Court Hearings for the Permanent Placement of Children - Iowa

Date: February 2020

Schedule of Hearings

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 232.104; Admin. Code Tit. 13, § 441-130.7(4)

An initial permanency hearing shall be held as follows:

  • Within 12 months of the date the child was removed from the home
  • Within 30 days in a case for which the reasonable efforts requirement has been waived

Following an initial permanency hearing and the entry of a permanency order that places a child in the custody or guardianship of another person or agency, the court shall retain jurisdiction and annually review the order to ascertain whether the best interests of the child are being served.

In lieu of the procedures specified above, the court may close the case of a child in need of assistance by transferring jurisdiction over the child's guardianship to the probate court. Upon transferring jurisdiction, the court shall direct the probate clerk, once the proposed guardian has filed an oath of office and identification in accordance with § 602.6111, to issue letters of appointment for guardianship and docket the case in probate.

In regulation: The reevaluation of the case plan shall be filed at least every 6 months or more often when there are significant changes, when required by the court, or when required according to the rules of the service.

Persons Entitled to Attend Hearings

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 232.91

Any hearings or proceedings shall not take place without the presence of the child's parent, guardian, custodian, or guardian ad litem. A parent without custody may petition the court to be made a party to the proceedings. An agency, facility, institution, or person, including a foster parent or an individual providing preadoptive care, may petition the court to be made a party to the proceedings.

If a child is of an age appropriate to attend a hearing but the child does not attend, the court shall determine if the child was informed of the child's right to attend the hearing. A presumption exists that it is in the best interests of a child age 14 or older to attend all hearings and all staff or family meetings involving placement options or services provided to the child. The Department of Human Services shall allow the child to attend all such hearings and meetings unless the attorney for the child finds the child's attendance is not in the best interests of the child. If the child is excluded from attending a hearing or meeting, the department shall maintain a written record detailing the reasons for excluding the child. A copy of the written record shall be made available to the child upon the request of the child after he or she reaches the age of majority.

For purposes of this section, 'attend' includes the appearance of the child at a hearing by video or telephonic means.

Determinations Made at Hearings

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 232.104

During the hearing, the court shall consider the child's need for a secure and permanent placement in light of any permanency plan or evidence submitted to the court and the reasonable efforts made concerning the child. Upon completion of the hearing, the court shall enter written findings and make a determination identifying a primary permanency goal for the child. If a permanency plan is in effect at the time of the hearing, the court shall also make a determination whether reasonable progress is being made in achieving the permanency goal and complying with the other provisions of that permanency plan.

Permanency Options

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 232.104

After a permanency hearing, the court shall do one of the following:

  • Enter an order to return the child to the child's home
  • Enter an order to continue placement of the child for an additional 6 months, at which time the court shall hold a hearing to consider modification of its permanency order
  • Direct the county attorney or the attorney for the child to institute proceedings to terminate the parent-child relationship
  • Enter an order to do one of the following:
    • Transfer guardianship and custody of the child to a suitable person
    • Transfer sole custody of the child from one parent to another parent
    • Transfer custody of the child to a suitable person for the purpose of long-term care
  • If the child is age 16 or older and the department has documented to the court's satisfaction a compelling reason for determining that an order for one of the options listed above would not be in the child's best interests, order another planned permanent living arrangement for the child