2017 Regular Session
To: Judiciary, Division A
By: Senator(s) Hill, Barnett, Burton, Dearing, Gollott, Jackson (11th), McDaniel, Parker, Seymour, Tollison, Watson, Witherspoon, Branning
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 43-15-13, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CLARIFY THAT RELATIVE CARE IS A LEGAL PLACEMENT OPTION FOR ABUSED AND NEGLECTED CHILDREN; TO AMEND SECTION 43-15-17, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CONFORM REFERENCES TO CHILD PROTECTION SERVICES; TO BRING FORWARD SECTION 43-15-23, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, FOR PURPOSES OF POSSIBLE AMENDMENT; TO AMEND SECTION 43-15-103, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE DEFINITIONS AS APPLY TO FOSTER CARE; TO AMEND SECTION 43-21-105, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO ENACT DEFINITIONS IN THE YOUTH COURT ACT CONCERNING FICTIVE KIN AND DURABLE LEGAL RELATIVE GUARDIANSHIP; TO AMEND SECTION 43-21-609, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CLARIFY THAT GIVING CUSTODY TO A RELATIVE AND WAIVING ANY REQUIREMENT FOR THE RELATIVE TO PARTICIPATE IN FOSTER PARENT TRAINING IS WITHIN THE DISCRETION OF THE COURT AND TO CREATE A DURABLE LEGAL RELATIVE GUARDIANSHIP ALTERNATIVE; TO AMEND SECTION 43-21-613, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CONFORM; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 43-15-13, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
43-15-13. (1) For purposes
of this section, "children" means persons found within the state who
are under the age of twenty-one (21) years, and who were placed in the custody
of the Department of * * *
Child Protection Services by the youth court of the
(2) The Department of * * *
Child Protection Services shall
establish a foster care placement program for children whose custody lies with
the department, with the following objectives:
(a) Protecting and promoting the health, safety and welfare of children;
(b) Preventing the unnecessary separation of children from their families by identifying family problems, assisting families in resolving their problems and preventing the breakup of the family where the prevention of child removal is desirable and possible when the child can be cared for at home without endangering the child's health and safety;
(c) Remedying or assisting in the solution of problems that may result in the neglect, abuse, exploitation or delinquency of children;
(d) Restoring to their families children who have been removed, by the provision of services to the child and the families when the child can be cared for at home without endangering the child's health and safety;
(e) Placing children in suitable adoptive homes approved by a licensed adoption agency or family protection specialist, in cases where restoration to the biological family is not safe, possible or appropriate;
(f) Assuring safe and adequate care of children away from their homes, in cases where the child cannot be returned home or cannot be placed for adoption, including temporary or emergency relative placement pending youth court action on the case. At the time of placement, the department shall implement concurrent planning, as described in subsection (8) of this section, so that permanency may occur at the earliest opportunity. Consideration of possible failure or delay of reunification should be given, to the end that the placement made is the best available placement to provide permanency for the child; and
(g) Providing a family protection specialist or worker or team of such specialists or workers for a family and child throughout the implementation of their permanent living arrangement plan. Wherever feasible, the same family protection specialist or worker or team shall remain on the case until the child is no longer under the jurisdiction of the youth court.
