EXPEDITE CHILD SAFETY AND PERMANENCY.

View NCGA Bill Details2021
Senate Bill 693 (Public) Filed Wednesday, April 7, 2021
AN ACT TO AMEND VARIOUS ABUSE, NEGLECT, AND DEPENDENCY LAWS TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF CHILDREN IN OUT-OF-HOME PLACEMENTS AND EXPEDITE PERMANENCY PLANNING HEARINGS FOR CHILDREN WHO HAVE BEEN REMOVED FROM THE HOME; TO CLARIFY THE NONCARETAKER DEFINITION FOR THE RESPONSIBLE INDIVIDUALS LIST; TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, DIVISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES, TO DEVELOP A PLAN TO IMPLEMENT A CENTRALIZED HOTLINE FOR CHILD WELFARE INTAKE; TO DEVELOP A PLAN TO INCREASE APPROPRIATE TREATMENT AND RESIDENTIAL SETTINGS; AND TO PROVIDE SAFE AND APPROPRIATE PLACEMENT FOR CHILDREN IN NEED OF MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES.
Intro. by Jarvis, Krawiec, Edwards.

Status: Ch. SL 2021-132 (Sep 1 2021)

SOG comments (2):

Long title change

Senate committee substitute to the 1st edition changed the long title. Original long title was AN ACT TO AMEND VARIOUS ABUSE, NEGLECT, AND DEPENDENCY LAWS TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF CHILDREN IN OUT-OF-HOME PLACEMENTS; TO EXPEDITE PERMANENCY PLANNING HEARINGS FOR CHILDREN WHO HAVE BEEN REMOVED FROM THE HOME; TO CREATE A PRESUMPTION THAT FOSTER PARENTS WITH WHOM A CHILD HAS LIVED CONTINUOUSLY FOR NINE MONTHS ARE DEEMED NONRELATIVE KIN; AND TO CREATE AN AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCE FOR THE EXPOSURE TO UNLAWFUL CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES IN UTERO OR CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES USED IN VIOLATION OF THE LAW IN UTERO.

 

Long title change

House committee substitute to the 3rd edition changed the long title. Previous long title was AN ACT TO AMEND VARIOUS ABUSE, NEGLECT, AND DEPENDENCY LAWS TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF CHILDREN IN OUT-OF-HOME PLACEMENTS AND EXPEDITE PERMANENCY PLANNING HEARINGS FOR CHILDREN WHO HAVE BEEN REMOVED FROM THE HOME; TO CLARIFY THE NONCARETAKER DEFINITION FOR THE RESPONSIBLE INDIVIDUALS LIST; TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, DIVISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES, TO DEVELOP A PLAN TO IMPLEMENT A CENTRALIZED HOTLINE FOR CHILD WELFARE INTAKE; TO DEVELOP A PLAN TO INCREASE APPROPRIATE TREATMENT AND RESIDENTIAL SETTINGS; TO PROVIDE SAFE AND APPROPRIATE PLACEMENT FOR CHILDREN IN NEED OF BEHAVIORAL AND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES; AND TO REQUIRE PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO PROVIDE STUDENTS WITH INFORMATION AND RESOURCES ON CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT, INCLUDING SEXUAL ABUSE.

Bill History:

S 693/S.L. 2021-132

Bill Summaries:

  • Summary date: Sep 1 2021 - More information

    AN ACT TO AMEND VARIOUS ABUSE, NEGLECT, AND DEPENDENCY LAWS TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF CHILDREN IN OUT-OF-HOME PLACEMENTS AND EXPEDITE PERMANENCY PLANNING HEARINGS FOR CHILDREN WHO HAVE BEEN REMOVED FROM THE HOME; TO CLARIFY THE NONCARETAKER DEFINITION FOR THE RESPONSIBLE INDIVIDUALS LIST; TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, DIVISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES, TO DEVELOP A PLAN TO IMPLEMENT A CENTRALIZED HOTLINE FOR CHILD WELFARE INTAKE; TO DEVELOP A PLAN TO INCREASE APPROPRIATE TREATMENT AND RESIDENTIAL SETTINGS; AND TO PROVIDE SAFE AND APPROPRIATE PLACEMENT FOR CHILDREN IN NEED OF MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES. SL 2021-132. Enacted Sept. 1, 2021. Effective Sept. 1, 2021, except as otherwise provided.


