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§8.06 Findings and Orders

[1] In General
[2] Guardianship
[3] Adoption
[4] Kin-GAP Payments
[5]
Foster Care
[6] Further Efforts at Reunification
[7] Nonminor’s Status Review Hearing

[1] In General

If the child is in a placement other than a legal guardianship, you must ask about the progress made toward providing a permanent home, consider the child’s safety, and determine the following issues [ WIC §§366.24, 366.3(e), (h), 366.35]:

  • The continuing necessity for and appropriateness of the child’s placement;
  • The identity of nonsiblings who are important to a child who is age 10 or older and has been in out-of-home placement for at least six months, and actions necessary to maintain those relationships;

Tip

  • The continuing appropriateness of and extent of compliance with the permanent plan, including efforts to maintain important relationships for a child who is 10 or older as described above, and to identify a prospective adoptive parent or legal guardian;
  • The extent of DSS compliance with the case plan in making reasonable efforts to return the child to the safe home of the parent or to complete plans for permanent placement; if you determine that a second period of reunification services are in the child’s best interests, and that there is a significant likelihood of the child’s return to a safe home due to the parent’s changed circumstances, you must describe the specific services required to effect the return;
  • Whether a parent’s or guardian’s rights to make educational decisions should be limited;
  • The adequacy of services provided;
  • The parents’ progress toward alleviating the causes that required foster care;
  • The likely date by which the child may be returned home or placed for adoption or in some other permanent living situation, or when an Indian child may be placed for tribal customary adoption;
  • Whether the child has siblings under jurisdiction and, if so:
    • The nature of the relationship with the siblings;
    • The appropriateness of developing and maintaining sibling relationships;
    • If siblings are not placed together, the reason for that placement, and efforts, if any, to correct it;
    • Frequency and nature of sibling visitation; and
    • Impact of sibling relationship on placement and permanent planning.
  • The services needed to assist a child age 16 or older to transition from foster care to independent living.
  • In a case involving an Indian child, you must make ICWA findings regarding:
    • Notice [25 USC §1912(a); WIC §§224, 224.1, 224.2, 224.3, 295(g); CRC 5.481];
    • Detriment to return physical custody, including evidence from a qualified expert witness, supported by clear and convincing evidence [25 USC §1912(e); WIC §361.7; CRC 5.484];
    • Reasonable and active efforts to prevent removal supported by clear and convincing evidence [25 USC §1912(d); WIC §361.7; CRC 5.484; In re Michael G. (1998) 63 CA4th 700, 712]; and
    • Placement according to statutory preferences [25 USC §1915(d)–(e); WIC §§361.31, 366.26(c)(1)(B)(vi); CRC 5.484].
    For further discussion of ICWA, see Part 1, §1.05.

If the last review hearing before the child turns 18 is held under WIC §366.3, you must make various findings and orders. [CRC 5.707(c)–(d), briefly discussed in §6.08[2][d], above.]

Title IV-E Caution Title IV-E

REFERENCE >> For a form of findings and orders after a postpermanency hearing, see form JV-445. For a related attachment, see form JV-446.

[2] Guardianship

If you established a legal guardianship, consider whether to [WIC §§366.3(a), 366.4; CRC 5.740(a), (c)]:

  • Continue dependency jurisdiction;
  • Terminate dependency jurisdiction but retain jurisdiction over the guardianship; or
  • Terminate dependency jurisdiction and provide aid to a relative guardian under the Kin-GAP program if the child has lived with the relative for at least 12 consecutive months [see WIC §§11360 et seq; see [4], below].

If the child was placed with a relative guardian who cared for the child for at least 12 consecutive months, you must terminate dependency jurisdiction unless the relative guardian objects or you find exceptional circumstances. [WIC §366.3(a).]

You should apply the best-interests-of-the-child standard to a parent’s request to terminate the guardianship and return custody during postpermanency phase, and not the presumption-of-return standard under §366.21, because the child’s best interest is the standard applied after the reunification phase has ended. [In re Jacob P. (2007) 157 CA4th 819, 828.] If you must evaluate whether to terminate a legal guardianship, you should consider whether services to the legal guardian would prevent termination of the guardianship. Although the legal guardian is not entitled to reunification services, it is in the child's best interests that you at least consider whether services would ameliorate the need to modify the permanent plan. [In re Jessica C. (2007) 151 CA4th 474, 483.]

You continue to have authority to fashion orders in the best interest of the child while maintaining your continuing jurisdiction over the legal guardianship, even over the agency’s objection. [In re Z.C. (2009) 178 CA4th 1271, 1280.]

