In re Care & Protection of WaltAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Judicial Court in this case resolved three legal issues regarding the “reasonable efforts” determination that a juvenile court judge must make under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 119, 29C before certifying that the continuation of a child in his home is contrary to his best efforts and granting custody of the child to the Department of Children and Families. The reasonable efforts determination regards whether the Department has made reasonable efforts prior to the placement of a child with the Department to prevent or eliminate the need for removal from the home. The court held (1) the judge must revisit the reasonable efforts determination at the seventy-two hour hearing if the judge continues the Department’s temporary custody of the child; (2) where none of the our exceptions in section 29C apply, exigent circumstances do not excuse the Department from making reasonable efforts; and (3) where it is found that the Department failed to make reasonable efforts before removing a child from his or her home, the judge or single justice has the equitable authority to order the Department to take reasonable remedial steps to diminish the adverse consequences of the Department’s failure to do so.