Amended in Assembly June 22, 2016

Amended in Senate May 31, 2016

Amended in Senate April 19, 2016

Senate BillNo. 1060


Introduced by Senator Leno

(Coauthors: Senators Allen and McGuire)

(Coauthors: Assembly Members Brown, Chiu, Chu, Cristina Garcia, Linder, Lopez, McCarty, and Williams)

February 16, 2016


An act to amend Section 8616.5 of the Family Code, and to amend Sections 366.29, 727.3, and 16002 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to adoption.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

SB 1060, as amended, Leno. Postadoption contact: siblings of dependent children or wards.

Existing law provides that a minor may be adjudged a dependent child or a ward of the juvenile court under specified circumstances. Existing law authorizes the court to place a minor who has been removed from the custody of his or her parent or guardian in foster care, among other placements. Existing law allows, in an adoption proceeding, for continuing contact between the birth relatives and a child if a postadoption contact agreement is entered into voluntarily and is in the best interests of the child at the time the adoption petition is granted.

Existing law requires, if parental rights are terminated and the court orders a dependent child or ward to be placed for adoption, the county adoption agency or the State Department of Social Services to take specified steps, with exceptions, to facilitate ongoing sibling contact, including the encouragement of prospective adoptive parents to make a plan for facilitating postadoptive contact, as specified.

This bill would instead require the county placing agency, as part of the above steps, to the extent practicable, to convene a meeting with the child, the sibling or siblings of the child, the prospective adoptive parent or parents, and a facilitator for the purpose of deciding whether to voluntarily execute a postadoption sibling contact agreement.begin insert The bill would provide that the county placing agency is not required to convene a meeting to decide whether to voluntarily execute a postadoption sibling contact agreement if specified circumstances occur. The bill would authorize the child to petition the court for an order requiring the county placing agency to convene a meeting to decide whether to voluntarily execute a postadoption sibling contact agreement. The bill would provide that the meeting is not required to occur if the court determines by a preponderance of the evidence that a postadoption sibling contact agreement or a meeting for the purpose of deciding whether to voluntarily execute such an agreement is contrary to the safety and well-being of the child and notes the determination in the court order.end insert By requiring new duties on a county placing agency relating to meetings on postadoption sibling contact agreements, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

Existing law authorizes the court, in an adoption proceeding for a 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.

begin delete

The

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begin insert end insertbegin insertThisend insert bill would require the court to inquire into the status of the development of a voluntary postadoption sibling contact agreement at the time of consideration of an adoption petition.

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.

This bill would also make conforming changes to related provisions.

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:

P3    1

SECTION 1.  

Section 8616.5 of the Family Code is amended
2to read:

3

8616.5.  

(a) The Legislature finds and declares that some
4adoptive children may benefit from either direct or indirect contact
5with birth relatives, including the birth parent or parents or any
6siblings, or an Indian tribe, after being adopted. Postadoption
7contact agreements are intended to ensure children of an achievable
8level of continuing contact when contact is beneficial to the
9children and the agreements are voluntarily executed by birth
10relatives, including the birth parent or parents or any siblings, or
11an Indian tribe, and adoptive parents. Nothing in this section
12requires all of the listed parties to participate in the development
13of a postadoption contact agreement in order for the agreement to
14be executed.

15(b) (1) Nothing in the adoption laws of this state shall be
16construed to prevent the adopting parent or parents, the birth
17relatives, including the birth parent or parents or any siblings, or
18an Indian tribe, and the child from voluntarily executing a written
19agreement to permit continuing contact between the birth relatives,
20including the birth parent or parents or any siblings, or an Indian
21tribe, and the child if the agreement is found by the court to have
22been executed voluntarily and to be in the best interests of the child
23at the time the adoption petition is granted.

24(2) The terms of any postadoption contact agreement executed
25under this section shall be limited to, but need not include, all of
26the following:

27(A) Provisions for visitation between the child and a birth parent
28or parents and other birth relatives, including siblings, and the
29child’s Indian tribe if the case is governed by the Indian Child
30Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. Sec. 1901 et seq.).

P4    1(B) Provisions for future contact between a birth parent or
2parents or other birth relatives, including siblings, or both, and the
3child or an adoptive parent, or both, and in cases governed by the
4Indian Child Welfare Act, the child’s Indian tribe.

5(C) Provisions for the sharing of information about the child in
6the future.