  • Summary date: Aug 18 2021 - More information

    House amendments to the 4th edition makes the following changes.

    Part I.

    Amendment #2 revises the provisions of new GS 7B-302(a3), which allows legislators and NCGA joint oversight committees to request access to confidential information and records maintained pursuant to Article 3 (governing the screening of abuse and neglect complaints) by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or county departments of social services (dss), as follows. Previously, required DHHS to share confidential information and make the records concerning the child protective services case available to the requesting member or committee for review. Now requires DHHS to make the confidential information and records available for inspection and examination at the county department of social services upon receipt of a request from an individual legislator, and to assist the dss director with sharing the confidential information and records with the requesting joint legislative oversight committee in a closed session in accordance with state law. Eliminates the explicit prohibition against a legislator or joint legislative oversight committee receiving copies of any part of the information and records reviewed pursuant to a request under the new subsection. 

    Amendment #1 revises new subsection (k1) of GS 7B-906.1 regarding review and permanency planning hearings to now prohibit the court from waiving or refusing to conduct a review hearing if a party files a motion seeking the review hearing and alleges a significant fact (previously, did not require the motion to allege a significant fact in order for the prohibition to be effective).


  • Summary date: Aug 18 2021 - More information

    House committee substitute to the 3rd edition makes the following changes.

    Part I.

    Qualifies the authority granted in new GS 7B-302(a3), which allows legislators and NCGA joint oversight committees to request access to confidential information and records maintained pursuant to Article 3 (governing the screening of abuse and neglect complaints) by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or county departments of social services (dss), to specifically except access that is prohibited by state plan requirements within federal programs. Adds to the exemptions provided, now exempting juvenile court records as set forth in Article 30 (Juvenile Records and Social Reports of Delinquency and Undisciplined Cases) from such requests. Adds that disclosure of confidential information pursuant to new subsection (a3) is limited to requests for information received or created by the agency on or after October 1, 2021. 

    Adds to GS 7B-505 to explicitly allow a court to consider whether an appropriate former foster parent, nonrelative kin or other persons with legal custody of a sibling of a juvenile are willing and able to provide proper care and supervision of a juvenile in a safe home when the juvenile is not placed with a relative.

    Modifies proposed GS 7B-903(a4) to allow a court to order dss to notify a juvenile's State-recognized tribe of the need for custodial care (was, nonsecure custody) for the purposes of locating relatives or nonrelative kin for placement. 

    Regarding required supervised visits prior to dss recommending unsupervised visits with a juvenile or a return of physical custody of the juvenile under GS 7B-903.1, no longer qualifies the requirement for whichever (unsupervised visits or a return of physical custody) occurs first.

    Further amends and adds to the proposed changes to GS 7B-906.1 regarding review and permanency planning hearings to refer to "any person with whom the juvenile" is placed rather than "any person providing care for the juvenile," thereby requiring the court to give any person with whom the child was placed the opportunity to address the court regarding the juvenile's well-being (was, any person providing care for the juvenile). No longer requires a court to make findings of the goals of the family services plan at each hearing. Qualifies the requirement for the court to schedule a permanency planning hearing if the juvenile is removed from the custody of a parent, guardian, or custodian at a review hearing to except instances in which the hearing was noticed and heard as a permanency planning hearing. No longer requires a court to schedule a permanency planning hearing to address the permanent plans following a determination efforts would be unsuccessful or inconsistent unless made at a permanency planning hearing. Replaces the content of new subsections (d1) and (d2), now allowing the court to maintain the juvenile's placement under review or order a different placement, appoint an individual guardian of the person, or order any authorized disposition pursuant to specified law at any review hearing. Allows the court to waive further review hearings or terminate jurisdiction when the parent, guardian, or custodian successfully completes the court-ordered services and the juvenile is residing in a safe home, absent extraordinary circumstances. Eliminates the prohibition against a court's waiver or refusal to conduct a permanency planning hearing if a party files a motion seeking the hearing. 

