Court Hearings for the Permanent Placement of Children - Indiana

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Schedule of Hearings

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-34-21-2; 31-34-21-7

The case of each child in need of services under the supervision of the Department of Child Services must be reviewed at least once every 6 months or more often, if ordered by the court. The first of these periodic case reviews must occur at least 6 months after the date of the child's removal from the child's home or at least 6 months after the date of the dispositional decree, whichever comes first.

Each periodic case review must be conducted by the juvenile court in a formal court hearing. The court may perform a case review any time after a progress report has been filed.

The court shall hold a permanency hearing as follows:

  • No later than 30 days after a court finds that reasonable efforts to reunify or preserve a child's family are not required
  • Every 12 months after the date of the original dispositional decree or the date that the child in need of services was removed from the child's parent, guardian, or custodian, whichever comes first
  • More often if ordered by the juvenile court

Persons Entitled to Attend Hearings

Citation: Ann. Code § 31-34-21-4

At least 7 days prior to a hearing, the department shall provide notice to each of the following:

  • The child's parent, guardian, or custodian
  • An attorney who has entered an appearance on behalf of the child's parent, guardian, or custodian
  • A prospective adoptive parent
  • The child's foster parent
  • Any other person whom the department knows is currently providing care for the child
  • Any other suitable relative or person whom the department knows has had a significant or caregiving relationship to the child

The court shall provide to a person described above an opportunity to be heard and to make recommendations to the court. The right to be heard and to make recommendations includes the following:

  • The right to submit a written statement to the court that, if served upon all parties to the child in need of services proceeding and the persons described above, may be made a part of the court record
  • The right to present oral testimony to the court and cross-examine any of the witnesses at the hearing

Determinations Made at Hearings

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-34-21-5; 31-34-21-7

At the review hearing the court shall determine the following:

  • Whether the child's case plan, services, and placement meet the child's special needs and best interests
  • Whether the department has made reasonable efforts to provide family services
  • A projected date for the child's return home, adoption, emancipation, or placement with a legal guardian

At the permanency hearing the court shall do the following:

  • Consider the question of continued jurisdiction and whether the dispositional decree should be modified
  • Consider the recommendations of persons listed above before approving a permanency plan
  • Consult with the child in an age-appropriate manner regarding the proposed permanency plan
  • Consider and approve a permanency plan for the child
  • Determine whether an existing permanency plan must be modified

If the child is at least age 16 and the proposed permanency plan provides for the transition of the child from foster care to independent living, the court shall do the following:

  • Require the department to provide notice of the permanency hearing to the child
  • Provide the child an opportunity to be heard and to make recommendations to the court
  • Require the department to document its unsuccessful efforts to return the child home or secure a placement for the child with a fit and willing relative, legal guardian, or adoptive parent, including efforts to find biological or adoptive family members for the child
  • Ask the child about his or her desired permanency outcome and document the child's response
  • Determine why another planned permanent living arrangement is the best permanency plan for the child
  • Require the department to document the steps the department is taking to ensure that the child's foster family home is following the reasonable and prudent parent standard in providing the child with regular, ongoing opportunities to engage in developmentally appropriate activities

Permanency Options

Citation: Ann. Code § 31-34-21-7.5

A permanency plan includes the intended permanent or long-term arrangements for care and custody of the child that may include any of the following arrangements that the department or the court considers most appropriate and consistent with the best interests of the child:

  • Return to or continuation of existing custodial care within the home of the child's parent, guardian, or custodian or placement of the child with the child's noncustodial parent
  • Initiation of a proceeding for termination of the parent-child relationship
  • Placement of the child for adoption
  • Placement of the child with a responsible person, including an adult sibling, a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle, a custodial parent of a sibling of the child, or another relative who is able and willing to act as the child's permanent custodian and carry out the responsibilities required by the permanency plan
  • Appointment of a legal guardian
  • A supervised independent living arrangement or foster care for the child with a permanency plan of another planned, permanent living arrangement

A child younger than age 16 may not have another planned, permanent living arrangement as the child's permanency plan.