Court Hearings for the Permanent Placement of Children - Oklahoma

Date:

Schedule of Hearings

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10A, §§ 1-4-807; 1-4-811

Every case regarding a child alleged or adjudicated to be deprived shall be reviewed by the court at a hearing no later than 6 months from the date of the child's removal from the home and at least once every 6 months thereafter until permanency is achieved or the court otherwise terminates jurisdiction. A review hearing may be held concurrently with a permanency hearing.

When the Department of Human Services has documented a compelling reason why a petition to terminate parental rights to a child is not in the best interests of the child and that reason is based upon a consideration that the child is presently not capable of functioning in a family setting, the court shall reevaluate the status of the child every 90 days until there is a final determination that the child cannot be placed in a family setting.

The court shall conduct a permanency hearing as follows:

  • No later than 6 months after placing the child in out-of-home placement and every 6 months thereafter
  • Within 30 days after the court determines that reasonable efforts are not required and every 6 months thereafter

Persons Entitled to Attend Hearings

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10A, § 1-4-811

At each permanency hearing, the court may consider testimony of any person who has relevant information about the status of the child or the status of the treatment plan. All parties shall have the opportunity to present evidence and to cross-examine witnesses.

If a foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative is currently providing care for a child, the department shall give the foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative notice of a proceeding concerning the child. A foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative providing care for a child has the right to be heard at the proceeding. Except when allowed to intervene, the foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative providing care for the child is not considered a party to the juvenile court proceeding solely because of notice and the right to be heard at the proceeding.

Determinations Made at Hearings

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10A, §§ 1-4-807; 1-4-811

At each review hearing the court shall determine the following:

  • Whether the service plan, services, and placement meet the best interests of the child
  • Whether there is a need for the continued placement of the child
  • Whether the current permanency plan for the child remains appropriate
  • Whether visitation terms need to be modified, including visits with siblings, if separated
  • The timeframe for achieving permanency
  • Whether reasonable efforts have been made to finalize permanency for the child
  • In the case of an Indian child, whether active efforts have been made to provide services and rehabilitative programs, as required by the Indian Child Welfare Act
  • For a child who is age 14 or older, whether services are being provided that will assist the child in making the transition from foster care to a successful adulthood
  • Whether the services being provided are adequate to correct the conditions that led to adjudication
  • Whether reasonable efforts have been made to place siblings together in the same placement or provide for frequent visitation or other ongoing interaction for siblings who are not placed together
  • Whether compliance with the service plan has occurred
  • Whether the department is taking appropriate steps to ensure that the foster family follows the reasonable and prudent parent standard and whether the child has regular opportunities to engage in age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate activities

At the permanency hearing, the court shall determine the continued appropriateness of the permanency plan, whether a change in the plan is needed, the date by which the goal will be achieved, and whether the current placement of the child continues to be suitable for the child. The court also shall, in an age-appropriate manner, ask the child about the proposed permanency plan, and if the child is age 14 or older, the planning for the transition of the child to a successful adulthood.

When a planned alternative permanent placement is the permanency plan for the child, at each permanency hearing the court shall do the following:

  • Ask the child about the permanency outcome the child desires
  • Make a determination why a planned alternative permanent placement is the best permanency plan for the child and provide compelling reasons why it continues to not be in the best interests of the child to return home or be placed for adoption with a legal guardian or with a fit and willing relative

The court also shall make written findings related to the following:

  • Whether the department has made reasonable efforts to finalize the permanency plan or, in the case of an Indian child, whether the department has made active efforts to provide the required remedial services and rehabilitative programs
  • If the permanency plan is for the child to remain in out-of-home care, whether the child's out-of-home placement continues to be appropriate and in the best interests of the child
  • If the current placement is not expected to be permanent, the court's projected timetable for return home or for placement in an adoptive home with a guardian, or another planned permanent living arrangement
  • Whether reasonable efforts, in accordance with the safety or well-being of any child, have been made to do the following:
    • Place siblings who have been removed together in the same placement
    • Provide for frequent visitation or other ongoing interaction in the case of siblings who have been removed and who are not placed together

Permanency Options

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10A, § 1-4-811

Permanency options include the following:

  • Reunification with the parent, parents, or legal guardian of the child when:
    • Reunification can be expected to occur within an established timeframe that is consistent with the developmental needs of the child.
    • The health and safety of the child can be adequately safeguarded if the child is returned home.
  • Placement for adoption after the rights of the parents have been terminated or after a petition has been filed to terminate parental rights
  • Placement with a person who will be the permanent guardian of the child and is able to adequately and appropriately safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of the child
  • Placement in the legal custody of the department under a planned alternative permanent placement, provided the child is age 16 or older and there are compelling reasons documented by the department include the intensive, ongoing and, as of the date of the hearing, unsuccessful efforts made to:
    • Return the child home
    • Place the child with a fit and willing relative (including adult siblings), a legal guardian, or an adoptive parent
    • Find birth family members for the child utilizing search technology, including social media