing, the court shall review the status of the child and the progress being made toward the child's return home or toward any other permanent plan approved at the removal hearing. The court's order shall make specific findings in accordance with this section. An action for permanency planning must be brought for a child who enters the custody of the department by any mechanism, including Section 20-7-610, 20-7-736, or 20-7-1700. If the child enters the custody of the department pursuant to Section 20-7-1700, and no action is pending in the family court concerning the child, the department may initiate the permanency planning hearing with a summons and petition for review. All parties must be served with the motion or the summons and petition at least ten days before the hearing, and no responsive pleading is required.
(B) The department shall attach a supplemental report to the motion or other pleadings which must contain at least:
(1) that information necessary to support findings required in subsection (H);
(2) the recommended permanent plan and suggested timetable for attaining permanence; and
(3) any reports of the local foster care review board which pertain to the child. The department may use the same form for the supplemental report, reports from the department to the local foster care review board, and reports compiled for internal department reviews.
(C) At the permanency planning hearing, the court shall review the department's plan for achieving permanence for the child. If the department's plan is not reunification with the parents, custody or guardianship with a fit and willing relative, or termination of parental rights, the department must show compelling reasons for the selection of another permanent plan. If the court approves a plan that is not reunification with the parents, custody or guardianship with a fit and willing relative, or termination of parental rights, the court must find compelling reasons for approval of the plan and that the plan is in the child's best interests.
(D) If the court determines at the permanency planning hearing that the child may be safely maintained in the home in that the return of the child to the child's parent would not cause an unreasonable risk of harm to the child's life, physical health, safety, or mental well-being, the court shall order the child returned to the child's parent. The court may order a specified period of supervision and services not to exceed twelve months. When determining whether the child should be returned, the court shall consider all evidence and the supplemental report including whether the parent has substantially complied with the terms and conditions of the plan approved pursuant to Section 20-7-764.
(E) Unless subsection (C), (F), or (G) applies, if the court determines at the permanency planning hearing that the child should not be returned to the child's parent at that time, the court's order shall require the department to file a petition to terminate parental rights to the child not later than sixty days after receipt of the order. If a petition to terminate parental rights is to be filed, the department shall exercise and document every reasonable effort to promote and expedite the adoptive placement and adoption of the child, including a thorough adoption assessment and child-specific recruitment. Adoptive placements must be diligently sought for the child and failure to do so solely because a child is classified as 'special needs' is expressly prohibited. An adoption may not be delayed or denied solely on these special needs. For purposes of this subsection:
(1) 'thorough adoption assessment' means conducting and documenting face-to-face interviews with the child, foster care providers, and other significant parties; and
(2) 'child specific recruitment' means recruiting an adoptive placement targeted to meet the individual needs of the specific child including, but not be limited to, use of the media, use of photo listings, and any other in-state or out-of-state resources which may be utilized to meet the specific needs of the child, unless there are extenuating circumstances that indicate that these efforts are not in the best interest of the child.
(F) If the court determines that the criteria in subsection (D) are not met but that the child may be returned to the parent within a specified reasonable time not to exceed eighteen months after the child was placed in foster care, the court may order an extension of the plan approved pursuant to Section 20-7-764 or may order compliance with a modified plan. Before continuing foster care for this purpose, the court must find that, at the time of the hearing, initiation of termination of parental rights is not in the best interests of the child and that the best interests of the child will be served by the extended or modified plan.
(G) If after assessing the viability of adoption, the department demonstrates that termination of parental rights is not in the child's best interests, and if the court finds that the best interests of the child would be served, the court may award custody or legal guardianship, or both, to a suitable, fit, and willing relative or nonrelative; however, a home study on the individual whom the department is recommending for custody of the child must be submitted to the court for consideration before custody of legal guardianship, or both, are awarded. The court may order a specified period of supervision and services not to exceed twelve months, and the court may authorize a period of visitation or trial placement prior to receiving a home study;
(H) If at the initial permanency planning hearing the court does not order return of the child pursuant to subsection (D), in addition to those findings supporting the selection of a different plan, the court shall specify in its order:
(1) what services have been provided to or offered to the parents to facilitate reunification;
(2) the compliance or lack of compliance by all parties to the plan approved pursuant to Section 20-7-764;
(3) the extent to which the parents have visited or supported the child and any reasons why visitation or support has not occurred or has been infrequent;
(4) whether previous services should continue and whether additional services are needed to facilitate reunification, identifying the services, and specifying the expected date for completion, which must be no longer than eighteen months from the date the child was placed in foster care;
(5) whether return of the child can be expected and identification of the changes the parent must make in circumstances, conditions, or behavior to remedy the causes of the child's placement or retention in foster care;
(6) whether the child's foster care is to continue for a specified time and, if so, how long;
(7) if the child has attained the age of sixteen, the services needed to assist the child to make the transition to independent living;
(8) whether the child's current placement is safe and appropriate;
(9) whether the department has made reasonable efforts to assist the parents in remedying the causes of the child's placement or retention in foster care; and
(10) the steps the department is taking to promote and expedite the adoptive placement and to finalize the adoption of the child, including documentation of child specific recruitment efforts.
