2006 Code of Virginia § 16.1-281 - Foster care plan

16.1-281. Foster care plan.

A. In any case in which (i) a local board of social services or a publicagency designated by the community policy and management team places a childthrough an agreement with the parents or guardians where legal custodyremains with the parents or guardian, or (ii) legal custody of a child isgiven to a local board of social services or a child welfare agency, thelocal department of social services, the public agency designated or childwelfare agency or the family assessment and planning team establishedpursuant to 2.2-5207 shall prepare a foster care plan for such child, asdescribed hereinafter. The individual family service plan developed by thefamily assessment and planning team pursuant to 2.2-5208 may be accepted bythe court as the foster care plan if it meets the requirements of thissection.

The representatives of such department, agency, or team shall involve thechild's parent(s) in the development of the plan, except when parental rightshave been terminated or the local department of social services or otherdesignated agency has made diligent efforts to locate the parent(s) and suchparent(s) cannot be located, and any other person or persons standing in locoparentis at the time the board or child welfare agency obtained custody orthe board or the public agency placed the child. The representatives of suchdepartment, agency, or team shall involve the child in the development of theplan, if such involvement is consistent with the best interests of the child.In cases where either the parent(s) or child is not involved in thedevelopment of the plan, the department, agency, or team shall include in theplan a full description of the reasons therefor.

The department, public agency, child welfare agency or team shall file theplan with the juvenile and domestic relations district court within 60 daysfollowing the transfer of custody or the board's or public agency's placementof the child unless the court, for good cause shown, allows an extension oftime, which shall not exceed an additional 60 days. However, a foster careplan shall be filed in accordance with the provisions of 16.1-277.01 with apetition for approval of an entrustment agreement. A foster care plan neednot be prepared if the child is returned to his prior family or placed in anadoptive home within 60 days following transfer of custody to the board oragency or the board's or public agency's placement of the child.

B. The foster care plan shall describe (i) the programs, care, services andother support which will be offered to the child and his parents and otherprior custodians; (ii) the participation and conduct which will be soughtfrom the child's parents and other prior custodians; (iii) the visitation andother contacts which will be permitted between the child and his parents andother prior custodians; (iv) the nature of the placement or placements whichwill be provided for the child; and (v) in writing and where appropriate forchildren age 16 or over, the programs and services which will help the childprepare for the transition from foster care to independent living. Ifconsistent with the child's health and safety, the plan shall be designed tosupport reasonable efforts which lead to the return of the child to hisparents or other prior custodians within the shortest practicable time whichshall be specified in the plan. The child's health and safety shall be theparamount concern of the court and the agency throughout the placement, caseplanning, service provision and review process.

If the department, child welfare agency or team concludes that it is notreasonably likely that the child can be returned to his prior family within apracticable time, consistent with the best interests of the child, in aseparate section of the plan the department, child welfare agency or teamshall (a) include a full description of the reasons for this conclusion; (b)provide information on the opportunities for placing the child with arelative or in an adoptive home; (c) design the plan to lead to the child'ssuccessful placement with a relative if a subsequent transfer of custody tothe relative is planned, or in an adoptive home within the shortestpracticable time, and if neither of such placements is feasible; (d) explainwhy permanent foster care, independent living for a child 16 years of age orolder, or continued foster care is the plan for the child. "Independentliving" includes the services and programs needed to assist the child inmaking a transition from foster care to self-sufficiency. The department oragency may include with such proposed plan a petition seeking the terminationof residual parental rights pursuant to 16.1-283.

The local board or other child welfare agency having custody of the childshall not be required by the court to make reasonable efforts to reunite thechild with a parent if the court finds that (1) the residual parental rightsof the parent regarding a sibling of the child have previously beeninvoluntarily terminated; (2) the parent has been convicted of an offenseunder the laws of the Commonwealth or a substantially similar law of anyother state, the United States or any foreign jurisdiction that constitutesmurder or voluntary manslaughter, or a felony attempt, conspiracy orsolicitation to commit any such offense, if the victim of the offense was achild of the parent, a child with whom the parent resided at the time suchoffense occurred or the other parent of the child; (3) the parent has beenconvicted of an offense under the laws of the Commonwealth or a substantiallysimilar law of any other state, the United States or any foreign jurisdictionthat constitutes felony assault resulting in serious bodily injury or felonybodily wounding resulting in serious bodily injury or felony sexual assault,if the victim of the offense was a child of the parent or a child with whomthe parent resided at the time of such offense; or (4) based on clear andconvincing evidence, the parent has subjected any child to aggravatedcircumstances, or abandoned a child under circumstances which would justifythe termination of residual parental rights pursuant to subsection D of 16.1-283.

As used in this section:

"Aggravated circumstances" means torture, chronic or severe abuse, orchronic or severe sexual abuse, if the victim of such conduct was a child ofthe parent or child with whom the parent resided at the time such conductoccurred, including the failure to protect such a child from such conduct,which conduct or failure to protect: (i) evinces a wanton or depravedindifference to human life, or (ii) has resulted in the death of such a childor in serious bodily injury to such a child.

