Bill Summary for H 647 (2023-2024)

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Summary date: 

Apr 17 2023

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2023-2024 Session
House Bill 647 (Public) Filed Monday, April 17, 2023
Intro. by Stevens.

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Bill summary

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. Expands the definition of a neglected juvenile to include a juvenile less than 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.

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 cannot 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 next of kin, in addition to adult relatives and other persons with legal custody of a sibling of the juvenile, within 30 days after the initial order removing custody. 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 whether 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 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 purposes of out-of-home placement under the statute.

Amends GS 7B-906.1, concerning review and permanency planning hearings. Subsection (d) requires the court to consider listed criteria and make written findings at each hearing  regarding those that are relevant, including 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 criteria includes whether a parent has engaged in any of the factors described under GS 7B-901(c), which identifies conditions under which the court is to direct that reasonable efforts for reunification not be required.

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, 18 months) or more next preceding the filing of the petition or motion.

Applies to actions filed or pending on or after October 1, 2023.