2010 Georgia Code
TITLE 15 - COURTS
CHAPTER 11 - JUVENILE PROCEEDINGS
ARTICLE 1 - JUVENILE PROCEEDINGS
PART 6 - DEPRIVATION
§ 15-11-58 - Reasonable efforts regarding reunification of family; reports and plans; custody orders when reunification found not to be in child's best interest; duration of orders; review of determinations; hearings; supplemental orders

O.C.G.A. 15-11-58 (2010)
15-11-58. Reasonable efforts regarding reunification of family; reports and plans; custody orders when reunification found not to be in child's best interest; duration of orders; review of determinations; hearings; supplemental orders


(a) A court's order removing a child from the child's home shall be based upon a finding by that court that continuation in the home would be contrary to the welfare of the child. If the court places custody of the child in the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services, the court shall also determine as a finding of fact whether reasonable efforts were made by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services and any other appropriate agencies to preserve and reunify families prior to the placement of a child in the custody of the Department of Human Services, to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the child from that child's home, and to make it possible for the child to return safely to the child's home. Such findings shall also be made at every subsequent review of the court's order under this chapter.

(1) In determining reasonable efforts to be made with respect to a child, as described in this subsection, and in making such reasonable efforts, the child's health and safety shall be the paramount concern;

(2) Except as provided in paragraph (4) of this subsection, reasonable efforts shall be made to preserve and reunify families:

(A) Prior to the placement of a child in the custody of the Department of Human Services, to prevent or eliminate the need for removing the child from the child's home; and

(B) To make it possible for a child to return safely to the child's home;

(3) If continuation of reasonable efforts of the type described in paragraph (2) of this subsection is determined to be inconsistent with the permanency plan for the child, reasonable efforts shall be made to place the child in a timely manner in accordance with the permanency plan and to complete whatever steps are necessary to finalize the permanent placement of the child;

(4) Reasonable efforts of the type described in paragraph (2) of this subsection shall not be required to be made with respect to a parent of a child if a court of competent jurisdiction has determined that:

(A) The parent has subjected the child to aggravated circumstances which may include but need not be limited to abandonment, torture, chronic abuse, and sexual abuse;

(B) The parent has:

(i) Committed murder of another child of the parent;

(ii) Been convicted of the murder of the other parent of the child;

(iii) Committed voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent;

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

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

(C) The parental rights of the parent to a sibling have been terminated involuntarily;

(5) If reasonable efforts of the type described in paragraph (2) of this subsection are not made with respect to a child as a result of a determination made by a court of competent jurisdiction in accordance with paragraph (4) of this subsection:

(A) A permanency hearing in accordance with subsection (o) of this Code section shall be held for the child within 30 days after such determination; and

(B) Reasonable efforts shall be made to place the child in a timely manner in accordance with the permanency plan and to complete whatever steps are necessary to finalize the permanent placement of the child; and

(6) Reasonable efforts to place a child for adoption or with a legal guardian may be made concurrently with reasonable efforts of the type described in paragraph (2) of this subsection.

(b) Within 30 days of the date a child who is placed in the custody of the Department of Human Services is removed from the home and at each subsequent review of the disposition order, the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services must submit a written report to the court which shall either include a case plan for a reunification of the family or include a statement of the factual basis or bases for determining that a plan for reunification is not appropriate. Such report shall become a discrete part of the case record in a format determined by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services and shall be made available to the parents or guardian of the foster child. The contents of the report shall be determined at a meeting to be held by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services in consultation with the judicial citizen review panel, if one is designated by the court for such purpose, and the parents and children, when available. The parents shall be given written notice of the meeting at least five days in advance and shall be advised that the report will be submitted to the court for consideration to become an order of the court. The report submitted to the court shall also contain any dissenting recommendations of the judicial citizen review panel, if applicable, and any recommendations of the parents, if such are available.

