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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Policy Argument: Restoration of Parental Rights Post-Termination Gray (SB 76) Act No. 436 New law (Ch. C. Art. 1051

Policy Argument: Restoration of Parental Rights Post-Termination
May 17th, 2009Title IV-D Administrator
This policy argument began in Louisiana and was signed into Law by Governor Jindal on or around June 26, 2008 and took effect in August of the same year. Restoration of Parental Rights Post-Termination under certain criteria.

The policy at-hand was introduced by the Louisiana State Law Institute and now authorizes counsel appointed for a child who is in foster care and over the age of 15 or the department to file a motion to restore the parental rights or parental contact with a parent whose rights have been terminated.The conditions are listed below. The effect would could lead to a reduction in expenses associated with state wards and further reunify children with parents as deemed appropriate. We recommend that similar implementations of this law be introduced nationally before each state legislature for immediate consideration:

1. To reduce caseloads within the various State Foster Care Programs, allowing staff and program managers to focus on the needs of more dependent children.

2. To reunify parents with children where the children are no longer at risk of abuse or neglect and where less critical allegations are no longer a factor due to age and greater self-sufficiency of the minors being released into relative care.

Gray (SB 76) Act No. 436

New law (Ch. C. Art. 1051) authorizes counsel appointed for a child who is in foster care and over the age of 15 or the department to file a motion to restore the parental rights or parental contact with a parent whose rights have been terminated.

New law requires the court to sign an order setting the time and place of the hearing on the motion to restore parental rights not less than 45 days nor more than 60 days after the date of the filing of the motion and the court is authorized to continue the hearing for up to 30 additional days for good cause, including a showing by the department that despite its efforts it has been unable to complete a required confidential report. The court is further authorized to set the hearing within 15 days after filing of the motion upon joint motion of the department and the child.

New law requires the moving party to mail a copy of the motion and order to the child’s parents, foster parents, and CASA volunteer, all of whom have a right to be heard at the hearing, but the motion is required to be dismissed if the parent cannot be located.

Prohibits the court from granting the relief requested in the motion without the consent of the parent.

New law (Ch. C. Art.1052) requires the department to make a diligent effort to locate the parent, notify him of the effects of restoration and financial obligations, and provide the parent with a copy of the motion showing the time and date of the hearing.

New law requires the department within 45 days after the motion is filed or at an earlier date if ordered by the court to submit a confidential report to the court to include findings on the following:

(1) The change in circumstances since the certification for adoption.
(2) A summary of the reasons why parental rights were terminated and the date of the judgment.
(3) The willingness of the parent to resume contact with the child and to have parental rights restored.
(4) The willingness of the child to resume contact with the parent and to have parental rights restored.
(5) The ability and willingness of the parent to be involved in the life of the child and to accept the physical custody of the child.
(6) Other relevant information.

New law (Ch. C. Art.1053) authorizes the court at the hearing on the motion if it is in the best interest of the child to allow contact between the parent and child under specified conditions, restore the parental rights of the parent, or place the child in the custody of the parent with or without continuing supervision of the department.

New law authorizes the court to enter a judgment without a hearing if the department, counsel, CASA volunteer, and the parent stipulate that restoration of parental rights is in the best interest of the child.

New law provides that restoration of parental rights and placement of the child in the custody of the parent without supervision by the department is considered a permanent placement, but any other disposition becomes a part of the case plan.

Prior law (Ch. C. Art. 1146) required review hearings to be held if no permanent placement has been made by the department within 90 days after a voluntary surrender to a child care agency.

New law retains prior law and additionally requires the court at a permanency review hearing to inform the child of the provisions regarding restoration of parental rights.
Effective August 15, 2008.

Senate Bill 76 by Senator Gray (Act 436) was filed on recommendation of the Louisiana State Law Institute and authorizes counsel appointed for a child who is in foster care and over the age of 15 or the department to file a motion to restore the parental rights or parental contact with a parent whose rights have been terminated. The court is required to sign an order setting the time and place of the hearing on the motion to restore parental rights not less than 45 days nor more than 60 days after the date of the filing of the motion, and the court is authorized to continue the hearing for up to 30 additional days for good cause, including a showing by the department that despite its efforts it has been unable to complete a required confidential report. The court is further authorized to set the hearing within 15 days after filing of the motion upon joint motion of the department and the child. The moving party is required to mail a copy of the motion and order to the child’s parents, foster parents, and CASA volunteer, all of whom have a right to be heard at the hearing, but the motion is required to be dismissed if the parent cannot be located. The department is required to make a diligent effort to locate the parent, notify him of the effects of restoration and financial obligations, and provide the parent with a copy of the motion showing the time and date of the hearing. The bill further requires the department within 45 days after the motion is filed or at an earlier date if ordered by the court to submit a confidential report to the court to include findings on the following:

(1) The change in circumstances since the certification for adoption.

(2) A summary of the reasons why parental rights were terminated and the date of the judgment.

(3) The willingness of the parent to resume contact with the child and to have parental rights restored.

(4) The willingness of the child to resume contact with the parent and to have parental rights restored.

(5) The ability and willingness of the parent to be involved in the life of the child and to accept the physical custody of the child.

(6) Other relevant information which the department desires to bring to the court’s attention.

The court may, at the hearing on the motion, allow contact between the parent and child under specified conditions, restore the parental rights of the parent, or place the child in the custody of the parent with or without continuing supervision of the department if it is in the best interest of the child. The court may also enter a judgment without a hearing if the department, counsel, CASA volunteer, and the parent stipulate that restoration of parental rights is in the best interest of the child. The court’s restoration of parental rights and placement of the child in the custody of the parent without supervision by the department is a permanent placement, but any other disposition becomes a part of the case plan. The bill further requires review hearings to be held if no permanent placement has been made by the department within 90 days after a voluntary surrender to a child care agency. Additionally, the bill requires the court at a permanency review hearing to inform the child of the provisions regarding restoration of parental rights.

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