Court Hearings for the Permanent Placement of Children - Pennsylvania

Date:

Schedule of Hearings

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 42, § 6351; Admin. Code Tit. 55, § 3130.71

The court shall conduct a permanency hearing as follows:

  • Within 6 months of the child's removal from the home and every 6 months thereafter
  • Within 30 days of a finding that reasonable efforts to reunify are not required

If the court resumes jurisdiction of the child pursuant to an agreement to extend foster care after age 18, permanency hearings shall be scheduled in accordance with applicable law until court jurisdiction is terminated, but no later than when the child reaches age 21.

In regulation: The county agency shall ensure that the status of a child in placement under its case management responsibility is reviewed periodically but no less frequently than once every 6 months. The child's first review shall occur no later than 6 months from the date of placement. Subsequent periodic reviews shall be held no later than 6 months from the date of the previous periodic review.

Persons Entitled to Attend Hearings

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 42, §§ 6310; 6336.1(a)

The court may order a parent, guardian, or custodian of a child to be present at and to bring the child to any proceeding under this chapter.

Notice of the hearing shall be provided to the following:

  • The child's foster parent
  • Any preadoptive parent
  • A relative providing care for the child

The court shall provide the child's foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative providing care for the child the right to be heard at any hearing under this chapter. Unless a foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative providing care for a child has been awarded legal custody, nothing in this section shall give the foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative providing care for the child legal standing in the matter being heard by the court.

Determinations Made at Hearings

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 42, § 6351

At each permanency hearing, a court shall determine all the following:

  • The continuing necessity for and appropriateness of the placement
  • The appropriateness and extent of compliance with the permanency plan
  • The extent of progress made toward alleviating the circumstances that necessitated the original placement
  • The appropriateness and feasibility of the current placement goal for the child
  • The likely date by which the placement goal for the child might be achieved
  • Whether reasonable efforts were made to finalize the permanency plan
  • Whether the child is safe
  • If the child has been placed outside the State, whether the placement continues to be best suited to the safety and welfare of the child
  • The services needed to assist a child who is age 14 or older to make the transition to successful adulthood
  • Whether the child who is between age 18 and 21 has requested that the court continue jurisdiction
  • Whether a transition plan has been prepared in accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 675(5)(h)
  • If the child has been in placement for at least 15 of the last 22 months or aggravated circumstances exist, whether a petition to terminate parental rights has been filed
  • If a sibling of a child has been removed from the home and is in a different placement setting, whether reasonable efforts have been made to place the child and his or her sibling together or whether such joint placement is contrary to the safety or well-being of the child or sibling
  • If the child has a sibling, whether visitation of the child with that sibling is occurring no less than twice a month, unless a finding is made that visitation is contrary to the safety or well-being of the child or sibling
  • If the child has been placed with a caregiver, whether the child is being provided with regular, ongoing opportunities to participate in age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate activities and the caregiver is following the reasonable and prudent parent standard

Permanency Options

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 42, § 6351

At the hearing, the court shall determine one of the following:

  • If and when the child will be returned to the child's parent.
  • If and when the child will be placed for adoption and the county agency will file for termination of parental rights.
  • If and when the child will be placed with a legal custodian.
  • If and when the child will be placed with a fit and willing relative.
  • If and when the child will be placed in another planned permanent living arrangement that is approved by the court, to which the following shall apply:
    • The child must be age 16 or older.
    • The county agency shall identify at least one significant connection with a supportive adult willing to be involved in the child's life as the child transitions to adulthood, or document that efforts have been made to identify a supportive adult.
    • The county agency shall document and the court shall verify the following:
      • A compelling reason that it would not be best suited to the safety; protection; and physical, mental, and moral welfare of the child to be returned to the child's parent, to be placed for adoption, to be placed with a legal custodian, or to be placed with a fit and willing relative
      • The intensive, ongoing, and unsuccessful efforts to return the child to the child's parent or achieve another permanent placement
      • The county agency's efforts to utilize search technology to find biological family members for the child
    • The court shall do the following:
      • Ask the child about his or her desired permanency goal
      • Make a judicial determination explaining why, as of the date of the hearing, another planned permanent living arrangement is the best permanency plan for the child