Amended in Assembly August 1, 2016

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 Sectionsbegin delete 366.29,end deletebegin insert 366.3,end insert 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. 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. 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 lawbegin delete 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.end deletebegin insert requires the court, at least every 6 months, to review the status of a dependent child for whom the court has ordered parental rights terminated and who has been ordered placed for adoption.end insert

This bill would require the court to inquire into the status of the development of a voluntary postadoption sibling contact agreement at the time ofbegin delete consideration of an adoption petition.end deletebegin insert the first review hearing conducted pursuant to the above-described provision.end insert

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:

P4    1(A) Provisions for visitation between the child and a birth parent
2or parents and other birth relatives, including siblings, and the
3child’s Indian tribe if the case is governed by the Indian Child
4Welfare Act (25 U.S.C. Sec. 1901 et seq.).

5(B) Provisions for future contact between a birth parent or
6parents or other birth relatives, including siblings, or both, and the
7child or an adoptive parent, or both, and in cases governed by the
8Indian Child Welfare Act, the child’s Indian tribe.

9(C) Provisions for the sharing of information about the child in
10the future.

11(3) The terms of any postadoption contact agreement with birth
12relatives, including siblings, other than the child’s birth parent or
13parents shall be limited to the sharing of information about the
14child, unless the child has a preexisting relationship with the birth
15relative.

16(c) At the time an adoption decree is entered pursuant to a
17petition filed pursuant to Section 8714, 8714.5, 8802, 8912, or
189000, the court entering the decree may grant postadoption
19privileges if an agreement for those privileges has been executed,
20including agreements executed pursuant to subdivision (f) of
21Section 8620. The hearing to grant the adoption petition and issue
22an order of adoption may be continued as necessary to permit
23parties who are in the process of negotiating a postadoption
24agreement to reach a final agreement.

25(d) The child who is the subject of the adoption petition shall
26be considered a party to the postadoption contact agreement. The
27written consent to the terms and conditions of the postadoption
28contact agreement and any subsequent modifications of the
29agreement by a child who is 12 years of age or older is a necessary
30condition to the granting of privileges regarding visitation, contact,
31or sharing of information about the child, unless the court finds
32by a preponderance of the evidence that the agreement, as written,
33is in the best interests of the child. Any child who has been found
34to come within Section 300 of the Welfare and Institutions Code
35or who is the subject of a petition for jurisdiction of the juvenile
36court under Section 300 of the Welfare and Institutions Code shall
37be represented by an attorney for purposes of consent to the
38postadoption contact agreement.

39(e) A postadoption contact agreement shall contain the following
40warnings in bold type:

P5    1(1) After the adoption petition has been granted by the court,
2the adoption cannot be set aside due to the failure of an adopting
3parent, a birth parent, a birth relative, including a sibling, an Indian
4tribe, or the child to follow the terms of this agreement or a later
5change to this agreement.

6(2) A disagreement between the parties or litigation brought to
7enforce or modify the agreement shall not affect the validity of
8the adoption and shall not serve as a basis for orders affecting the
9custody of the child.

10(3) A court will not act on a petition to change or enforce this
11agreement unless the petitioner has participated, or attempted to
12participate, in good faith in mediation or other appropriate dispute
13resolution proceedings to resolve the dispute.

14(f) Upon the granting of the adoption petition and the issuing
15of the order of adoption of a child who is a dependent of the
16juvenile court, juvenile court dependency jurisdiction shall be
17 terminated. Enforcement of the postadoption contact agreement
18shall be under the continuing jurisdiction of the court granting the
19petition of adoption. The court may not order compliance with the
20agreement absent a finding that the party seeking the enforcement
21participated, or attempted to participate, in good faith in mediation
22or other appropriate dispute resolution proceedings regarding the
23conflict, prior to the filing of the enforcement action, and that the
24enforcement is in the best interests of the child. Documentary
25evidence or offers of proof may serve as the basis for the court’s
26decision regarding enforcement. No testimony or evidentiary
27hearing shall be required. The court shall not order further
28investigation or evaluation by any public or private agency or
29individual absent a finding by clear and convincing evidence that
30the best interests of the child may be protected or advanced only
31by that inquiry and that the inquiry will not disturb the stability of
32the child’s home to the detriment of the child.

33(g) The court may not award monetary damages as a result of
34the filing of the civil action pursuant to subdivision (e).

35(h) A postadoption contact agreement may be modified or
36terminated only if either of the following occurs:

37(1) All parties, including the child if the child is 12 years of age
38or older at the time of the requested termination or modification,
39have signed a modified postadoption contact agreement and the
P6    1agreement is filed with the court that granted the petition of
2adoption.

3(2) The court finds all of the following:

4(A) The termination or modification is necessary to serve the
5best interests of the child.

6(B) There has been a substantial change of circumstances since
7the original agreement was executed and approved by the court.

8(C) The party seeking the termination or modification has
9participated, or attempted to participate, in good faith in mediation
10or other appropriate dispute resolution proceedings prior to seeking
11court approval of the proposed termination or modification.

12Documentary evidence or offers of proof may serve as the basis
13for the court’s decision. No testimony or evidentiary hearing shall
14be required. The court shall not order further investigation or
15evaluation by any public or private agency or individual absent a
16finding by clear and convincing evidence that the best interests of
17the child may be protected or advanced only by that inquiry and
18that the inquiry will not disturb the stability of the child’s home
19to the detriment of the child.

20(i) All costs and fees of mediation or other appropriate dispute
21resolution proceedings shall be borne by each party, excluding the
22child. All costs and fees of litigation shall be borne by the party
23filing the action to modify or enforce the agreement when no party
24has been found by the court as failing to comply with an existing
25postadoption contact agreement. Otherwise, a party, other than the
26child, found by the court as failing to comply without good cause
27with an existing agreement shall bear all the costs and fees of
28litigation.