    Part V.

    Eliminates proposed GS 7B-903.2, Presentation at a hospital for mental health treatment. Instead, enacts GS 122C-142.2 with the same title, providing as follows. Requires the dss director to contact the appropriate LME/MCO or prepaid health plan (PHP) within 24 hours of a determination that a juvenile in dss custody who presents to a hospital emergency department for mental health treatment should not remain at the hospital and no appropriate placement is immediately available, to request an assessment. Requires the LME/MCO or PHP to arrange for an assessment by the child's clinical home provider, the hospital, or other qualified licensed clinician within five business days of the dss director's notification, as specified. Sets forth required actions and timelines for placement following the comprehensive clinical assessment based on whether the assessment recommend a traditional foster home or a Level I group home, or a level of care requiring prior authorization by the LME/MCO or PHP; makes dss responsible for transporting the juvenile to the identified placement. Requires dss to provide ongoing case management either virtually or in-person to address the educational and social needs during the juvenile's stay in the hospital. Requires the hospital to cooperate with dss to provide access to the juvenile during the hospital stay. Requires the dss director to immediately notify the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Rapid Response Team when the director, or LME/MCO or PHP, is unable to identify an appropriate available placement or provider for the juvenile or if the assessment recommendations differ. Authorizes the dss director to disclose confidential information to the Rapid Response Team and provides for continued confidentiality of the information. Details the makeup of the Rapid Response Team, with representatives from various specified DHHS Divisions. Sets forth five authorized responses of the Rapid Response Team's coordinated response upon notification. Effective 30 days after the date the act becomes law. 

    Eliminates the content of proposed GS 7B-903.3, Emergency motion for placement and payment, reorganizes the statute as GS 7B-903.2, and replaces its content with the following. Allows for a party to a juvenile case, DHHS, the hospital where the juvenile is currently located, the LME/MCO or the PHP to make a limited appearance to file a motion regarding the juvenile's continued stay in an emergency department or subsequent hospital admission stating the requirements of GS 122C-142.2(b) through (f) which are not satisfied. Details service requirements, and makes the hospital, LME/MCO or the PHP for the juvenile, and DHHS parties to the proceeding to participate in related hearings upon service. Requires DSS to provide the movant with the case file number, the juvenile's name, and the addresses of all parties and attorneys in the juvenile matter upon request of the movant, to the extent necessary to effectuate service. Specifies that the statute does not require the department of social services to provide the name and address of the juvenile who is a party to the action. Provides parameters for the hearing, including who may present evidence. Requires the court to make written findings of fact and conclusions of law, including whether the movant established by clear and convincing evidence that there is no medical necessity for the juvenile to remain in the hospital and the responsible party or parties who have not satisfied the requirements of new GS 122C-142.2(b) through (f). Identifies four alternative orders the court may issue upon finding by clear and convincing evidence that there is no medical necessity for the juvenile to remain in the hospital and that the responsible party has not satisfied the requirements of GS 122C-142.2(b) through (f), including ordering the responsible party to pay reasonable hospital charges, pay for any damage to property caused by the juvenile after the date the hospital stay was no longer necessary, satisfy the requirements of GS 122C-142.2, or any relief the court finds appropriate. Requires the order to be entered no later than 72 hours after the hearing is completed and requires the clerk to schedule a subsequent hearing for review within 30 days after entry. Requires the motion to be dismissed if the juvenile is removed from the hospital and placed by the director after the motion is filed. Requires all parties to the hearing to bear their own costs. Makes new GS 7B-903.2 effective January 1, 2022. 

    Changes the act's long title. 


  • Summary date: Jun 29 2021 - More information

    House committee substitute to the 2nd edition adds the following new content.

    Part VI.

