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AB-2354 Dependency hearings: parents lacking shelter.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 02/18/2020 09:00 PM
AB2354:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 2354


Introduced by Assembly Member Chau

February 18, 2020


An act to amend Sections 366.22 and 366.26 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to dependent children.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 2354, as introduced, Chau. Dependency hearings: parents lacking shelter.
Existing law generally requires the juvenile court to hold a permanency hearing no later than 12 months after the date a child has entered foster care. At the permanency hearing, existing law requires the court to determine the permanent plan for the child, including a determination of whether the child will be returned to the child’s home. Existing law requires the court to order the return of the child to the physical custody of the child’s parent or legal guardian unless the court finds that the return of the child would create a substantial risk of detriment to the safety, protection, or physical or emotional well-being of the child.
If the child is not ordered returned at the permanency hearing, existing law allows the court to continue the case for up to 6 months, provided that the hearing shall occur within 18 months of the date the child was originally taken from the physical custody of the child’s parent or legal guardian, if the court finds that there is a substantial probability that the child will be returned to the parent or legal guardian and safely maintained in the home within the extended period of time.
Existing law allows an additional extension of 6 months, provided that the permanency hearing occur within 24 months of the date the child was originally taken from the physical custody of the child’s parent or legal guardian, if the court determines that the best interests of the child would be met by the provision of additional reunification services to a parent or legal guardian who is making significant and consistent progress in a court-ordered residential substance abuse treatment program, a parent who was either a minor parent or a nonminor dependent parent at the time of the initial hearing and is making significant and consistent progress in establishing a safe home for the child’s return, or a parent recently discharged from incarceration, institutionalization, or the custody of the United States Department of Homeland Security and is making significant and consistent progress in establishing a safe home for the child’s return.
This bill would additionally allow this extension to apply in the case of a parent whose child cannot be returned solely due to the lack of emergency shelter for the family.
Existing law provides the procedure for permanently terminating parental rights with regard to, or establishing legal guardianship of, a child who has been adjudged a dependent child of the juvenile court. Existing law provides that a finding that reunification services shall not be offered, that the whereabouts of a parent have been unknown for 6 months or that the parent has failed to visit or contact the child for 6 months, that the parent has been convicted of a felony indicating parental unfitness, or that the court has continued to remove the child from the custody of the parent or guardian and has terminated reunification services, constitutes a sufficient basis for termination of parental rights. Existing law requires the court to terminate parental rights unless the court finds compelling reasons for determining that termination would be detrimental to the child due to specified circumstances.
This bill would make it a compelling reason for determining that termination of parental rights would be detrimental to the child for these purposes if the court has previously found at a 24-month permanency review hearing that the only reason the child could not be returned to a parent’s custody was due to the parent’s lack of emergency shelter for the family.
To the extent this bill would impose additional duties on county social workers and child welfare agencies, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 366.22 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

366.22.
 (a) (1) When a case has been continued pursuant to paragraph (1) or (2) of subdivision (g) of Section 366.21, the permanency review hearing shall occur within 18 months after the date the child was originally removed from the physical custody of his or her the child’s parent or legal guardian. After considering the admissible and relevant evidence, the court shall order the return of the child to the physical custody of his or her the child’s parent or legal guardian unless the court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the return of the child to his or her the child’s parent or legal guardian would create a substantial risk of detriment to the safety, protection, or physical or emotional well-being of the child. The social worker shall have the burden of establishing that detriment. At the permanency review hearing, the court shall consider the criminal history, obtained pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (f) of Section 16504.5, of the parent or legal guardian subsequent to the child’s removal, to the extent that the criminal record is substantially related to the welfare of the child or the parent’s or legal guardian’s ability to exercise custody and control regarding his or her their child, provided that the parent or legal guardian agreed to submit fingerprint images to obtain criminal history information as part of the case plan. The court shall also consider whether the child can be returned to the custody of his or her the child’s parent who is enrolled in a certified substance abuse treatment facility that allows a dependent child to reside with his or her the parent. The fact that the parent is enrolled in a certified substance abuse treatment facility shall not be, for that reason alone, prima facie evidence of detriment. The failure of the parent or legal guardian to participate regularly and make substantive progress in court-ordered treatment programs shall be prima facie evidence that return would be detrimental. In making its determination, the court shall review and consider the social worker’s report and recommendations and the report and recommendations of any child advocate appointed pursuant to Section 356.5; shall consider the efforts or progress, or both, demonstrated by the parent or legal guardian and the extent to which he or she availed himself or herself they availed themselves of services provided, taking into account the particular barriers of a minor parent or a nonminor dependent parent, or an incarcerated or institutionalized parent’s or legal guardian’s access to those court-mandated services and ability to maintain contact with his or her their child; and shall make appropriate findings pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 366.
(2) Whether or not the child is returned to his or her the child’s parent or legal guardian, the court shall specify the factual basis for its decision. If the child is not returned to a parent or legal guardian, the court shall specify the factual basis for its conclusion that return would be detrimental. If the child is not returned to his or her the child’s parent or legal guardian, the court shall consider, and state for the record, in-state and out-of-state options for the child’s permanent placement. If the child is placed out of the state, the court shall make a determination whether the out-of-state placement continues to be appropriate and in the best interests of the child.