29(j) The Judicial Council shall adopt rules of court and forms for
30motions to enforce, terminate, or modify postadoption contact
31agreements.

32(k) The court shall not set aside a decree of adoption, rescind a
33relinquishment, or modify an order to terminate parental rights or
34any other prior court order because of the failure of a birth parent,
35adoptive parent, birth relative, including a sibling, an Indian tribe,
36or the child to comply with any or all of the original terms of, or
37subsequent modifications to, the postadoption contact agreement,
38except as follows:

39(1) Prior to issuing the order of adoption, in an adoption
40involving an Indian child, the court may, upon a petition of the
P7    1birth parent, birth relative, including a sibling, or an Indian tribe,
2order the parties to engage in family mediation services for the
3purpose of reaching a postadoption contact agreement if the
4prospective adoptive parent fails to negotiate in good faith to
5execute a postadoption contact agreement, after having agreed to
6enter into negotiations, provided that the failure of the parties to
7reach an agreement is not in and of itself proof of bad faith.

8(2) Prior to issuing the order of adoption, if the parties fail to
9negotiate in good faith to execute a postadoption contact agreement
10during the negotiations entered into pursuant to, and in accordance
11with, paragraph (1), the court may modify prior orders or issue
12new orders as necessary to ensure the best interest of the Indian
13child is met, including, but not limited to, requiring parties to
14engage in further family mediation services for the purpose of
15reaching a postadoption contact agreement, initiating guardianship
16proceeding in lieu of adoption, or authorizing a change of adoptive
17placement for the child.

18(l) As used in this section, “sibling” means a person related to
19the identified child by blood, adoption, or affinity through a
20common legal or biological parent.

begin delete
21

SEC. 2.  

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

23

366.29.  

(a) When a court, pursuant to Section 366.26, orders
24that a dependent child be placed for adoption, nothing in the
25adoption laws of this state shall be construed to prevent the
26prospective adoptive parent or parents of the child from expressing
27a willingness to facilitate postadoption sibling contact. With the
28consent of the adoptive parent or parents, the court may include
29in the final adoption order provisions for the adoptive parent or
30parents to facilitate postadoption sibling contact. In no event shall
31the continuing validity of the adoption be contingent upon the
32postadoption contact, nor shall the ability of the adoptive parent
33or parents and the child to change residence within or outside the
34 state be impaired by the order for contact.

35(b) At the time of consideration of an adoption petition, the
36court shall inquire into the status of the development of a voluntary
37postadoption sibling contact agreement pursuant to subdivision
38(e) of Section 16002.

39(c)


P8    1If, following entry of an order for sibling contact pursuant to
2subdivision (a), it is determined by the adoptive parent or parents
3that sibling contact poses a threat to the health, safety, or well-being
4of the adopted child, the adoptive parent or parents may terminate
5the sibling contact, provided that the adoptive parent or parents
6shall submit written notification to the court within 10 days after
7terminating the contact, which notification shall specify to the
8court the reasons why the health, safety, or well-being of the
9adopted child would be threatened by continued sibling contact.

10(d)


11Upon the granting of the adoption petition and the issuing of
12the order of adoption of a child who is a dependent of the juvenile
13court, the jurisdiction of the juvenile court with respect to the
14 dependency proceedings of that child shall be terminated.
15Nonetheless, the court granting the petition of adoption shall
16maintain jurisdiction over the child for enforcement of the
17postadoption contact agreement. The court may only order
18compliance with the postadoption contact agreement upon a finding
19of both of the following:

20(1) The party seeking the enforcement participated, in good
21faith, in mediation or other appropriate alternative dispute
22resolution proceedings regarding the conflict, prior to the filing of
23the enforcement action.

24(2) The enforcement is in the best interest of the child.

end delete
25begin insert

begin insertSEC. 2.end insert  

end insert

begin insertSection 366.3 of the end insertbegin insertWelfare and Institutions Codeend insertbegin insert is
26amended to read:end insert

27

366.3.  

(a) If a juvenile court orders a permanent plan of
28adoption, tribal customary adoption, adoption of a nonminor
29dependent pursuant to subdivision (f) of Section 366.31, or legal
30guardianship pursuant to Section 360 or 366.26, the court shall
31retain jurisdiction over the child or nonminor dependent until the
32child or nonminor dependent is adopted or the legal guardianship
33is established, except as provided for in Section 366.29 or, on and
34after January 1, 2012, Section 366.32. The status of the child or
35nonminor dependent shall be reviewed every six months to ensure
36that the adoption or legal guardianship is completed as
37expeditiously as possible. When the adoption of the child or
38nonminor dependent has been granted, or in the case of a tribal
39customary adoption, when the tribal customary adoption order has
40been afforded full faith and credit and the petition for adoption
P9    1has been granted, the court shall terminate its jurisdiction over the
2child or nonminor dependent. Following establishment of a legal
3guardianship, the court may continue jurisdiction over the child
4as a dependent child of the juvenile court or may terminate its
5dependency jurisdiction and retain jurisdiction over the child as a
6ward of the legal guardianship, as authorized by Section 366.4. If,
7however, a relative of the child is appointed the legal guardian of
8the child and the child has been placed with the relative for at least
9six months, the court shall, except if the relative guardian objects,
10or upon a finding of exceptional circumstances, terminate its
11dependency jurisdiction and retain jurisdiction over the child as a
12ward of the guardianship, as authorized by Section 366.4.
13Following a termination of parental rights, the parent or parents
14shall not be a party to, or receive notice of, any subsequent
15proceedings regarding the child.