(3) The Department of * * *
Child Protection Services shall
administer a system of individualized plans and reviews once every six (6)
months for each child under its custody within the State of Mississippi, each
child who has been adjudged a neglected, abandoned or abused child and whose
custody was changed by court order as a result of that adjudication, and each
public or private facility licensed by the department. The Department of * * * Child Protection Services'
administrative review shall be completed on each child within the first three
(3) months and a relative placement or foster care review once every six
(6) months after the child's initial forty-eight-hour shelter hearing. That
system shall be for the purpose of enhancing potential family life for the
child by the development of individual plans to return the child to * * * the child's natural parent or
parents, or to refer the child to the appropriate court for termination of
parental rights and placement in a permanent relative's home, adoptive home or
foster/adoptive home. The goal of the Department of * * * Child Protection Services shall
be to return the child to * * * its the child's natural parent(s) or refer the child to
the appropriate court for termination of parental rights and placement in a
permanent relative's home, adoptive home or foster/adoptive home within the
time periods specified in this subsection or in subsection (4) of this
section. In furthering this goal, the department shall establish policy and
procedures designed to appropriately place children in permanent homes, the
policy to include a system of reviews for all children in foster care, as
follows: foster care counselors in the department shall make all possible
contact with the child's natural parent(s), custodial parent(s) of all siblings
of the child, and any interested relative for the first two (2) months
following the child's entry into the foster care system. For purposes of
contacting custodial parent(s) of a sibling, siblings include those who are
considered a sibling under state law, and those who would have been considered
a sibling under state law, except for termination or disruption of parental
rights. For any child who has been in foster care for fifteen (15) of the last
twenty-two (22) months regardless of whether the foster care was continuous for
all of those twenty-two (22) months, the department shall file a petition to
terminate the parental rights of the child's parents. The time period starts
to run from the date the court makes a finding of abuse and/or neglect or sixty
(60) days from when the child was removed from his or her home, whichever is
earlier. The department can choose not to file a termination of parental
rights petition if the following apply:
(a) The child is being cared for by a relative; and/or
(b) The department has documented compelling and extraordinary reasons why termination of parental rights would not be in the best interests of the child. Before granting or denying a request by the department for an extension of time for filing a termination of parental rights action, the court shall receive a written report on the progress which a parent of the child has made in treatment, to be made to the court in writing by a mental health/substance abuse therapist or counselor.
(4) In the case of any child who is placed in foster care on or after July 1, 1998, except in cases of aggravated circumstances prescribed in Section 43-21-603(7)(c), the child's natural parent(s) will have a reasonable time to be determined by the court, which shall not exceed a six-month period of time, in which to meet the service agreement with the department for the benefit of the child unless the department has documented extraordinary and compelling reasons for extending the time period in the best interest of the child. If this agreement has not been satisfactorily met, simultaneously the child will be referred to the appropriate court for termination of parental rights and placement in a permanent relative's home, adoptive home or a foster/adoptive home. For children under the age of three (3) years, termination of parental rights shall be initiated within six (6) months, unless the department has documented compelling and extraordinary circumstances, and placement in a permanent relative's home, adoptive home or foster/adoptive home within two (2) months. For children who have been abandoned under the provisions of Section 97-5-1, termination of parental rights shall be initiated within thirty (30) days and placement in an adoptive home shall be initiated without necessity for placement in a foster home. The department need not initiate termination of parental rights proceedings where the child has been placed in durable legal custody, durable relative legal guardianship, or long-term or formalized foster care by a court of competent jurisdiction.
(5) The foster care review
once every six (6) months shall be conducted by the youth court or its
designee(s), and/or by personnel within the Department of * * *
Child Protection Services or by a
designee or designees of the department and may include others appointed by the
department, and the review shall include at a minimum an evaluation of the
child based on the following:
(a) The extent of the
care and support provided by the parents or parent * * *
while the child is in temporary custody;
(b) The extent of communication with the child by parents, parent or guardian;
(c) The degree of compliance by the agency and the parents with the social service plan established;
(d) The methods of achieving the goal and the plan establishing a permanent home for the child;
(e) Social services offered and/or utilized to facilitate plans for establishing a permanent home for the child; and
(f) Relevant testimony and recommendations from the foster parent of the child, the grandparents of the child, the guardian ad litem of the child, representatives of any private care agency that has cared for the child, the family protection worker or family protection specialist assigned to the case, and any other relevant testimony pertaining to the case.
Each child's review plan
once every six (6) months shall be filed with the court which awarded custody
and shall be made available to natural parents or foster parents upon approval
of the court. The court shall make a finding as to the degree of compliance by
the agency and the parent(s) with the child's social service plan. The court
also shall find that the child's health and safety are the paramount concern.
In the interest of the child, the court shall, where appropriate, initiate
proceedings on its own motion. The Department of * * *
Child Protection Services shall
report to the Legislature as to the number of those children, the findings of the
foster care review board and relevant statistical information in foster care in
a semiannual report to the Legislature to be submitted to the Joint Oversight
Committee of the Department of * * * Child Protection Services. The
report shall not refer to the specific name of any child in foster care.
