TITLE 40
Human services

CHAPTER 40-11
Abused and Neglected Children

SECTION 40-11-12.2


§ 40-11-12.2 Permanency plan – Order of court.

(a) At every regularly scheduled family court review and/or permanency hearing of any child found to be abused or neglected under § 40-11-12 or dependent under § 14-1-34, the department shall present a written reunification and/or permanency plan to the court for approval. The plan shall include whether, and if applicable when, the child will be returned to the parent, placed for adoption, referred for legal guardianship, placed with a fit and willing relative, or (in cases whether the department can show the court compelling reasons why the foregoing placements or referrals would not be in the child's best interests) placed in another planned permanent living arrangement. The plan shall clearly set forth the goals and obligations of the department, parent(s), child and all other parties. The plan may be approved and/or modified by a justice of the family court and incorporated into the orders of the court, at the discretion of the court.

(b) In determining reasonable efforts to be made with respect to a child, and in making such reasonable efforts, the child's health and safety shall be the paramount concern.

(c) Except as provided in subsection (e), reasonable efforts shall be made to preserve and reunify families:

(i) Prior to the placement of a child in foster care, to prevent or eliminate the need for removing the child from the child's home which efforts shall include placement of the child with a blood relative or other family member if such placement is in the best interest of the child; and

(ii) To make it possible for a child to safely return to the child's home.

(d) If continuation of reasonable efforts of the type described in subsection (c) is determined to be inconsistent with the permanency plan for the child, reasonable efforts shall be made to place the child in a timely manner in accordance with the permanency plan, and to complete whatever steps are necessary to finalize the permanent placement of the child.

(e) Reasonable efforts of the type described in subsection (c) shall not be required to be made with respect to a parent of a child if the court has determined that:

(i) The parent has subjected any child to conduct of a cruel or abusive nature;

(ii) The parent has:

(I) Committed murder of another child of the parent; or

(II) Subjected the child to aggravating circumstances, which circumstances shall be abandonment, torture, chronic abuse and sexual abuse; or

(III) Committed voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent; or

(IV) Aided or abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit such a murder or such a voluntary manslaughter; or

(V) Committed a felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the child or another child of the parent; or

(iii) The parental rights of the parent to a sibling have been terminated involuntarily.

(f) If reasonable efforts of the type described in subsection (c) are not made with respect to a child as a result of a determination made by the court in accordance with subsection (e);

(i) A permanency hearing shall be held for the child within thirty (30) days after the determination; and

(ii) Reasonable efforts shall be made to place the child in a timely manner in accordance with the permanency plan, and to complete whatever steps are necessary to finalize the permanent placement of the child; and

(g) Reasonable efforts to place a child for adoption or with a legal guardian may be made concurrently with reasonable efforts of the type described in subsection (c).

(h) In the case of a child with respect to whom the permanency plan is adoption or placement in another permanent home, the permanency plan shall include documentation of the steps the department is taking to find an adoptive family or other permanent living arrangement for the child, to place the child with an adoptive family, a fit and willing relative, a legal guardian, or in another planned permanent living arrangement, and to finalize the adoption or legal guardianship. At a minimum, such documentation shall include child specific recruitment efforts such as the use of state, regional, and national adoption exchanges including electronic exchange systems. The department shall not act, or fail to act, to deny or delay placement of a child for adoption when an approved family is available outside of Rhode Island and no other prospective pre-adoptive home is available.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1992, ch. 206, § 1; P.L. 1992, ch. 309, § 1; P.L. 1998, ch. 87, § 3.)