(c) If the report contains a plan for reunification services, such plan if adopted by the court shall be in effect until modification by the court. The plan shall address each reason requiring removal and shall contain at least the following:

(1) The purpose for which the child was placed in foster care, including a statement of the reasons why the child cannot be adequately protected at home and the harm which may occur if the child remains in the home, and shall also include a description of the services offered and the services provided to prevent removal of the child from the home;

(2) A discussion of how the plan is designed to achieve a placement in a safe setting that is the least restrictive, most family-like, and most appropriate setting available and in close proximity to the home of the parents, consistent with the best interests and special needs of the child;

(3) A clear description of the specific actions to be taken by the parents and the specific services to be provided by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services or other appropriate agencies in order to bring about the identified changes that must be made in order for the child to be safely returned home; provided, however, that all services and actions required of the parents which are not directly related to the circumstances necessitating separation cannot be made conditions of the return of the child without further court review;

(4) Specific time frames in which the goals of the plan are to be accomplished to fulfill the purpose of the reunification plan;

(5) The person within the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services or other agency who is directly responsible for ensuring that the plan is implemented;

(6) Consideration of the advisability of a reasonable visitation schedule which allows the parents to maintain meaningful contact with their children through personal visits, telephone calls, and letters;

(7) A statement that reasonable efforts have been made and a requirement that reasonable efforts shall be made for so long as the child remains in the custody of the department:

(A) To place siblings removed from their home in the same foster care, kinship, guardianship, or adoptive placement, unless the Division of Family and Children Services documents that such a joint placement would be contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings; and

(B) In the case of siblings removed from their home who are not so jointly placed, for frequent visitation or other ongoing interaction between the siblings, unless the Division of Family and Children Services documents that such frequent visitation or other ongoing interaction would be contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings;

(8) Provisions ensuring the educational stability of the child while in foster care, including:

(A) An assurance that the placement of the child in foster care takes into account the appropriateness of the current educational setting and the proximity to the school in which the child is enrolled at the time of placement;

(B) An assurance that the state agency has coordinated with appropriate local educational agencies to ensure that the child remains in the school in which the child is enrolled at the time of placement; or

(C) If remaining in such school is not in the best interests of the child, an assurance by the Division of Family and Children Services that such division and the local educational agencies have cooperated to assure the immediate and appropriate enrollment in a new school, with all of the educational records of the child provided to such new school; and

(9) A requirement that the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services case manager and staff, and, as appropriate, other representatives of the child, provide the child with assistance and support in developing a transition plan that is personalized at the direction of the child; includes specific options on housing, health insurance, education, local opportunities for mentors and continuing support services, and work force supports and employment services; and is as detailed as the child may elect in the 90 day period immediately prior to the date on which the child will attain 18 years of age.

(d) If the submitted report contains a proposed plan for reunification services, and no hearing is requested as provided in this Code section, the court shall enter a dispositional order or supplemental order incorporating all elements of the plan for reunification services which the court finds essential to reunification of the child with his or her family, specifying what must be accomplished by all parties before reunification of the family can be achieved. If the report contains a plan for reunification services, a copy of the report must be transmitted to the parents at the same time the report is transmitted to the court, along with written notice that the report will be considered by the court without a hearing unless, within five days from the date the copy of the report was received, the parents request a hearing before the court to review the report. The Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services shall provide the custodian of the child, the foster parents of the child, and any preadoptive parents or relatives providing care for the child with a copy of those portions of the court approved plan that involve the permanency goal and the services to be provided to the child. The provisions of subsection (p) of this Code section concerning notice, opportunity to be heard, authority of the court, and content of the court's order are applicable to proceedings under this subsection.

(e) If the report submitted to the court does not contain a plan for reunification services, upon proper notice being provided to the parents, the court shall, no later than 30 days following the filing of the report, hold a hearing to review the report and the determination that a plan for reunification services is not appropriate.

(f) When a recommendation is made that reunification services are not appropriate and should not be allowed, the report shall address each reason requiring removal and shall contain at least the following:

(1) The purpose for which the child was placed in foster care, including a statement of the reasons why the child cannot be adequately and safely protected at home and the harm which may occur if the child remains in the home, and a description of the services offered and the services provided to prevent removal of the child from the home;

(2) A clear statement describing all of the reasons supporting a finding that reasonable efforts to reunify a child with the child's family will be detrimental to the child, and that reunification services therefore need not be provided, including specific findings as to whether any of the grounds for terminating parental rights exist, as set forth in subsection (b) of Code Section 15-11-94 or paragraph (4) of subsection (a) of this Code section; and

(3) The statements, provisions, and requirements found in paragraphs (7) and (8) of subsection (c) of this Code section.