(3) Unless the conditions in subdivision (b) are met and the child is not returned to a parent or legal guardian at the permanency review hearing, the court shall order that a hearing be held pursuant to Section 366.26 in order to determine whether adoption, or, in the case of an Indian child, in consultation with the child’s tribe, tribal customary adoption, guardianship, or continued placement in foster care is the most appropriate plan for the child. On and after January 1, 2012, a hearing pursuant to Section 366.26 shall not be ordered if the child is a nonminor dependent, unless the nonminor dependent is an Indian child, and tribal customary adoption is recommended as the permanent plan. However, if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence, based on the evidence already presented to it, including a recommendation by the State Department of Social Services when it is acting as an adoption agency or by a county adoption agency, that there is a compelling reason, as described in paragraph (5) of subdivision (g) of Section 366.21, for determining that a hearing held under Section 366.26 is not in the best interests of the child because the child is not a proper subject for adoption and has no one willing to accept legal guardianship as of the hearing date, the court may, only under these circumstances, order that the child remain in foster care with a permanent plan of return home, adoption, tribal customary adoption in the case of an Indian child, legal guardianship, or placement with a fit and willing relative, as appropriate. If the child is 16 years of age or older or is a nonminor dependent, and no other permanent plan is appropriate at the time of the hearing, the court may order another planned permanent living arrangement, as described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (i) of Section 16501. The court shall make factual findings identifying any barriers to achieving the permanent plan as of the hearing date. On and after January 1, 2012, the nonminor dependent’s legal status as an adult is in and of itself a compelling reason not to hold a hearing pursuant to Section 366.26. The court may order that a nonminor dependent who otherwise is eligible pursuant to Section 11403 remain in a planned, permanent living arrangement. If the court orders that a child who is 10 years of age or older remain in foster care, the court shall determine whether the agency has made reasonable efforts to maintain the child’s relationships with individuals other than the child’s siblings who are important to the child, consistent with the child’s best interests, and may make any appropriate order to ensure that those relationships are maintained. The hearing shall be held no later than 120 days from the date of the permanency review hearing. The court shall also order termination of reunification services to the parent or legal guardian. The court shall continue to permit the parent or legal guardian to visit the child unless it finds that visitation would be detrimental to the child. The court shall determine whether reasonable services have been offered or provided to the parent or legal guardian. For purposes of this subdivision, evidence of any of the following circumstances shall not, in and of themselves, be deemed a failure to provide or offer reasonable services:
(A) The child has been placed with a foster family that is eligible to adopt a child, or has been placed in a preadoptive home.
(B) The case plan includes services to make and finalize a permanent placement for the child if efforts to reunify fail.
(C) Services to make and finalize a permanent placement for the child, if efforts to reunify fail, are provided concurrently with services to reunify the family.
(b) If the child is not returned to a parent or legal guardian at the permanency review hearing and the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that the best interests of the child would be met by the provision of additional reunification services to a parent or legal guardian who is making significant and consistent progress in a court-ordered residential substance abuse treatment program, a parent who was either a minor parent or a nonminor dependent parent at the time of the initial hearing making significant and consistent progress in establishing a safe home for the child’s return, a parent whose child cannot be returned solely due to the lack of emergency shelter for the family, or a parent recently discharged from incarceration, institutionalization, or the custody of the United States Department of Homeland Security and making significant and consistent progress in establishing a safe home for the child’s return, the court may continue the case for up to six months for a subsequent permanency review hearing, provided that the hearing shall occur within 24 months of the date the child was originally taken from the physical custody of his or her the child’s parent or legal guardian. The court shall continue the case only if it finds that there is a substantial probability that the child will be returned to the physical custody of his or her the child’s parent or legal guardian and safely maintained in the home within the extended period of time or that reasonable services have not been provided to the parent or legal guardian. For the purposes of this section, in order to find a substantial probability that the child will be returned to the physical custody of his or her the child’s parent or legal guardian and safely maintained in the home within the extended period of time, the court shall be required to find all of the following:
(1) That the parent or legal guardian has consistently and regularly contacted and visited with the child.
(2) That the parent or legal guardian has made significant and consistent progress in the prior 18 months in resolving problems that led to the child’s removal from the home.
(3) (A) The parent or legal guardian has demonstrated the capacity and ability both to complete the objectives of his or her their substance abuse treatment plan as evidenced by reports from a substance abuse provider as applicable, or complete a treatment plan postdischarge from incarceration, institutionalization, or detention, or following deportation to his or her their country of origin and his or her their return to the United States, and to provide for the child’s safety, protection, physical and emotional well-being, and special needs.
(B) For purposes of this subdivision, the court’s decision to continue the case based on a finding or substantial probability that the child will be returned to the physical custody of his or her the child’s parent or legal guardian is a compelling reason for determining that a hearing held pursuant to Section 366.26 is not in the best interests of the child.
(C) The court shall inform the parent or legal guardian that if the child cannot be returned home by the subsequent permanency review hearing, a proceeding pursuant to Section 366.26 may be instituted. The court shall not order that a hearing pursuant to Section 366.26 be held unless there is clear and convincing evidence that reasonable services have been provided or offered to the parent or legal guardian.
(c) (1) Whenever a court orders that a hearing pursuant to Section 366.26, including when a tribal customary adoption is recommended, shall be held, it shall direct the agency supervising the child and the county adoption agency, or the State Department of Social Services when it is acting as an adoption agency, to prepare an assessment that shall include:
(A) Current search efforts for an absent parent or parents.
(B) A review of the amount of and nature of any contact between the child and his or her the child’s parents and other members of his or her the child’s extended family since the time of placement. Although the extended family of each child shall be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, “extended family” for the purposes of this subparagraph shall include, but not be limited to, the child’s siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
(C) (i) An evaluation of the child’s medical, developmental, scholastic, mental, and emotional status.
