Court Hearings for the Permanent Placement of Children - Maryland

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Schedule of Hearings

Citation: Fam. Law § 5-525; Crts. & Jud. Proc. §§ 3-816.2; 3-823

Unless a child has received a review from the local board of review of foster care, the local Department of Social Services shall perform an administrative review every 6 months to determine the success of the efforts to meet the goals set out in the permanency plan or the agreement with the parents or guardians in voluntary placements.

The court shall conduct a hearing to review the status of each child under its jurisdiction within 6 months after the filing of the first petition under this subtitle and at least every 6 months thereafter.

The court shall hold a permanency planning hearing to determine the permanency plan for a child as follows:

  • No later than 11 months after a child has entered an out-of-home placement
  • Within 30 days after the court finds that reasonable efforts to reunify a child with the child's parent or guardian are not required

A child shall be considered to have entered an out-of-home placement 30 days after the child is placed into an out-of-home placement. If all parties agree, a permanency planning hearing may be held on the same day as the reasonable efforts hearing.

The court shall do the following:

  • Conduct a hearing to review the permanency plan at least every 6 months until commitment is rescinded or a voluntary placement is terminated
  • Conduct a review hearing every 12 months after the court determines that the child shall be continued in out-of-home placement with a specific caregiver who agrees to care for the child on a permanent basis

Unless the court finds good cause, a case shall be terminated after the court grants custody and guardianship of the child to a relative or other individual. If the court finds good cause not to terminate a case, the court shall conduct a review hearing every 12 months until the case is terminated.

Persons Entitled to Attend Hearings

Citation: Crts. & Jud. Proc. §§ 8-823; 8-801; Fam. Law § 5-504

The court shall give each party notice and an opportunity to attend the hearing. The term 'party' includes any of the following persons:

  • A child who is the subject of a petition
  • The child's parent, guardian, or custodian
  • The petitioner
  • An adult who is charged under § 3-828 as a person who has contributed to acts, omissions, or conditions that rendered a child in need of assistance

The term 'party' does not include a foster parent. The foster parents are permitted to attend all hearings. This right does create a cause of action for foster parents.

Determinations Made at Hearings

Citation: Crts. & Jud. Proc. §§ 3-816.2; 3-823

At a review hearing, the court shall do the following:

  • Evaluate the safety of the child
  • Determine the continuing necessity for and appropriateness of any out-of-home placement
  • Determine the appropriateness of and extent of compliance with the case plan for the child
  • Determine the extent of progress that has been made toward alleviating or mitigating the causes necessitating the court's jurisdiction
  • Project a reasonable date by which the child may be returned to and safely maintained in the home or placed for adoption or under a legal guardianship

The court shall conduct a hearing to review the status of a child placed in a qualified residential treatment program (QRTP) and determine the appropriateness of placement within 60 days after the child enters the placement. At a hearing, the court shall do the following:

  • Review the assessment of the child conducted by a qualified individual
  • Consider whether the needs of the child can be met through placement in a foster family home
  • Consider whether placement of the child in a QRTP provides the most effective and appropriate care for the child in the least restrictive environment
  • Consider whether placement of the child in a QRTP is consistent with the short-term and long-term goals for the child, as specified in the permanency plan

If a permanency plan for the child has been determined under § 3-823 of this subtitle, the permanency review hearing conducted by the court shall satisfy the requirements of this section.

At the permanency review hearing, the court shall do the following:

  • Determine the continuing necessity for and appropriateness of the commitment
  • Determine and document in its order whether reasonable efforts have been made to finalize the permanency plan that is in effect
  • Determine the extent of progress that has been made toward alleviating or mitigating the causes necessitating commitment
  • Project a reasonable date by which a child in placement may be returned home, placed in a preadoptive home, or placed under a legal guardianship
  • Evaluate the safety of the child and take necessary measures to protect the child
  • Change the permanency plan if a change in the permanency plan would be in the child's best interest
  • For a child with a developmental disability, direct the provision of services to obtain ongoing care, if any, needed after the court's jurisdiction ends
  • For a child who is at least age 14, determine the services needed to assist the child to make the transition from placement to successful adulthood

Permanency Options

Citation: Fam. Law § 5-525; Crts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-823

To the extent consistent with the best interests of the child in an out-of-home placement, the local department shall consider the following permanency plans, in descending order of priority:

  • Returning the child to the child's parent or guardian, unless the local department is the guardian
  • Placing the child with relatives to whom adoption, custody and guardianship, or care and custody, in descending order of priority, are planned to be granted
  • Adoption in the following descending order of priority:
    • By a current foster parent with whom the child has resided continually for at least the 12 months prior to developing the permanency plan or for a sufficient length of time to have established positive relationships and family ties
    • By another approved adoptive family
  • Custody and guardianship by a nonrelative
  • For a child who is at least age 16, another planned permanent living arrangement that does the following:
    • Addresses the individualized needs of the child, including the child's educational plan, emotional stability, physical placement, and socialization needs
    • Includes goals that promote the continuity of relations with individuals who will fill a lasting and significant role in the child's life

Every reasonable effort shall be made to achieve a permanent placement for the child within 24 months after the date of initial placement. At least every 12 months at a hearing under this section, the court shall consult on the record with the child in an age-appropriate manner to obtain the child's views on permanency.