    Amends GS 115C-12, which sets out the State Board of Education's (Board) powers and duties, by adding the duty to, in consultation with the Superintendent of Public Instruction, adopt a rule requiring information on child abuse and neglect, including age-appropriate information on sexual abuse, to be provided by public school units to students in grades 6-12. Specifies that the rule also applies to high schools under the control of UNC. Requires the information to be provided in a document given to students at the beginning of each school year and displayed in visible, high-traffic areas throughout each school. Sets out the minimum information that must be included.

    Amends the following statutes and session law to require local boards of education, charter schools, regional schools, laboratory schools and renewal school systems to implement the rule addressing student awareness of child abuse and neglect adopted by the State Board pursuant to GS 115C-12(47): GS 115C-47; GS 115C-218.75; GS 115C-238.66; GS 116-239.8; and Section 6 of SL 2018-32. Enacts GS 116-69.2 and amends GS 116-235, charging the School of the Arts and the School of Science and Math with the same.

    Changes the act's long title. 


  • Summary date: May 6 2021 - More information

    Senate committee substitute deletes the content of the 1st edition and replaces it with the following. 

    Part I.

    Amends the definition of terms as they are used in Subchapter I, Abuse, Neglect, Dependency, of GS Chapter 7B as follows: (1) expands upon the definition of neglected juvenile to include any juvenile whose parent, guardian, custodian or caretaker has not provided for or arranged for necessary medical or remedial care (was, provision only), creates or allows to be created an environment that is injurious to the juvenile's welfare (was, allows or lives in such an environment), or has participated or attempted to participate in the unlawful transfer of custody of the juvenile (was, unlawful transfer without specificity as to participation) and (2) defines relative as an individual directly related to the juvenile by blood, marriage, or adoption, including, but not limited to, a parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt, or uncle. Makes technical changes. Makes a conforming change to the statutory cross-reference in GS 7B-1001 to the definition of reunification

    Enacts GS 7B-302(a3) to authorize legislators and NCGA joint oversight committees to request access to confidential information and records maintained pursuant to Article 3 (governing the screening of abuse and neglect complaints) by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or county departments of social services (dss). Restricts requests to purposes of overseeing programs related to child protective services. Provides for coordination between DHHS and dss in fulfilling a request made to either DHHS or a dss director. Deems the confidential information and records shared the minimum necessary to satisfy the request. Prohibits legislators from retaining, receiving copies of, or taking photos or electronic images of any information or records reviewed. Requires shared information and records to be withheld from public inspection and maintained in a confidential manner. Bars sharing or disclosing the following in response to a request: the identity of the reporter and the juvenile court records of Article 29, Records and Social Reports of Cases of Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency. Deems violation of the new subsection a Class 1 misdemeanor. 

    Adds to GS 7B-505 to require dss to use due diligence to identify and notify adult relatives and other persons with legal custody of a sibling of the juvenile within 30 days of the initial order removing custody of the juvenile after finding reasonable basis that the charges in an abuse, neglect, or dependency petition are true and criteria of subsection (a) are met. Requires dss to file with the court information regarding such attempts made. 

    Enacts GS 7B-903(a4), authorizing the court to consider placement of a juvenile following disposition with nonrelative kin or other persons and order placement if the court finds it in the best interest of the juvenile. Allows the court to order dss to notify the juvenile's State-recognized tribe of the need for nonsecure custody for the purposes of locating relatives or nonrelative kin for placement. 

    Expands the parameters and requirements of GS 7B-903.1 to permit dss to recommend unsupervised visits with or return of physical custody of the juvenile to the parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker from whose home the juvenile was removed and placed in the custody or placement responsibility of dss (was, limited to recommendations for the return of physical custody). Makes the existing observation visit requirements applicable to recommendation for unsupervised visits, and adds to the requirements applicable to both types of recommendations that the observation visits must occur within 30 days of the hearing at which dss makes the recommendation. Makes conforming changes.