(ii) The evaluation pursuant to clause (i) shall include, but is not limited to, providing a copy of the complete health and education summary as required under Section 16010, including the name and contact information of the person or persons currently holding the right to make educational decisions for the child.
(iii) In instances where it is determined that disclosure pursuant to clause (ii) of the contact information of the person or persons currently holding the right to make educational decisions for the child poses a threat to the health and safety of that individual or those individuals, that contact information shall be redacted or withheld from the evaluation.
(D)  A preliminary assessment of the eligibility and commitment of any identified prospective adoptive parent or legal guardian, particularly the caretaker, to include a social history including screening for criminal records and prior referrals for child abuse or neglect, the capability to meet the child’s needs, and the understanding of the legal and financial rights and responsibilities of adoption and guardianship. If a proposed legal guardian is a relative of the minor, the assessment shall also consider, but need not be limited to, all of the factors specified in subdivision (a) of Section 361.3 and Section 361.4.
(E) The relationship of the child to any identified prospective adoptive parent or legal guardian, the duration and character of the relationship, the degree of attachment of the child to the prospective relative guardian or adoptive parent, the relative’s or adoptive parent’s strong commitment to caring permanently for the child, the motivation for seeking adoption or legal guardianship, a statement from the child concerning placement and the adoption or legal guardianship, and whether the child, if over 12 years of age, has been consulted about the proposed relative guardianship arrangements, unless the child’s age or physical, emotional, or other condition precludes his or her the child’s meaningful response, and if so, a description of the condition.
(F) An analysis of the likelihood that the child will be adopted if parental rights are terminated.
(G) In the case of an Indian child, in addition to subparagraphs (A) to (F), inclusive, an assessment of the likelihood that the child will be adopted, when, in consultation with the child’s tribe, a tribal customary adoption, as defined in Section 366.24, is recommended. If tribal customary adoption is recommended, the assessment shall include an analysis of both of the following:
(i) Whether tribal customary adoption would or would not be detrimental to the Indian child and the reasons for reaching that conclusion.
(ii) Whether the Indian child cannot or should not be returned to the home of the Indian parent or Indian custodian and the reasons for reaching that conclusion.
(2) (A) A relative caregiver’s preference for legal guardianship over adoption, if it is due to circumstances that do not include an unwillingness to accept legal or financial responsibility for the child, shall not constitute the sole basis for recommending removal of the child from the relative caregiver for purposes of adoptive placement.
(B) Regardless of his or her their immigration status, a relative caregiver shall be given information regarding the permanency options of guardianship and adoption, including the long-term benefits and consequences of each option, prior to establishing legal guardianship or pursuing adoption. If the proposed permanent plan is guardianship with an approved relative caregiver for a minor eligible for aid under the Kin-GAP Program, as provided for in Article 4.7 (commencing with Section 11385) of Chapter 2 of Part 3 of Division 9, the relative caregiver shall be informed about the terms and conditions of the negotiated agreement pursuant to Section 11387 and shall agree to its execution prior to the hearing held pursuant to Section 366.26. A copy of the executed negotiated agreement shall be attached to the assessment.
(d) This section shall become operative January 1, 1999. If at any hearing held pursuant to Section 366.26, a legal guardianship is established for the minor with an approved relative caregiver, and juvenile court dependency is subsequently dismissed, the minor shall be eligible for aid under the Kin-GAP Program, as provided for in Article 4.5 (commencing with Section 11360) or Article 4.7 (commencing with Section 11385), as applicable, of Chapter 2 of Part 3 of Division 9.
(e) As used in this section, “relative” means an adult who is related to the child by blood, adoption, or affinity within the fifth degree of kinship, including stepparents, stepsiblings, and all relatives whose status is preceded by the words “great,” “great-great,” or “grand,” or the spouse of any of those persons even if the marriage was terminated by death or dissolution. If the proposed permanent plan is guardianship with an approved relative caregiver for a minor eligible for aid under the Kin-GAP Program, as provided for in Article 4.7 (commencing with Section 11385) of Chapter 2 of Part 3 of Division 9, “relative” as used in this section has the same meaning as “relative” as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 11391.

SEC. 2.

 Section 366.26 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

366.26.
 (a) This section applies to children who are adjudged dependent children of the juvenile court pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 360. The procedures specified in this section are the exclusive procedures for conducting these hearings. The procedures in Part 2 (commencing with Section 3020) of Division 8 of the Family Code are not applicable to these proceedings. Section 8616.5 of the Family Code is applicable and available to all dependent children meeting the requirements of that section, if the postadoption contact agreement has been entered into voluntarily. For children who are adjudged dependent children of the juvenile court pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 360, this section, and Sections 8604, 8605, 8606, and 8700 of the Family Code and Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 7660) of Part 3 of Division 12 of the Family Code specify the exclusive procedures for permanently terminating parental rights with regard to, or establishing legal guardianship of, the child while the child is a dependent child of the juvenile court.
(b) At the hearing, which shall be held in juvenile court for all children who are dependents of the juvenile court, the court, in order to provide stable, permanent homes for these children, shall review the report as specified in Section 361.5, 366.21, 366.22, or 366.25, shall indicate that the court has read and considered it, shall receive other evidence that the parties may present, and then shall make findings and orders in the following order of preference:
(1) Terminate the rights of the parent or parents and order that the child be placed for adoption and, upon the filing of a petition for adoption in the juvenile court, order that a hearing be set. The court shall proceed with the adoption after the appellate rights of the natural parents have been exhausted.
