BILL NUMBER: SB 1060 INTRODUCED BILL TEXT INTRODUCED BY Senator Leno FEBRUARY 16, 2016 An act to amend Sections 366.29 and 727.3 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to adoption. LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST SB 1060, as introduced, Leno. Postadoption contact: siblings of dependent children. Existing law authorizes a juvenile court, under certain conditions, to terminate the rights of a parent or parents of a child and order that the child be placed for adoption, if the child is adjudged a dependent child of the court based on a finding that the child has suffered, or there is a substantial risk that the child will suffer, specified harm or abuse. Existing law provides for the creation of a child and family team, which may include family members, certain professionals, or other individuals, who are convened by the county placing agency to provide input regarding the placement of and services to a dependent child, as part of his or her case plan within child welfare services. Existing law authorizes the court, in an adoption proceeding for the dependent child, with the consent of the prospective adoptive parent or parents of the child, to include in the final adoption order provisions for the adoptive parent or parents to facilitate postadoptive contact between the child and his or her sibling, as specified. This bill would require a court, in an adoption proceeding for a dependent child, to order the convening of a child and family team meeting, attended by at least a facilitator, the siblings or their respective caregivers, as specified, and the prospective adoptive parent or parents. The bill would require the participants of the meeting to decide whether to voluntarily enter into a postadoptive sibling contact agreement, as specified, before the adoption is finalized. By requiring new duties of local county officials, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program. Existing law requires a juvenile court, in the case of a minor declared a ward and ordered to be placed in foster care, and where the minor has continuing involvement with his or her parents or legal guardians, to include in its order placing the minor in a permanent placement a specification of the nature and frequency of visiting arrangements with the parents or legal guardians. This bill would expand this provision to also apply to visiting arrangements with siblings of the minor. The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement. This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason. Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: yes. THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: SECTION 1. Section 366.29 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read: 366.29. (a) When a court, pursuant to Section 366.26, orders that a dependent child be placed for adoption, nothing in the adoption laws of this state shall be construed to prevent the prospective adoptive parent or parents of the child from expressing a willingness to facilitate postadoptive sibling contact. With the consent of the adoptive parent or parents, the court may include in the final adoption order provisions for the adoptive parent or parents to facilitate postadoptive sibling contact. In no event shall the continuing validity of the adoption be contingent upon the postadoptive contact, nor shall the ability of the adoptive parent or parents and the child to change residence within or outside the state be impaired by the order for contact. (b) The court shall order the convening of a meeting of a child and family team, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 16501, regarding postadoptive contact with the siblings of the child, including, but not limited to, siblings under the court's jurisdiction. A sibling 12 years of age or older may represent himself or herself at the meeting. A sibling under 12 years of age shall be represented by his or her caregiver. The meeting shall be attended by at least a facilitator, the siblings or their respective caregivers on the basis of age, and the prospective adoptive parent or parents. The participants of the meeting shall decide whether to voluntarily enter into a postadoptive sibling contact agreement, pursuant to this section and Section 8616.5 of the Family Code, before the adoption is finalized.
(b)(c) If, following entry of an order for sibling contact pursuant to subdivision (a), it is determined by the adoptive parent or parents that sibling contact poses a threat to the health, safety, or well-being of the adopted child, the adoptive parent or parents may terminate the sibling contact, provided that the adoptive parent or parents shall submit written notification to the court within 10 days after terminating the contact, which notification shall specify to the court the reasons why the health, safety, or well-being of the adopted child would be threatened by continued sibling contact. (c)(d) Upon the granting of the adoption petition and the issuing of the order of adoption of a child who is a dependent of the juvenile court, the jurisdiction of the juvenile court with respect to the dependency proceedings of that child shall be terminated. Nonetheless, the court granting the petition of adoption shall maintain jurisdiction over the child for enforcement of the postadoption contact agreement. The court may only order compliance with the postadoption contact agreement upon a finding of both of the following: (1) The party seeking the enforcement participated, in good faith, in mediation or other appropriate alternative dispute resolution proceedings regarding the conflict, prior to the filing of the enforcement action. (2) The enforcement is in the best interest of the child. SEC. 2. Section 727.3 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read: 727.3. The purpose of this section is to provide a means to monitor the safety and well-being of every minor in foster care who has been declared a ward of the juvenile court pursuant to Section 601 or 602 and to ensure that everything reasonably possible is done to facilitate the safe and early return of the minor to his or her own home or to establish an alternative permanent plan for the minor. (a) (1) For every minor declared a ward and ordered to be placed in foster care, a permanency planning hearing shall be conducted within 12 months of the date the minor entered foster care, as defined in paragraph (4) of subdivision (d) of Section 727.4. Subsequent permanency planning hearings shall be conducted periodically, but no less frequently than once every 12 months thereafter during the period of placement. It shall be