ACT NO. 21
Juvenile proceedings; children in need of care or supervision;
This act requires the family court to make written findings whether the department for children and families made reasonable efforts to prevent the removal of a suspected abused or neglected child from his or her home, and whether the department made reasonable efforts to finalize a permanency plan for the child.
The act does not change in any way the law with regard to whether a child should or should not be removed from a home, but rather makes a written record of whether the state made a reasonable effort to prevent it, if possible. Federal law requires that such determinations be made by a state court in order for the state to collect federal dollars for the care of the child in the foster care system. Vermont currently receives approximately $22 million a year for this purpose.
Specifically, the act requires:
At the emergency detention hearing, the court shall make a written finding of whether the child's continued residence in the home was contrary to his or her welfare.
At the detention hearing, the court shall make a written finding of whether the department made reasonable efforts to prevent the unnecessary removal of the child from the home.
At the permanency hearing, if a child has been removed from a home, the court must determine by a preponderance of the evidence whether the department made reasonable efforts to finalize a permanency plan for the child. The permanency plan may be to reunify the child with his or her family or to arrange and finalize an alternate living arrangement for the child. This determination is only on whether reasonable efforts were made to finalize a plan, not on the wisdom or appropriateness of the plan, which is a separate matter, not dealt with by this act.
Effective Date: July 1, 2005
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street