(2) Order, without termination of parental rights, the plan of tribal customary adoption, as described in Section 366.24, through tribal custom, traditions, or law of the Indian child’s tribe, and upon the court affording the tribal customary adoption order full faith and credit at the continued selection and implementation hearing, order that a hearing be set pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (e).
(3) Appoint a relative or relatives with whom the child is currently residing as legal guardian or guardians for the child, and order that letters of guardianship issue.
(4) On making a finding under paragraph (3) of subdivision (c), identify adoption or tribal customary adoption as the permanent placement goal and order that efforts be made to locate an appropriate adoptive family for the child within a period not to exceed 180 days.
(5) Appoint a nonrelative legal guardian for the child and order that letters of guardianship issue.
(6) Order that the child be permanently placed with a fit and willing relative, subject to the periodic review of the juvenile court under Section 366.3.
(7) Order that the child remain in foster care, subject to the conditions described in paragraph (4) of subdivision (c) and the periodic review of the juvenile court under Section 366.3.
In choosing among the alternatives in this subdivision, the court shall proceed pursuant to subdivision (c).
(c) (1) If the court determines, based on the assessment provided as ordered under subdivision (i) of Section 366.21, subdivision (b) of Section 366.22, or subdivision (b) of Section 366.25, and any other relevant evidence, by a clear and convincing standard, that it is likely the child will be adopted, the court shall terminate parental rights and order the child placed for adoption. The fact that the child is not yet placed in a preadoptive home nor with a relative or foster family who is prepared to adopt the child, shall not constitute a basis for the court to conclude that it is not likely the child will be adopted. A finding under subdivision (b) or paragraph (1) of subdivision (e) of Section 361.5 that reunification services shall not be offered, under subdivision (e) of Section 366.21 that the whereabouts of a parent have been unknown for six months or that the parent has failed to visit or contact the child for six months, or that the parent has been convicted of a felony indicating parental unfitness, or, under Section 366.21 or 366.22, that the court has continued to remove the child from the custody of the parent or guardian and has terminated reunification services, shall constitute a sufficient basis for termination of parental rights. Under these circumstances, the court shall terminate parental rights unless either of the following applies:
(A) The child is living with a relative who is unable or unwilling to adopt the child because of circumstances that do not include an unwillingness to accept legal or financial responsibility for the child, but who is willing and capable of providing the child with a stable and permanent environment through legal guardianship, and the removal of the child from the custody of his or her the child’s relative would be detrimental to the emotional well-being of the child. For purposes of an Indian child, “relative” shall include an “extended family member,” as defined in the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (25 U.S.C. Sec. 1903(2)).
(B) The court finds a compelling reason for determining that termination would be detrimental to the child due to one or more of the following circumstances:
(i) The parents have maintained regular visitation and contact with the child and the child would benefit from continuing the relationship.
(ii) A child 12 years of age or older objects to termination of parental rights.
(iii) The child is placed in a residential treatment facility, adoption is unlikely or undesirable, and continuation of parental rights will not prevent finding the child a permanent family placement if the parents cannot resume custody when residential care is no longer needed.
(iv) The child is living with a foster parent or Indian custodian who is unable or unwilling to adopt the child because of exceptional circumstances, that do not include an unwillingness to accept legal or financial responsibility for the child, but who is willing and capable of providing the child with a stable and permanent environment and the removal of the child from the physical custody of his or her the child’s foster parent or Indian custodian would be detrimental to the emotional well-being of the child. This clause does not apply to any child who is either (I) under six years of age or (II) a member of a sibling group where at least one child is under six years of age and the siblings are, or should be, permanently placed together.
(v) There would be substantial interference with a child’s sibling relationship, taking into consideration the nature and extent of the relationship, including, but not limited to, whether the child was raised with a sibling in the same home, whether the child shared significant common experiences or has existing close and strong bonds with a sibling, and whether ongoing contact is in the child’s best interest, including the child’s long-term emotional interest, as compared to the benefit of legal permanence through adoption.
(vi) The child is an Indian child and there is a compelling reason for determining that termination of parental rights would not be in the best interest of the child, including, but not limited to:
(I) Termination of parental rights would substantially interfere with the child’s connection to his or her the child’s tribal community or the child’s tribal membership rights.
(II) The child’s tribe has identified guardianship, foster care with a fit and willing relative, tribal customary adoption, or another planned permanent living arrangement for the child.
(III) The child is a nonminor dependent, and the nonminor and the nonminor’s tribe have identified tribal customary adoption for the nonminor.
(vii) The court previously found at a hearing pursuant to Section 366.25 that the only reason the child could not be returned to a parent’s custody was due to the parent’s lack of emergency shelter for the family.
(C) For purposes of subparagraph (B), in the case of tribal customary adoptions, Section 366.24 shall apply.
(D) If the court finds that termination of parental rights would be detrimental to the child pursuant to clause (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), or (vi), it shall state its reasons in writing or on the record.
(2) The court shall not terminate parental rights if:
(A) At each hearing at which the court was required to consider reasonable efforts or services, the court has found that reasonable efforts were not made or that reasonable services were not offered or provided.
(B) In the case of an Indian child:
(i) At the hearing terminating parental rights, the court has found that active efforts were not made as required in Section 361.7.
(ii) The court does not make a determination at the hearing terminating parental rights, supported by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, including testimony of one or more “qualified expert witnesses” as defined in Section 224.6, that the continued custody of the child by the parent is likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child.
(iii) The court has ordered tribal customary adoption pursuant to Section 366.24.