16(b) (1) If the court has dismissed dependency jurisdiction
17following the establishment of a legal guardianship, or no
18dependency jurisdiction attached because of the granting of a legal
19guardianship pursuant to Section 360, and the legal guardianship
20is subsequently revoked or otherwise terminated, the county
21department of social services or welfare department shall notify
22the juvenile court of this fact. The court may vacate its previous
23order dismissing dependency jurisdiction over the child.

24(2) Notwithstanding Section 1601 of the Probate Code, the
25proceedings to terminate a legal guardianship that has been granted
26pursuant to Section 360 or 366.26 shall be held either in the
27juvenile court that retains jurisdiction over the guardianship as
28authorized by Section 366.4 or the juvenile court in the county
29where the guardian and child currently reside, based on the best
30interests of the child, unless the termination is due to the
31emancipation or adoption of the child. The juvenile court having
32jurisdiction over the guardianship shall receive notice from the
33court in which the petition is filed within five calendar days of the
34filing. Prior to the hearing on a petition to terminate legal
35guardianship pursuant to this subdivision, the court shall order the
36county department of social services or welfare department having
37jurisdiction or jointly with the county department where the
38guardian and child currently reside to prepare a report, for the
39court’s consideration, that shall include an evaluation of whether
40the child could safely remain in, or be returned to, the legal
P10   1guardian’s home, without terminating the legal guardianship, if
2services were provided to the child or legal guardian. If applicable,
3the report shall also identify recommended family maintenance or
4reunification services to maintain the legal guardianship and set
5forth a plan for providing those services. If the petition to terminate
6legal guardianship is granted, either juvenile court may resume
7dependency jurisdiction over the child, and may order the county
8department of social services or welfare department to develop a
9new permanent plan, which shall be presented to the court within
1060 days of the termination. If no dependency jurisdiction has
11attached, the social worker shall make any investigation he or she
12deems necessary to determine whether the child may be within the
13jurisdiction of the juvenile court, as provided in Section 328.

14(3) Unless the parental rights of the child’s parent or parents
15have been terminated, they shall be notified that the legal
16guardianship has been revoked or terminated and shall be entitled
17to participate in the new permanency planning hearing. The court
18shall try to place the child in another permanent placement. At the
19hearing, the parents may be considered as custodians but the child
20shall not be returned to the parent or parents unless they prove, by
21a preponderance of the evidence, that reunification is the best
22alternative for the child. The court may, if it is in the best interests
23of the child, order that reunification services again be provided to
24the parent or parents.

25(c) If, following the establishment of a legal guardianship, the
26county welfare department becomes aware of changed
27circumstances that indicate adoption or, for an Indian child, tribal
28customary adoption, may be an appropriate plan for the child, the
29department shall so notify the court. The court may vacate its
30previous order dismissing dependency jurisdiction over the child
31and order that a hearing be held pursuant to Section 366.26 to
32determine whether adoption or continued legal guardianship is the
33most appropriate plan for the child. The hearing shall be held no
34later than 120 days from the date of the order. If the court orders
35that a hearing shall be held pursuant to Section 366.26, the court
36shall direct the agency supervising the child and the county
37adoption agency, or the State Department of Social Services if it
38is acting as an adoption agency, to prepare an assessment under
39subdivision (b) of Section 366.22.

P11   1(d) If the child or, on and after January 1, 2012, nonminor
2dependent is in a placement other than the home of a legal guardian
3and jurisdiction has not been dismissed, the status of the child shall
4be reviewed at least every six months. The review of the status of
5a child for whom the court has ordered parental rights terminated
6and who has been ordered placed for adoption shall be conducted
7by the court. The review of the status of a child or, on and after
8January 1, 2012, nonminor dependent for whom the court has not
9ordered parental rights terminated and who has not been ordered
10placed for adoption may be conducted by the court or an
11appropriate local agency. The court shall conduct the review under
12the following circumstances:

13(1) Upon the request of the child’s parents or legal guardians.

14(2) Upon the request of the child or, on and after January 1,
152012, nonminor dependent.

16(3) It has been 12 months since a hearing held pursuant to
17Section 366.26 or an order that the child remain in foster care
18pursuant to Section 366.21, 366.22, 366.25, 366.26, or subdivision
19(h).

20(4) It has been 12 months since a review was conducted by the
21court.

22The court shall determine whether or not reasonable efforts to
23make and finalize a permanent placement for the child have been
24made.

25(e) Except as provided in subdivision (g), at the review held
26every six months pursuant to subdivision (d), the reviewing body
27shall inquire about the progress being made to provide a permanent
28home for the child, shall consider the safety of the child, and shall
29determine all of the following:

30(1) The continuing necessity for, and appropriateness of, the
31placement.

32(2) Identification of individuals other than the child’s siblings
33who are important to a child who is 10 years of age or older and
34has been in out-of-home placement for six months or longer, and
35actions necessary to maintain the child’s relationship with those
36individuals, provided that those relationships are in the best interest
37of the child. The social worker shall ask every child who is 10
38years of age or older and who has been in out-of-home placement
39for six months or longer to identify individuals other than the
40child’s siblings who are important to the child, and may ask any
P12   1other child to provide that information, as appropriate. The social
2worker shall make efforts to identify other individuals who are
3important to the child, consistent with the child’s best interests.

4(3) The continuing appropriateness and extent of compliance
5with the permanent plan for the child, including efforts to maintain
6relationships between a child who is 10 years of age or older and
7who has been in out-of-home placement for six months or longer
8and individuals who are important to the child and efforts to
9identify a prospective adoptive parent or legal guardian, including,
10but not limited to, child-specific recruitment efforts and listing on
11an adoption exchange.