the duty of the probation officer to prepare a written social study report including an updated case plan and a recommendation for a permanent plan, pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 706.5, and submit the report to the court prior to each permanency planning hearing, pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 727.4. (2) Prior to any permanency planning hearing involving a minor in the physical custody of a community care facility or foster family agency, the facility or agency may file with the court a report containing its recommendations, in addition to the probation officer' s social study. Prior to any permanency planning hearing involving the physical custody of a foster parent, relative caregiver, preadoptive parent, or legal guardian, that person may present to the court a report containing his or her recommendations. The court shall consider all reports and recommendations filed pursuant to this subdivision. (3) If the minor has a continuing involvement with his or her parents or legal guardians, the parents or legal guardians shall be involved in the planning for a permanent placement. The court order placing the minor in a permanent placement shall include a specification of the nature and frequency of visiting arrangements with the parents or legal guardians.parents, legal guardians, or siblings. (4) At each permanency planning hearing, the court shall order a permanent plan for the minor, as described in subdivision (b). The court shall also make findings, as described in subdivision (e) of Section 727.2. In the case of a minor who has reached 16 years of age or older, the court shall, in addition, determine the services needed to assist the minor to make the transition from foster care to successful adulthood. The court shall make all of these determinations on a case-by-case basis and make reference to the probation officer's report, the case plan, or other evidence relied upon in making its decisions. (5) When the minor is 16 years of age or older, and is in another planned permanent living arrangement, the court, at each permanency planning hearing, shall do all of the following: (A) Ask the minor about his or her desired permanency outcome. (B) Make a judicial determination explaining why, as of the hearing date, another planned permanent living arrangement is the best permanency plan for the minor. (C) State for the record the compelling reason or reasons why it continues not to be in the best interest of the minor to return home, be placed for adoption, be placed with a legal guardian, or be placed with a fit and willing relative. (b) At all permanency planning hearings, the court shall determine the permanent plan for the minor. The court shall order one of the following permanent plans, which are, in order of priority: (1) Return of the minor to the physical custody of the parent or legal guardian. After considering the admissible and relevant evidence, the court shall order the return of the minor to the physical custody of his or her parent or legal guardian unless: (A) Reunification services were not offered, pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 727.2. (B) The court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the return of the minor to his or her parent or legal guardian would create a substantial risk of detriment to the safety, protection, or physical or emotional well-being of the minor. The probation department shall have the burden of establishing that detriment. In making its determination, the court shall review and consider the social study report and recommendations pursuant to Section 706.5, the report and recommendations of any child advocate appointed for the minor in the case, and any other reports submitted pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (a), and shall consider the efforts or progress, or both, demonstrated by the minor and family and the extent to which the minor availed himself or herself of the services provided. (2) Order that the permanent plan for the minor will be to return the minor to the physical custody of the parent or legal guardian, order further reunification services to be provided to the minor and his or her parent or legal guardian for a period not to exceed six months and continue the case for up to six months for a subsequent permanency planning hearing, provided that the subsequent hearing shall occur within 18 months of the date the minor was originally taken from the physical custody of his or her parent or legal guardian. The court shall continue the case only if it finds that there is a substantial probability that the minor will be returned to the physical custody of his or her parent or legal guardian and safely maintained in the home within the extended period of time or that reasonable services have not been provided to the parent or guardian. For purposes of this section, in order to find that there is a substantial probability that the minor will be returned to the physical custody of his or her parent or legal guardian, the court shall be required to find that the minor and his or her parent or legal guardian have demonstrated the capacity and ability to complete the objectives of the case plan. The court shall inform the parent or legal guardian that if the minor cannot be returned home by the next permanency planning hearing, a proceeding pursuant to Section 727.31 may be initiated. The court shall not continue the case for further reunification services if it has been 18 months or more since the date the minor was originally taken from the physical custody of his or her parent or legal guardian. (3) Identify adoption as the permanent plan and order that a hearing be held within 120 days, pursuant to the procedures described in Section 727.31. The court shall only set a hearing pursuant to Section 727.31 if there is clear and convincing evidence that reasonable services have been provided or offered to the parents. When the court sets a hearing pursuant to Section 727.31, it shall order that an adoption assessment report be prepared, pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 727.31. (4) Order a legal guardianship, pursuant to procedures described in subdivisions (c) to (f), inclusive, of Section 728. (5) Place the minor with a fit and willing relative. "Placement with a fit and willing relative" means placing the minor with an appropriate approved relative who is willing to provide a permanent and stable home for the minor, but is unable or unwilling to become the legal guardian. When a minor is placed with a fit and willing relative, the court may authorize the relative to provide the same legal