(g) At the hearing held for the purpose of reviewing the determination by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services that a reunification plan is not appropriate, the representative of the Division of Family and Children Services shall notify the court whether and when it intends to proceed with termination of parental rights at that time. If the Division of Family and Children Services indicates that it does not intend to petition for the termination of parental rights, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem and charge such guardian with the duty of determining whether termination proceedings should be commenced.

(h) When reviewing the determination by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services that a reunification plan is not appropriate, the court shall determine by clear and convincing evidence whether reasonable efforts to reunify a child with his or her family will be detrimental to the child and that reunification services, therefore, should not be provided or should be terminated. There shall be a presumption that reunification services should not be provided if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that:

(1) The parent has unjustifiably failed to comply with a previously ordered plan designed to reunite the family;

(2) A child has been removed from the home on at least two previous occasions and reunification services were made available on those occasions;

(3) Any of the grounds for terminating parental rights exist, as set forth in subsection (b) of Code Section 15-11-94; or

(4) Any of the circumstances set out in paragraph (4) of subsection (a) of this Code section exist, making it unnecessary to provide reasonable efforts to reunify.
(i)(1) If the court has entered an order finding that reasonable efforts to reunify a child with his or her family would be detrimental to the child in accordance with subsection (h) of this Code section and if the court finds that referral for termination of parental rights and adoption is not in the best interest of the child, the court may, upon proper petition, enter a custody order which shall remain in effect until the child's eighteenth birthday:

(A) Placing the child in the custody of a relative of the child if such a person is willing and, after study by the probation officer or other person or agency designated by the court, is found by the court to be qualified to receive and care for the child;

(B) Placing the child in the custody of any nonrelative individual who, after study by the probation officer or other person or agency designated by the court, is found by the court to be qualified to receive and care for the child;

(C) Placing the child in the custody of a suitable individual custodian in another state pursuant to the provisions of Code Section 15-11-89; or

(D) In the case where the court has found a compelling reason that a placement pursuant to subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of this paragraph is not in the child's best interest, placing the child in the custody of an agency or organization licensed or otherwise authorized by law to receive and provide care for the child which is operated in a manner that provides such care, guidance, and control as would be provided in a family home as defined in the court's order.

Such order may be modified following a petition for modification by a party or upon motion of the court pursuant to Code Section 15-11-40.

(2) A probation officer, judicial citizen review panel established by the court, or other person or agency designated by the court shall, after study or review, submit a report to the court addressing whether the custodian to whom custody of a child has been given pursuant to this Code section continues to be qualified to receive and care for the child within:

(A) Thirty-six months of an order placing a child in the custody of a relative pursuant to subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1) of this subsection and every 36 months thereafter; or

(B) Twelve months of an order placing a child in the custody of a nonrelative, an out-of-state custodian, or an agency or organization licensed or otherwise authorized by law to receive and provide care for the child pursuant to subparagraph (B), (C), or (D) of paragraph (1) of this subsection and every 12 months thereafter.

(3) Whenever a child is placed in the custody of an agency or organization licensed or otherwise authorized by law to receive and provide care for the child pursuant to subparagraph (D) of paragraph (1) of this subsection, such agency or organization shall be charged with the responsibility of notifying the court within ten days in the event its license is placed on probation, suspended, revoked, or surrendered and, in such event, the court shall conduct a judicial review within ten days of such notification to determine whether another placement should be made for the child.

(j) At the hearing required by subsection (e) of this Code section, the court shall hold a permanency hearing in accordance with subsection (o) of this Code section and shall consider and incorporate a permanency plan for the child in its order which shall comply with subsection (o) of this Code section.

