Court Hearings for the Permanent Placement of Children - North Carolina

Date:

Schedule of Hearings

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 7B-906.1

The court shall conduct a review hearing within 90 days from the date of the dispositional hearing and shall conduct a review hearing within 6 months thereafter. Within 12 months of the date of the initial order removing custody, there shall be a review hearing designated as a permanency planning hearing. Review hearings after the initial permanency planning hearing shall be designated as subsequent permanency planning hearings. Subsequent permanency planning hearings shall be held at least every 6 months thereafter or earlier, as set by the court, to review the progress made in finalizing the permanent plan for the juvenile, or if necessary, to make a new permanent plan for the juvenile.

If the court finds that a proceeding to terminate the parental rights of the child's parents is necessary in order to perfect the primary permanent plan for the juvenile, the director of the Department of Social Services shall file a petition to terminate parental rights within 60 calendar days from the date of the entry of the order.

Persons Entitled to Attend Hearings

Citation: Gen. Stat. §7B-906.1

Notice of a hearing shall be provided to the following:

  • The parents
  • The child if he or she is age 12 or older
  • The guardian
  • The person providing care for the child
  • The custodian or agency with custody
  • The guardian ad litem
  • Any other person or agency the court may specify

A person providing care for the juvenile shall not be made a party to the proceeding solely based on receiving notice and the right to be heard.

Determinations Made at Hearings

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 7B-906.1; 7B-906.2; 7B-912

At each hearing, the court shall determine the following:

  • Whether services have been offered to reunite the child with either parent
  • Whether visitation has occurred and whether the visitation plan should be modified
  • Whether efforts to reunite the child with either parent clearly would be unsuccessful or inconsistent with the child's health or safety and need for a safe, permanent home within a reasonable period of time
  • Whether the child's current foster care placement is appropriate and the goals of the juvenile's foster care plan, including the role the current foster parent will play in the planning for the juvenile
  • If the child is age 16 or 17, whether there is an independent living assessment and, if appropriate, an independent living plan
  • When and if termination of parental rights should be considered

At any permanency planning hearing, the court shall additionally consider the following:

  • Whether the child can be placed with a parent within the next 6 months
  • When the child's placement with a parent is unlikely within 6 months, review the following:
    • Whether legal guardianship or custody with a relative or another suitable person should be established
    • Whether adoption should be pursued
    • Whether the child should remain in the current placement or be placed in another permanent living arrangement
  • Whether the county department has made reasonable efforts to implement the permanent plan for the child
  • Whether the parent is doing the following:
    • Is making adequate progress within a reasonable period of time under the case plan
    • Is actively participating in or cooperating with the plan
    • Remains available to the court, the department, and the child's guardian ad litem
    • Is acting in a manner inconsistent with the health or safety of the child
  • If the child is age 14 or older, whether the following are true:
    • That services are provided to assist the child in making a transition to adulthood
    • That the the county department is taking steps to ensure that the foster family or other care provider follows the reasonable and prudent parent standard
    • That the child has regular opportunities to engage in age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate activities

Permanency Options

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 7B-906.2; 7B-912

At any permanency planning hearing, the court shall adopt one or more of the following permanent plans the court finds is in the child's best interests:

  • Reunification
  • Adoption
  • Guardianship
  • Custody to a relative or other suitable person
  • Another planned permanent living arrangement (APPLA), pursuant to § 7B-912
  • Reinstatement of parental rights, pursuant to § 7B-1114

If the court finds each of the following conditions applies, the court shall approve APPLA as the juvenile's primary permanent plan:

  • The juvenile is age 16 or 17.
  • The county department of social services has made diligent efforts to place the juvenile permanently with a parent or relative or in a guardianship or adoptive placement.
  • Compelling reasons exist that it is not in the best interests of the juvenile to be placed permanently with a parent or relative or in a guardianship or adoptive placement.
  • APPLA is the best permanency plan for the juvenile.