(3) If the court finds that termination of parental rights would not be detrimental to the child pursuant to paragraph (1) and that the child has a probability for adoption but is difficult to place for adoption and there is no identified or available prospective adoptive parent, the court may identify adoption as the permanent placement goal and, without terminating parental rights, order that efforts be made to locate an appropriate adoptive family for the child, within the state or out of the state, within a period not to exceed 180 days. During this 180-day period, the public agency responsible for seeking adoptive parents for each child shall, to the extent possible, ask each child who is 10 years of age or older to identify any individuals, other than the child’s siblings, who are important to the child, in order to identify potential adoptive parents. The public agency may ask any other child to provide that information, as appropriate. During the 180-day period, the public agency shall, to the extent possible, contact other private and public adoption agencies regarding the availability of the child for adoption. During the 180-day period, the public agency shall conduct the search for adoptive parents in the same manner as prescribed for children in Sections 8708 and 8709 of the Family Code. At the expiration of this period, another hearing shall be held and the court shall proceed pursuant to paragraph (1), (2), (3), (5), or (6) of subdivision (b). For purposes of this section, a child may only be found to be difficult to place for adoption if there is no identified or available prospective adoptive parent for the child because of the child’s membership in a sibling group, or the presence of a diagnosed medical, physical, or mental handicap, or the child is seven years of age or older.
(4) (A) If the court finds that adoption of the child or termination of parental rights is not in the best interest of the child, because one of the conditions in clause (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), or (vi) of subparagraph (B) of paragraph (1) or in paragraph (2) applies, the court shall order that the present caretakers or other appropriate persons shall become legal guardians of the child, or, in the case of an Indian child, consider a tribal customary adoption pursuant to Section 366.24. Legal guardianship shall be considered before continuing the child in foster care under any other permanent plan, if it is in the best interests of the child and if a suitable guardian can be found. If the child continues in foster care, the court shall make factual findings identifying any barriers to achieving adoption, tribal customary adoption in the case of an Indian child, legal guardianship, or placement with a fit and willing relative as of the date of the hearing. A child who is 10 years of age or older, shall be asked to identify any individuals, other than the child’s siblings, who are important to the child, in order to identify potential guardians or, in the case of an Indian child, prospective tribal customary adoptive parents. The agency may ask any other child to provide that information, as appropriate.
(B) (i) If the child is living with an approved relative who is willing and capable of providing a stable and permanent environment, but not willing to become a legal guardian as of the hearing date, the court shall order a permanent plan of placement with a fit and willing relative, and the child shall not be removed from the home if the court finds the removal would be seriously detrimental to the emotional well-being of the child because the child has substantial psychological ties to the relative caretaker.
(ii) If the child is living with a nonrelative caregiver who is willing and capable of providing a stable and permanent environment, but not willing to become a legal guardian as of the hearing date, the court shall order that the child remain in foster care with a permanent plan of return home, adoption, legal guardianship, or placement with a fit and willing relative, as appropriate. If the child is 16 years of age or older, or a nonminor dependent, and no other permanent plan is appropriate at the time of the hearing, the court may order another planned permanent living arrangement, as described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (i) of Section 16501. Regardless of the age of the child, the child shall not be removed from the home if the court finds the removal would be seriously detrimental to the emotional well-being of the child because the child has substantial psychological ties to the caregiver.
(iii) If the child is living in a group home or, on or after January 1, 2017, a short-term residential therapeutic program, the court shall order that the child remain in foster care with a permanent plan of return home, adoption, tribal customary adoption in the case of an Indian child, legal guardianship, or placement with a fit and willing relative, as appropriate. If the child is 16 years of age or older, or a nonminor dependent, and no other permanent plan is appropriate at the time of the hearing, the court may order another planned permanent living arrangement, as described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (i) of Section 16501.
(C) The court shall also make an order for visitation with the parents or guardians unless the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the visitation would be detrimental to the physical or emotional well-being of the child.
(5) If the court finds that the child should not be placed for adoption, that legal guardianship shall not be established, that placement with a fit and willing relative is not appropriate as of the hearing date, and that there are no suitable foster parents except certified family homes or resource families of a foster family agency available to provide the child with a stable and permanent environment, the court may order the care, custody, and control of the child transferred from the county welfare department to a licensed foster family agency. The court shall consider the written recommendation of the county welfare director regarding the suitability of the transfer. The transfer shall be subject to further court orders.
The licensed foster family agency shall place the child in a suitable licensed or certified family home that has been certified by the agency as meeting licensing standards or with a resource family approved by the agency. The licensed foster family agency shall be responsible for supporting the child and providing appropriate services to the child, including those services ordered by the court. Responsibility for the support of the child shall not, in and of itself, create liability on the part of the foster family agency to third persons injured by the child. Those children whose care, custody, and control are transferred to a foster family agency shall not be eligible for foster care maintenance payments or child welfare services, except for emergency response services pursuant to Section 16504.
(d) The proceeding for the appointment of a guardian for a child who is a dependent of the juvenile court shall be conducted in the juvenile court. If the court finds pursuant to this section that legal guardianship is the appropriate permanent plan, it shall appoint the legal guardian and issue letters of guardianship. The assessment prepared pursuant to subdivision (g) of Section 361.5, subdivision (i) of Section 366.21, subdivision (c) of Section 366.22, and subdivision (b) of Section 366.25 shall be read and considered by the court prior to the appointment, and this shall be reflected in the minutes of the court. The assessment may also include the naming of a prospective successor guardian, if one is identified. In the event of the incapacity or death of the appointed guardian, the named successor guardian may be assessed and appointed pursuant to this section. The person preparing the assessment may be called and examined by any party to the proceeding.
