Court Hearings for the Permanent Placement of Children - Nebraska

Date: February 2020

Schedule of Hearings

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 43-1312; 43-1314.01

The court that has jurisdiction over a child who is placed in foster care shall review the dispositional order for the child at least once every 6 months.

A permanency hearing shall be conducted by the court as follows:

  • No later than 12 months after the child enters foster care and at least annually thereafter
  • Within 30 days of a finding that reasonable efforts to reunify are not required

Persons Entitled to Attend Hearings

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 43-1314

Notice of a hearing shall be provided to the following:

  • The person charged with the care of the child
  • The child's parents or guardian unless parental rights have been terminated
  • The foster child if he or she is age 14 or older
  • The foster parents
  • The child's guardian ad litem
  • Foster Care Review Office and designated local foster care review board
  • The preadoptive parent
  • The relative providing care for the child

Notice to the foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative providing care shall not be construed to require that such foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative is a necessary party to the review. The court shall inquire into the well-being of the foster child by asking questions, if present at the hearing, of any willing foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative providing care for the child.

Determinations Made at Hearings

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 43-1315; 43-1316; 43-1312; 43-4711

In reviewing the foster care status and permanency plan of a child, the court shall determine whether the following objectives are being met:

  • Placement of the child outside the home should continue upon a written determination that return of the child to his or her home would be contrary to the welfare of such child.
  • Reasonable efforts to preserve and reunify the family, if required under § 43-283.01, have been made.
  • The goals of the foster care placement and of the foster care plan or permanency plan are safe and appropriate.
  • The individual physical, psychological, and sociological needs of the child are being met.

In the case of any child age 16 or older for whom another planned permanent living arrangement is the recommended or court-approved permanency plan, the following provisions apply:

  • The permanency plan shall include the identification of significant, supportive connections with identified adults willing to be consistently involved in the child's life as the child transitions to adulthood.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services shall document the intensive, ongoing, and, as of the date of the hearing, unsuccessful efforts made by the department to return the child home or secure a placement for the child with a fit and willing relative, a legal guardian, or an adoptive parent.
  • The court shall do the following:
    • Ask the child about his or her desired permanency outcome
    • Make a determination explaining why, as of the date of the hearing, another planned permanent living arrangement is the best permanency plan for the child and the compelling reasons why it continues to not be in the child's best interests to return home, be placed for adoption, be placed with a legal guardian, or be placed with a fit and willing relative
    • Make a determination that the department has met the requirements of this subsection before approving a permanency plan of another planned permanent living arrangement for a child age 16 or older

At every dispositional, review, or permanency planning hearing, the court shall determine the following:

  • The steps the department is taking to ensure the child's foster family home or child care institution is following the reasonable and prudent parent standard
  • Whether the child has regular, ongoing opportunities to engage in age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate activities
  • Whether the department has consulted with the child in an age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate manner about the opportunities of the child to participate in such activities

Permanency Options

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 43-1312

The permanency plan determined for the child shall include whether and, if applicable, when the child will be placed as follows:

  • Returned to the parent
  • Referred to the State for filing of a petition for termination of parental rights
  • Placed for adoption
  • Referred for guardianship
  • Placed for adoption with a fit and willing relative
  • Only in the case of a child who has reached age 16, placed in another planned permanent living arrangement