12(4) The extent of the agency’s compliance with the child welfare
13services case plan in making reasonable efforts either to return the
14child to the safe home of the parent or to complete whatever steps
15are necessary to finalize the permanent placement of the child. If
16the reviewing body determines that a second period of reunification
17services is in the child’s best interests, and that there is a significant
18likelihood of the child’s return to a safe home due to changed
19circumstances of the parent, pursuant to subdivision (f), the specific
20reunification services required to effect the child’s return to a safe
21home shall be described.

22(5) Whether there should be any limitation on the right of the
23parent or guardian to make educational decisions or developmental
24services decisions for the child. That limitation shall be specifically
25addressed in the court order and may not exceed what is necessary
26to protect the child. If the court specifically limits the right of the
27parent or guardian to make educational decisions or developmental
28services decisions for the child, the court shall at the same time
29appoint a responsible adult to make educational decisions or
30developmental services decisions for the child pursuant to Section
31361.

32(6) The adequacy of services provided to the child. The court
33shall consider the progress in providing the information and
34documents to the child, as described in Section 391. The court
35shall also consider the need for, and progress in providing, the
36assistance and services described in Section 391.

37(7) The extent of progress the parents or legal guardians have
38made toward alleviating or mitigating the causes necessitating
39placement in foster care.

P13   1(8) The likely date by which the child may be returned to, and
2safely maintained in, the home, placed for adoption, legal
3guardianship, placed with a fit and willing relative, or, for an Indian
4child, in consultation with the child’s tribe, placed for tribal
5customary adoption, or, if the child is 16 years of age or older, and
6no other permanent plan is appropriate at the time of the hearing,
7in another planned permanent living arrangement.

8(9) Whether the child has any siblings under the court’s
9jurisdiction, and, if any siblings exist, all of the following:

10(A) The nature of the relationship between the child and his or
11her siblings.

12(B) The appropriateness of developing or maintaining the sibling
13relationships pursuant to Section 16002.begin insert At the first review
14conducted end insert
begin insertfor a child for whom the court has ordered parental
15rights terminated and who has been ordered placed for adoption,
16the court end insert
begin insertshall inquire into the status of the development of a
17voluntary postadoption sibling contact agreement pursuant to
18subdivision (e) of Section 16002.end insert

19(C) If the siblings are not placed together in the same home,
20why the siblings are not placed together and what efforts are being
21made to place the siblings together, or why those efforts are not
22appropriate.

23(D) If the siblings are not placed together, all of the following:

24(i) The frequency and nature of the visits between the siblings.

25(ii) If there are visits between the siblings, whether the visits
26are supervised or unsupervised. If the visits are supervised, a
27discussion of the reasons why the visits are supervised, and what
28needs to be accomplished in order for the visits to be unsupervised.

29(iii) If there are visits between the siblings, a description of the
30location and length of the visits.

31(iv) Any plan to increase visitation between the siblings.

32(E) The impact of the sibling relationships on the child’s
33placement and planning for legal permanence.

34The factors the court may consider as indicators of the nature of
35the child’s sibling relationships include, but are not limited to,
36whether the siblings were raised together in the same home,
37whether the siblings have shared significant common experiences
38or have existing close and strong bonds, whether either sibling
39expresses a desire to visit or live with his or her sibling, as
P14   1applicable, and whether ongoing contact is in the child’s best
2emotional interests.

3(10) For a child who is 14 years of age or older, and, effective
4January 1, 2012, for a nonminor dependent, the services needed
5to assist the child or nonminor dependent to make the transition
6from foster care to successful adulthood.

7The reviewing body shall determine whether or not reasonable
8efforts to make and finalize a permanent placement for the child
9have been made.

10Each licensed foster family agency shall submit reports for each
11child in its care, custody, and control to the court concerning the
12continuing appropriateness and extent of compliance with the
13child’s permanent plan, the extent of compliance with the case
14plan, and the type and adequacy of services provided to the child.

15(f) Unless their parental rights have been permanently
16terminated, the parent or parents of the child are entitled to receive
17notice of, and participate in, those hearings. It shall be presumed
18that continued care is in the best interests of the child, unless the
19parent or parents prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that
20further efforts at reunification are the best alternative for the child.
21In those cases, the court may order that further reunification
22services to return the child to a safe home environment be provided
23to the parent or parents up to a period of six months, and family
24maintenance services, as needed for an additional six months in
25order to return the child to a safe home environment. On and after
26January 1, 2012, this subdivision shall not apply to the parents of
27a nonminor dependent.

28(g) At the review conducted by the court and held at least every
29six months, regarding a child for whom the court has ordered
30parental rights terminated and who has been ordered placed for
31adoption, or, for an Indian child for whom parental rights are not
32being terminated and a tribal customary adoption is being
33considered, the county welfare department shall prepare and present
34to the court a report describing the following:

35(1) The child’s present placement.

36(2) The child’s current physical, mental, emotional, and
37educational status.

38(3) If the child has not been placed with a prospective adoptive
39parent or guardian, identification of individuals, other than the
40child’s siblings, who are important to the child and actions
P15   1necessary to maintain the child’s relationship with those
2individuals, provided that those relationships are in the best interest
3of the child. The agency shall ask every child who is 10 years of
4age or older to identify any individuals who are important to him
5or her, consistent with the child’s best interest, and may ask any
6child who is younger than 10 years of age to provide that
7information as appropriate. The agency shall make efforts to
8identify other individuals who are important to the child.

9(4) Whether the child has been placed with a prospective
10adoptive parent or parents.

11(5) Whether an adoptive placement agreement has been signed
12and filed.