(k) Except as otherwise provided by law, an order of disposition placing a deprived child in foster care under the supervision of the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services shall continue in force for 12 months after the date the child is considered to have entered foster care or until sooner terminated by the court. For the purposes of this Code section, the date the child is considered to have entered foster care shall be the date of the first judicial finding that the child has been subjected to child abuse or neglect, or the date that is 60 days after the date on which the child is removed from the home, whichever is earlier. All cases of children in foster care in the custody of the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services shall be initially reviewed within 90 days of the entering of the dispositional order but no later than six months following the child's placement and shall be conducted by the juvenile court judge, by an associate juvenile court judge or judge pro tempore, or by judicial citizen review panels established by the court, as the court directs, meeting such standards and using such procedures as shall be established by court rule by the Supreme Court of Georgia, with the advice and consent of the Council of Juvenile Court Judges. At the time of each review of every case of a child in foster care in the custody of the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services, a representative of the Division of Family and Children Services shall notify the court whether such division intends to proceed with the termination of parental rights at that time. If such division indicates that it does not intend to petition for the termination of parental rights at that time, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem and charge such guardian with the duty of determining whether termination proceedings should be commenced. In the event the review is conducted by judicial citizen review panels, the panel shall transmit its report, including its findings and recommendations and those of such division, along with such division's proposed revised plan for reunification or other permanency plan, if necessary, to the court and the parents within five days after the review. Any party may request a hearing on the proposed revised plan in writing within five days after receiving a copy of such plan. The Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services shall provide the custodian of the child, the foster parents of the child, and any preadoptive parents or relatives providing care for the child with a copy of those portions of the report of the judicial citizen review panel that involve the recommended permanency goal and the recommended services to be provided to the child. Following such initial review, additional periodic reviews shall be held at six-month intervals. The provisions of subsection (p) of this Code section concerning notice, opportunity to be heard, authority of the court, and content of the court's order are applicable to proceedings under this subsection.

(l) If no hearing is requested or scheduled by the court on its own motion, the court shall review the proposed revised plan and enter a supplemental order incorporating a revised plan as part of its disposition in the case. In the event that a hearing is held, the court shall, after hearing evidence, enter a supplemental order incorporating all elements that the court finds essential in the proposed revised plan. The provisions of subsection (p) of this Code section concerning notice, opportunity to be heard, authority of the court, and content of the court's order are applicable to proceedings under this subsection. The judge's supplemental order shall be entered within a reasonable time from the conclusion of the hearing or expiration of the time for the hearing to be requested and shall also provide one of the following:

(1) That the child return to the home of his or her parents, legal guardian, or custodian with or without court imposed conditions;

(2) That the child continue in the current custodial placement and that the current placement is appropriate for the child's needs; or

(3) That the child continue in the current custodial placement but that the current placement plan is no longer appropriate for the child's needs and direct the department to devise another plan within available resources. The new plan must be submitted within ten days for court approval. Copies of any court approved revised plan shall be furnished to all parties. The Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services shall provide the custodian of the child, the foster parents of the child, and any preadoptive parents or relatives providing care for the child with a copy of those portions of the court approved revised plan that involve the permanency goal and the services to be provided to the child.

In the event that the judicial citizen review panel determines that the parents have unjustifiably failed to comply with the ordered plan designed to reunite the family and that such failure is significant enough to warrant consideration of termination of parental rights, the panel may make a recommendation to the guardian ad litem of the child, the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services, and the intake officer of the court that a petition for termination of parental rights should be prepared. Any such party or officer of the court shall file a petition if, upon examination, they find sufficient evidence. In the event that no guardian ad litem has been appointed when the judicial citizen review panel recommends that a petition to terminate parental rights be filed, the court shall have the authority to appoint a guardian ad litem who shall have the duty to determine whether termination proceedings should be commenced.

(m) In the event that a child has been in foster care under the responsibility of the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services for 15 of the most recent 22 months, or, if the court has determined a child to be an abandoned infant, as set forth in subsection (b) of Code Section 15-11-94, or has made a determination that the parent has 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 felony assault that has resulted in serious bodily injury to the child or to another child of the parent, the department shall file a petition to terminate the parental rights of the child's parents or, if such a petition has been filed by another party, seek to be joined as a party to the petition, and, concurrently, to identify, recruit, process, and approve a qualified family for an adoption, unless, at the option of the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services, the child is being cared for by a relative; the case plan documents a compelling reason for determining that filing such a petition would not be in the best interests of the child; or the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services has not provided to the family of the child, consistent with the specific time frames for the accomplishment of the case plan goals, such services deemed necessary for the safe return of the child to the child's home.