"Chronic abuse" or "chronic sexual abuse" means recurring acts ofphysical abuse that place the child's health, safety and well-being at risk.

"Serious bodily injury" means bodily injury that involves substantial riskof death, extreme physical pain, protracted and obvious disfigurement, orprotracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ ormental faculty.

"Severe abuse" or "severe sexual abuse" may include an act or omissionthat occurred only once, but otherwise meets the definition of "aggravatedcircumstances."

Within 30 days of making a determination that reasonable efforts to reunitethe child with the parents are not required, the court shall hold apermanency planning hearing pursuant to 16.1-282.1.

C. A copy of the entire foster care plan shall be sent by the court to thechild, if he is 12 years of age or older; the guardian ad litem for thechild, the attorney for the child's parents or for any other person standingin loco parentis at the time the board or child welfare agency obtainedcustody or the board or public agency placed the child, to the parents orother person standing in loco parentis, and such other persons as appear tothe court to have a proper interest in the plan. However, a copy of the planshall not be sent to a parent whose parental rights regarding the child havebeen terminated. A copy of the plan, excluding the section of the plandescribing the reasons why the child cannot be returned home and thealternative chosen, shall be sent by the court to the foster parents. Ahearing shall be held for the purpose of reviewing and approving the fostercare plan. The hearing shall be held within 75 days of (i) the child'sinitial foster care placement, if the child was placed through an agreementbetween the parents or guardians and the local department of social services,other public agency or a child welfare agency; (ii) the original preliminaryremoval order hearing, if the child was placed in foster care pursuant to 16.1-252; (iii) the hearing on the petition for relief of custody, if thechild was placed in foster care pursuant to 16.1-277.02; or (iv) thedispositional hearing at which the child was placed in foster care and anorder was entered pursuant to 16.1-278.2, 16.1-278.3, 16.1-278.4,16.1-278.5, 16.1-278.6 or 16.1-278.8. However, the hearing shall be held inaccordance with the provisions of 16.1-277.01 with a petition for approvalof an entrustment agreement. If the judge makes any revision in any part ofthe foster care plan, a copy of the changes shall be sent by the court to allpersons who received a copy of the original of that part of the plan.

C1. Any order transferring custody of the child to a relative other than thechild's prior family shall be entered only upon a finding, based upon apreponderance of the evidence, that the relative is one who, after aninvestigation as directed by the court, (i) is found by the court to bewilling and qualified to receive and care for the child; (ii) is willing tohave a positive, continuous relationship with the child; (iii) is committedto providing a permanent, suitable home for the child; and (iv) is willingand has the ability to protect the child from abuse and neglect; and theorder shall so state. The court's order transferring custody to a relativeshould further provide for, as appropriate, any terms or conditions whichwould promote the child's interest and welfare; ongoing provision of socialservices to the child and the child's custodian; and court review of thechild's placement.

C2. Any order entered at the conclusion of the hearing that has the effect ofachieving a permanent goal for the child by terminating residual parentalrights pursuant to 16.1-277.01, 16.1-277.02, 16.1-278.3 or 16.1-283; byplacing the child in permanent foster care pursuant to subdivision A iv of 16.1-282.1; or by directing the board or agency to provide the child withservices to achieve independent living status, if the child has attained theage of 16 years, pursuant to subdivision A v of 16.1-282.1 shall statewhether reasonable efforts have been made to place the child in a timelymanner in accordance with the foster care plan and to complete the stepsnecessary to finalize the permanent placement of the child.

D. The court in which the foster care plan is filed shall be notifiedimmediately if the child is returned to his parents or other persons standingin loco parentis at the time the board or agency obtained custody or theboard or public agency placed the child.

E. At the conclusion of the hearing at which the initial foster care plan isreviewed, the court shall schedule a foster care review hearing to be heldwithin six months in accordance with 16.1-282. However, if an order isentered pursuant to subsection C2, the court shall schedule a foster carereview hearing to be held within 12 months of the entry of such order inaccordance with the provisions of 16.1-282.2. Parties who are present atthe hearing at which the initial foster care plan is reviewed shall be givennotice of the date set for the foster care review hearing and parties who arenot present shall be summoned as provided in 16.1-263.

F. Nothing in this section shall limit the authority of the juvenile judge orthe staff of the juvenile court, upon order of the judge, to review thestatus of children in the custody of local boards of social services orplaced by local boards of social services or the public agency designated bythe community policy and management team on its own motion. The court shallappoint an attorney to act as guardian ad litem to represent the child anytime a hearing is held to review the foster care plan filed for the child orto review the child's status in foster care.

(1977, c. 559; 1978, cc. 732, 740; 1982, c. 171; 1984, c. 373; 1985, c. 210;1991, c. 98; 1994, cc. 604, 865; 1997, c. 790; 1998, c. 550; 2000, c. 385;2002, cc. 397, 512, 664, 729, 747; 2005, c. 653.)

Disclaimer: These codes may not be the most recent version. Virginia may have more current or accurate information. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or the information linked to on the state site. Please check official sources.