Trial Court Rules

Uniform Rules for Permanency Hearings

Trial Court Rules Uniform Rules for Permanency Hearings Rule 3: Scheduling the permanency hearing

Effective Date: 03/01/2018
Updates: Approved January 10, 2018, effective March 1, 2018

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(a) Scheduling

The committing court shall schedule the first permanency hearing at the original commitment, grant of care or custody, or transfer of responsibility of a child or young adult to the Department by order of a court of competent jurisdiction, and at each permanency hearing, the court shall schedule the next permanency hearing. Except, however, if the underlying case is a child requiring assistance petition, the court shall schedule a permanency hearing at the first dispositional review hearing. Nothing in this rule shall be read to prevent the parties from requesting, or the court from scheduling, a permanency hearing more frequently than required.

(1) The court shall conduct the first permanency hearing within twelve (12) months of the date the child or young adult first entered the care, custody, or responsibility of the Department. Subsequent permanency hearings shall be held no less frequently than every twelve (12) months thereafter, while the child or young adult remains in the care or custody or under the responsibility of the Department.

(2) If the court has determined that reasonable efforts to preserve and reunify the family are not required pursuant to G .L. c. 119, § 29C, a permanency hearing shall be held within thirty (30) days of the court's determination that no reasonable efforts are required.

(b) Announcement

The court shall announce the date on which the permanency report is due and the date of the permanency hearing in open court at each court event until the permanency hearing is held. Failure of the court to announce the date of the permanency hearing shall not preclude the court from proceeding with the permanency hearing.

(c) Hearing on the permanency report and the transition plan

Upon the request of any party, the court shall schedule and/or hold a hearing on the Department's permanency report, particularly the proposed transition plan, for a child in the care and custody or under the responsibility of the Department who has attained the age of 17 years 9 months or for a young adult who plans to leave the responsibility of the Department in the next 90 days.

Commentary

Rule 3(a). In order to encourage the participation of a child or a young adult in his or her permanency hearing, the parties may request and the court shall make every effort to schedule a hearing day and time that accommodates the schedule of the child or young adult and that is within the prescribed timeframes.

Rule 3(a)(1).  For a child or young adult who has experienced interruptions in care or custody, responsibility, or placement with the Department, a permanency hearing may still be required. See 45 C.F.R. § 1356.21(e) (describing a trial home visit). For example, if a child in the care or custody or under the responsibility of the Department or a young adult has been placed at home for less than six months, a permanency hearing is still required for that child or young adult. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau, Child Welfare Policy Manual Tit. IV-E 8.3C.5, available at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cwpm/programs/cb/laws_policies/laws/cwpm/policy (last accessed May 24, 2016).

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