(n) The court which made the order may extend its duration for not more than 12 months if:

(1) A hearing is held upon motion of the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services prior to the expiration of the order;

(2) Reasonable notice of the factual basis of the motion and of the hearing and opportunity to be heard are given to the parties affected; and

(3) The court finds that the extension is necessary to accomplish the purposes of the order extended.
(o)(1) With respect to each child in the custody of the Department of Human Services, a permanency hearing shall be held no later than 30 days after the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services has submitted a written report to the court which does not contain a plan for reunification services as provided in subsection (j) of this Code section, or no later than 12 months after the child is considered to have entered foster care, whichever comes first. Thereafter, a permanency hearing shall be held not less frequently than every 12 months during the time the child continues in the custody of the Department of Human Services. A permanency hearing may be held by the court at the time of the hearing on a motion to extend custody permitted by subsection (n) of this Code section. The provisions of subsection (p) of this Code section concerning notice, opportunity to be heard, authority of the court, and content of the court's order are applicable to proceedings under this paragraph.

(2) At the time of the permanency hearing, the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services shall submit for the court's consideration a report recommending a permanency plan for the child which shall include whether and, if applicable, when the child shall be returned to the parent or parents; referred for termination of parental rights and adoption; referred for legal guardianship; placed permanently with a fit and willing relative; or, in the case where the division has provided a compelling reason that none of the foregoing options would be in the best interest of the child, placed in another planned permanent living arrangement. The report shall include documentation of the steps to be taken by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services to finalize the permanent placement of the child. When the permanency plan recommended is referral for termination of parental rights and adoption, such report shall include child specific recruitment efforts such as the use of state, regional, and national adoption exchanges, including electronic exchange systems. The provisions of subsection (p) of this Code section concerning notice, opportunity to be heard, authority of the court, and content of the court's order are applicable to proceedings under this paragraph.

(3) The permanency hearing may be conducted as the court directs by the juvenile court judge or by an associate juvenile court judge or judge pro tempore. The court may also direct that the permanency hearing be conducted by a judicial citizen review panel established by the court in the manner provided in subsection (k) of this Code section, unless the permanency hearing is one required under subsection (j) of this Code section as a result of a recommendation that reunification services are not appropriate. The judicial citizen review panel may conduct its hearing in the same manner as it conducts a case review under subsection (k) of this Code section. The provisions of subsection (p) of this Code section concerning notice, opportunity to be heard, authority of the court, and content of the court's order are applicable to proceedings under this paragraph.

(A) The panel shall transmit its report, including its findings and recommendations and those of the Division of Family and Children Services, to the court and the parties within five days after such hearing. The report of the judicial citizen review panel shall include all the elements required in paragraphs (5) and (6) of this subsection. Any party may request a hearing on the proposed permanency plan by submitting a request in writing within five days of receiving a copy of such plan. If a hearing is not requested, the court shall review the proposed permanency plan and enter a supplemental order incorporating all elements required by paragraphs (5) and (6) of this subsection that the court finds essential in the proposed permanency plan. In the event a hearing before the court is requested on the report transmitted by the judicial citizen review panel, the court shall, after hearing evidence, enter a supplemental order incorporating all the elements required in paragraphs (5) and (6) of this subsection.

(B) If a permanency hearing is held before the court, the court shall, after hearing evidence, enter a supplemental order incorporating all elements of the proposed permanency plan required by paragraphs (5) and (6) of this subsection that the court finds essential in the proposed permanency plan.

