AN ACT TO MAKE REVISIONS TO THE JUVENILE CODE PURSUANT TO RECOMMENDATIONS BY THE COURT IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM (CIP).
Makes the following changes to Abuse, Neglect, Dependency, GS Chapter 7B, Subchapter 1.
Amends GS 7B-101, adding to the definition of responsible individual an individual responsible for subjecting a juvenile to human trafficking, involuntary servitude, or sexual servitude who abuses or seriously neglects a juvenile.
Amends GS 7B-200(c)(1), which creates an automatic stay of any other civil action in which a juvenile's custody is an issue when a court obtains jurisdiction over a juvenile as a result of a petition alleging that the juvenile is abused, neglected, or dependent. Requires the court to ensure notice of the automatic stay is filed in the stayed action if the county and case file number are made known to the court. Details notice criteria.
Amends GS 7B-320(a), to generally require the county director of social services (director) to deliver written notice to an individual identified as a responsible individual in an expeditious manner after the completion of an investigative assessment response resulting in a determination of abuse or serious neglect (previously, required notice within five working days after completion).
Amends GS 7B-323, adding law enforcement investigating the abuse or serious neglect allegations to persons not excluded from a hearing ordered to be closed upon request of a party (previously, only court officers, the parties, and their witnesses). Specifies reliable and relevant evidence the court can allow to be admitted at the hearing for judicial review of the director's determination includes, but is not limited to, child medical evaluation reports and child and family evaluation reports that the director relied on to make the determination that abuse or serious neglect occurred.
Amends GS 7B-324, clarifying that an individual identified by a director as a responsible individual is not eligible (was, cannot petition) for judicial review if the individual is criminally convicted as a result of the same incident or fails to file the petition with the court in a timely manner after proper receipt of proper notice. Adds a new subsection, directing the court to dismiss an individual's petition for judicial review with prejudice if the individual is criminally convicted as a result of the same incident after the petition is filed.
Amends GS 7B-503, adding a juvenile's suffering from serious emotional damage to criteria that allows a court to order nonsecure custody, so long as there is a reasonable factual basis to believe the matters alleged in the petition for nonsecure custody are true.
Amends GS 7B-600, which requires the court to verify that a guardian of a juvenile will have adequate resources to care for the juvenile appropriately upon appointment. Adds that the fact that the prospective guardian has provided stable placement for the juvenile for at least six consecutive months is evidence that the prospective guardian has adequate resources. Adds the same language to provisions concerning the appointment of a prospective custodian of a juvenile in GS 7B-903, and the appointment of a prospective guardian or custodian of a juvenile at a permanency planning hearing under GS 7B-906.1.
Amends GS 7B-901, requiring a court's disposition order that places a juvenile in the custody of a county department of social services to direct that reasonable efforts for reunification are not required if the court makes written findings of fact that a court of competent jurisdiction has terminated involuntarily the parental rights of the parent to another child of the parent (previously, a court of competent jurisdiction terminates or has terminated), barring compelling evidence continued reunification efforts are warranted. Specifies that a court must schedule a permanency planning hearing (was, a subsequent hearing) within 30 days of determining that reunification efforts are not required.
Amends GS 7B-905.1, providing that an order removing custody from a parent, guardian, or custodian or that continues outside placement of the juvenile must provide for visitation that is in the best interest of the juvenile (previously, provide for appropriate visitation as may be in the best interest of the juvenile) consistent with the juvenile's health and safety. Specifies that the visitation in the best interest of the juvenile can include no visitation. Requires a director who temporarily suspends all or part of a visitation plan upon determining the plan is not consistent with the juvenile's health and safety to expeditiously file a motion for review and request a hearing be scheduled within 30 days of the suspension (previously not required to request a hearing). Adds that no motion or request of hearing is required if a review or permanency planning hearing is already scheduled to be heard within 30 days of the suspension.