(I) If after the permanency planning hearing, the child is retained in foster care, future permanency planning hearings must be held as follows:
(1) If the child is retained in foster care and the agency is required to initiate termination of parental rights proceedings, the termination of parental rights hearing may serve as the next permanency planning hearing, but only if it is held no later than one year from the date of the previous permanency planning hearing.
(2) If the court ordered extended foster care for the purpose of reunification with the parent, the court must select a permanent plan for the child other than another extension for reunification purposes at the next permanency planning hearing. The hearing must be held on or before the date specified in the plan for expected completion of the plan; in no case may the hearing be held any later than six months from the date of the last court order.
(3) After the termination of parental rights hearing, the requirements of Section 20-7-1574 must be met. Permanency planning hearings must be held annually, starting with the date of the termination of parental rights hearing. No further permanency planning hearings may be required after filing a decree of adoption of the child.
(4) If the court places custody or guardianship with the parent, extended family member, or suitable nonrelative and a period of services and supervision is authorized, services and supervision automatically terminate on the date specified in the court order. Before the termination date, the department or the guardian ad litem may file a petition with the court for a review hearing on the status of the placement. Filing of the petition stays termination of the case until further order from the court. If the court finds clear and convincing evidence that the child will be threatened with harm if services and supervision do not continue, the court may extend the period of services and supervision for a specified time. The court's order must specify the services and supervision necessary to reduce or eliminate the risk of harm to the child.
(5) If the child is retained in foster care pursuant to a plan other than one described in items (1) through (4), future permanency planning hearings must be held at least annually.
(J) A supplemental report must be attached to a motion filed pursuant to subsection (A). The supplemental report and notice of the hearing must be served upon all named parties at least ten days before the hearing.
(K) A named party, the child's guardian ad litem, or the local foster care review board may file a motion for review of the case at any time. Any other party in interest may move to intervene in the case pursuant to the rules of civil procedure and if the motion is granted, may move for review. Parties in interest include, but are not limited to, the individual or agency with legal custody or placement of the child and the foster parent. The notice of motion and motion for review must be served on the named parties at least ten days before the hearing date. The motion shall state the reason for review of the case and the relief requested.
(L) The pendency of an appeal concerning a child in foster care does not deprive the court of jurisdiction to hear a case pursuant to this section. The court shall retain jurisdiction to review the status of the child and may act on matters not affected by the appeal."
Termination of parental rights
SECTION 2. Section 20-7-768(C) of the 1976 Code, as added by Act 391 of 1998, is amended to read:
"(C) This section does not apply:
(1) to a child for whom the family court has found that initiation of termination of parental rights is not in the best interests of the child, after applying the criteria of Section 20-7-766(C), (D), (F), or (G) and entering the findings required to select a permanent plan for the child from Section 20-7-766(C), (D), (F), or (G). For this exemption to apply, the court must find that there are compelling reasons for selection of a permanent plan other than termination of parental rights;
(2) if the family court finds that the department has not afforded services to the parents provided for in the treatment plan approved pursuant to Section 20-7-764 in a manner that was consistent with the time periods in the plan or that court hearings have been delayed in such a way as to interfere with the initiation, delivery, or completion of services, but only if:
(a) the parent did not delay the court proceedings without cause or delay or refuse the services;
(b) successful completion of the services in question may allow the child to be returned as provided for in Section 20-7-766(F) within the extension period; and
(c) the case is not one for which the court has made a determination that reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify the family are not necessary pursuant to Section 20-7-763."
Criminal records check for foster families
SECTION 3. Section 20-7-1640(A) of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 219 of 2000, is further amended to read:
"(A) A person applying for licensure as a foster parent and a person eighteen years of age or older, residing in a home in which a person has applied to be licensed as a foster parent, must undergo a state fingerprint review to be conducted by the State Law Enforcement Division to determine any state criminal history and a fingerprinting review to be conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine any other criminal history."
SECTION 4. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
Ratified the 28th day of May, 2003.
Approved the 2nd day of June, 2003.
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