(6) The Department of * * *
Child Protection Services, with
the cooperation and assistance of the State Department of Health, shall develop
and implement a training program for foster care parents to indoctrinate them
as to their proper responsibilities upon a child's entry into their foster
care. The program shall provide a minimum of twelve (12) clock hours of
training. The foster care training program shall be satisfactorily completed
by such foster care parents before or within ninety (90) days after child
placement with the parent. Record of the foster care parent's training program
participation shall be filed with the court as part of a foster care child's
review plan once every six (6) months. Relatives seeking relative placement
and who do not seek foster parent payments shall not be required to participate
in the training, but may do so at their own election.
(7) When the Department of * * *
Child Protection Services is
considering placement of a child in a foster home and when the department deems
it to be in the best interest of the child, the department shall give first
priority to placing the child in the home of one (1) of the child's relatives
within the third degree, as computed by the civil law rule. In placing the
child in a relative's home, the department may waive any rule, regulation or
policy applicable to placement in foster care that would otherwise require the
child to have a separate bed or bedroom or have a bedroom of a certain size, if
placing the child in a relative's home would be in the best interest of the
child and those requirements cannot be met in the relative's home.
(8) The Legislature
recognizes that the best interests of the child require that the child be
placed in the most permanent living arrangement as soon as is practicably
possible. To achieve this goal, the Department of * * *
Child Protection Services is
directed to conduct concurrent planning so that a permanent living arrangement may
occur at the earliest opportunity. Permanent living arrangements may include
prevention of placement of a child outside the home of the family when the
child can be cared for at home without endangering the child's health or
safety; reunification with the family, when safe and appropriate, if temporary
placement is necessary; or movement of the child toward the most permanent
living arrangement and permanent legal status. When a child is placed in
foster care or relative care, the department shall first ensure and document
that reasonable efforts were made to prevent or eliminate the need to remove
the child from the child's home. The department's first priority shall be to
make reasonable efforts to reunify the family when temporary placement of the child
occurs or shall request a finding from the court that reasonable efforts are
not appropriate or have been unsuccessful. A decision to place a child in
foster care or relative care shall be made with consideration of the child's
health, safety and best interests. At the time of placement, consideration
should also be given so that if reunification fails or is delayed, the
placement made is the best available placement to provide a permanent living
arrangement for the child. The department shall adopt rules addressing
concurrent planning for reunification and a permanent living arrangement. The
department shall consider the following factors when determining
appropriateness of concurrent planning:
(a) The likelihood of prompt reunification;
(b) The past history of the family;
(c) The barriers to reunification being addressed by the family;
(d) The level of cooperation of the family;
(e) The foster parents' willingness to work with the family to reunite;
(f) The willingness and ability of the foster family or relative placement to provide an adoptive home or long-term placement;
(g) The age of the child; and
(h) Placement of siblings.
(9) If the department has placed a child in foster care or relative care under a court order, the department may not change the child's placement unless the department specifically documents to the court that the current placement is unsafe or unsuitable or that another placement is in the child's best interests unless the new placement is in an adoptive home or other permanent placement. Except in emergency circumstances as determined by the department or where the court orders placement of the child under Section 43-21-303, the foster parents, grandparents or other relatives of the child shall be given an opportunity to contest the specific reasons documented by the department at least seventy-two (72) hours before any such departure, and the court may conduct a review of that placement unless the new placement is in an adoptive home or other permanent placement. When a child is returned to foster care or relative care, the former foster parents or relative placement shall be given the prior right of return placement in order to eliminate additional trauma to the child.
(10) The Department of * * *
Child Protection Services shall
provide the foster parents, grandparents or other relatives with at least a
seventy-two-hour notice of departure for any child placed in their foster care
or relative care, except in emergency circumstances as determined by the
department or where the court orders placement of the child under Section 43-21-303.