13(6) If the child has not been placed with a prospective adoptive
14parent or parents, the efforts made to identify an appropriate
15prospective adoptive parent or legal guardian, including, but not
16limited to, child-specific recruitment efforts and listing on an
17adoption exchange.

18(7) Whether the final adoption order should include provisions
19for postadoptive sibling contact pursuant to Section 366.29.

20(8) The progress of the search for an adoptive placement if one
21has not been identified.

22(9) Any impediments to the adoption or the adoptive placement.

23(10) The anticipated date by which the child will be adopted or
24placed in an adoptive home.

25(11) The anticipated date by which an adoptive placement
26agreement will be signed.

27(12) Recommendations for court orders that will assist in the
28placement of the child for adoption or in the finalization of the
29adoption.

30The court shall determine whether or not reasonable efforts to
31make and finalize a permanent placement for the child have been
32made.

33The court shall make appropriate orders to protect the stability
34of the child and to facilitate and expedite the permanent placement
35and adoption of the child.

36(h) (1) At the review held pursuant to subdivision (d) for a child
37in foster care, the court shall consider all permanency planning
38options for the child including whether the child should be returned
39to the home of the parent, placed for adoption, or, for an Indian
40child, in consultation with the child’s tribe, placed for tribal
P16   1customary adoption, or appointed a legal guardian, placed with a
2fit and willing relative, or, if compelling reasons exist for finding
3that none of the foregoing options are in the best interest of the
4child and the child is 16 years of age or older, whether the child
5should be placed in another planned permanent living arrangement.
6The court shall order that a hearing be held pursuant to Section
7366.26, unless it determines by clear and convincing evidence that
8there is a compelling reason for determining that a hearing held
9pursuant to Section 366.26 is not in the best interest of the child
10because the child is being returned to the home of the parent, the
11child is not a proper subject for adoption, or no one is willing to
12accept legal guardianship as of the hearing date. If the county
13adoption agency, or the department when it is acting as an adoption
14agency, has determined it is unlikely that the child will be adopted
15or one of the conditions described in paragraph (1) of subdivision
16(c) of Section 366.26 applies, that fact shall constitute a compelling
17reason for purposes of this subdivision. Only upon that
18determination may the court order that the child remain in foster
19care, without holding a hearing pursuant to Section 366.26. The
20court shall make factual findings identifying any barriers to
21achieving the permanent plan as of the hearing date. On and after
22January 1, 2012, the nonminor dependent’s legal status as an adult
23is in and of itself a compelling reason not to hold a hearing pursuant
24to Section 366.26.

25(2) When the child is 16 years of age or older and in another
26planned permanent living arrangement, the court shall do all of
27the following:

28(A) Ask the child about his or her desired permanency outcome.

29(B) Make a judicial determination explaining why, as of the
30hearing date, another planned permanent living arrangement is the
31best permanency plan for the child.

32(C) State for the record the compelling reason or reasons why
33it continues not to be in the best interest of the child to return home,
34be placed for adoption, be placed for tribal customary adoption in
35the case of an Indian child, be placed with a legal guardian, or be
36placed with a fit and willing relative.

37(3) When the child is 16 years of age or older and is in another
38planned permanent living arrangement, the social study prepared
39for the hearing shall include a description of all of the following:

P17   1(A) The intensive and ongoing efforts to return the child to the
2home of the parent, place the child for adoption, or establish a
3legal guardianship, as appropriate.

4(B) The steps taken to do both of the following:

5(i) Ensure that the child’s care provider is following the
6reasonable and prudent parent standard.

7(ii) Determine whether the child has regular, ongoing
8 opportunities to engage in age or developmentally appropriate
9activities, including consulting with the child about opportunities
10for the child to participate in those activities.

11(4) When the child is under 16 years of age and has a permanent
12plan of return home, adoption, legal guardianship, or placement
13with a fit and willing relative, any barriers to achieving the
14permanent plan and the efforts made by the agency address those
15barriers.

16(i) If, as authorized by subdivision (h), the court orders a hearing
17pursuant to Section 366.26, the court shall direct the agency
18supervising the child and the county adoption agency, or the State
19Department of Social Services when it is acting as an adoption
20agency, to prepare an assessment as provided for in subdivision
21(i) of Section 366.21 or subdivision (b) of Section 366.22. A
22hearing held pursuant to Section 366.26 shall be held no later than
23120 days from the date of the 12-month review at which it is
24ordered, and at that hearing the court shall determine whether
25 adoption, tribal customary adoption, legal guardianship, placement
26with a fit and willing relative, or, for a child 16 years of age or
27older, another planned permanent living arrangement is the most
28appropriate plan for the child. On and after January 1, 2012, a
29hearing pursuant to Section 366.26 shall not be ordered if the child
30is a nonminor dependent, unless the nonminor dependent is an
31Indian child and tribal customary adoption is recommended as the
32permanent plan. The court may order that a nonminor dependent
33who otherwise is eligible pursuant to Section 11403 remain in a
34planned, permanent living arrangement. At the request of the
35nonminor dependent who has an established relationship with an
36adult determined to be the nonminor dependent’s permanent
37connection, the court may order adoption of the nonminor
38dependent pursuant to subdivision (f) of Section 366.31.

39(j) The reviews conducted pursuant to subdivision (a) or (d)
40may be conducted earlier than every six months if the court
P18   1determines that an earlier review is in the best interests of the child
2or as court rules prescribe.

3

SEC. 3.  

Section 727.3 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is
4amended to read:

5

727.3.  