7(3) The terms of any postadoption contact agreement with birth
8relatives, including siblings, other than the child’s birth parent or
9parents shall be limited to the sharing of information about the
10child, unless the child has a preexisting relationship with the birth
11relative.

12(c) At the time an adoption decree is entered pursuant to a
13petition filed pursuant to Section 8714, 8714.5, 8802, 8912, or
149000, the court entering the decree may grant postadoption
15privileges if an agreement for those privileges has been executed,
16including agreements executed pursuant to subdivision (f) of
17Section 8620. The hearing to grant the adoption petition and issue
18an order of adoption may be continued as necessary to permit
19parties who are in the process of negotiating a postadoption
20agreement to reach a final agreement.

21(d) The child who is the subject of the adoption petition shall
22be considered a party to the postadoption contact agreement. The
23written consent to the terms and conditions of the postadoption
24contact agreement and any subsequent modifications of the
25agreement by a child who is 12 years of age or older is a necessary
26condition to the granting of privileges regarding visitation, contact,
27or sharing of information about the child, unless the court finds
28by a preponderance of the evidence that the agreement, as written,
29is in the best interests of the child. Any child who has been found
30to come within Section 300 of the Welfare and Institutions Code
31or who is the subject of a petition for jurisdiction of the juvenile
32court under Section 300 of the Welfare and Institutions Code shall
33be represented by an attorney for purposes of consent to the
34postadoption contact agreement.

35(e) A postadoption contact agreement shall contain the following
36warnings in bold type:

37(1) After the adoption petition has been granted by the court,
38the adoption cannot be set aside due to the failure of an adopting
39parent, a birth parent, a birth relative, including a sibling, an Indian
P5    1tribe, or the child to follow the terms of this agreement or a later
2change to this agreement.

3(2) A disagreement between the parties or litigation brought to
4enforce or modify the agreement shall not affect the validity of
5the adoption and shall not serve as a basis for orders affecting the
6custody of the child.

7(3) A court will not act on a petition to change or enforce this
8agreement unless the petitioner has participated, or attempted to
9participate, in good faith in mediation or other appropriate dispute
10resolution proceedings to resolve the dispute.

11(f) Upon the granting of the adoption petition and the issuing
12of the order of adoption of a child who is a dependent of the
13juvenile court, juvenile court dependency jurisdiction shall be
14 terminated. Enforcement of the postadoption contact agreement
15shall be under the continuing jurisdiction of the court granting the
16petition of adoption. The court may not order compliance with the
17agreement absent a finding that the party seeking the enforcement
18participated, or attempted to participate, in good faith in mediation
19or other appropriate dispute resolution proceedings regarding the
20conflict, prior to the filing of the enforcement action, and that the
21enforcement is in the best interests of the child. Documentary
22evidence or offers of proof may serve as the basis for the court’s
23decision regarding enforcement. No testimony or evidentiary
24hearing shall be required. The court shall not order further
25investigation or evaluation by any public or private agency or
26individual absent a finding by clear and convincing evidence that
27the best interests of the child may be protected or advanced only
28by that inquiry and that the inquiry will not disturb the stability of
29the child’s home to the detriment of the child.

30(g) The court may not award monetary damages as a result of
31the filing of the civil action pursuant to subdivision (e).

32(h) A postadoption contact agreement may be modified or
33terminated only if either of the following occurs:

34(1) All parties, including the child if the child is 12 years of age
35or older at the time of the requested termination or modification,
36have signed a modified postadoption contact agreement and the
37agreement is filed with the court that granted the petition of
38adoption.

39(2) The court finds all of the following:

P6    1(A) The termination or modification is necessary to serve the
2best interests of the child.

3(B) There has been a substantial change of circumstances since
4the original agreement was executed and approved by the court.

5(C) The party seeking the termination or modification has
6participated, or attempted to participate, in good faith in mediation
7or other appropriate dispute resolution proceedings prior to seeking
8court approval of the proposed termination or modification.

9Documentary evidence or offers of proof may serve as the basis
10for the court’s decision. No testimony or evidentiary hearing shall
11be required. The court shall not order further investigation or
12evaluation by any public or private agency or individual absent a
13finding by clear and convincing evidence that the best interests of
14the child may be protected or advanced only by that inquiry and
15that the inquiry will not disturb the stability of the child’s home
16to the detriment of the child.

