Court Hearings for the Permanent Placement of Children - North Dakota

Date:

Schedule of Hearings

Citation: Cent. Code § 27-20-36; DHS Pol. Man. §§ 624-05-15-50-03; 624-05-15-20-20

A permanency hearing shall be held as follows:

  • No more than 12 months after the child has been placed in foster care and every 12 months thereafter
  • Within 30 days of a finding that reasonable efforts to reunify are not required
  • Within 12 months of a hearing conducted on a petition, filed under § 27-20-30.1, requesting that a foster youth who is older than age 18 but younger than age 21 remain in or return to foster care

In policy: Periodic reviews are conducted quarterly and referred to as the child and family team meeting.

Every child in foster care must have a permanency hearing within 12 months of the child's entry to foster care or continuing in foster care following a previous permanency hearing. The hearing must be held in a juvenile court or Tribal court of competent jurisdiction. In addition, a permanency hearing must be conducted within 30 days after a court determines that reasonable efforts are not required because of the following:

  • A parent has subjected the child to aggravated circumstances.
  • The parental rights of the parent with respect to another child of the parent have been involuntarily terminated.

Persons Entitled to Attend Hearings

Citation: Cent. Code § 27-20-36; DHS Pol. Man. § 624-05-15-50-20

Notice of a hearing shall be provided to the following:

  • The child
  • The child's parent
  • The child's guardian or custodian
  • All parties affected

In policy: Foster parents of the child and any preadoptive parent or relative providing care for the child must be provided with written notice of, and a right to be heard in, any proceeding with respect to the child. A full hearing is required. Paper reviews, ex parte hearings, agreed orders, or other actions or hearings that are not open to the participation of the parents of the child, the child (if age appropriate), and foster parents or preadoptive parents (if any) are not permanency hearings.

Determinations Made at Hearings

Citation: Cent. Code § 27-20-36; DHS Pol. Man. §§ 624-05-15-50-03; 624-05-15-20-20

At the hearing, the court shall determine whether the purposes of the placement order have been accomplished.

When considering whether to place a child who is age 16 or older in another planned permanent living arrangement, the court shall do the following:

  • Ask the child whether he or she desires a permanency outcome of another planned permanent living arrangement
  • Make a judicial determination explaining why another planned permanent living arrangement is the best permanency plan for the child
  • Identify the compelling reasons it continues not to be in the best interests of the child to return home, be placed for adoption, be placed with a legal guardian, or be placed with a fit and willing relative

In the case of a child who has been placed in foster care outside the State in which the home of the parents is located, or if the parents maintain separate homes outside the State in which the home of the parent who was the child's primary caregiver is located, the court shall determine whether out-of-State placements have been considered. If the child is currently in an out-of-State placement, the court shall determine whether the placement continues to be appropriate and in the child's best interests.

In the case of a child who has reached age 14, the court shall determine whether the child is receiving the services needed to assist the child to make the transition to successful adulthood.

In policy: The periodic review determines the following:

  • The safety of the child
  • The continuing necessity for and appropriateness of the placement
  • The extent of compliance with the case plan
  • The extent of progress that has been made toward alleviating the causes that necessitated the foster care placement
  • A projected date by which the child may be returned to and safety maintained in the home or placed for adoption or legal guardianship

The periodic review also will determine and assess the steps the agency is taking to ensure the child's foster family or child care institution is following the reasonable and prudent parent standard and to ascertain whether the child has regular, ongoing opportunities to engage in age or developmentally appropriate activities to achieve normalcy.

Permanency Options

Citation: Cent. Code § 27-20-02

At a permanency hearing, the court will determine the permanency plan for the child, which may include the following:

  • Whether and, if applicable, when the child will be returned to the parent
  • Whether and, if applicable, when the child will be placed for adoption and the State will file a petition for termination of parental rights
  • Whether and, if applicable, when a fit and willing relative or other appropriate individual will be appointed as a legal guardian
  • Whether, if applicable, to place siblings in the same foster care, relative, guardianship, or adoptive placement, unless it is determined that the joint placement would be contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings
  • Whether, if applicable, in the case of siblings removed from their home who are not jointly placed, to provide for frequent visitation or other ongoing interaction between the siblings, unless it is determined to be contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings
  • In cases in which a compelling reason has been shown that it would not be in the child's best interests to return home, to have parental rights terminated, to be placed for adoption, to be placed with a fit and willing relative, or to be placed with a legal guardian, whether and, if applicable, when the child, age 16 or older, will be placed in another planned permanent living arrangement