Bill Summary for H 132 (2021-2022)

Summary date: 

Feb 23 2021

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2021-2022 Session
House Bill 132 (Public) Filed Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Intro. by Stevens.

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Bill summary

Amends GS 7B-101 to include relative in the defined terms used in Subchapter I (Abuse, Neglect, Dependency). Defines the term to mean an individual directly related to the juvenile by blood, marriage, or adoption, including a grandparent, sibling, aunt, or uncle. Makes conforming organizational changes. Makes conforming changes to the statutory reference in GS 7B-1001(a)(5).

More specifically authorizes a juvenile or the juvenile's guardian ad litem to review and request all or part of the information received by the department of social services (DSS) unless prohibited by federal law, as currently generally permitted to examine under GS 7B-302(a1). Adds a new requirement for DSS to provide electronic or written copies of the requested information within a reasonable period of time. 

Enacts new subsections to GS 7B-505 and GS 7B-903.1, which govern juvenile abuse, neglect and dependency custody, hearings and disposition, to require DSS directors to make reasonable efforts to place juvenile siblings who are removed and placed in the nonsecure custody of DSS in the same home, unless doing so would be contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the juvenile siblings. Otherwise, requires the DSS director to make reasonable efforts to provide frequent sibling visitation and ongoing interaction between the juveniles siblings, unless the director documents that frequent visitation or other ongoing interaction between the siblings would be contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings. 

Adds a new requirement to GS 7B-602 to mandate that a copy of the petition alleging juvenile abuse, neglect, or dependency, along with the summons or notice, be provided to each named parent's attorney appointed as provisional counsel by the clerk.

Amends GS 7B-901 to require concurrent permanent plans to be ordered by the court as soon as possible when the court determines that reunification efforts are not required (current law required a permanent plan to be ordered).

Amends GS 7B-904, concerning the court's authority over the parent, guardian, custodian, stepparent, adult member of the juvenile's household, or adult relative entrusted with the juvenile's care regarding treatment of the adjudicated juvenile or treatment of the individual entrusted with the juvenile's care. Modifies the statute's language throughout to refer to an "adult" entrusted with the juvenile's care, rather than an "adult relative." Adds a new subsection which specifies that an individual who has been ordered to comply with a plan of treatment for substance use disorder is not in violation of the terms or conditions of that part of the court's order if he or she is compliant with medication-assisted treatment, as defined. 

Repeals GS 7B-905(b) which requires dispositional orders that remove custody from the parent, guardian or caretaker to direct that the GS 7B-906.1 review hearing be held within 90 days from of the date of the dispositional hearing and, if practicable, set the date and time for the review hearing.

Amends GS 7B-905.1, which requires an order that removes custody of a juvenile from a parent, guardian, or custodian or that continues the juvenile's placement outside the home to provide for visitation that is in the best interests of the juvenile consistent with the juvenile's health and safety, including no visitation. Modifies subsection (d), which requires all parties to be informed of the right to file a motion for review of any visitation plan entered pursuant to the statute if the court retains jurisdiction, to qualify the requirement upon the court also waiving permanency planning hearings. 

Amends GS 7B-906.1(n), which governs review hearings. Modifies the subsection to instead apply and refer to permanency planning hearings. Authorizes the court to waive the holding of required hearings, require written reports to the court by the agency or person holding custody in lieu of permanency planning hearings, or order that permanency planning hearings be held less often than every six months if the court finds evidence of five specified findings by clear and convincing evidence. Bars waiving a hearing if a party files a motion seeking the hearing. Amends subsection (o) to direct that permanency planning hearings under the statute are replaced by post termination of parental rights' placement review hearings when required by GS 7B-908 (currently, excludes post termination of parental rights' placement review hearings from the statute's provisions).

Amends GS 7B-906.2(b) to require elimination of reunification as a plan at any permanency planning hearing where a finding is made that reunification efforts would be unsuccessful or inconsistent with the juvenile's health or safety.

Amends GS 7B-908 to specify the purpose of post termination of parental rights' placement review is to ensure every reasonable effort is being made to provide for the permanent plan (rather than permanent placement plans) for the juvenile who has been placed in the custody of the DSS director or licensed child-placing agency consistent with the juvenile's best interest. Regarding when the court must hold placement review hearings in certain circumstances, more specifically requires placement review by the court within six months from the date of the termination hearing when both parents' parental rights have been terminated by a petition or motion brought by any person or agency, or one parent's right have been terminated and the other parent's rights relinquished, and a DSS director or licensed child-placing agency has custody of the juvenile. Adds that any individual who has executed a relinquishment that is no longer revocable is not a party to the proceeding. Requires the court to affirm the county department's or child placing agency's plan, or order a different plan designated in GS 7B-906.2(a), found to be in the best interests of the child. Authorizes the court to order concurrent permanent plans if in the best interest of the juvenile, and specify efforts that are necessary to accomplish the designated permanent plan in the best interest of the juvenile (current law requires the court to adopt concurrent permanent plans and identify the primary and secondary plan, and allows specifying efforts necessary to accomplish a permanent plan in the best interest of the juvenile).

Enacts GS 7B-910.1(e) to allow a young adult to terminate a voluntary agreement for placement in foster care without a return to court. Requires DSS to file a motion to bring the matter back before the court for resolution when DSS elects to terminate the agreement over the objection of the young adult. 

Amends GS 7B-912(b) to require the court to ask the juvenile whether the juvenile has the juvenile's identification records, educational and medical records, and information about how the juvenile can participate in the foster care 18-21 program, and determine the person or entity to assist the juvenile in obtaining the documents before the juvenile turns 18, at or before the permanency planning hearing immediately following the juvenile's seventeenth birthday and at each permanency planning hearing thereafter (previously required at or before the last scheduled permanency planning hearing, and did not require inquiring about participation in the 18-21 foster care program). Enacts GS 7B-912(b1) to identify six pieces of information DSS must include in its report to the court at every hearing after the juvenile's seventeenth birthday, including DSS's efforts to identify and secure viable placement options for when the juvenile turns 18, a list of appropriate adults who can serve as resources for the juvenile when the juvenile turns 18, and whether DSS has provided information about educational, vocational, or job plans for when the juvenile turns 18.

Amends GS 7B-1000 to no longer include the authority to vacate the court's dispositional order. Authorizes the court to conduct a modification hearing (previously a review hearing) upon motion in the cause or petition, to determine whether the order is in the best interests of the juvenile. Allows modification in light of the changes in the circumstances or needs of the juvenile, as well as address issues raised in the motion that do not require a review or permanency planning hearing under GS 7B-906.1. Adds new provisions to provide for reappointment of the guardian ad litem and attorney advocate if released, and provisional counsel for respondent parents if released. Bars hearing the motion for modification until the guardian ad litem and the attorney advocate have been reappointed. Details procedure for service and notice, and entering of the order. 

Adds a new requirement to GS 7B-1101.1 to mandate that a copy of the summons and petition for the termination of parental rights be provided to each named parent's attorney appointed as provisional counsel by the clerk.

Amends GS 7B-2901(b), concerning records maintained by the Director of the Department of Social Services of cases of juveniles under protective custody by the Department or under placement by the court, to more specifically authorize a juvenile or the juvenile's guardian ad litem to review the record and request all or part of the record unless prohibited by federal law (previously authorized to examine the records). Adds a new requirement for electronic or written copies of the requested information to be provided within a reasonable period of time. 

Repeals GS 7B-3807, which adopts and enacts the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

Effective October 1, 2021. 

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