[3] Adoption

If you terminated parental rights and ordered the child placed for adoption, you must [WIC §366.3(g)]:

  • Determine whether reasonable efforts to make and finalize a permanent placement were made; and
  • Make appropriate orders to protect the child’s stability and promote permanent placement and adoption.

If the child was adopted since the last review hearing, you must terminate jurisdiction. [WIC §366.3(a); CRC 5.730(g).]

Tip

In the case of a tribal customary adoption, you must terminate jurisdiction after you afford full faith and credit to the tribal customary adoption order and grant the adoption petition. [WIC §366.3(a).]

[4] Kin-GAP Payments

If dependency jurisdiction was terminated and a kinship guardianship was established, along with other conditions, then Kin-GAP payments generally are continued until you rule on any motion to modify a previous court order under WIC §388. [See WIC §11363(a)–(b).] A child or nonminor former dependent is eligible to receive Kin-GAP payments under any of the conditions set forth in WIC §11363(d), including if the youth was a certain age when payments commenced and is not older than a specified age by January 1, 2012, 2013, or 2014. [See WIC §11363(c)–(d).] Termination of eligibility for Kin-GAP is governed by WIC §11363(e).

The amount of Kin-GAP payments are generally governed by the kinship guardianship assistance agreement. [See WIC §11364.]

[5] Foster Care

If you placed the child in foster care, you must consider all permanency options, including [WIC §366.3(h); CRC 5.740(b)(8)]:

  • Returning the child home;
  • Placing the child for adoption;
  • Placing an Indian child for tribal customary adoption in consultation with the child’s tribe;
  • Establishing a legal guardianship; or
  • If compelling reasons exist for finding that none of the above options are in the child's best interest, placing the child in another planned permanent living arrangement.

If the child is in foster care, you must set a .26 hearing unless you find by clear and convincing evidence that holding such a hearing is not in the child’s best interest. [WIC §366.3(g); CRC 5.740(b)(9).] If the child has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months, the social worker generally must recommend that you set a .26 hearing to terminate parental rights. [WIC §16508.1(a).]

Tip

If you order the child to remain in foster care, you must identify the foster care setting by name and identify a specific permanency goal. You may order that the name and address of the foster home remain confidential. [CRC 5.740(b)(8).]

On and after January 1, 2012, if you continue dependency jurisdiction of a nonminor as a dependent, you must order the agency to develop a planned permanent living arrangement of a placement under a mutual agreement. [WIC §§366.31(b), 11400(u).]

[6] Further Efforts at Reunification

If a parent proves by a preponderance of the evidence that further efforts at reunification are the best alternative for the child, you may order up to six months of reunification services, and family maintenance services for an additional six months, as needed. [WIC §366.3(f); CRC 5.740(b)(7).]

[7] Nonminor’s Status Review Hearing

At a nonminor dependent’s status review hearing, you must consider the nonminor’s safety and make specified judicial determinations and orders, including the following findings [CRC 5.903(e)(1); see form JV-462]:

  • Whether the nonminor dependent’s continuing placement is necessary and  current placement is appropriate;
  • Whether the Transitional Independent Living Case Plan includes a plan for the nonminor dependent to satisfy one or more of the criteria in WIC §11403(b), the specific criteria the nonminor dependent satisfied since the last hearing, and whether the social worker made reasonable efforts and provided assistance to help the nonminor establish and maintain compliance;
  • Whether the Case Plan was developed jointly by the nonminor dependent and the social worker, reflects the living situation and services that are consistent in the nonminor's opinion with what he or she needs to gain independence, and sets out the benchmarks that indicate how both will know when independence can be achieved;
  • For the nonminor dependent who has elected to have ICWA continue to apply, whether the representative from his or her tribe was consulted during the development of the Case Plan;
  • Whether reasonable efforts were made by the social worker to comply with the Case Plan, including efforts to finalize the nonminor dependent’s permanent plan and prepare him or her for independence; and
  • Whether the Case Plan includes appropriate and meaningful independent living skill services that will assist the nonminor with the transition from foster care to independent living.

You must order one of the following [CRC 5.903(e)(2)]:

  • Order the continuation of juvenile court jurisdiction and set a nonminor dependent review hearing within six months, and order a permanent plan consistent with the nonminor dependent’s Case Plan, and specify the likely date by which independence is anticipated to be achieved; or
  • Order the continuation of juvenile court jurisdiction and set a hearing to consider termination of juvenile court jurisdiction over a nonminor under CRC 5.555 within 30 days; or
  • Order termination of juvenile court jurisdiction pursuant to rule 5.555 if this nonminor dependent status review hearing was heard at the same time as a hearing under CRC 5.555.

   
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© 2006 by Judicial Council of California
updated as of January 1, 2012