(4) The parents, the custodian of the child, the foster parents of the child, any preadoptive parent or relative providing care for the child, and other parties shall be given written notice of a permanency hearing at least five days in advance and shall be advised that the permanency plan recommended by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services will be submitted to the court for consideration to become an order of the court. Procedural safeguards shall be applied with respect to parental rights pertaining to the removal of the child from the home of his or her parents, to a change in the child's placement, and to any determination affecting visitation privileges of parents. Procedural safeguards shall also be applied to assure that the court or the judicial citizen review panel conducting a permanency hearing, including any hearing regarding transition of the child from foster care to independent living, shall consult, in an age-appropriate manner, with the child regarding the proposed permanency or transition plan for such child. The provisions of subsection (p) of this Code section concerning notice, opportunity to be heard, authority of the court, and content of the court's order are applicable to proceedings under this paragraph.

(5) The permanency plan incorporated in the court's order shall include whether and, if applicable, when the child shall be returned to the parent or parents, referred for termination of parental rights and adoption, referred for legal guardianship, or placed permanently with a fit and willing relative. If the court finds that there is a compelling reason that it would not be in the child's best interests to be returned to the parent or parents, referred for termination of parental rights and adoption, referred for legal guardianship, or placed permanently with a fit and willing relative, then the court's order shall document the compelling reason and provide that the child should be placed in another planned permanent living arrangement as defined in the court's order. The provisions of subsection (p) of this Code section concerning notice, opportunity to be heard, authority of the court, and content of the court's order are applicable to proceedings under this paragraph.

(6) The court or judicial citizen review panel which conducts the permanency hearing shall determine, as a finding of fact, whether the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services has made reasonable efforts to finalize the permanency plan which is in effect at the time of the hearing. Further, the court or the judicial citizen review panel, if applicable, shall determine as a finding of fact whether, in the case of a child placed out of the state, the out-of-state placement continues to be appropriate and in the best interest of the child and, in the case of a child who has attained the age of 14, shall determine the services needed to assist the child to make a transition from foster care to independent living. Also, in the case of a child whose permanency plan provides that the child will not be returned to the parent, the court or judicial citizen review panel, if applicable, shall consider in-state and out-of-state placement options for such child. Such findings of fact shall be made a part of the report of the judicial citizen review panel to the court and any supplemental order entered by the court.

(7) A supplemental order of the court adopting the permanency plan shall be entered within 30 days after the court has determined that reunification efforts will not be made by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services, if applicable, or within 12 months after the child is considered to have entered foster care, whichever is first, and at least every 12 months thereafter while the child is in foster care, unless the court finds good cause why such order cannot be entered by that time. The supplemental order shall include a requirement that the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services case manager and staff, and, as appropriate, other representatives of the child, provide the child with assistance and support in developing a transition plan that is personalized at the direction of the child; includes specific options on housing, health insurance, education, local opportunities for mentors and continuing support services, and work force supports and employment services; and is as detailed as the child may elect in the 90 day period immediately prior to the date on which the child will attain 18 years of age.

(p) In advance of each review, hearing, or other proceeding to be held with respect to a child pursuant to this Code section, the court shall provide written notice or shall direct that a party shall provide written notice of such review, hearing, or other proceeding, including their right to be heard at such review, hearing, or other proceeding to the custodian of the child, to the foster parents of the child, and to any preadoptive parents or relatives providing care for the child, consistent with the form and timing of notice to parties; provided, however, that this provision shall not be construed to require a custodian, foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative caring for the child to be made a party to the review, hearing, or other proceeding solely on the basis of such notice and opportunity to be heard. At each such review, hearing, or proceeding, the court in its discretion, based upon the evidence, may enter an order accepting or rejecting any report of the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services, ordering an additional evaluation, appointing a guardian ad litem, or undertaking such other review as it deems necessary and appropriate to determine the disposition that is in the child's best interest. The court's order may incorporate all or part of the report of the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services. In its order the court shall include findings of fact which reflect the court's consideration of the oral and written testimony offered by the parents, the custodian of the child, the foster parents of the child, any preadoptive parents or relatives providing care for the child who are required to be provided with notice and a right to be heard in any review, hearing, or proceeding to be held with respect to the child, and the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services. A disposition may be made under the terms of this Code section only if the court finds that such disposition is in the best interest of the child.
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