2012 South Carolina Code of Laws
Title 63 - South Carolina Children's Code
Chapter 7 - CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY
Section 63-7-1700 - Permanency planning.


SC Code § 63-7-1700 (2012) What's This?

(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 subarticle 3 or Section 63-7-1660 or 63-9-330. If the child enters the custody of the department pursuant to Section 63-9-330 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 summons and petition which must contain at least:

(1) that information necessary to support findings required in subsections (C) through (H), as applicable;

(2) the recommended permanent plan and suggested timetable for attaining permanence;

(3) a statement of whether or not the court has authorized the department to forego or terminate reasonable efforts pursuant to Section 63-7-1640; and

(4) 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 parent has remedied the conditions that caused the removal and 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.

(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 because a child is classified as "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 63-7-1680 or may order compliance with a modified plan, but in no case may the extension for reunification continue beyond eighteen months after the child was placed in foster care. An extension may be granted pursuant to this section only if the court finds:

(1) that the parent has demonstrated due diligence and a commitment to correcting the conditions warranting the removal so that the child could return home in a timely fashion;

(2) that there are specific reasons to believe that the conditions warranting the removal will be remedied by the end of the extension;

(3) 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;

(4) that, at the time of the hearing, initiation of termination of parental rights is not in the best interest of the child; and

(5) 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, the court may award custody or legal guardianship, or both, to a suitable, fit, and willing relative or nonrelative if the court finds this to be in the best interest of the child; 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 or 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 63-7-1680;

(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, unless the court has previously authorized the department to terminate or forego reasonable efforts pursuant to Section 63-7-1640; 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 63-7-2580 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 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 must state the reason for review of the case and the relief requested.

(K) 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.

HISTORY: 2008 Act No. 361, Section 2; 2010 Act No. 160, Section 4, eff May 12, 2010.

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