    Enacts GS 7B-905.1(b1), providing that a parent's positive result from a drug screen alone is insufficient to deny the parent court-ordered visitation with the juvenile who is ordered placed in or continued in the custody or placement responsibility of a dss. Directs dss to expeditiously file a motion for review and request that a hearing be scheduled within 30 days of a parent's positive result from a drug screen for unsupervised visitation for review of the visitation plan to ensure the child's safety. Provides that while that motion is pending, the dss director can temporarily impose supervision requirements to all or part of the visitation plan subject to proper notification of affected parties. Specifies that the new subsection does not affect authority to cancel a visit if, at the time that visitation between the parent and the juvenile occurs, a parent is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and exhibits behavior that may create an unsafe environment for a child, or the parent appears to be actively impaired. 

    Revises GS 7B-906.1 as follows. Requires the court to conduct a review or permanency planning hearing within 90 days of the initial disposition hearing, and every six months thereafter, with hearings designated as a review hearing if custody has not been removed from a parent, guardian, caretaker, or custodian, or a permanency planning hearing if custody has been removed (previously, provided for permanency planning hearings within six months of the initial order removing custody and every six months thereafter). Adds a new requirement for the court to provide any person providing care for the juvenile the opportunity to address the court regarding the juvenile's well being. Requires the court's written findings at each hearing to include services offered to prevent removal of the juvenile from either parent, and reports on the juvenile's continuation in the home of the parent, guardian, or custodian, the appropriateness of such continuation, and the goals of the family services plan. No longer includes findings regarding when and if termination of parental rights should be considered. Directs the court to schedule a permanency planning hearing within 30 days of a review hearing in which the juvenile is removed from the custody of a parent, guardian, or custodian. Establishes three written findings the court must make at any review hearing to order removal of the juvenile, including that the juvenile has experienced substantial risk of experiencing physical or emotional harm as a result of at least one specified factor (which overlap with criteria for nonsecure custody under GS 7B-503(a)), the juvenile has experienced substantial risk of experiencing physical or emotional harm as a result of at least one specified factor since the initial disposition hearing (which overlap with criteria which make reunification efforts following the initial dispositional hearing not required under GS 7B-901(c)), and the parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker consents to the order of removal. Describes the purpose of review hearings. Requires the parent, guardian, or custodian to complete court-ordered services within 12 months from the date of the filing of the petition, demonstrate precipitating circumstances of DHHS involvement with the family have resolved to the satisfaction of the court, and provide a safe home for the juvenile. Directs the court to terminate jurisdiction upon completion of court-ordered services and the juvenile residing in a safe home, absent extraordinary circumstances. Requires consideration and written findings regarding when and if termination of parental rights should be considered at permanency planning hearings where the juvenile is not placed with the parent. Relieves the court of its duty to conduct periodic reviews of placement at any time a juvenile that has been removed from a parent and legal custody has been awarded to either parent (was, upon placement with the parent). Bars a court from waiving or refusing to conduct a review hearing or a permanency planning hearing if a party files a motion seeking the hearing. Makes clarifying changes to subsection (n) regarding the court's authority to waive hearings, require written reports of the agency or person holding custody, or order less-often hearings, making provisions clearly applicable to permanency planning hearings, as specified. 

    Adds to the training requirements for foster parent licensure under GS 131D-10.6A, a module that is created and made available by DHHS that explains the roles and obligations of foster parents in judicial proceedings conducted under Subchapter I of GS Chapter 7B.

    Repeals GS 7B-905(b), which requires dispositional orders removing custody of the juvenile from the parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker to direct a review hearing to be held within 90 days of the dispositional hearing.

    Amends GS 7B-906.2 to allow the court to not include reunification as a primary or secondary plan of the adopted concurrent plans if the court has made written findings under GS 7B-901(c) or GS 7B-906.1(d)(3) (previously, did not specify findings must be written). 

    Amends GS 7B-1103(a), which identifies persons who may petition or motion to terminate the parental rights of either or both parents to his, her, or their minor juvenile, to include any person with whom the juvenile has resided for a continuous period of 18 months, rather than two years, or more next preceding the filing.

    Applies to actions filed or pending on or after October 1, 2021.

