2003 Regular Session
To: Public Health and Welfare
By: Senator(s) Huggins
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 43-21-613, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE THE YOUTH COURT TO ORDER ANNUAL PERMANENCY HEARINGS FOR CHILDREN ADJUDICATED ABUSED OR NEGLECTED WHO REMAIN IN THE CUSTODY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES; TO PROVIDE THAT A JUDGE OR REFEREE SHALL REQUIRE A WRITTEN REPORT, INFORMATION OR STATEMENTS FOR THE MODIFICATION OF DISPOSITION ORDERS FOR CHILDREN WHO HAVE BEEN ABUSED OR NEGLECTED; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 43-21-613, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
43-21-613. (1) If the youth court finds, after a hearing which complies with the sections governing adjudicatory hearings, that the terms of a delinquency or child in need of supervision disposition order, probation or parole have been violated, the youth court may, in its discretion, revoke the original disposition and make any disposition which it could have originally ordered. The hearing shall be initiated by the filing of a petition which complies with the sections governing petitions in this chapter and which includes a statement of the youth court's original disposition order, probation or parole, the alleged violation of that order, probation or parole, and the facts which show the violation of that order, probation or parole. Summons shall be served in the same manner as summons for an adjudicatory hearing.
(2) On motion of a child or a child's parent, guardian or custodian, the youth court may, in its discretion, conduct an informal hearing to review the disposition order. If the youth court finds a material change of circumstances relating to the disposition of the child, the youth court may modify the disposition order to any appropriate disposition of equal or greater precedence which the youth court could have originally ordered.
(3) (a) Unless the youth court's jurisdiction has been terminated, all disposition orders for supervision, probation or placement of a child with an individual or an agency shall be reviewed by the youth court judge or referee at least annually to determine if continued placement, probation or supervision is in the best interest of the child or the public. For children who have been adjudicated abused or neglected, the youth court shall conduct a permanency hearing within twelve (12) months after the earlier of:
(i) An adjudication that the child has been abused or neglected; or
(ii) Sixty (60) days from the child's removal from the allegedly abusive or neglectful custodian/parent. Notice of such hearing shall be given in accordance with the provisions of Section 43-21-505(5). In conducting the hearing, the judge or referee shall require a written report and may require information or statements from the child's youth court counselor, parent, guardian or custodian, which includes, but is not limited to, an evaluation of the child's progress and recommendations for further supervision or treatment. The judge or referee shall, at the permanency hearing determine the future status of the child, including, but not limited to, whether the child should be returned to the parent(s) or placed with suitable relatives, placed for adoption, placed for the purpose of establishing durable legal custody or should, because of the child's special needs or circumstances, be continued in foster care on a permanent or long-term basis. If the child is in an out-of-state placement, the hearing shall determine whether the out-of-state placement continues to be appropriate and in the best interest of the child. The judge or referee may find that reasonable efforts to maintain the child within his home shall not be required in accordance with Section 43-21-603(7)(c), and that the youth court shall continue to conduct permanency hearings for children who have been adjudicated abused or neglected, at least annually thereafter, for as long as said child remains in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Human Services.
(b) The court may find that the filing of a termination of parental rights petition is not in the child's best interest if:
(i) The child is being cared for by a relative; and/or
(ii) The State Department of Human Services has documented compelling and extraordinary reasons why termination of parental rights would not be in the best interests of the child.
(c) (i) In the event that the youth court either orders or continues the custody or supervision of a child to be placed with the Department of Human Services or any other person or public or private agency, other than the child's parent, guardian or custodian, unless the reasonable efforts requirement is bypassed under Section 43-21-603(7)(c), the youth court shall find and the order shall recite that the effect of the continuation of the child's residence within his own home would be contrary to the welfare of the child and that placement or continued placement of the child in foster care is in the best interest of the child, and that:
1. Reasonable efforts have been made to maintain the child within his own home, but that the circumstances warrant his removal and there is no reasonable alternative to custody; or
2. The circumstances are of such an emergency nature that no reasonable efforts have been made to maintain the child within his own home, and that there is no reasonable alternative to custody.
(ii) The youth court also shall find and the order shall recite that:
1. Reasonable efforts were made to reunify the child safely with his family if the removal could not be prevented; or
2. If reasonable efforts were not made to prevent the child's removal from home or to reunify the child with his family, that reasonable efforts are or were not required; or
3. If the permanent plan for the child is adoption, guardianship, or some other permanent living arrangement other than reunification, that reasonable efforts were made to make and finalize that alternate permanent placement.
(d) The provisions of this subsection shall also apply to review of cases involving a dependent child; however, such reviews shall take place not less frequently than once each one hundred eighty (180) days. A dependent child shall be ordered by the youth court judge or referee to be returned to the custody and home of the child's parent, guardian or custodian unless the judge or referee, upon such review, makes a written finding that the return of the child to the home would be contrary to the child's best interests.
(e) Reviews are not to be conducted unless explicitly ordered by the youth court concerning those cases in which the court has granted durable legal custody. In such cases, the Department of Human Services shall be released from any oversight or monitoring responsibilities, and relieved of physical and legal custody and supervision of the child.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2003.