The purpose of this section is to provide a means to
6monitor the safety and well-being of every minor in foster care
7who has been declared a ward of the juvenile court pursuant to
8Section 601 or 602 and to ensure that everything reasonably
9possible is done to facilitate the safe and early return of the minor
10to his or her own home or to establish an alternative permanent
11plan for the minor.

12(a) (1) For every minor declared a ward and ordered to be
13placed in foster care, a permanency planning hearing shall be
14conducted within 12 months of the date the minor entered foster
15care, as defined in paragraph (4) of subdivision (d) of Section
16727.4. Subsequent permanency planning hearings shall be
17 conducted periodically, but no less frequently than once every 12
18months thereafter during the period of placement. It shall be the
19duty of the probation officer to prepare a written social study report
20including an updated case plan and a recommendation for a
21permanent plan, pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 706.5, and
22submit the report to the court prior to each permanency planning
23hearing, pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 727.4.

24(2) Prior to any permanency planning hearing involving a minor
25in the physical custody of a community care facility or foster family
26agency, the facility or agency may file with the court a report
27containing its recommendations, in addition to the probation
28officer’s social study. Prior to any permanency planning hearing
29involving the physical custody of a foster parent, relative caregiver,
30preadoptive parent, or legal guardian, that person may present to
31the court a report containing his or her recommendations. The
32court shall consider all reports and recommendations filed pursuant
33to this subdivision.

34(3) If the minor has a continuing involvement with his or her
35parents or legal guardians, the parents or legal guardians shall be
36involved in the planning for a permanent placement. The court
37order placing the minor in a permanent placement shall include a
38specification of the nature and frequency of visiting arrangements
39with the parents or legal guardians and, if any, the siblings.

P19   1(4) At each permanency planning hearing, the court shall order
2a permanent plan for the minor, as described in subdivision (b).
3The court shall also make findings, as described in subdivision (e)
4of Section 727.2. In the case of a minor who has reached 16 years
5of age or older, the court shall, in addition, determine the services
6needed to assist the minor to make the transition from foster care
7to successful adulthood. The court shall make all of these
8determinations on a case-by-case basis and make reference to the
9probation officer’s report, the case plan, or other evidence relied
10upon in making its decisions.

11(5) When the minor is 16 years of age or older, and is in another
12planned permanent living arrangement, the court, at each
13permanency planning hearing, shall do all of the following:

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

15(B) Make a judicial determination explaining why, as of the
16hearing date, another planned permanent living arrangement is the
17best permanency plan for the minor.

18(C) State for the record the compelling reason or reasons why
19it continues not to be in the best interest of the minor to return
20home, be placed for adoption, be placed with a legal guardian, or
21be placed with a fit and willing relative.

22(b) At all permanency planning hearings, the court shall
23determine the permanent plan for the minor. The court shall order
24one of the following permanent plans, in order of priority:

25(1) Return of the minor to the physical custody of the parent or
26legal guardian. After considering the admissible and relevant
27evidence, the court shall order the return of the minor to the
28physical custody of his or her parent or legal guardian unless:

29(A) Reunification services were not offered, pursuant to
30subdivision (b) of Section 727.2.

31(B) The court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that
32the return of the minor to his or her parent or legal guardian would
33create a substantial risk of detriment to the safety, protection, or
34physical or emotional well-being of the minor. The probation
35department shall have the burden of establishing that detriment.
36In making its determination, the court shall review and consider
37 the social study report and recommendations pursuant to Section
38706.5, the report and recommendations of any child advocate
39appointed for the minor in the case, and any other reports submitted
40pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (a), and shall consider
P20   1the efforts or progress, or both, demonstrated by the minor and
2family and the extent to which the minor availed himself or herself
3of the services provided.

4(2) Order that the permanent plan for the minor will be to return
5the minor to the physical custody of the parent or legal guardian,
6order further reunification services to be provided to the minor
7and his or her parent or legal guardian for a period not to exceed
8six months and continue the case for up to six months for a
9subsequent permanency planning hearing, provided that the
10subsequent hearing shall occur within 18 months of the date the
11minor was originally taken from the physical custody of his or her
12parent or legal guardian. The court shall continue the case only if
13it finds that there is a substantial probability that the minor will be
14returned to the physical custody of his or her parent or legal
15guardian and safely maintained in the home within the extended
16period of time or that reasonable services have not been provided
17to the parent or guardian. For purposes of this section, in order to
18find that there is a substantial probability that the minor will be
19returned to the physical custody of his or her parent or legal
20guardian, the court shall be required to find that the minor and his
21or her parent or legal guardian have demonstrated the capacity and
22ability to complete the objectives of the case plan.

23The court shall inform the parent or legal guardian that if the
24minor cannot be returned home by the next permanency planning
25hearing, a proceeding pursuant to Section 727.31 may be initiated.

26The court shall not continue the case for further reunification
27 services if it has been 18 months or more since the date the minor
28was originally taken from the physical custody of his or her parent
29or legal guardian.

30(3) Identify adoption as the permanent plan and order that a
31hearing be held within 120 days, pursuant to the procedures
32described in Section 727.31. The court shall only set a hearing
33pursuant to Section 727.31 if there is clear and convincing evidence
34that reasonable services have been provided or offered to the
35parents. When the court sets a hearing pursuant to Section 727.31,
36it shall order that an adoption assessment report be prepared,
37pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 727.31.

38(4) Order a legal guardianship, pursuant to procedures described
39in subdivisions (c) to (f), inclusive, of Section 728.

P21   1(5) Place the minor with a fit and willing relative. “Placement
2with a fit and willing relative” means placing the minor with an
3appropriate approved relative who is willing to provide a permanent
4and stable home for the minor, but is unable or unwilling to become
5the legal guardian. When a minor is placed with a fit and willing
6relative, the court may authorize the relative to provide the same
7legal consent for the minor’s medical, surgical, and dental care,
8and education as the custodial parent of the minor.