    Part II.

    Enacts GS 7B-320(a1) to require a dss director to cooperate with law enforcement and the district attorney to determine the safest way possible to provide notification to the identified responsible individual if the director determines that the juvenile is the victim of human trafficking by an individual other than the juvenile's parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker. Requires documentation of the basis for not providing this notification. Bars notification or proceeding further under Article 3A (Judicial Review; Responsible Individuals List) if the notification is likely to cause mental or physical harm or danger to the juvenile, undermine an ongoing or future criminal investigation, or jeopardize the State's ability to prosecute the identified responsible individual. Effective October 1, 2021. 

    Part III.

    Directs DHHS to develop an operational plan to create and implement a statewide child protective services (CPS) hotline. Provides for creation and membership of a planning and evaluation team. Identifies seven required components of the plan, including a fiscal analysis and implementation time line. Directs DHHS to submit the operation plan to the specified NCGA committee by September 1, 2022. 

    Part IV.

    Directs the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to develop a plan to increase the supply of appropriate treatment and residential settings for minors in need of behavioral and mental health services. Requires consultation with specified stakeholders. Directs that the plan address minors that are both in the custody of county departments or not, and include four listed components, including a time line for increasing the supply of appropriate and least restrictive services and settings, and the estimated costs and staffing to fully implement the plan. Requires DHHS to report to the specified NCGA committee by October 1, 2021. 

    Part V.

    Enacts GS 7B-903.2, establishing procedures for when a juvenile in the custody of dss presents to a hospital emergency department for mental health treatment. Requires the dss director to contact the appropriate LME/MCO, and contact the LME/MCO within 24 hours of admission upon a determination that the juvenile should not remain at the hospital and no appropriate placement is immediately available to request an assessment. Charges the LME/MCO with care coordination and quality management, and arranging an assessment by a qualified licensed clinician within five business days of the notification. Provides options of care and requirements based on the findings and recommendations of the assessment, with dss responsible for transporting the juvenile placed pursuant to these options within five business days. Provides for access and responsibilities of dss during the juvenile's hospital stay. Provides for instances which require the dss director to notify the DHHS Rapid Response Team and provides for confidentiality. Details membership of the Rapid Response Team and charges the Team with coordinating a response to address the immediate needs of a juvenile upon inability of the dss director or LME/MCO to identify appropriate available placement or provider for the juvenile or if the recommended level of care differed from the authorized level of care. Provides five response options of the Team. Defines assessment.

    Enacts GS 7B-903.3, allowing a motion to request a hearing when a juvenile is in the custody of dss and is admitted to a hospital emergency department for mental health treatment if the procedures and requirements of new GS 7B-903.2 are not met. Allows any party to the juvenile case, DHHS, the hospital where the juvenile is admitted, or the LME/MCO to make a limited appearance to file the motion; places the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the provisions were not met upon the petitioner. Requires the motion to specifically describe the provisions not satisfied. Provides for service upon specified parties. Requires the motion to be heard within five business days of filing and details procedures and rights during the hearing. Details the court's authorities and required findings, providing four actions the court may order, including an assessment of the juvenile within five business days and placement of the juvenile in accordance with the recommendations of that assessment. Requires the order to be entered within 48 hours of the hearing, and requires a subsequent hearing within 30 days. Provides for dismissal if after the motion is filed the juvenile is no longer staying at the hospital. Defines assessment, aligning with the definition given in new GS 7B-903.2. Effective January 1, 2022. 

    Changes the act's long title. 


  • Summary date: Apr 9 2021 - More information

    Amends GS 7B-100 by amending the purpose of Subchapter I, Abuse Neglect Dependency, of Article 1 of GS Chapter 7B so that it includes providing standards for ensuring that the best interests of the juvenile are of paramount consideration by the court and that when it is not in the juvenile's best interest to be returned home, the juvenile will be placed in a safe, permanent home within one year from the date of the initial order removing custody (was, within a reasonable amount of time).