(e) (1) The proceeding for the adoption of a child who is a dependent of the juvenile court shall be conducted in the juvenile court if the court finds pursuant to this section that adoption is the appropriate permanent plan and the petition for adoption is filed in the juvenile court. Upon the filing of a petition for adoption, the juvenile court shall order that an adoption hearing be set. The court shall proceed with the adoption after the appellate rights of the natural parents have been exhausted. The full report required by Section 8715 of the Family Code shall be read and considered by the court prior to the adoption and this shall be reflected in the minutes of the court. The person preparing the report may be called and examined by any party to the proceeding. It is the intent of the Legislature, pursuant to this subdivision, to give potential adoptive parents the option of filing in the juvenile court the petition for the adoption of a child who is a dependent of the juvenile court. Nothing in this section is intended to prevent the filing of a petition for adoption in any other court as permitted by law, instead of in the juvenile court.
(2) In the case of an Indian child, if the Indian child’s tribe has elected a permanent plan of tribal customary adoption, the court, upon receiving the tribal customary adoption order will afford the tribal customary adoption order full faith and credit to the same extent that the court would afford full faith and credit to the public acts, records, judicial proceedings, and judgments of any other entity. Upon a determination that the tribal customary adoption order may be afforded full faith and credit, consistent with Section 224.5, the court shall thereafter order a hearing to finalize the adoption be set upon the filing of the adoption petition. The prospective tribal customary adoptive parents and the child who is the subject of the tribal customary adoption petition shall appear before the court for the finalization hearing. The court shall thereafter issue an order of adoption pursuant to Section 366.24.
(3) If a child who is the subject of a finalized tribal customary adoption shows evidence of a developmental disability or mental illness as a result of conditions existing before the tribal customary adoption to the extent that the child cannot be relinquished to a licensed adoption agency on the grounds that the child is considered unadoptable, and of which condition the tribal customary adoptive parent or parents had no knowledge or notice before the entry of the tribal customary adoption order, a petition setting forth those facts may be filed by the tribal customary adoptive parent or parents with the juvenile court that granted the tribal customary adoption petition. If these facts are proved to the satisfaction of the juvenile court, it may make an order setting aside the tribal customary adoption order. The set-aside petition shall be filed within five years of the issuance of the tribal customary adoption order. The court clerk shall immediately notify the child’s tribe and the department in Sacramento of the petition within 60 days after the notice of filing of the petition. The department shall file a full report with the court and shall appear before the court for the purpose of representing the child. Whenever a final decree of tribal customary adoption has been vacated or set aside, the child shall be returned to the custody of the county in which the proceeding for tribal customary adoption was finalized. The biological parent or parents of the child may petition for return of custody. The disposition of the child after the court has entered an order to set aside a tribal customary adoption shall include consultation with the child’s tribe.
(f) At the beginning of any proceeding pursuant to this section, if the child or the parents are not being represented by previously retained or appointed counsel, the court shall proceed as follows:
(1) In accordance with subdivision (c) of Section 317, if a child before the court is without counsel, the court shall appoint counsel unless the court finds that the child would not benefit from the appointment of counsel. The court shall state on the record its reasons for that finding.
(2) If a parent appears without counsel and is unable to afford counsel, the court shall appoint counsel for the parent, unless this representation is knowingly and intelligently waived. The same counsel shall not be appointed to represent both the child and his or her the child’s parent. The public defender or private counsel may be appointed as counsel for the parent.
(3) Private counsel appointed under this section shall receive a reasonable sum for compensation and expenses, the amount of which shall be determined by the court. The amount shall be paid by the real parties in interest, other than the child, in any proportions the court deems just. However, if the court finds that any of the real parties in interest are unable to afford counsel, the amount shall be paid out of the general fund of the county.
(g) The court may continue the proceeding for a period of time not to exceed 30 days as necessary to appoint counsel, and to enable counsel to become acquainted with the case.
(h) (1) At all proceedings under this section, the court shall consider the wishes of the child and shall act in the best interests of the child.
(2) In accordance with Section 349, the child shall be present in court if the child or the child’s counsel so requests or the court so orders. If the child is 10 years of age or older and is not present at a hearing held pursuant to this section, the court shall determine whether the minor was properly notified of his or her their right to attend the hearing and inquire as to the reason why the child is not present.
(3) (A) The testimony of the child may be taken in chambers and outside the presence of the child’s parent or parents, if the child’s parent or parents are represented by counsel, the counsel is present, and any of the following circumstances exist:
(i) The court determines that testimony in chambers is necessary to ensure truthful testimony.
(ii) The child is likely to be intimidated by a formal courtroom setting.
(iii) The child is afraid to testify in front of his or her their parent or parents.
(B) After testimony in chambers, the parent or parents of the child may elect to have the court reporter read back the testimony or have the testimony summarized by counsel for the parent or parents.
(C) The testimony of a child also may be taken in chambers and outside the presence of the guardian or guardians of a child under the circumstances specified in this subdivision.
(i) (1) Any order of the court permanently terminating parental rights under this section shall be conclusive and binding upon the child, upon the parent or parents and, upon all other persons who have been served with citation by publication or otherwise as provided in this chapter. After making the order, the juvenile court shall have no power to set aside, change, or modify it, except as provided in paragraph (2), but nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the right to appeal the order.
(2) A tribal customary adoption order evidencing that the Indian child has been the subject of a tribal customary adoption shall be afforded full faith and credit and shall have the same force and effect as an order of adoption authorized by this section. The rights and obligations of the parties as to the matters determined by the Indian child’s tribe shall be binding on all parties. A court shall not order compliance with the order absent a finding that the party seeking the enforcement participated, or attempted to participate, in good faith, in family mediation services of the court or dispute resolution through the tribe regarding the conflict, prior to the filing of the enforcement action.