17(i) All costs and fees of mediation or other appropriate dispute
18resolution proceedings shall be borne by each party, excluding the
19child. All costs and fees of litigation shall be borne by the party
20filing the action to modify or enforce the agreement when no party
21has been found by the court as failing to comply with an existing
22postadoption contact agreement. Otherwise, a party, other than the
23child, found by the court as failing to comply without good cause
24with an existing agreement shall bear all the costs and fees of
25litigation.

26(j) The Judicial Council shall adopt rules of court and forms for
27motions to enforce, terminate, or modify postadoption contact
28agreements.

29(k) The court shall not set aside a decree of adoption, rescind a
30relinquishment, or modify an order to terminate parental rights or
31any other prior court order because of the failure of a birth parent,
32adoptive parent, birth relative, including a sibling, an Indian tribe,
33or the child to comply with any or all of the original terms of, or
34subsequent modifications to, the postadoption contact agreement,
35except as follows:

36(1) Prior to issuing the order of adoption, in an adoption
37involving an Indian child, the court may, upon a petition of the
38birth parent, birth relative, including a sibling, or an Indian tribe,
39order the parties to engage in family mediation services for the
40purpose of reaching a postadoption contact agreement if the
P7    1prospective adoptive parent fails to negotiate in good faith to
2execute a postadoption contact agreement, after having agreed to
3enter into negotiations, provided that the failure of the parties to
4reach an agreement is not in and of itself proof of bad faith.

5(2) Prior to issuing the order of adoption, if the parties fail to
6negotiate in good faith to execute a postadoption contact agreement
7during the negotiations entered into pursuant to, and in accordance
8with, paragraph (1), the court may modify prior orders or issue
9new orders as necessary to ensure the best interest of the Indian
10child is met, including, but not limited to, requiring parties to
11engage in further family mediation services for the purpose of
12reaching a postadoption contact agreement, initiating guardianship
13proceeding in lieu of adoption, or authorizing a change of adoptive
14placement for the child.

15(l) As used in this section, “sibling” means a person related to
16the identified child by blood, adoption, or affinity through a
17common legal or biological parent.

18

SEC. 2.  

Section 366.29 of the Welfare and Institutions Code
19 is amended to read:

20

366.29.  

(a) When a court, pursuant to Section 366.26, orders
21that a dependent child be placed for adoption, nothing in the
22adoption laws of this state shall be construed to prevent the
23prospective adoptive parent or parents of the child from expressing
24a willingness to facilitate postadoption sibling contact. With the
25consent of the adoptive parent or parents, the court may include
26in the final adoption order provisions for the adoptive parent or
27parents to facilitate postadoption sibling contact. In no event shall
28the continuing validity of the adoption be contingent upon the
29postadoption contact, nor shall the ability of the adoptive parent
30or parents and the child to change residence within or outside the
31 state be impaired by the order for contact.

32(b) At the time of consideration of an adoption petition, the
33court shall inquire into the status of the development of a voluntary
34postadoption sibling contact agreement pursuant to subdivision
35(e) of Section 16002.

36(c) If, following entry of an order for sibling contact pursuant
37to subdivision (a), it is determined by the adoptive parent or parents
38that sibling contact poses a threat to the health, safety, or well-being
39of the adopted child, the adoptive parent or parents may terminate
40the sibling contact, provided that the adoptive parent or parents
P8    1shall submit written notification to the court within 10 days after
2terminating the contact, which notification shall specify to the
3court the reasons why the health, safety, or well-being of the
4adopted child would be threatened by continued sibling contact.

5(d) Upon the granting of the adoption petition and the issuing
6of the order of adoption of a child who is a dependent of the
7juvenile court, the jurisdiction of the juvenile court with respect
8to the dependency proceedings of that child shall be terminated.
9Nonetheless, the court granting the petition of adoption shall
10maintain jurisdiction over the child for enforcement of the
11postadoption contact agreement. The court may only order
12compliance with the postadoption contact agreement upon a finding
13of both of the following:

14(1) The party seeking the enforcement participated, in good
15faith, in mediation or other appropriate alternative dispute
16resolution proceedings regarding the conflict, prior to the filing of
17the enforcement action.

18(2) The enforcement is in the best interest of the child.

19

SEC. 3.  

Section 727.3 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is
20amended to read:

21

727.3.  

