A. In the case of a child who was the subject of a foster care plan filed with the court pursuant to § 16.1-281, a foster care review hearing shall be held within four months of the dispositional hearing at which the foster care plan pursuant to § 16.1-281 was reviewed if the child: (a) was placed through an agreement between the parents or guardians and the local board of social services where legal custody remains with the parents or guardians and such agreement has not been dissolved by court order; or (b) is under the legal custody of a local board of social services or a child welfare agency and has not had a petition to terminate parental rights granted, filed or ordered to be filed on the child’s behalf; has not been placed in permanent foster care; or is age 16 or over and the plan for the child is not independent living.Any interested party, including the parent, guardian or person who stood in loco parentis prior to the board’s placement of the child or the board’s or child welfare agency’s assumption of legal custody, may file with the court the petition for a foster care review hearing hereinafter described at any time after the initial foster care placement of the child. However, the board or child welfare agency shall file the petition within three months of the dispositional hearing at which the foster care plan was reviewed pursuant to § 16.1-281.
1. Be filed in the court in which the foster care plan for the child was reviewed and approved. Upon the order of such court, however, the petition may be filed in the court of the county or city in which the board or child welfare agency having legal custody or having placed the child has its principal office or where the child resides;
2. State, if such is reasonably obtainable, the current address of the child’s parents and, if the child was in the custody of a person or persons standing in loco parentis at the time the board or child welfare agency obtained legal custody or the board placed the child, of such person or persons;
3. Describe the placement or placements provided for the child while in foster care and the services or programs offered to the child and his parents and, if applicable, the persons previously standing in loco parentis;
6. Set forth the disposition sought and the grounds therefor; however, in the case of a child who has attained age 16 and for whom the plan is independent living, the foster care plan shall be included and shall address the services needed to assist the child to transition from foster care to independent living.
C. Upon receipt of the petition filed by the board, child welfare agency, or any interested party as provided in subsection B of this section, the court shall schedule a hearing to be held within 30 days if a hearing was not previously scheduled. The court shall provide notice of the hearing and a copy of the petition to the following, each of whom shall be a party entitled to participate in the proceeding:
3. The child’s parents and, if the child was in the custody of a person standing in loco parentis at the time the department obtained custody, such person or persons. No such notification shall be required, however, if the judge certifies on the record that the identity of the parent or guardian is not reasonably ascertainable. An affidavit of the mother that the identity of the father is not reasonably ascertainable shall be sufficient evidence of this fact, provided there is no other evidence before the court which would refute such an affidavit. If the parent or guardian of the child did not appear at the dispositional hearing and was not noticed to return for the foster care review hearing in accordance with subsection E of § 16.1-281, the parent or guardian shall be summoned to appear at the foster care review hearing in accordance with § 16.1-263. The review hearing shall be held pursuant to this section although a parent or guardian fails to appear and is not represented by counsel, provided personal or substituted service was made on the parent or guardian, or the court determines that such person cannot be found, after reasonable effort, or in the case of a person who is without the Commonwealth, the person cannot be found or his post office address cannot be ascertained after reasonable effort;
6. Such other persons as the court, in its discretion, may direct. The local board of social services or other child welfare agency shall identify for the court such other persons as have a legitimate interest in the hearing, including, but not limited to, preadoptive parents for a child in foster care.
D. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court shall, upon the proof adduced in accordance with the best interests of the child and subject to the provisions of subsection D1, enter any appropriate order of disposition consistent with the dispositional alternatives available to the court at the time of the original hearing. The court order shall state whether reasonable efforts, if applicable, have been made to reunite the child with his parents, guardian or other person standing in loco parentis to the child. Any order entered at the conclusion of this hearing that has the effect of achieving a permanent goal for the child by terminating residual parental rights pursuant to § 16.1-277.01, 16.1-277.02, 16.1-278.3, or 16.1-283; by placing the child in permanent foster care pursuant to subdivision A iv of § 16.1-282.1; or, if the child has attained the age of 16 years and the plan for the child is independent living, directing the board or agency to provide the necessary services to transition from foster care, pursuant to subdivision A v of § 16.1-282.1 shall state whether reasonable efforts have been made to place the child in a timely manner in accordance with the foster care plan and to complete the steps necessary to finalize the permanent placement of the child.
D1. Any order transferring custody of the child to a relative other than the child’s prior family shall be entered only upon a finding, based upon a preponderance of the evidence, that the relative is one who, after an investigation as directed by the court, (i) is found by the court to be willing and qualified to receive and care for the child; (ii) is willing to have a positive, continuous relationship with the child; (iii) is committed to providing a permanent, suitable home for the child; and (iv) is willing and has the ability to protect the child from abuse and neglect; and the order shall so state. The court’s order transferring custody to a relative should further provide for, as appropriate, any terms and conditions which would promote the child’s interest and welfare; ongoing provision of social services to the child and the child’s custodian; and court review of the child’s placement.
E. The court shall possess continuing jurisdiction over cases reviewed under this section for so long as a child remains in a foster care placement or, when a child is returned to his prior family subject to conditions imposed by the court, for so long as such conditions are effective. After the hearing required pursuant to subsection C, the court shall schedule a permanency planning hearing on the case to be held five months thereafter in accordance with § 16.1-282.1 or within 30 days upon the petition of any party entitled to notice in proceedings under this section when the judge determines there is good cause shown for such a hearing. However, in the case of a child who is the subject of an order that has the effect of achieving a permanent goal for the child by terminating residual parental rights pursuant to § 16.1-277.01, 16.1-277.02, 16.1-278.3, or 16.1-283; by placing the child in permanent foster care pursuant to subdivision A iv of § 16.1-282.1; or by directing the board or agency to provide the child with services to achieve independent living status, if the child has attained the age of 16 years, pursuant to subdivision A v of § 16.1-282.1, a permanency planning hearing within five months shall not be required and the court shall schedule a foster care review hearing to be held within 12 months of the entry of such order in accordance with the provisions of § 16.1-282.2.
1977, c. 559; 1978, c. 740; 1982, c. 171; 1984, c. 71; 1987, c. 250; 1991, c. 98; 1992, c. 869; 1994, cc. 223, 604, 865; 1997, c. 790; 1998, c. 550; 1999, c. 889; 2000, c. 385; 2002, c. 512; 2008, cc. 475, 483, 678; 2009, c. 80; 2011, c. 730; 2013, c. 130.