Makes conforming and clarifying changes to GS 7B-906.1 concerning review and permanency planning hearings. Removes the requirement for the judge presiding over a permanency planning hearing to inform the parent, guardian, or custodian that failure or refusal to cooperate with the plan in a court order can result in reunification efforts ceasing. Adds to the findings a court must make in order to waive the holding of hearings required by the statute, require written reports to the court by the custodian in lieu of review hearings, or order that review hearings be held less often than every six months, finding by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence that the juvenile has resided in the placement for at least six consecutive months and the court enters a consent order pursuant to GS 7B-801(b1) (as an alternative to the required finding that the juvenile has resided in the placement for a period of at least one year).
Amends GS 7B-906.2, to require reunification to be (was, to remain) the primary or secondary plan adopted by the court unless the court made findings under GS 7B-901(c) or GS 7B-906.1(d)(3), or makes written findings that reunification efforts clearly would be unsuccessful or inconsistent with the juvenile's health or safety. GS 7B-906.1(d)(3) concerns a court determining 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. Specifies that the determination that reunification will not be a primary or secondary plan can be made at any permanency planning hearing. Requires the court to make a finding about whether the reunification efforts to the county department of social services were reasonable at each permanency planning hearing (was, at the first permanency planning hearing) unless reunification efforts were previously ceased. Requires the court to make specified written findings at any permanency planning hearing demonstrating the degree of success or failure toward reunification (was, the lack of success).
Amends GS 7B-908, concerning placement review post-termination of parental rights. Provides for notice of the placement review to the legal guardian of the juvenile, as provided (previously, notice only to the juvenile if the juvenile is 12 years or older; the legal custodian; the person providing care for the juvenile; the guardian ad litem, if any; and any other person or agency the court specifies). Amends the statute further, limiting participation at the review hearings to the juvenile, the legal custodian or guardian, the person providing care for the juvenile, and the guardian ad litem (previously, limited attendance instead of participation; included the juvenile if the juvenile is at least 12 years of age, the legal custodian, the person caring for the juvenile, and the guardian ad litem). Adds new requirements for court orders following the completion of placement review hearings. Requires the order be entered no later than 30 days following completion, and if not entered within that period, requires a subsequent hearing to be scheduled as specified and entry of the order within 10 days of the subsequent hearing.
Enacts GS 7B-909.1, regarding the relinquishment of a juvenile to the department of social services for the purpose of adoption by a parent who is a respondent in an abuse, neglect, dependency action under Subchapter 1 of GS Chapter 7B. Requires, if the parent's retained counsel has entered a notice of appearance or the parent has an attorney whose provisional appointment has been confirmed by the court, before the execution of relinquishment: (1) notice be given to a parent's counsel or, if necessary, a partner or employee of the attorney's office of the arrangements made for the parent to execute the relinquishment at a specific date, time and location and (2) and advisement be given of the parent's right to seek the advice of counsel prior to executing relinquishment of a juvenile to the department of social services.
Makes clarifying changes to GS 7B-1001 regarding appeals for juvenile matters under Subchapter 1.
Updates the statutory reference in GS 7B-1003(e), now providing that GS 7B-903.1, concerning juvenile placement in the custody of the department of social services, applies to any order entered during an appeal that provides for the placement or continued placement of a juvenile in foster care.
Makes the following changes to Undisciplined and Delinquent Juveniles, GS Chapter 7B, Subchapter II.
Amends GS 7B-2503(1)c., regarding dispositional alternatives for undisciplined juveniles, which allows a court to place a juvenile needing more adequate care or supervision or a juvenile needing placement in the custody of a department of social services so long as the director has received notice and an opportunity to be heard. Current law requires this placement be reviewed in accordance with GS 7B-906.1 (review and permanency hearings). Adds a new provision explicitly stating an indigent parent's right to court-appointed counsel for representation in the hearings held pursuant to GS 7B-906.1 unless the parent knowingly and voluntarily waives the right. Makes further clarifying and technical changes. Makes identical changes to GS 7B-2506, regarding dispositional alternatives for delinquent juveniles.
Makes the following changes to Juvenile Records, GS Chapter 7B, Subchapter III.
Enacts GS 7B-3100(c), authorizing the juvenile's guardian ad litem attorney advocate appointed pursuant to GS 7B-601 to share confidential information about the juvenile with the juvenile's attorney appointed or retained pursuant to GS 7B-2000 (juvenile's right to counsel and presumption of indigence).
Effective October 1, 2019.