(3) A child who has not been adopted after the passage of at least three years from the date the court terminated parental rights and for whom the court has determined that adoption is no longer the permanent plan may petition the juvenile court to reinstate parental rights pursuant to the procedure prescribed by Section 388. The child may file the petition prior to the expiration of this three-year period if the State Department of Social Services, county adoption agency, or licensed adoption agency that is responsible for custody and supervision of the child as described in subdivision (j) and the child stipulate that the child is no longer likely to be adopted. A child over 12 years of age shall sign the petition in the absence of a showing of good cause as to why the child could not do so. If it appears that the best interests of the child may be promoted by reinstatement of parental rights, the court shall order that a hearing be held and shall give prior notice, or cause prior notice to be given, to the social worker or probation officer and to the child’s attorney of record, or, if there is no attorney of record for the child, to the child, and the child’s tribe, if applicable, by means prescribed by subdivision (c) of Section 297. The court shall order the child or the social worker or probation officer to give prior notice of the hearing to the child’s former parent or parents whose parental rights were terminated in the manner prescribed by subdivision (f) of Section 294 where the recommendation is adoption. The juvenile court shall grant the petition if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that the child is no longer likely to be adopted and that reinstatement of parental rights is in the child’s best interest. If the court reinstates parental rights over a child who is under 12 years of age and for whom the new permanent plan will not be reunification with a parent or legal guardian, the court shall specify the factual basis for its findings that it is in the best interest of the child to reinstate parental rights. This subdivision is intended to be retroactive and applies to any child who is under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court at the time of the hearing regardless of the date parental rights were terminated.
(j) If the court, by order or judgment, declares the child free from the custody and control of both parents, or one parent if the other does not have custody and control, or declares the child eligible for tribal customary adoption, the court shall at the same time order the child referred to the State Department of Social Services, county adoption agency, or licensed adoption agency for adoptive placement by the agency. However, except in the case of a tribal customary adoption where there is no termination of parental rights, a petition for adoption may not be granted until the appellate rights of the natural parents have been exhausted. The State Department of Social Services, county adoption agency, or licensed adoption agency shall be responsible for the custody and supervision of the child and shall be entitled to the exclusive care and control of the child at all times until a petition for adoption or tribal customary adoption is granted, except as specified in subdivision (n). With the consent of the agency, the court may appoint a guardian of the child, who shall serve until the child is adopted.
(k) (1) Notwithstanding any other law, the application of any person who, as a relative caretaker or foster parent, has cared for a dependent child for whom the court has approved a permanent plan for adoption, or who has been freed for adoption, shall be given preference with respect to that child over all other applications for adoptive placement if the agency making the placement determines that the child has substantial emotional ties to the relative caretaker or foster parent and removal from the relative caretaker or foster parent would be seriously detrimental to the child’s emotional well-being.
(2) As used in this subdivision, “preference” means that the application shall be processed and, if satisfactory, the family study shall be completed before the processing of the application of any other person for the adoptive placement of the child.
(l) (1) An order by the court that a hearing pursuant to this section be held is not appealable at any time unless all of the following apply:
(A) A petition for extraordinary writ review was filed in a timely manner.
(B) The petition substantively addressed the specific issues to be challenged and supported that challenge by an adequate record.
(C) The petition for extraordinary writ review was summarily denied or otherwise not decided on the merits.
(2) Failure to file a petition for extraordinary writ review within the period specified by rule, to substantively address the specific issues challenged, or to support that challenge by an adequate record shall preclude subsequent review by appeal of the findings and orders made pursuant to this section.
(3) The Judicial Council shall adopt rules of court, effective January 1, 1995, to ensure all of the following:
(A) A trial court, after issuance of an order directing a hearing pursuant to this section be held, shall advise all parties of the requirement of filing a petition for extraordinary writ review as set forth in this subdivision in order to preserve any right to appeal in these issues.
(i) If a party is present at the time of the making of the order, the notice shall be made orally to the party.
(ii) If the party is not present at the time of making the order, the notice shall be made by the clerk of the court by first-class mail to the last known address of a party or by electronic service pursuant to Section 212.5. If the notice is for a hearing at which the social worker will recommend the termination of parental rights, the notice may be electronically served pursuant to Section 212.5, but only in addition to service of the notice by first-class mail.
(B) The prompt transmittal of the records from the trial court to the appellate court.
(C) That adequate time requirements for counsel and court personnel exist to implement the objective of this subdivision.
(D) That the parent or guardian, or their trial counsel or other counsel, is charged with the responsibility of filing a petition for extraordinary writ relief pursuant to this subdivision.
(4) The intent of this subdivision is to do both of the following:
(A) Make every reasonable attempt to achieve a substantive and meritorious review by the appellate court within the time specified in Sections 366.21, 366.22, and 366.25 for holding a hearing pursuant to this section.
(B) Encourage the appellate court to determine all writ petitions filed pursuant to this subdivision on their merits.
(5) This subdivision shall only apply to cases in which an order to set a hearing pursuant to this section is issued on or after January 1, 1995.
(m) Except for subdivision (j), this section shall also apply to minors adjudged wards pursuant to Section 727.31.
(n) (1) Notwithstanding Section 8704 of the Family Code or any other law, the court, at a hearing held pursuant to this section or anytime thereafter, may designate a current caretaker as a prospective adoptive parent if the child has lived with the caretaker for at least six months, the caretaker currently expresses a commitment to adopt the child, and the caretaker has taken at least one step to facilitate the adoption process. In determining whether to make that designation, the court may take into consideration whether the caretaker is listed in the preliminary assessment prepared by the county department in accordance with subdivision (i) of Section 366.21 as an appropriate person to be considered as an adoptive parent for the child and the recommendation of the State Department of Social Services, county adoption agency, or licensed adoption agency.