consent for the minor's medical, surgical, and dental care, and education as the custodial parent of the minor. (6) (A) If he or she is 16 years of age or older, place the minor in another planned permanent living arrangement. For purposes of this section, "planned permanent living arrangement" means any permanent living arrangement described in Section 11402 that is ordered by the court for a minor 16 years of age or older when there is a compelling reason or reasons to determine that it is not in the best interest of the minor to have any permanent plan listed in paragraphs (1) to (5), inclusive. These plans include, but are not limited to, placement in a specific, identified foster family home, program, or facility on a permanent basis, or placement in a transitional housing placement facility. When the court places a minor in a planned permanent living arrangement, the court shall specify the goal of the placement, which may include, but shall not be limited to, return home, emancipation, guardianship, or permanent placement with a relative. The court shall only order that the minor remain in a planned permanent living arrangement if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence, based upon the evidence already presented to it that there is a compelling reason, as defined in subdivision (c), for determining that a plan of termination of parental rights and adoption is not in the best interest of the minor. (B) If the minor is under 16 years of age and the court finds by clear and convincing evidence, based upon the evidence already presented to it, that there is a compelling reason, as defined in subdivision (c), for determining that a plan of termination of parental rights and adoption is not in the best interest of the minor as of the hearing date, the court shall order the minor to remain in a foster care placement with a permanent plan of return home, adoption, legal guardianship, or placement with a fit and willing relative, as appropriate. The court shall make factual findings identifying any barriers to achieving the permanent plan as of the hearing date. (c) A compelling reason for determining that a plan of termination of parental rights and adoption is not in the best interest of the minor is any of the following: (1) Documentation by the probation department that adoption is not in the best interest of the minor and is not an appropriate permanency goal. That documentation may include, but is not limited to, documentation that: (A) The minor is 12 years of age or older and objects to termination of parental rights. (B) The minor is 17 years of age or older and specifically requests that transition to independent living with the identification of a caring adult to serve as a lifelong connection be established as his or her permanent plan. On and after January 1, 2012, this includes a minor who requests that his or her transitional independent living case plan include modification of his or her jurisdiction to that of dependency jurisdiction pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 607.2 or subdivision (i) of Section 727.2, or to that of transition jurisdiction pursuant to Section 450, in order to be eligible as a nonminor dependent for the extended benefits pursuant to Section 11403. (C) The parent or guardian and the minor have a significant bond, but the parent or guardian is unable to care for the minor because of an emotional or physical disability, and the minor's caregiver has committed to raising the minor to the age of majority and facilitating visitation with the disabled parent or guardian. (D) The minor agrees to continued placement in a residential treatment facility that provides services specifically designed to address the minor's treatment needs, and the minor's needs could not be served by a less restrictive placement. The probation department's recommendation that adoption is not in the best interest of the minor shall be based on the present family circumstances of the minor and shall not preclude a different recommendation at a later date if the minor's family circumstances change. (2) Documentation by the probation department that no grounds exist to file for termination of parental rights. (3) Documentation by the probation department that the minor is an unaccompanied refugee minor, or there are international legal obligations or foreign policy reasons that would preclude terminating parental rights. (4) A finding by the court that the probation department was required to make reasonable efforts to reunify the minor with the family pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 727.2, and did not make those efforts. (5) Documentation by the probation department that the minor is living with a relative who is unable or unwilling to adopt the minor because of exceptional circumstances that do not include an unwillingness to accept legal or financial responsibility for the minor, but who is willing and capable of providing the minor with a stable and permanent home environment, and the removal of the minor from the physical custody of his or her relative would be detrimental to the minor's emotional well-being. (d) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the ability of a parent to voluntarily relinquish his or her child to the State Department of Social Services when it is acting as an adoption agency or to a county adoption agency at any time while the minor is a ward of the juvenile court if the department or county adoption agency is willing to accept the relinquishment. (e) Any change in the permanent plan of a minor placed with a fit and willing relative or in a planned permanent living arrangement shall be made only by order of the court pursuant to a Section 778 petition or at a regularly scheduled and noticed status review hearing or permanency planning hearing. Any change in the permanent plan of a minor placed in a guardianship shall be made only by order of the court pursuant to a motion filed in accordance with Section 728. SEC. 3. To the extent that this act has an overall effect of increasing the costs already borne by a local agency for programs or levels of service mandated by the 2011 Realignment Legislation within the meaning of Section 36 of Article XIII of the California Constitution, it shall apply to local agencies only to the extent that the state provides annual funding for the cost increase. Any new program or higher level of service provided by a local agency pursuant to this act above the level for which funding has been provided shall not require a subvention of funds by the state nor otherwise be subject to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.