Court Hearings for the Permanent Placement of Children - Virginia

Date:

Schedule of Hearings

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 16.1-278.2; 16.1-281; 16.1-282; 16.1-282.1; 16.1-282.2

Hearings shall be scheduled as follows:

  • A dispositional hearing will be held within 60 days of removal to review and approve the foster care plan.
  • A foster care review shall be held within 60 days of the child's initial foster care placement to review and approve the foster care plan.
  • A foster care review hearing shall be held within 4 months of the hearing at which the foster care plan was approved.
  • A permanency hearing will be held as follows:
    • Within 30 days of a determination that reasonable efforts to reunify are not required
    • Within 10 months of the dispositional hearing
  • An additional foster care review hearing will be held as follows:
    • Every 6 months for any child who is placed in another planned permanent living arrangement for long as the child remains in the legal custody of the board or child welfare agency
    • Annually for any child who remains in the custody of a local board of social services and (i) on whose behalf a petition to terminate parental rights has been granted, filed, or ordered to be filed; (ii) who is placed in permanent foster care; or (iii) who is age 16 or older and for whom the plan is independent living

In cases in which a child is placed in a qualified residential treatment program (QRTP), a hearing shall be held within 60 days of such placement. The hearing required by this subsection may be held in conjunction with a dispositional hearing, a foster care review hearing, a permanency planning hearing, or an annual foster care review hearing.

Persons Entitled to Attend Hearings

Citation: Ann. Code § 16.1-282

Notice of a hearing shall be provided to the following:

  • The child's parents
  • The child, if he or she is age 12 or older
  • The attorney representing the child as guardian ad litem
  • Any other person standing in loco parentis
  • The foster parents
  • The petitioning board, public agency, or child welfare agency
  • Such other persons as the court, in its discretion, may direct, including, but not limited to, preadoptive parents for a child in foster care

Determinations Made at Hearings

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 16.1-282.1; 16.1-281

Before approving a plan for the child, the court shall determine the following:

  • When returning home remains the goal for the child, what progress the parent has made toward reunification with the child, whether the parent has maintained a close and positive relationship with the child, and whether the child is likely to return home within the near future
  • When returning home is not the goal for the child, what progress is being made to achieve the permanent goal identified by the plan
  • Whether reasonable efforts have been made

At the foster care review hearing for a child who is at least age 14 and whose parents' rights were terminated, but he or she has not achieved his or her permanency goal, the court shall inquire of the guardian ad litem and the local board of social services whether the child has expressed a preference that the possibility of restoring the parental rights of his or her parent or parents be investigated. If the child expresses or has expressed such a preference, the court shall direct the local board of social services or the child's guardian ad litem to investigate the parent or parents. If, following the investigation, the local board of social services or the child's guardian ad litem deems it appropriate to do so, either may file a petition for the restoration of parental rights.

At the initial hearing for a child placed in a QRTP, the court shall do the following:

  • Determine whether the needs of the child can be met through placement in a foster home or, if not, whether placement in the QRTP would provide the most effective and appropriate level of care for the child in the least restrictive environment and be consistent with the short-term and long-term goals established for the child in his or her foster care or permanency plan
  • Approve or deny the placement of the child in the QRTP

If the child remains placed in the QRTP during any subsequent hearings, the local board of social services or licensed child-placing agency shall present evidence at the hearing that demonstrates the following:

  • That the ongoing assessment of the child's strengths and needs continues to support the determination that the child's needs cannot be met through placement in a foster home and that the child's placement in the QRTP provides the most effective and appropriate level of care for the child in the least restrictive environment and is consistent with the short-term and long-term goals established for the child in his or her foster care or permanency plan
  • The specific treatment or service needs of the child that will be met in the QRTP and the length of time the child is expected to need such treatment or services
  • The efforts made by the local board of social services to prepare the child to return home or to be placed with a fit and willing relative, legal guardian, or adoptive parent, or in a foster home

The court shall review such evidence and approve or deny the continued placement of the child in the QRTP.

Permanency Options

Citation: Ann. Code § 16.1-281

Permanency options include the following:

  • Return to the parent
  • Transfer custody to a fit and willing relative
  • Adoption
  • Permanent foster care
  • Independent living for a child age 16 or older
  • Another planned permanent living arrangement