(2) For purposes of this subdivision, steps to facilitate the adoption process include, but are not limited to, the following:
(A) Applying for an adoption homestudy.
(B) Cooperating with an adoption homestudy.
(C) Being designated by the court or the adoption agency as the adoptive family.
(D) Requesting de facto parent status.
(E) Signing an adoptive placement agreement.
(F) Engaging in discussions regarding a postadoption contact agreement.
(G) Working to overcome any impediments that have been identified by the State Department of Social Services, county adoption agency, or licensed adoption agency.
(H) Attending classes required of prospective adoptive parents.
(3) Prior to a change in placement and as soon as possible after a decision is made to remove a child from the home of a designated prospective adoptive parent, the agency shall notify the court, the designated prospective adoptive parent or the current caretaker, if that caretaker would have met the threshold criteria to be designated as a prospective adoptive parent pursuant to paragraph (1) on the date of service of this notice, the child’s attorney, the child, if the child is 10 years of age or older, and, where it is known or there is reason to know that the child is an Indian child, as defined by Section 224.1, the child’s tribe, of the proposal in the manner described in Section 16010.6.
(A) Within five court days or seven calendar days, whichever is longer, of the date of notification, the child, the child’s attorney, the child’s tribe, or the designated prospective adoptive parent may file a petition with the court objecting to the proposal to remove the child, or the court, upon its own motion, may set a hearing regarding the proposal. The court may, for good cause, extend the filing period. A caretaker who would have met the threshold criteria to be designated as a prospective adoptive parent pursuant to paragraph (1) on the date of service of the notice of proposed removal of the child may file, together with the petition under this subparagraph, a petition for an order designating the caretaker as a prospective adoptive parent for purposes of this subdivision.
(B) A hearing ordered pursuant to this paragraph shall be held as soon as possible and not later than five court days after the petition is filed with the court or the court sets a hearing upon its own motion, unless the court for good cause is unable to set the matter for hearing five court days after the petition is filed, in which case the court shall set the matter for hearing as soon as possible. At the hearing, the court shall determine whether the caretaker has met the threshold criteria to be designated as a prospective adoptive parent pursuant to paragraph (1), and whether the proposed removal of the child from the home of the designated prospective adoptive parent is in the child’s best interest, and the child may not be removed from the home of the designated prospective adoptive parent unless the court finds that removal is in the child’s best interest. If the court determines that the caretaker did not meet the threshold criteria to be designated as a prospective adoptive parent on the date of service of the notice of proposed removal of the child, the petition objecting to the proposed removal filed by the caretaker shall be dismissed. If the caretaker was designated as a prospective adoptive parent prior to this hearing, the court shall inquire into any progress made by the caretaker towards the adoption of the child since the caretaker was designated as a prospective adoptive parent.
(C) A determination by the court that the caretaker is a designated prospective adoptive parent pursuant to paragraph (1) or subparagraph (B) does not make the caretaker a party to the dependency proceeding nor does it confer on the caretaker any standing to object to any other action of the department, county adoption agency, or licensed adoption agency, unless the caretaker has been declared a de facto parent by the court prior to the notice of removal served pursuant to paragraph (3). this paragraph.
(D) If a petition objecting to the proposal to remove the child is not filed, and the court, upon its own motion, does not set a hearing, the child may be removed from the home of the designated prospective adoptive parent without a hearing.
(4) Notwithstanding paragraph (3), if the State Department of Social Services, county adoption agency, or licensed adoption agency determines that the child must be removed from the home of the caretaker who is or may be a designated prospective adoptive parent immediately, due to a risk of physical or emotional harm, the agency may remove the child from that home and is not required to provide notice prior to the removal. However, as soon as possible and not longer than two court days after the removal, the agency shall notify the court, the caretaker who is or may be a designated prospective adoptive parent, the child’s attorney, and the child, if the child is 10 years of age or older, of the removal. Within five court days or seven calendar days, whichever is longer, of the date of notification of the removal, the child, the child’s attorney, or the caretaker who is or may be a designated prospective adoptive parent may petition for, or the court on its own motion may set, a noticed hearing pursuant to paragraph (3). The court may, for good cause, extend the filing period.
(5) Except as provided in subdivision (b) of Section 366.28, an order by the court issued after a hearing pursuant to this subdivision shall not be appealable.
(6) Nothing in this section shall preclude a county child protective services agency from fully investigating and responding to alleged abuse or neglect of a child pursuant to Section 11165.5 of the Penal Code.
(7) When an Indian child is removed from the home of a prospective adoptive parent pursuant to this section, the placement preferences contained in Section 361.31 and the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (25 U.S.C. Sec. 1901 et seq.) apply to the subsequent placement of the child.
(8) The Judicial Council shall prepare forms to facilitate the filing of the petitions described in this subdivision, which shall become effective on January 1, 2006.

SEC. 3.

 To the extent that this act has an overall effect of increasing the costs already borne by a local agency for programs or levels of service mandated by the 2011 Realignment Legislation within the meaning of Section 36 of Article XIII of the California Constitution, it shall apply to local agencies only to the extent that the state provides annual funding for the cost increase. Any new program or higher level of service provided by a local agency pursuant to this act above the level for which funding has been provided shall not require a subvention of funds by the state or otherwise be subject to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.