    Amends GS 7B-101, which sets out the terms used in Subchapter I, as follows. Includes in the definition of a neglected juvenile a juvenile less than age 18 whose parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker uses an illegal controlled substance or abuses alcohol or a controlled substance and is unable to care for and provide a safe and appropriate home for the juvenile. Adds and defines the term relative as an individual directly related to the juvenile by blood, marriage, or adoption including, but not limited to, a grandparent, sibling, aunt, or uncle. Makes technical conforming changes.

    Amends GS 7B-503 by extending the conditions under which an order for nonsecure custody is to be made when there is a reasonable factual basis to believe the allegations in the petition are true, to also include when the juvenile is an infant who was born drug-exposed to alcohol, unlawful controlled substances, or controlled substances used in violation of the law; specifies that the alcohol or substance use is not be the sole grounds for ordering nonsecure custody if the parent is enrolled in and meeting or exceeding the benchmarks of a substance abuse treatment program. Adds the requirement that the developmental and attachment needs of the juvenile be considered in making nonsecure custody determinations.

    Amends GS 7B-505 to require the department of social services to use due diligence to identify and notify adult relatives, next of kin, and other persons with legal custody of a juvenile's sibling within 30 days after the initial order removing custody. Requires the department to file information on such attempts with the court. Adds the juvenile's developmental and attachment needs to the issues to be considering when considering whether to order a juvenile in nonsecure custody to be placed with a relative.

    Amends GS 7B-901 to provide that when a juvenile is placed in the custody of a county department of social services, the court is to direct that reasonable efforts for reunification are not required if the court determines that aggravated circumstances exist because the parent has exposed the juvenile to unlawful controlled substances in utero or controlled substances were used in violation of the law in utero. In these instances or where there is chronic or toxic exposure to alcohol or controlled substances that causes impairment or addiction in the juvenile, requires the court to consider where a parent is enrolled in and meeting or exceeding the benchmarks of a substance abuse treatment program.

    Amends GS 7B-903 to require the court to also consider the juvenile's developmental and attachment needs when deciding whether to place a juvenile in out-of-home care with a relative. Adds that if the court does not place the juvenile with a relative, the court may consider whether nonrelative kin or other persons with legal custody of the juvenile's sibling are willing and able to provide proper care and supervision of the juvenile in a safe home. Allows the court to order the department to notify the juvenile's State-recognized tribe of the need for nonsecure custody for the purpose of locating relatives or nonrelative kin for placement. Allows placing a juvenile with nonrelative kin if the court finds it is in the juvenile's best interests. Adds that once a juvenile who is not a member of a State-recognized tribe has resided in a foster parent's home continuously for at least nine months, the foster parent is deemed to be nonrelative kin for these purposes.

    Amends GS 7B-906.1, concerning review and permanency planning hearings, to require a permanency planning hearing to be conducted within nine (was, 12) months of the date of the initial order removing custody. Requires the court to consider and make written findings at each hearing on whether efforts to reunite the juvenile with either parent clearly would be unsuccessful or inconsistent with the juvenile's health or safety and need for a safe, permanent home within a reasonable period of time; adds that this includes whether a parent has engaged in any of the factors described under GS 7B-901(c) (conditions under which the court is to direct that reasonable efforts for reunification not be required). Prohibits the court from waiving or refusing to conduct a permanency planning hearing (was, a review hearing) if a party files a motion seeking the hearing.

    Amends GS 7B-905 to require that an initial dispositional order direct that the review hearing be conducted within 90 days from the date of the initial dispositional hearing (was, applicable to a dispositional order under which a juvenile is removed from the custody of a parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker).

    Amends GS 7B-906.2 to require that in a permanency planning hearing, reunification must be a primary or secondary plan unless the court makes or has made written findings (was, unless the court made findings), or one of the already listed conditions are met.

    Amends GS 7B-1103 by amending who can file a petition or motion to terminate the parental rights of either or both parents, to include any person with whom the juvenile has resided continuously for 15 months (was, two years) or more next preceding the filing of the petition or motion.

    Applies to actions filed or pending on or after October 1, 2021.


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