The purpose of this section is to provide a means to
22monitor the safety and well-being of every minor in foster care
23who has been declared a ward of the juvenile court pursuant to
24Section 601 or 602 and to ensure that everything reasonably
25possible is done to facilitate the safe and early return of the minor
26to his or her own home or to establish an alternative permanent
27plan for the minor.

28(a) (1) For every minor declared a ward and ordered to be
29placed in foster care, a permanency planning hearing shall be
30conducted within 12 months of the date the minor entered foster
31care, as defined in paragraph (4) of subdivision (d) of Section
32727.4. Subsequent permanency planning hearings shall be
33 conducted periodically, but no less frequently than once every 12
34months thereafter during the period of placement. It shall be the
35duty of the probation officer to prepare a written social study report
36including an updated case plan and a recommendation for a
37permanent plan, pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 706.5, and
38submit the report to the court prior to each permanency planning
39hearing, pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 727.4.

P9    1(2) Prior to any permanency planning hearing involving a minor
2in the physical custody of a community care facility or foster family
3agency, the facility or agency may file with the court a report
4containing its recommendations, in addition to the probation
5officer’s social study. Prior to any permanency planning hearing
6involving the physical custody of a foster parent, relative caregiver,
7preadoptive parent, or legal guardian, that person may present to
8the court a report containing his or her recommendations. The
9court shall consider all reports and recommendations filed pursuant
10to this subdivision.

11(3) If the minor has a continuing involvement with his or her
12parents or legal guardians, the parents or legal guardians shall be
13involved in the planning for a permanent placement. The court
14order placing the minor in a permanent placement shall include a
15specification of the nature and frequency of visiting arrangements
16with the parents or legal guardians and, if any, the siblings.

17(4) At each permanency planning hearing, the court shall order
18a permanent plan for the minor, as described in subdivision (b).
19The court shall also make findings, as described in subdivision (e)
20of Section 727.2. In the case of a minor who has reached 16 years
21of age or older, the court shall, in addition, determine the services
22needed to assist the minor to make the transition from foster care
23to successful adulthood. The court shall make all of these
24determinations on a case-by-case basis and make reference to the
25probation officer’s report, the case plan, or other evidence relied
26upon in making its decisions.

27(5) When the minor is 16 years of age or older, and is in another
28planned permanent living arrangement, the court, at each
29permanency planning hearing, shall do all of the following:

30(A) Ask the minor about his or her desired permanency outcome.

31(B) Make a judicial determination explaining why, as of the
32hearing date, another planned permanent living arrangement is the
33best permanency plan for the minor.

34(C) State for the record the compelling reason or reasons why
35it continues not to be in the best interest of the minor to return
36home, be placed for adoption, be placed with a legal guardian, or
37be placed with a fit and willing relative.

38(b) At all permanency planning hearings, the court shall
39determine the permanent plan for the minor. The court shall order
40one of the following permanent plans, in order of priority:

P10   1(1) Return of the minor to the physical custody of the parent or
2legal guardian. After considering the admissible and relevant
3evidence, the court shall order the return of the minor to the
4physical custody of his or her parent or legal guardian unless:

5(A) Reunification services were not offered, pursuant to
6subdivision (b) of Section 727.2.

7(B) The court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that
8the return of the minor to his or her parent or legal guardian would
9create a substantial risk of detriment to the safety, protection, or
10physical or emotional well-being of the minor. The probation
11department shall have the burden of establishing that detriment.
12In making its determination, the court shall review and consider
13 the social study report and recommendations pursuant to Section
14706.5, the report and recommendations of any child advocate
15appointed for the minor in the case, and any other reports submitted
16pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (a), and shall consider
17the efforts or progress, or both, demonstrated by the minor and
18family and the extent to which the minor availed himself or herself
19of the services provided.

20(2) Order that the permanent plan for the minor will be to return
21the minor to the physical custody of the parent or legal guardian,
22order further reunification services to be provided to the minor
23and his or her parent or legal guardian for a period not to exceed
24six months and continue the case for up to six months for a
25subsequent permanency planning hearing, provided that the
26subsequent hearing shall occur within 18 months of the date the
27minor was originally taken from the physical custody of his or her
28parent or legal guardian. The court shall continue the case only if
29it finds that there is a substantial probability that the minor will be
30returned to the physical custody of his or her parent or legal
31guardian and safely maintained in the home within the extended
32period of time or that reasonable services have not been provided
33to the parent or guardian. For purposes of this section, in order to
34find that there is a substantial probability that the minor will be
35returned to the physical custody of his or her parent or legal
36guardian, the court shall be required to find that the minor and his
37or her parent or legal guardian have demonstrated the capacity and
38ability to complete the objectives of the case plan.