The parent/legal guardian, grandparents of the child, guardian ad litem and the
court exercising jurisdiction shall be notified in writing when the child leaves
foster care or relative care placement, regardless of whether the child's
departure was planned or unplanned. The only exceptions to giving a written
notice to the parent(s) are when a parent has voluntarily released the child
for adoption or the parent's legal rights to the child have been terminated
through the appropriate court with jurisdiction.
(11) The Department of * * *
Child Protection Services shall
extend the following rights to persons who provide foster care and relative
(a) A clear understanding of their role while providing care and the roles of the birth parent(s) and the placement agency in respect to the child in care;
(b) Respect, consideration, trust and value as a family who is making an important contribution to the agency's objectives;
(c) Involvement in all the agency's crucial decisions regarding the child as team members who have pertinent information based on their day-to-day knowledge of the child in care;
(d) Support from the family protection worker or the family protection specialist in efforts to do a better day-to-day job in caring for the child and in working to achieve the agency's objectives for the child and the birth family through provision of:
(i) Pertinent information about the child and the birth family;
(ii) Help in using appropriate resources to meet the child's needs;
(iii) Direct interviews between the family protection worker or specialist and the child, previously discussed and understood by the foster parents;
(e) The opportunity to develop confidence in making day-to-day decisions in regard to the child;
(f) The opportunity to learn and grow in their vocation through planned education in caring for the child;
(g) The opportunity to be heard regarding agency practices that they may question;
(h) Reimbursement for costs of the child's care in the form of a board payment based on the age of the child as prescribed in Section 43-15-17; and
(i) Reimbursement for
property damages caused by children in the custody of the Department of * * *
Child Protection Services in an
amount not to exceed Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), as evidenced by written
documentation. The Department of * * * Child Protection Services shall
not incur liability for any damages as a result of providing this
(12) The Department of * * *
Child Protection Services shall
require the following responsibilities from participating persons who provide
foster care and relative care:
(a) Understanding the department's function in regard to the foster care and relative care program and related social service programs;
(b) Sharing with the department any information which may contribute to the care of children;
(c) Functioning within the established goals and objectives to improve the general welfare of the child;
(d) Recognizing the problems in home placement that will require professional advice and assistance and that such help should be utilized to its full potential;
(e) Recognizing that the family who cares for the child will be one of the primary resources for preparing a child for any future plans that are made, including return to birth parent(s), termination of parental rights or reinstitutionalization;
(f) Expressing their view of agency practices which relate to the child with the appropriate staff member;
(g) Understanding that all information shared with the persons who provide foster care or relative care about the child and his/her birth parent(s) must be held in the strictest of confidence;
(h) Cooperating with any plan to reunite the child with his birth family and work with the birth family to achieve this goal; and
(i) Attending dispositional review hearings and termination of parental rights hearings conducted by a court of competent jurisdiction, or providing their recommendations to the court in writing.
SECTION 2. Section 43-15-17, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
43-15-17. (1) The
Department of * * *
Child Protection Services is authorized to make such payments as may be
appropriate for supportive services to facilitate either the return of children
to their natural parents or their adoption, depending upon and contingent upon
the availability of the Department of * * * Child Protection Services
securing or having sufficient funds to render this supportive service. Upon
court order, the parent(s) shall be responsible for reimbursing the department
for any foster care or kinship care payments made on behalf of his or her
child, based upon financial ability to pay, until such time as there is a
termination of parental rights regarding the child, or the child is adopted.
(2) For those children
placed in foster care by the state or county departments of human services, the
department shall make monthly payments for the support of these children's room
and board, clothing, allowance and personal needs. From and after July 1,
1998, and subject to the availability of funds specifically appropriated
therefor, the Department of * * *
Child Protection Services' foster
care and therapeutic care monthly payment schedule in effect before that date
shall be increased by One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) per month, with that
minimum payment not to preclude the department from increasing payments in later
years as funds become available. From and after July 1, 1998, in order for
foster parents to receive the monthly payments authorized under this subsection
(2), the Department of * * * Child Protection Services shall require foster care
placements to be licensed as foster care homes and shall require prospective
foster parents to satisfactorily complete an appropriate training program that
emphasizes the goal of the foster care program to provide stable foster
placement until a permanency outcome is achieved.
