Court Hearings for the Permanent Placement of Children - Alabama

Date: February 2020

Schedule of Hearings

Citation: Ala. Code §§ 12-15-312; 12-15-315; Admin. Code r. 660-5-28-.06

If reasonable efforts are not made with respect to a child as a result of a determination made by a juvenile court, a permanency hearing shall be held for the child within 30 days after the determination.

Within 12 months of the date a child is removed from the home and placed in out-of-home care, and no less frequently than every 12 months thereafter during the continuation of the child in out-of-home care, the juvenile court shall hold a permanency hearing.

In regulation: A review of the case plan for every child in foster care either by court review or administrative review must be completed at least every 6 months. These review requirements apply to all children in the custody of the Department of Human Resources or for whom the department has planning responsibility, whether or not they are in foster care. For foster children age 16 and older, the written transitional independent living plan must be reviewed at the 6-month review.

Persons Entitled to Attend Hearings

Citation: Ala. Code § 12-15-307

Relative caregivers, preadoptive parents, and foster parents of a child in foster care under the responsibility of the State shall be given notice, verbally or in writing, of the date, time, and place of any juvenile court proceeding being held with respect to a child in their care. Foster parents, preadoptive parents, and relative caregivers of a child in foster care have a right to be heard in any juvenile court proceeding held with respect to a child in their care. No foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative caregiver of a child in foster care shall be made a party to a juvenile court proceeding solely on the basis of this notice and right to be heard pursuant to this section.

Determinations Made at Hearings

Citation: Ala. Code § 12-15-315

At the permanency hearing, the department shall present to the juvenile court a permanent plan for the child. If a permanent plan is not presented to the court at this hearing, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the child should be returned home. In the case of a child who will not be returned home, the court shall consider in-State and out-of-State placement options at the permanency hearing.

If the court determines the permanent plan shall be placement in another planned permanent living arrangement, the department must document a compelling reason for determining that it would not be in the best interests of the child to return home, be placed for adoption, be permanently placed with a relative, be placed with a kinship guardian, or be placed in adult custodial care. If the child has been placed in foster care outside the State of Alabama, the court shall determine at the permanency hearing whether the out-of-State placement continues to be appropriate and in the best interests of the child.

In the case of a child who has attained age 14, the court shall consider the services needed to assist the child to make the transition from foster care to independent living. In any permanency hearing held with respect to the child, including any hearing regarding the transition of the child from foster care to independent living, the juvenile court shall consult, in an age-appropriate manner, with the child regarding the proposed permanency or transition plan for the child.

Permanency plans may be concurrent, and the department may make reasonable efforts concurrently toward multiple permanency goals. The permanency hearing order of the court shall address whether the department has made reasonable efforts to finalize any existing permanency plan for the child.

Permanency Options

Citation: Ala. Code § 12-15-315

The purpose of the permanency hearing shall be to determine the permanency plan for the child, which may include whether, and, if applicable, when, the child shall be placed in any of the following:

  • Returned home on a specific date
  • Placed for adoption with no identified resource or with the current foster parent wherein the department shall file a petition for termination of parental rights
  • Placed permanently with a relative with a transfer of legal and physical custody to the relative or with a transfer of physical custody to the relative but with the department retaining legal custody
  • Placed permanently with a kinship guardian pursuant to a written request filed by the department. The written request shall contain the following:
    • That the kinship guardianship is in the best interests of the child and that a permanency goal of return of the child to his or her parents or adoption would not be in the best interests of the child
    • That granting a kinship guardianship will provide the child with a safe and permanent home
    • That the child demonstrates a strong attachment to the relative caregiver and the relative caregiver demonstrates a strong commitment to caring permanently for the child
    • That the relative caregiver has been approved as a foster parent by the department, has completed a criminal history and child abuse and neglect central registry clearances, and that results of these clearances have been provided to the court
    • That the child has been in foster care in the care of the prospective kinship guardian for no less than 6 consecutive months
    • That the child who is age 14 or older has been consulted as to his or her position regarding the prospective kinship guardianship and, if the child is age 18 or older, he or she has consented to the kinship guardianship if capable of giving effective consent
  • Placed in adult custodial care
  • Placed in another planned permanent living arrangement