P11   1The court shall inform the parent or legal guardian that if the
2minor cannot be returned home by the next permanency planning
3hearing, a proceeding pursuant to Section 727.31 may be initiated.

4The court shall not continue the case for further reunification
5services if it has been 18 months or more since the date the minor
6was originally taken from the physical custody of his or her parent
7or legal guardian.

8(3) Identify adoption as the permanent plan and order that a
9hearing be held within 120 days, pursuant to the procedures
10described in Section 727.31. The court shall only set a hearing
11pursuant to Section 727.31 if there is clear and convincing evidence
12that reasonable services have been provided or offered to the
13parents. When the court sets a hearing pursuant to Section 727.31,
14it shall order that an adoption assessment report be prepared,
15pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 727.31.

16(4) Order a legal guardianship, pursuant to procedures described
17in subdivisions (c) to (f), inclusive, of Section 728.

18(5) Place the minor with a fit and willing relative. “Placement
19with a fit and willing relative” means placing the minor with an
20appropriate approved relative who is willing to provide a permanent
21and stable home for the minor, but is unable or unwilling to become
22the legal guardian. When a minor is placed with a fit and willing
23relative, the court may authorize the relative to provide the same
24legal consent for the minor’s medical, surgical, and dental care,
25and education as the custodial parent of the minor.

26(6) (A) If he or she is 16 years of age or older, place the minor
27in another planned permanent living arrangement. For purposes
28of this section, “planned permanent living arrangement” means
29any permanent living arrangement described in Section 11402 that
30is ordered by the court for a minor 16 years of age or older when
31there is a compelling reason or reasons to determine that it is not
32in the best interest of the minor to have any permanent plan listed
33in paragraphs (1) to (5), inclusive. These plans include, but are not
34limited to, placement in a specific, identified foster family home,
35program, or facility on a permanent basis, or placement in a
36transitional housing placement facility. When the court places a
37minor in a planned permanent living arrangement, the court shall
38specify the goal of the placement, which may include, but shall
39not be limited to, return home, emancipation, guardianship, or
40permanent placement with a relative.

P12   1The court shall only order that the minor remain in a planned
2permanent living arrangement if the court finds by clear and
3convincing evidence, based upon the evidence already presented
4to it, that there is a compelling reason, as defined in subdivision
5(c), for determining that a plan of termination of parental rights
6and adoption is not in the best interest of the minor.

7(B) If the minor is under 16 years of age and the court finds by
8clear and convincing evidence, based upon the evidence already
9presented to it, that there is a compelling reason, as defined in
10subdivision (c), for determining that a plan of termination of
11parental rights and adoption is not in the best interest of the minor
12as of the hearing date, the court shall order the minor to remain in
13a foster care placement with a permanent plan of return home,
14adoption, legal guardianship, or placement with a fit and willing
15relative, as appropriate. The court shall make factual findings
16identifying any barriers to achieving the permanent plan as of the
17hearing date.

18(c) A compelling reason for determining that a plan of
19termination of parental rights and adoption is not in the best interest
20of the minor is any of the following:

21(1) Documentation by the probation department that adoption
22is not in the best interest of the minor and is not an appropriate
23permanency goal. That documentation may include, but is not
24limited to, documentation that:

25(A) The minor is 12 years of age or older and objects to
26termination of parental rights.

27(B) The minor is 17 years of age or older and specifically
28requests that transition to independent living with the identification
29of a caring adult to serve as a lifelong connection be established
30as his or her permanent plan. On and after January 1, 2012, this
31includes a minor who requests that his or her transitional
32independent living case plan include modification of his or her
33jurisdiction to that of dependency jurisdiction pursuant to
34subdivision (b) of Section 607.2 or subdivision (i) of Section 727.2,
35or to that of transition jurisdiction pursuant to Section 450, in order
36to be eligible as a nonminor dependent for the extended benefits
37pursuant to Section 11403.

38(C) The parent or guardian and the minor have a significant
39bond, but the parent or guardian is unable to care for the minor
40because of an emotional or physical disability, and the minor’s
P13   1caregiver has committed to raising the minor to the age of majority
2and facilitating visitation with the disabled parent or guardian.

