Court Hearings for the Permanent Placement of Children - Florida

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Schedule of Hearings

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 39.701; 39.621

Hearings shall be held to review the status of the child as follows:

  • At least every 6 months until the child reaches permanency status
  • No later than 90 days after the date of the disposition hearing or after the date of the hearing at which the court approves the case plan, whichever comes first
  • No later than 6 months after the date the child was removed from the home
  • At minimum, 6 months following the reunification of the child with his or her parent(s) to determine whether supervision by the Department of Children and Family Services and the court's jurisdiction shall continue or be terminated
  • If the child is placed in the custody of the department or a licensed child-placing agency for the purpose of adoptive placement, every 6 months until the adoption is finalized
  • Within 90 days after a child's 17th birthday and as necessary during the year prior to the child's 18th birthday
  • Every 6 months while a young adult remains in foster care

A permanency hearing must be held as follows:

  • No later than 12 months after the date the child was removed from the home
  • No later than 30 days after a court determines that reasonable efforts to return a child to either parent are not required
  • At least every 12 months for any child who continues to receive supervision from the department or awaits adoption
  • At least annually for a young adult who remains in foster care

Persons Entitled to Attend Hearings

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 39.701

Notice of a judicial review hearing or a citizen review panel hearing must be served upon all of the following persons, if available to be served, regardless of whether the person was present at the previous hearing at which the date, time, and location of the hearing was announced:

  • The social service agency charged with the supervision of care, custody, or guardianship of the child
  • The foster parent or legal custodian in whose home the child resides
  • The parents
  • The guardian ad litem for the child
  • The attorney for the child
  • The child, if he or she is age 13 or older
  • Any preadoptive parent
  • Such other persons as the court may direct

The attorney for the department shall notify a relative who submits a request for notification of all proceedings and hearings. The notice shall include the date, time, and location of the next judicial review hearing.

Determinations Made at Hearings

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 39.701; 39.621

At the review hearing, the court and any citizen review panel shall seek to determine the following:

  • Whether the parent was advised of the right to receive assistance from any person or agency in the preparation of the case plan and the right to have counsel present
  • Whether a guardian ad litem needs to be appointed for the child
  • Who holds the rights to make educational decisions for the child
  • The compliance or lack of compliance of all parties with the case plan, including the parents' compliance with child support orders
  • The compliance or lack of compliance with a plan for contact between the parent and the child, including the frequency, duration, and results of the parent-child visitation and the reason for any noncompliance
  • The frequency, kind, and duration of contacts among siblings who have been separated during placement
  • Whether the child is receiving safe and proper care, including, but not limited to, the appropriateness of the child's current placement in a setting that is as family-like and as close to the parent's home as possible, and the appropriateness of the child's current educational setting
  • A projected likely date for the child's return home or other permanent placement
  • When applicable, the basis for the unwillingness or inability of the parent to become a party to a case plan
  • For a child who is at least age 13 but not yet age 18, the adequacy of the child's preparation for adulthood and independent living
  • Whether amendments to the case plan are needed

At the permanency hearing, the court shall determine the following:

  • Whether the current permanency goal for the child is appropriate or should be changed
  • When the child will achieve one of the permanency goals
  • Whether the department has made reasonable efforts to finalize the permanency plan currently in effect
  • Whether the frequency, duration, manner, and level of engagement of the parent or legal guardian's visitation with the child meets the case plan requirements

The best interests of the child is the primary consideration in determining the permanency goal for the child.

Permanency Options

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 39.621

At the review hearing, the court and any citizen review panel shall seek to determine the following:

  • Whether the parent was advised of the right to receive assistance from any person or agency in the preparation of the case plan and the right to have counsel present
  • Whether a guardian ad litem needs to be appointed for the child
  • Who holds the rights to make educational decisions for the child
  • The compliance or lack of compliance of all parties with the case plan, including the parents' compliance with child support orders
  • The compliance or lack of compliance with a plan for contact between the parent and the child, including the frequency, duration, and results of the parent-child visitation and the reason for any noncompliance
  • The frequency, kind, and duration of contacts among siblings who have been separated during placement
  • Whether the child is receiving safe and proper care, including, but not limited to, the appropriateness of the child's current placement in a setting that is as family-like and as close to the parent's home as possible, and the appropriateness of the child's current educational setting
  • A projected likely date for the child's return home or other permanent placement
  • When applicable, the basis for the unwillingness or inability of the parent to become a party to a case plan
  • For a child who is at least age 13 but not yet age 18, the adequacy of the child's preparation for adulthood and independent living
  • Whether amendments to the case plan are needed

At the permanency hearing, the court shall determine the following:

  • Whether the current permanency goal for the child is appropriate or should be changed
  • When the child will achieve one of the permanency goals
  • Whether the department has made reasonable efforts to finalize the permanency plan currently in effect
  • Whether the frequency, duration, manner, and level of engagement of the parent or legal guardian's visitation with the child meets the case plan requirements

The best interests of the child is the primary consideration in determining the permanency goal for the child.