AN ACT TO AMEND VARIOUS ABUSE, NEGLECT, AND DEPENDENCY LAWS TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF CHILDREN IN OUT-OF-HOME PLACEMENTS, EXPEDITE PERMANENCY PLANNING HEARINGS FOR CHILDREN WHO HAVE BEEN REMOVED FROM THE HOME, CREATE A PRESUMPTION THAT FOSTER PARENTS WITH WHOM A CHILD HAS LIVED CONTINUOUSLY FOR NINE MONTHS ARE DEEMED NONRELATIVE KIN, CREATE AN AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCE FOR THE EXPOSURE TO UNLAWFUL CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES IN UTERO OR CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES USED IN VIOLATION OF THE LAW IN UTERO, AND REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, DIVISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES, TO REPORT ANNUALLY CERTAIN EXPENDITURES FOR THE SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (SNAP) AND TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE FOR NEEDY FAMILIES (TANF) PROGRAM.
Amends GS 7B-100 include in the purpose of Subchapter I (Abuse, Neglect, Dependency) proving juveniles under age 3 who are removed from custody of their homes with prospective permanent placement within one year form the date of the order removing custody.
Amends the definition of terms as they are used in the Subchapter as follows: (1) expands upon the definition of nonrelative kin to include a presumption that a foster parent with whom a juvenile under 3 years of age has resided for a continuous period of at least nine months is deemed nonrelative kin and (2) defines relative as an individual directly related to the juvenile, including, but not limited to, a parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt, or uncle. Makes technical changes.
Amends GS 7B-503 to add to the six conditions, one of which must apply before an order for nonsecure custody is to be made, to also include that the juvenile is an infant who: (1) was born drug-exposed and the drug exposure was not medically based; (2) the parent is unable to discharge parental responsibilities due to a history of chronic drug abuse, and (3) there are reasonable grounds to believe that the parent's substance abuse will continue for a prolonged or indeterminate period based on the opinion of a licensed health care provider with substance abuse disorders experience.
Amends GS 7B-505 to require a department of social services to use due diligence to identify and notify adult relatives, next of kin, and others with legal custody of a sibling of a juvenile who is in nonsecure custody within 60 days after the initial order removing custody. Requires filing with the court information regarding attempts to make such identification and notification. Adds to the items that the court must consider when placing a juvenile with a relative to include the developmental and attachment needs of the juvenile and allows the court to not place the juvenile with the relative if doing so is contrary to those interests.
Amends GS 7B-901(c)(1)e by providing that if a disposition order places a juvenile in the custody of a county department of social services, the court must direct that reasonable efforts for reunification are not required if the court finds that a court has determined that aggravated circumstances exist because the parent has committed or allowed the continuation of chronic or toxic exposure to alcohol or controlled substances that causes impairment of or addiction in the juvenile, including exposure to nonmedical controlled substances in utero (previously this did not specifically include exposure to nonmedical controlled substances in utero).
Amends GS 7B-903(a1) to require consideration of the juvenile's developmental and attachment needs when deciding whether to order placement of the juvenile with a relative when placing a juvenile in out-of-home care. Adds that once a child under age 3 has resided in a foster parent's home for a continuous period of at least nine months, the foster parent is deemed to be a relative for these purposes. Adds that if the court does not place the juvenile with a relative, the court may consider whether nonrelative kin or another person with legal custody of a sibling of the juvenile is willing and able to provide proper care and supervision of the juvenile in a safe home. Allows ordering the department to notify the juvenile's State-recognized tribe of the need for nonsecure custody for locating relatives or nonrelative kin for placement. Allows ordering placement of the juvenile with nonrelative kin if the court finds the placement is in the juvenile's best interest.
Amends GS 7B-906.1 by adding the goal of placing infants under age 3 in a prospective permanent placement within 12 months of the date of the initial order removing custody. Adds to the items that the court must consider when making written findings at each permanency planning hearing, to include whether the parent has engaged in any of the factors under GS 7B-901(c) (setting out written findings of fact that are to be made when the court directs that reasonable efforts for reunification are not required) when making a finding as to whether efforts to reunite the juvenile with their parent would be unsuccessful or inconsistent with the juvenile's health or safety and need for a safe, permanent home. Provides that the court may not waive or refuse 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 an initial dispositional order to direct that the review hearing required under GS 7B-106.1 be held 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 the court to make or have made specified written findings in order for reunification to not be a primary or secondary plan.
Amends GS 7B-1103 to allow a petition or motion to terminate parental rights to be filed by any foster parent with whom a juvenile under age 3 has resided for a continuous period of at least nine months preceding the filing of the petition or motion.
Applies to actions filed or pending on or after October 1, 2019.
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