2017 South Carolina Code of Laws
Title 63 - South Carolina Children's Code
CHAPTER 7 - CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY
Section 63-7-1680. Approval or amendment of plan.
(A) If the court orders that a child be removed from the custody of the parent or guardian, the court must approve a placement plan. A plan must be presented to the court for its approval at the removal hearing or within ten days after the removal hearing. If the plan is presented subsequent to the removal hearing, the court shall hold a hearing on the plan if requested by a party. The plan must be a written document prepared by the department. To the extent possible, the plan must be prepared with the participation of the parents or guardian of the child, the child, and any other agency or individual that will be required to provide services in order to implement the plan.
(B) The first section of the plan shall set forth the changes that must occur in the home and family situation before the child can be returned. These changes must be reasonably related to the reasons justifying removal of the child from the custody of the parents or guardian. This section of the plan must contain a notice to the parents or guardian that failure to make the indicated changes within six months may result in termination of parental rights.
(C) The second section of the plan shall set forth:
(1) specific actions to be taken by the parents or guardian of the child; and
(2) social or other services to be provided or made available to the parent or guardian of the child.
This section of the plan must include time frames for commencement or completion of specific actions or services. This section must contain a notice to the parents or guardian that completion of the indicated actions will not result in return of the child unless the changes set forth in section one of the plan have occurred.
(D) The third section of the plan shall set forth rights and obligations of the parents or guardian while the child is in custody including, but not limited to:
(1) the responsibility of the parents or guardian for financial support of the child during the placement; and
(2) the visitation rights and obligations of the parents or guardian during the placement.
The department may move before the family court for termination or suspension of visits between the parent or guardian and the child. The family court may order termination or suspension of the visits if ongoing contact between the parent or guardian and the child would be contrary to the best interests of the child. This section of the plan must include a notice to the parents or guardian that failure to support or visit the child as provided in the plan may result in termination of parental rights.
(E) The fourth section of the plan must address matters relating to the placement of the child including, but not limited to, the following:
(1) the nature and location of the placement of the child, unless there are compelling reasons for concluding that disclosure of the location of the placement to the parents, guardian, or other person would be contrary to the best interests of the child. The placement must be as close to the child's home as is reasonably possible, unless there are compelling reasons for concluding that placement at a greater distance is necessary to promote the child's well-being. In the absence of good cause to the contrary, preference must be given to placement with a relative or other person who is known to the child and who has a constructive and caring relationship with the child;
(2) visitation or other contact with siblings, other relatives, and other persons important to the child. The plan shall provide for as much contact between the child and these persons as is reasonably possible and consistent with the best interests of the child;
(3) social and other supportive services to be provided to the child and the foster parents, including counseling or other services to assist the child in dealing with the effects of separation from the child's home and family; and
(4) the minimum number and frequency of contacts that a caseworker with the department will have with the child, which must be based on the particular needs and circumstances of the individual child but which must not be less than once a month for a child placed in this State.
(F) The court shall approve the plan only if it finds that:
(1) the plan is consistent with the court's order placing the child in the custody of the department;
(2) the plan is consistent with the requirements for the content of a placement plan set forth in subsections (B) through (E);
(3) if the parents or guardian of the child did not participate in the development of the plan, that the department made reasonable efforts to secure their participation; and
(4) the plan is meaningful and designed to address facts and circumstances upon which the court based the order of removal.
If the court determines that any of these criteria are not satisfied, the court shall require that necessary amendments to the plan be submitted to the court within a specified time but no later than seven days. A hearing on the amended plan must be held if requested by a party.
(G) The court shall include in its order and shall advise defendants on the record that failure to remedy the conditions that caused the removal within six months, may result in termination of parental rights, subject to notice and a hearing as provided in Article 7. Before the court orders return of the child, the court must find that the changes in the home and family situation specified in section one of the plan have occurred and that the child can be safely returned to the home. Completion of the tasks specified in section two of the plan is not in itself sufficient basis for return of the child.
(H) The department immediately shall give a copy of the plan to the parents or guardian of the child, and any other parties identified by the court, including the child if the court considers it appropriate. If a copy of the plan is not given to the child, the department shall provide the child with age-appropriate information concerning the substance of the plan unless the court finds that disclosure of any part of the plan to the child would be inconsistent with the child's best interests. A copy of any part of the plan that directly pertains to the foster family or the foster child must be provided to the foster parents.
(I) The plan may be amended at any time if all parties agree to the revisions, and the revisions are approved by the court. The amended plan must be submitted to the court with a written explanation for the proposed change. The plan also may be amended by the court upon motion of a party after a hearing based on evidence demonstrating the need for the amendment. A copy of the amended plan immediately must be given to the parties specified in subsection (H).
(J) Any objections to the sufficiency of a plan or the process by which a plan was developed must be made at the hearing on the plan. Failure to request a hearing or to enter an objection at the hearing constitutes a waiver of the objection. The sufficiency of the plan or of the process for developing the plan may not be raised as an issue in a proceeding for termination of parental rights under Article 7.
(K) Upon petition of a party in interest, the court may order the state or county director or other authorized representative of the department to show cause why the agency should not be required to provide services in accordance with the plan. The provisions of the plan must be incorporated as part of a court order issued pursuant to this section. A person who fails to comply with an order may be held in contempt and subject to appropriate sanctions imposed by the court.
HISTORY: 2008 Act No. 361, Section 2; 2010 Act No. 160, Section 3, eff May 12, 2010; 2014 Act No. 281 (H.3102), Section 4, eff June 10, 2014.
Effect of Amendment
The 2010 amendment rewrote this section.
2014 Act No. 281, Section 4, in the undesignated paragraph under subsection (D), added the first two sentences, relating to termination or suspension of visits.