Permanency Hearings: Children Freed for Adoption: Bill # S 7027:
Laws of 2002, ch. 663
This new legislation, effective immediately, will significantly aid in the effort to spur achievement of permanency for children freed for adoption, but not yet adopted. A copy of the text of the legislation is available on www.assembly.state.ny.us (Legis. Info. System: bill # S 7027 of 2001).
In order to eliminate confusion regarding permanency hearing mandates, this legislation requires a permanency hearing pursuant to Family Court Act §1055-a to be convened and completed immediately following, but not more than 60 days after, commitment of guardianship and custody of a child to an agency either as a result of a termination of parental rights proceeding or approval of a surrender. Since the cases are already on the calendar, the Court has flexibility to determine whether a formal petition or simply a report would be required for the permanency hearing and what schedule and form of service should be utilized to assure prompt notification of all required permanency hearing participants, including foster parents. All subsequent permanency petitions will then have to be filed no later than six months after completion of the prior §§1055-a hearing and each hearing will be required to be completed within 60 days of the filing of the petition. Simplicity and certainty as to the applicable time-frames is thus be provided by requiring the calendar to begin for all children freed for adoption at the same time – i.e., immediately upon the freeing of the child – and by specifying uniform deadlines both for the filing of subsequent petitions at six-month intervals and for completion of hearings within 60 days thereafter.
Additionally, FCA sec. 1055(h) is clarified to provide that while children freed for adoption, either as a result of surrender or termination of parental rights, are no longer be considered placed in foster care on the original child protective proceeding, they are nonetheless still be deemed to be in foster care and subject to periodic permanency hearings pursuant to section 1055-a of the Family Court Act until permanency is actually achieved. This ensures that all children in this category will remain in foster care for purposes of federal reimbursement, notwithstanding the "suspension" language of section 1055(h) of the Family Court Act. A child originally placed pursuant to a child protective petition, however, would still be considered to be so placed in cases in which there is another parent or other person whose consent would be required for an adoption but whose parental rights have not been terminated. Such a child would remain subject to extensions of placement and permanency hearings in accordance with section 1055(b) of the Family Court Act, rather than section 1055-a, and would also be entitled to federal foster care reimbursement.
Finally, the proposal makes several technical amendments to section 392 of the Social Services Law, specifically removing obsolete references to children freed for adoption, whose permanency hearings are now held in accordance with section 1055-a of the Family Court Act instead of that section, and reinstating paragraph (c) of subdivision six of section 392 of the Social Services Law, a provision of the Adoption and Safe Families Act that was inadvertently repealed as part of Chapter 534 of the Laws of 1999. [Note: A technical amendment will be submitted to the Legislature to delete now-obsolete language regarding the old freed child review time-frame in FCA 1055-a, inadvertently not deleted in the new statute].
Effective date: Dec. 3, 2002.
Office of Court Administration bill.