(3) For a child placed in the care of the child's relative within the third degree by the state or county departments of human services, the department shall make monthly payments to defray the relative's expense of furnishing room and board. The department's relative care payment shall be in an amount up to one hundred percent (100%) of the amount of the foster care board payment. The department may continue to make those payments to the relative after the department relinquishes legal custody of the child to the relative. Any such payments for relative care shall be subject to specific appropriation therefor by the Legislature.
SECTION 3. Section 43-15-23, Mississippi Code of 1972, is brought forward as follows:
43-15-23. (1) As used in this section the term "placing out" means to arrange for the free care of a child in a family, other than that of the child's parent, stepparent, grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt or legal guardian, for the purpose of adoption or for the purpose of providing care.
(2) No person, agency, association, corporation, institution, society or other organization, except a child placement agency licensed by the Department of Public Welfare under Section 43-15-5, shall request, receive or accept any compensation or thing of value, directly or indirectly, for placing out of a child.
(3) No person shall pay or give any compensation or thing of value, directly or indirectly, for placing out of a child to any person, agency, association, corporation, institution, society or other organization except a child placement agency licensed by the Department of Public Welfare.
(4) The provisions of this section shall not be construed to (a) prevent the payment of salaries or other compensation by a child placement agency licensed by the Department of Public Welfare to the officers or employees thereof; (b) prevent the payment of legal fees, which have been approved by the chancery court, to an attorney for services performed in regard to adoption proceedings; (c) prevent the payment of reasonable and actual medical fees or hospital charges for services rendered in connection with the birth or medical treatment of such child to the physician or hospital which rendered the services; or (d) prevent the receipt of such payments by such attorney, physician or hospital.
(5) Any person, agency, association, corporation, institution, society or other organization violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of illegal placement of children and shall be punished by a fine not to exceed Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) or by imprisonment not more than five (5) years, or both such fine and imprisonment.
SECTION 4. Section 43-15-103, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
43-15-103. As used in this article:
(a) "Agency" means a residential child-caring agency or a child-placing agency.
(b) "Child" or "children" mean(s) any unmarried person or persons under the age of eighteen (18) years.
(c) "Child placing" means receiving, accepting or providing custody or care for any child under eighteen (18) years of age, temporarily or permanently, for the purpose of:
(i) Finding a person to adopt the child;
(ii) Placing the child temporarily or permanently in a home for adoption; or
(iii) Placing a child in a foster home or residential child-caring agency.
(d) "Child-placing agency" means any entity or person which places children in foster boarding homes or foster homes for temporary care or for adoption or any other entity or person or group of persons who are engaged in providing adoption studies or foster care studies or placement services as defined by the rules of the department.
"Department" means the Mississippi Department of * * *
Child Protection Services.
(f) "Director" means the Director of the Division of Family and Children's Services.
"Division" means the Division of Family and Children's Services
within the Mississippi Department of * * *
Child Protection Services.
(h) "Family boarding home" or "foster home" means a home (occupied residence) operated by any entity or person which provides residential child care to at least one (1) child but not more than six (6) children who are not related to the primary caregivers.
(i) "Group care home" means any place or facility operated by any entity or person which provides residential child care for at least seven (7) children but not more than twelve (12) children who are not related to the primary caregivers.
(j) "Licensee" means any person, agency or entity licensed under this article.
(k) "Maternity home" means any place or facility operated by any entity or person which receives, treats or cares for more than one (1) child or adult who is pregnant out of wedlock, either before, during or within two (2) weeks after childbirth; provided, that the licensed child-placing agencies and licensed maternity homes may use a family boarding home approved and supervised by the agency or home, as a part of their work, for as many as three (3) children or adults who are pregnant out of wedlock, and provided further, that the provisions of this definition shall not include children or women who receive maternity care in the home of a person to whom they are kin within the sixth degree of kindred computed according to civil law, nor does it apply to any maternity care provided by general or special hospitals licensed according to law and in which maternity treatment and care are part of the medical services performed and the care of children is brief and incidental.
means the Office of Licensing within the Division of Family and Children's
Services of the Mississippi Department of * * *
Child Protection Services.
