Court Hearings for the Permanent Placement of Children - South Carolina

Date: February 2020

Schedule of Hearings

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 63-7-1640; 63-7-1700; 63-11-720

Permanency planning hearings shall be held as follows:

  • Within 30 days when the court decides, in a hearing other than a permanency planning hearing, that reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify a family are not required
  • No later than 1 year after the date the child was first placed in foster care

Local foster care review boards shall review every 6 months the cases of children who have resided in public foster care for more than 4 consecutive months and the cases of children who have resided in private foster care for more than 6 consecutive months to determine what efforts have been made by the supervising agency or child-caring facility to acquire a permanent home for the child. Following review of a case, the local foster care review board shall submit a written report and recommendations to the court concerning the case.

Persons Entitled to Attend Hearings

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-1630

The Department of Social Services shall provide notice of a hearing to the following persons:

  • All parties
  • The foster parent
  • The preadoptive parent
  • The relative who is providing care for the child

The notice shall inform the foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative of the date, place, and time of the hearing and of the right to attend the hearing and to address the court concerning the child. Notice provided pursuant to this section does not confer on the foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative the status of a party to the action.

Determinations Made at Hearings

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-1700

At the permanency planning hearing, the court shall review the following:

  • What services have been provided to or offered to the parents to facilitate reunification
  • The compliance or lack of compliance to the case plan
  • The extent to which the parents have visited or supported the child and any reasons why visitation or support has not occurred or has been infrequent
  • Whether previous services should continue and, if additional services are needed reunification, identifying those services and specifying the date for completion, which must be no longer than 18 months from the date the child was placed in care
  • Whether the return home of the child can be expected and identification of the changes the parent must make in circumstances, conditions, or behavior to remedy the causes of the child's placement in care
  • Whether the child's foster care is to continue for a specified time and, if so, how long
  • If the child has reached age 16, the services needed to assist the child to make the transition to independent living
  • Whether the child's current placement is safe and appropriate
  • Whether the department has made reasonable efforts to assist the parents in remedying the causes of the child's placement in care
  • The steps the department is taking to promote and expedite the adoptive placement and to finalize the adoption of the child, including documentation of child-specific recruitment efforts
  • The department's efforts to facilitate the caregiver's compliance with the reasonable and prudent parent standard
  • The department's efforts to determine whether the child has regular, ongoing opportunities to engage in age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate activities

If the court determines that the child may be safely returned the home, the court shall order the child returned to the child's parent. The court may order a specified period of supervision and services not to exceed 12 months. If the removal of the child from the family was due to drug use by one or both parents, then a drug test must be administered to the parent or both parents, as appropriate, and the results must be considered with all other evidence in determining whether the child should be returned to the parents' care.

Permanency Options

Citation: Ann. Code § 63-7-1700

Permanency options include the following:

  • Reunification with the parent(s)
  • Custody or guardianship with a fit and willing relative or nonrelative
  • Termination of parental rights and placement for adoption
  • Another planned permanent living arrangement (APPLA) when the department has documented compelling reasons why another permanency option is in the best interests of the child

If the court approves a plan of APPLA, the court must find compelling reasons for approval of the plan, including compelling reasons why reunification with the parents, custody or guardianship with a fit and willing relative, or termination of parental rights and adoption is not in the child's best interest, and that the plan is and continues to be in the child's best interest. The court shall not approve or order APPLA for children younger than age 16. At each hearing in which the court approves or renews APPLA for a child older than age 16, the court must ask the child about his or her wishes as to the placement plan.