9(6) (A) If he or she is 16 years of age or older, place the minor
10in another planned permanent living arrangement. For purposes
11of this section, “planned permanent living arrangement” means
12any permanent living arrangement described in Section 11402 that
13is ordered by the court for a minor 16 years of age or older when
14there is a compelling reason or reasons to determine that it is not
15in the best interest of the minor to have any permanent plan listed
16in paragraphs (1) to (5), inclusive. These plans include, but are not
17limited to, placement in a specific, identified foster family home,
18program, or facility on a permanent basis, or placement in a
19transitional housing placement facility. When the court places a
20minor in a planned permanent living arrangement, the court shall
21specify the goal of the placement, which may include, but shall
22not be limited to, return home, emancipation, guardianship, or
23permanent placement with a relative.

24The court shall only order that the minor remain in a planned
25permanent living arrangement if the court finds by clear and
26convincing evidence, based upon the evidence already presented
27to it, that there is a compelling reason, as defined in subdivision
28(c), for determining that a plan of termination of parental rights
29and adoption is not in the best interest of the minor.

30(B) If the minor is under 16 years of age and the court finds by
31clear and convincing evidence, based upon the evidence already
32presented to it, that there is a compelling reason, as defined in
33subdivision (c), for determining that a plan of termination of
34parental rights and adoption is not in the best interest of the minor
35as of the hearing date, the court shall order the minor to remain in
36a foster care placement with a permanent plan of return home,
37adoption, legal guardianship, or placement with a fit and willing
38relative, as appropriate. The court shall make factual findings
39identifying any barriers to achieving the permanent plan as of the
40hearing date.

P22   1(c) A compelling reason for determining that a plan of
2termination of parental rights and adoption is not in the best interest
3of the minor is any of the following:

4(1) Documentation by the probation department that adoption
5is not in the best interest of the minor and is not an appropriate
6permanency goal. That documentation may include, but is not
7limited to, documentation that:

8(A) The minor is 12 years of age or older and objects to
9termination of parental rights.

10(B) The minor is 17 years of age or older and specifically
11requests that transition to independent living with the identification
12of a caring adult to serve as a lifelong connection be established
13as his or her permanent plan. On and after January 1, 2012, this
14includes a minor who requests that his or her transitional
15independent living case plan include modification of his or her
16jurisdiction to that of dependency jurisdiction pursuant to
17subdivision (b) of Section 607.2 or subdivision (i) of Section 727.2,
18or to that of transition jurisdiction pursuant to Section 450, in order
19to be eligible as a nonminor dependent for the extended benefits
20pursuant to Section 11403.

21(C) The parent or guardian and the minor have a significant
22bond, but the parent or guardian is unable to care for the minor
23because of an emotional or physical disability, and the minor’s
24caregiver has committed to raising the minor to the age of majority
25and facilitating visitation with the disabled parent or guardian.

26(D) The minor agrees to continued placement in a residential
27treatment facility that provides services specifically designed to
28address the minor’s treatment needs, and the minor’s needs could
29not be served by a less restrictive placement.

30The probation department’s recommendation that adoption is
31not in the best interest of the minor shall be based on the present
32family circumstances of the minor and shall not preclude a different
33recommendation at a later date if the minor’s family circumstances
34change.

35(2) Documentation by the probation department that no grounds
36exist to file for termination of parental rights.

37(3) Documentation by the probation department that the minor
38is an unaccompanied refugee minor, or there are international legal
39obligations or foreign policy reasons that would preclude
40terminating parental rights.

P23   1(4) A finding by the court that the probation department was
2required to make reasonable efforts to reunify the minor with the
3family pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 727.2, and did not
4make those efforts.

5(5) Documentation by the probation department that the minor
6is living with a relative who is unable or unwilling to adopt the
7minor because of exceptional circumstances that do not include
8an unwillingness to accept legal or financial responsibility for the
9minor, but who is willing to provide, and capable of providing,
10the minor with a stable and permanent home environment, and the
11removal of the minor from the physical custody of his or her
12relative would be detrimental to the minor’s emotional well-being.

13(d) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the ability
14of a parent to voluntarily relinquish his or her child to the State
15Department of Social Services when it is acting as an adoption
16agency or to a county adoption agency at any time while the minor
17is a ward of the juvenile court if the department or county adoption
18agency is willing to accept the relinquishment.

19(e) Any change in the permanent plan of a minor placed with a
20fit and willing relative or in a planned permanent living
21arrangement shall be made only by order of the court pursuant to
22a petition filed in accordance with Section 778 or at a regularly
23scheduled and noticed status review hearing or permanency
24planning hearing. Any change in the permanent plan of a minor
25placed in a guardianship shall be made only by order of the court
26pursuant to a motion filed in accordance with Section 728.

27

SEC. 4.  

Section 16002 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is
28amended to read:

29

16002.  

(a) (1) It is the intent of the Legislature to maintain
30the continuity of the family unit, and ensure the preservation and
31strengthening of the child’s family ties by ensuring that when
32siblings have been removed from their home, either as a group on
33one occurrence or individually on separate occurrences, the siblings
34will be placed in foster care together, unless it has been determined
35that placement together is contrary to the safety or well-being of
36any sibling. The Legislature recognizes that in order to ensure the
37placement of a sibling group in the same foster care placement,
38placement resources need to be expanded.

39(2) It is also the intent of the Legislature to preserve and
40strengthen a child’s sibling relationship so that when a child has
P24   1been removed from his or her home and he or she has a sibling or
2siblings who remain in the custody of a mutual parent subject to
3the court’s jurisdiction, the court has the authority to develop a
4visitation plan for the siblings, unless it has been determined that
5visitation is contrary to the safety or well-being of any sibling.