(m) "Person associated with a licensee" means an owner, director, member of the governing body, employee, provider of care and volunteer of a human services licensee.
(n) "Related" means children, step-children, grandchildren, step-grandchildren, siblings of the whole or half-blood, step-siblings, nieces or nephews of the primary care provider.
(o) "Residential child care" means the provision of supervision, and/or protection, and meeting the basic needs of a child for twenty-four (24) hours per day, which may include services to children in a residential setting where care, lodging, maintenance and counseling or therapy for alcohol or controlled substance abuse or for any other emotional disorder or mental illness is provided for children, whether for compensation or not.
(p) "Residential child-caring agency" means any place or facility operated by any entity or person, public or private, providing residential child care, regardless of whether operated for profit or whether a fee is charged. Such residential child-caring agencies include, but are not limited to, maternity homes, runaway shelters, group homes that are administered by an agency, and emergency shelters that are not in private residence.
SECTION 5. Section 43-21-105, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
43-21-105. The following words and phrases, for purposes of this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed herein unless the context clearly otherwise requires:
(a) "Youth court" means the Youth Court Division.
(b) "Judge" means the judge of the Youth Court Division.
(c) "Designee" means any person that the judge appoints to perform a duty which this chapter requires to be done by the judge or his designee. The judge may not appoint a person who is involved in law enforcement or who is an employee of the Mississippi Department of Human Services to be his designee.
(d) "Child" and "youth" are synonymous, and each means a person who has not reached his eighteenth birthday. A child who has not reached his eighteenth birthday and is on active duty for a branch of the armed services or is married is not considered a "child" or "youth" for the purposes of this chapter.
(e) "Parent" means the father or mother to whom the child has been born, or the father or mother by whom the child has been legally adopted.
(f) "Guardian" means a court-appointed guardian of the person of a child.
(g) "Custodian" means any person having the present care or custody of a child whether such person be a parent or otherwise.
(h) "Legal custodian" means a court-appointed custodian of the child.
(i) "Delinquent child" means a child who has reached his tenth birthday and who has committed a delinquent act.
(j) "Delinquent act" is any act, which if committed by an adult, is designated as a crime under state or federal law, or municipal or county ordinance other than offenses punishable by life imprisonment or death. A delinquent act includes escape from lawful detention and violations of the Uniform Controlled Substances Law and violent behavior.
(k) "Child in need of supervision" means a child who has reached his seventh birthday and is in need of treatment or rehabilitation because the child:
(i) Is habitually disobedient of reasonable and lawful commands of his parent, guardian or custodian and is ungovernable; or
(ii) While being required to attend school, willfully and habitually violates the rules thereof or willfully and habitually absents himself therefrom; or
(iii) Runs away from home without good cause; or
(iv) Has committed a delinquent act or acts.
(l) "Neglected child" means a child:
(i) Whose parent, guardian or custodian or any person responsible for his care or support, neglects or refuses, when able so to do, to provide for him proper and necessary care or support, or education as required by law, or medical, surgical, or other care necessary for his well-being; however, a parent who withholds medical treatment from any child who in good faith is under treatment by spiritual means alone through prayer in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination by a duly accredited practitioner thereof shall not, for that reason alone, be considered to be neglectful under any provision of this chapter; or
(ii) Who is otherwise without proper care, custody, supervision or support; or
(iii) Who, for any reason, lacks the special care made necessary for him by reason of his mental condition, whether the mental condition is having mental illness or having an intellectual disability; or
(iv) Who, for any reason, lacks the care necessary for his health, morals or well-being.
(m) "Abused child" means a child whose parent, guardian or custodian or any person responsible for his care or support, whether legally obligated to do so or not, has caused or allowed to be caused, upon the child, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, emotional abuse, mental injury, nonaccidental physical injury or other maltreatment. However, physical discipline, including spanking, performed on a child by a parent, guardian or custodian in a reasonable manner shall not be deemed abuse under this section. "Abused child" also means a child who is or has been trafficked within the meaning of the Mississippi Human Trafficking Act by any person, without regard to the relationship of the person to the child.