3(D) The minor agrees to continued placement in a residential
4treatment facility that provides services specifically designed to
5address the minor’s treatment needs, and the minor’s needs could
6not be served by a less restrictive placement.

7The probation department’s recommendation that adoption is
8not in the best interest of the minor shall be based on the present
9family circumstances of the minor and shall not preclude a different
10recommendation at a later date if the minor’s family circumstances
11change.

12(2) Documentation by the probation department that no grounds
13exist to file for termination of parental rights.

14(3) Documentation by the probation department that the minor
15is an unaccompanied refugee minor, or there are international legal
16obligations or foreign policy reasons that would preclude
17terminating parental rights.

18(4) A finding by the court that the probation department was
19required to make reasonable efforts to reunify the minor with the
20family pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 727.2, and did not
21make those efforts.

22(5) Documentation by the probation department that the minor
23is living with a relative who is unable or unwilling to adopt the
24minor because of exceptional circumstances that do not include
25an unwillingness to accept legal or financial responsibility for the
26minor, but who is willing to provide, and capable of providing,
27the minor with a stable and permanent home environment, and the
28removal of the minor from the physical custody of his or her
29relative would be detrimental to the minor’s emotional well-being.

30(d) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the ability
31of a parent to voluntarily relinquish his or her child to the State
32Department of Social Services when it is acting as an adoption
33agency or to a county adoption agency at any time while the minor
34is a ward of the juvenile court if the department or county adoption
35agency is willing to accept the relinquishment.

36(e) Any change in the permanent plan of a minor placed with a
37fit and willing relative or in a planned permanent living
38arrangement shall be made only by order of the court pursuant to
39a petition filed in accordance with Section 778 or at a regularly
40scheduled and noticed status review hearing or permanency
P14   1planning hearing. Any change in the permanent plan of a minor
2placed in a guardianship shall be made only by order of the court
3pursuant to a motion filed in accordance with Section 728.

4

SEC. 4.  

Section 16002 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is
5amended to read:

6

16002.  

(a) (1) It is the intent of the Legislature to maintain
7the continuity of the family unit, and ensure the preservation and
8strengthening of the child’s family ties by ensuring that when
9siblings have been removed from their home, either as a group on
10one occurrence or individually on separate occurrences, the siblings
11will be placed in foster care together, unless it has been determined
12that placement together is contrary to the safety or well-being of
13any sibling. The Legislature recognizes that in order to ensure the
14placement of a sibling group in the same foster care placement,
15placement resources need to be expanded.

16(2) It is also the intent of the Legislature to preserve and
17strengthen a child’s sibling relationship so that when a child has
18been removed from his or her home and he or she has a sibling or
19siblings who remain in the custody of a mutual parent subject to
20the court’s jurisdiction, the court has the authority to develop a
21visitation plan for the siblings, unless it has been determined that
22visitation is contrary to the safety or well-being of any sibling.

23(b) The responsible local agency shall make a diligent effort in
24all out-of-home placements of dependent children and wards in
25foster care, including those with relatives, to place siblings together
26in the same placement, and to develop and maintain sibling
27relationships. If siblings are not placed together in the same home,
28the social worker or probation officer shall explain why the siblings
29are not placed together and what efforts he or she is making to
30place the siblings together or why making those efforts would be
31contrary to the safety and well-being of any of the siblings. When
32placement of siblings together in the same home is not possible,
33a diligent effort shall be made, and a case plan prepared, to provide
34for ongoing and frequent interaction among siblings until family
35reunification is achieved, or, if parental rights are terminated, as
36part of developing the permanent plan for the child. If the court
37determines by clear and convincing evidence that sibling interaction
38is contrary to the safety and well-being of any of the siblings, the
39reasons for the determination shall be noted in the court order, and
40interaction shall be suspended.

P15   1(c) When there has been a judicial suspension of sibling
2interaction, the reasons for the suspension shall be reviewed at
3each periodic review hearing pursuant to Section 366 or 727.3. In
4order for the suspension to continue, the court shall make a renewed
5finding that sibling interaction is contrary to the safety or
6well-being of either child. When the court determines that sibling
7interaction can be safely resumed, that determination shall be noted
8in the court order and the case plan shall be revised to provide for
9sibling interaction.

10(d) If the case plan for the child has provisions for sibling
11interaction, the child, or his or her parent or legal guardian, shall
12have the right to comment on those provisions. If a person wishes
13to assert a sibling relationship with a dependent child or ward, he
14or she may file a petition in the juvenile court having jurisdiction
15over the dependent child pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section
16388 or the ward in foster care pursuant to Section 778.