6(b) The responsible local agency shall make a diligent effort in
7all out-of-home placements of dependent children and wards in
8foster care, including those with relatives, to place siblings together
9in the same placement, and to develop and maintain sibling
10relationships. If siblings are not placed together in the same home,
11the social worker or probation officer shall explain why the siblings
12are not placed together and what efforts he or she is making to
13place the siblings together or why making those efforts would be
14contrary to the safety and well-being of any of the siblings. When
15placement of siblings together in the same home is not possible,
16a diligent effort shall be made, and a case plan prepared, to provide
17for ongoing and frequent interaction among siblings until family
18reunification is achieved, or, if parental rights are terminated, as
19part of developing the permanent plan for the child. If the court
20determines by clear and convincing evidence that sibling interaction
21is contrary to the safety and well-being of any of the siblings, the
22reasons for the determination shall be noted in the court order, and
23interaction shall be suspended.

24(c) When there has been a judicial suspension of sibling
25interaction, the reasons for the suspension shall be reviewed at
26each periodic review hearing pursuant to Section 366 or 727.3. In
27order for the suspension to continue, the court shall make a renewed
28finding that sibling interaction is contrary to the safety or
29well-being of either child. When the court determines that sibling
30interaction can be safely resumed, that determination shall be noted
31in the court order and the case plan shall be revised to provide for
32sibling interaction.

33(d) If the case plan for the child has provisions for sibling
34interaction, the child, or his or her parent or legal guardian, shall
35have the right to comment on those provisions. If a person wishes
36to assert a sibling relationship with a dependent child or ward, he
37or she may file a petition in the juvenile court having jurisdiction
38over the dependent child pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section
39388 or the ward in foster care pursuant to Section 778.

P25   1(e) If parental rights are terminated and the court orders a
2dependent child or ward to be placed for adoption, the county
3adoption agency or the State Department of Social Services shall
4take all of the following steps to facilitate ongoing sibling contact,
5except in those cases provided in subdivision (b) where the court
6determines by clear and convincing evidence that sibling interaction
7is contrary to the safety or well-being of the child:

8(1) Include in training provided to prospective adoptive parents
9information about the importance of sibling relationships to the
10adopted child and counseling on methods for maintaining sibling
11relationships.

12(2) Provide prospective adoptive parents with information about
13siblings of the child, except the address where the siblings of the
14children reside. However, this address may be disclosed by court
15order for good cause shown.

16(3) (A) To the extent practicable, the county placing agency
17shall convene a meeting with the child, the sibling or siblings of
18the child, the prospective adoptive parent or parents, and a
19facilitator for the purpose of deciding whether to voluntarily
20execute a postadoption sibling contact agreement pursuant to
21Section 8616.5 of the Family Code on a date after termination of
22parental rights and prior to finalization of the adoption. The county
23placing agency may comply with the requirements of this paragraph
24by allowing a nonprofit organization authorized to provide
25permanency placement and postadoption mediation for adoptive
26and birth families to facilitate the meeting and develop the
27agreement.

28(B) The county placing agency is not required to convene a
29meeting to decide whether to voluntarily execute a postadoption
30sibling contact agreement pursuant to Section 8616.5 of the Family
31Code in either of the following circumstances:

32(i) The county placing agency determines that such a meeting
33or postadoption sibling contact agreement would be contrary to
34the safety and well-being of the child.

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

36(C) The child may petition the court for an order requiring the
37county placing agency to convene a meeting to decide whether to
38voluntarily execute a postadoption sibling contact agreement
39pursuant to Section 8616.5 of the Family Code. If the court
40determines by a preponderance of the evidence that a postadoption
P26   1sibling contact agreement or a meeting for the purpose of deciding
2whether to voluntarily execute such an agreement is contrary to
3the safety and well-being of the child, the reasons for the
4determination shall be noted in the court order, and the meeting is
5not required to occur.

6(D) Counsel to the child and counsel to the siblings who are
7dependents of the court shall be notified of, and may attend, both
8the meeting and the hearing described in this paragraph.

9(E) This paragraph shall not require attendance by a child,
10sibling, or other party at a meeting to decide whether to voluntarily
11execute a postadoption sibling contact agreement pursuant to
12Section 8616.5 of the Family Code if the child, sibling, or other
13party cannot be located or does not wish to attend the meeting.
14This paragraph shall not prohibit a county placing agency from
15convening a meeting if not all of the parties are secured to attend.

16(f) Information regarding sibling interaction, contact, or
17visitation that has been authorized or ordered by the court shall be
18provided to the foster parent, relative caretaker, or legal guardian
19of the child as soon as possible after the court order is made, in
20order to facilitate the interaction, contact, or visitation.

21(g) As used in this section, “sibling” means a person related to
22the identified child by blood, adoption, or affinity through a
23common legal or biological parent.

24(h) The court documentation on sibling placements required
25under this section shall not require the modification of existing
26court order forms until the Child Welfare Services/Case
27Management System (CWS/CMS) is implemented on a statewide
28basis.

29

SEC. 5.  

To the extent that this act has an overall effect of
30increasing the costs already borne by a local agency for programs
31or levels of service mandated by the 2011 Realignment Legislation
32within the meaning of Section 36 of Article XIII of the California
33Constitution, it shall apply to local agencies only to the extent that
34the state provides annual funding for the cost increase. Any new
35program or higher level of service provided by a local agency
36pursuant to this act above the level for which funding has been
37provided shall not require a subvention of funds by the state nor
P27   1otherwise be subject to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California
2Constitution.



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