(n) "Sexual abuse" means obscene or pornographic photographing, filming or depiction of children for commercial purposes, or the rape, molestation, incest, prostitution or other such forms of sexual exploitation of children under circumstances which indicate that the child's health or welfare is harmed or threatened.
(o) "A child in need of special care" means a child with any mental or physical illness that cannot be treated with the dispositional alternatives ordinarily available to the youth court.
(p) A "dependent child" means any child who is not a child in need of supervision, a delinquent child, an abused child or a neglected child, and which child has been voluntarily placed in the custody of the Department of Human Services by his parent, guardian or custodian.
(q) "Custody" means the physical possession of the child by any person.
(r) "Legal custody" means the legal status created by a court order which gives the legal custodian the responsibilities of physical possession of the child and the duty to provide him with food, shelter, education and reasonable medical care, all subject to residual rights and responsibilities of the parent or guardian of the person.
(s) "Detention" means the care of children in physically restrictive facilities.
(t) "Shelter" means care of children in physically nonrestrictive facilities.
(u) "Records involving children" means any of the following from which the child can be identified:
(i) All youth court records as defined in Section 43-21-251;
(ii) All social records as defined in Section 43-21-253;
(iii) All law enforcement records as defined in Section 43-21-255;
(iv) All agency records as defined in Section 43-21-257; and
(v) All other documents maintained by any representative of the state, county, municipality or other public agency insofar as they relate to the apprehension, custody, adjudication or disposition of a child who is the subject of a youth court cause.
(v) "Any person responsible for care or support" means the person who is providing for the child at a given time. This term shall include, but is not limited to, stepparents, foster parents, relatives, nonlicensed babysitters or other similar persons responsible for a child and staff of residential care facilities and group homes that are licensed by the Department of Human Services.
(w) The singular includes the plural, the plural the singular and the masculine the feminine when consistent with the intent of this chapter.
(x) "Out-of-home" setting means the temporary supervision or care of children by the staff of licensed day care centers, the staff of public, private and state schools, the staff of juvenile detention facilities, the staff of unlicensed residential care facilities and group homes and the staff of, or individuals representing, churches, civic or social organizations.
(y) "Durable legal custody" means the legal status created by a court order which gives the durable legal custodian the responsibilities of physical possession of the child and the duty to provide him with care, nurture, welfare, food, shelter, education and reasonable medical care. All these duties as enumerated are subject to the residual rights and responsibilities of the natural parent(s) or guardian(s) of the child or children.
(z) "Status offense" means conduct subject to adjudication by the youth court that would not be a crime if committed by an adult.
(aa) "Financially able" means a parent or child who is ineligible for a court-appointed attorney.
(bb) "Assessment" means an individualized examination of a child to determine the child's psychosocial needs and problems, including the type and extent of any mental health, substance abuse or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders and recommendations for treatment. The term includes, but is not limited to, a drug and alcohol, psychological or psychiatric evaluation, records review, clinical interview or the administration of a formal test and instrument.
(cc) "Screening" means a process, with or without the administration of a formal instrument, that is designed to identify a child who is at increased risk of having mental health, substance abuse or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders that warrant immediate attention, intervention or more comprehensive assessment.
(dd) "Durable legal relative guardianship" means the legal status created by a youth court order that conveys the physical and legal custody of a child or children by durable legal guardianship to a relative who is licensed as a foster or resource parent.
(ee) "Relative" means a person related to the child by affinity or consanguinity within the third degree and also includes fictive kin.
(ff) "Fictive kin" means a person not related to the child legally or biologically but who is considered a relative due to a significant, familial-like and ongoing relationship with the child and family.