17(e) If parental rights are terminated and the court orders a
18dependent child or ward to be placed for adoption, the county
19adoption agency or the State Department of Social Services shall
20take all of the following steps to facilitate ongoing sibling contact,
21except in those cases provided in subdivision (b) where the court
22determines by clear and convincing evidence that sibling interaction
23is contrary to the safety or well-being of the child:

24(1) Include in training provided to prospective adoptive parents
25information about the importance of sibling relationships to the
26adopted child and counseling on methods for maintaining sibling
27relationships.

28(2) Provide prospective adoptive parents with information about
29siblings of the child, except the address where the siblings of the
30children reside. However, this address may be disclosed by court
31order for good cause shown.

32(3) begin insert(A)end insertbegin insertend insert To the extent practicable, the county placing agency
33shall convene a meeting with the child, the sibling or siblings of
34the child, the prospective adoptive parent or parents, and a
35facilitator for the purpose of deciding whether to voluntarily
36execute a postadoption sibling contact agreement pursuant to
37Section 8616.5 of the Familybegin delete Code. Counselend deletebegin insert Code on a date after
38termination of parental rights and prior to finalization of the
39adoption. The county placing agency may comply with the
40requirements of this paragraph by allowing a nonprofit
P16   1organization authorized to provide permanency placement and
2postadoption mediation for adoptive and birth families to facilitate
3the meeting and develop the agreement.end insert

begin insert

4
(B) The county placing agency is not required to convene a
5meeting to decide whether to voluntarily execute a postadoption
6sibling contact agreement pursuant to Section 8616.5 of the Family
7Code in either of the following circumstances:

end insert
begin insert

8
(i) The county placing agency determines that such a meeting
9or postadoption sibling contact agreement would be contrary to
10the safety and well-being of the child.

end insert
begin insert

11
(ii) The child requests that a meeting shall not occur.

end insert
begin insert

12
(C) The child may petition the court for an order requiring the
13county placing agency to convene a meeting to decide whether to
14voluntarily execute a postadoption sibling contact agreement
15pursuant to Section 8616.5 of the Family Code. If the court
16determines by a preponderance of the evidence that a postadoption
17sibling contact agreement or a meeting for the purpose of deciding
18whether to voluntarily execute such an agreement is contrary to
19the safety and well-being of the child, the reasons for the
20determination shall be noted in the court order, and the meeting
21is not required to occur.

end insert

22begin insert(D)end insertbegin insertend insertbegin insertCounselend insert to the child and counsel to the siblings who are
23dependents of the court shall be notified of, and may attend,begin delete the
24meeting.end delete
begin insert both the meeting and the hearing described in this
25paragraph.end insert

begin insert

26
(E) This paragraph shall not require attendance by a child,
27sibling, or other party at a meeting to decide whether to voluntarily
28execute a postadoption sibling contact agreement pursuant to
29Section 8616.5 of the Family Code if the child, sibling, or other
30party cannot be located or does not wish to attend the meeting.
31This paragraph shall not prohibit a county placing agency from
32convening a meeting if not all of the parties are secured to attend.

end insert

33(f) Information regarding sibling interaction, contact, or
34visitation that has been authorized or ordered by the court shall be
35provided to the foster parent, relative caretaker, or legal guardian
36of the child as soon as possible after the court order is made, in
37order to facilitate the interaction, contact, or visitation.

38(g) As used in this section, “sibling” means a person related to
39the identified child by blood, adoption, or affinity through a
40common legal or biological parent.

P17   1(h) The court documentation on sibling placements required
2under this section shall not require the modification of existing
3court order forms until the Child Welfare Services/Case
4Management System (CWS/CMS) is implemented on a statewide
5basis.

6

SEC. 5.  

To the extent that this act has an overall effect of
7increasing the costs already borne by a local agency for programs
8or levels of service mandated by the 2011 Realignment Legislation
9within the meaning of Section 36 of Article XIII of the California
10Constitution, it shall apply to local agencies only to the extent that
11the state provides annual funding for the cost increase. Any new
12program or higher level of service provided by a local agency
13pursuant to this act above the level for which funding has been
14provided shall not require a subvention of funds by the state nor
15otherwise be subject to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California
16Constitution.



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