SECTION 6. Section 43-21-609, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
43-21-609. In neglect and abuse cases, the disposition order may include any of the following alternatives, giving precedence in the following sequence:
(a) Release the child without further action;
(b) Place the child in
the custody of his parents, a relative or other person subject to any
conditions and limitations as the court may prescribe. * * *
the child or children have been in the physical custody of the proposed durable
custodians for at least * * * one (1) year six (6) months under the supervision of
the Department of * * * Child Protection Services. The requirements of Section
43-21-613 as to disposition review hearings does not apply to those matters in
which the court has granted durable legal custody. In such cases, the
Department of * * *
Child Protection Services shall be released from any oversight or
(c) (i) If temporary relative placement, adoption or foster care placement is not appropriate, the court may grant durable legal relative guardianship to a relative licensed as a foster parent if, before the grant of durable legal relative guardianship, the licensed relative foster parent exercised physical custody of the child for at least six (6) months before the grant of durable legal relative guardianship and if the Department of Child Protection Services had legal custody or exercised supervision of the child for at least six (6) months. In order to establish durable legal relative guardianship, the youth court must find the following:
1. That both reunification and adoption have been determined to be inappropriate;
2. That the relative guardian shows full commitment to the care, shelter, education, nurture, and reasonable medical care of the child; and
3. That the youth court consulted with any child twelve (12) years of age or older before granting durable legal relative guardianship.
(ii) The requirements of Section 43-21-613 as to disposition review hearings do not apply to a hearing concerning durable legal relative guardianship. However, the Department of Child Protection Services must conduct an annual review and recertification of the durable legal relative guardianship to determine whether it remains in the best interest of the child. If a material change in circumstances occurs adverse to the best interest of the child, the parent, relative guardian, or Department of Child Protection Services may petition the court to review the durable legal relative guardianship.
( * * *
d) Order terms of treatment calculated
to assist the child and the child's parent, guardian or custodian which are
within the ability of the parent, guardian or custodian to perform;
( * * *
e) Order youth court personnel, the
Department of * * *
Child Protection Services or child care agencies to assist the child and
the child's parent, guardian or custodian to secure social or medical services
to provide proper supervision and care of the child;
( * * *
f) Give legal custody of the child to
any of the following but in no event to any state training school:
(i) The Department
of * * *
Protection Services for appropriate placement; or
(ii) Any private or public organization, preferably community-based, able to assume the education, care and maintenance of the child, which has been found suitable by the court. Prior to assigning the custody of any child to any private institution or agency, the youth court through its designee shall first inspect the physical facilities to determine that they provide a reasonable standard of health and safety for the child;
( * * *
g) If the court makes a finding that
custody is necessary as defined in Section 43-21-301(3)(b), and that the child,
in the action pending before the youth court had not previously been taken into
custody, the disposition order shall recite that the effect of the continuation
of the child's residing within his or her own home would be contrary to the
welfare of the child, that the placement of the child in foster care is in the
best interests of the child, and unless the reasonable efforts requirement is
bypassed under Section 43-21-603(7)(c), the order also must state:
(i) That reasonable efforts have been made to maintain the child within his or her own home, but that the circumstances warrant his or her removal, and there is no reasonable alternative to custody; or
(ii) The circumstances are of such an emergency nature that no reasonable efforts have been made to maintain the child within his or her own home, and there is no reasonable alternative to custody; or
(iii) If the court
makes a finding in accordance with (ii) of this paragraph, the court shall
order that reasonable efforts be made towards the reunification of the child
with his or her family * * *
( * * *
h) If the court had, before the
disposition hearing in the action pending before the court, taken the child
into custody, the judge or referee shall determine, and the youth court order
shall recite that reasonable efforts were made by the Department of * * * Child Protection Services to
finalize the child's permanency plan that was in effect on the date of the
disposition hearing * * * ;
(i) Giving custody to a relative and waiving any requirement for the relative to participate in foster parent training, in the discretion of the court.
SECTION 7. 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 that complies with the sections governing petitions in this chapter and that 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) The date of 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. At the permanency hearing the judge or referee shall determine, and the youth court order shall recite that reasonable efforts were made by the Department of Human Services to finalize the child's permanency plan that was in effect on the date of the permanency hearing. 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 a child who has been adjudicated abused or neglected, at least annually thereafter, for as long as the 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 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) 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.
(d) 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.
(4) The provisions of this section do not apply to proceedings concerning durable legal relative guardianship.
SECTION 8. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2017, and shall stand repealed from and after June 30, 2017.