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Statutes Text

Article - Family Law




§5–525.

    (a)    (1)    In this section, “disability” means:

            (i)    a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of an individual’s major life activities;

            (ii)    a record of having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of an individual’s major life activities; or

            (iii)    being regarded as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of an individual’s major life activities.

        (2)    “Disability” shall be construed in accordance with the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, P.L. 110–325.

    (b)    (1)    The Administration shall establish a program of out–of–home placement for minor children:

            (i)    who are placed in the custody of a local department, for a period of not more than 180 days, by a parent or legal guardian under a voluntary placement agreement;

            (ii)    who are abused, abandoned, neglected, or dependent, if a juvenile court:

                1.    has determined that continued residence in the child’s home is contrary to the child’s welfare; and

                2.    has committed the child to the custody or guardianship of a local department; or

            (iii)    who, with the approval of the Administration, are placed in an out–of–home placement by a local department under a voluntary placement agreement subject to paragraph (2) of this subsection.

        (2)    (i)    A local department may not seek legal custody of a child under a voluntary placement agreement if the child has a developmental disability or a mental illness and the purpose of the voluntary placement agreement is to obtain treatment or care related to the child’s disability that the parent is unable to provide.

            (ii)    A child described in subparagraph (i) of this paragraph may remain in an out–of–home placement under a voluntary placement agreement for more than 180 days if the child’s disability necessitates care or treatment in the out–of–home placement and a juvenile court makes a finding that continuation of the placement is in the best interests of the child.

            (iii)    Each local department shall designate, from existing staff, a staff person to administer requests for voluntary placement agreements for children with developmental disabilities or mental illnesses.

            (iv)    Each local department shall report annually to the Administration on the number of requests for voluntary placement agreements for children with developmental disabilities or mental illnesses that have been received, the outcome of each request, and the reason for each denial.

            (v)    On receipt of a request for a voluntary placement agreement for a child with a developmental disability or a mental illness, a local department shall discuss the child’s case at the next meeting of the local care team for the purpose of determining whether any alternative or interim services for the child and family may be provided by any agency.

        (3)    (i)    The Administration shall establish a program of out–of–home placement for former CINAs:

                1.    whose commitment to a local department was rescinded after the individuals reached the age of 18 years but before the individuals reached the age of 20 years and 6 months; and

                2.    who did not exit foster care due to reunification, adoption, guardianship, marriage, or military duty.

            (ii)    The Administration shall adopt regulations that include eligibility requirements in accordance with federal law and regulations for providing assistance to individuals at least 18 years old.

            (iii)    A local department may not seek legal custody of a former CINA under a voluntary placement agreement.

            (iv)    A former CINA described in subparagraph (i) of this paragraph may remain in an out–of–home placement under a voluntary placement agreement for more than 180 days if the former CINA continues to comply with the voluntary placement agreement and a juvenile court makes a finding that the continuation of the placement is in the best interests of the former CINA.

            (v)    1.    A local department shall advise a child, in writing, before emancipation of the right to reenter care and the procedures for reentering care under this paragraph.

                2.    If a local department has knowledge that a former CINA described in subparagraph (i) of this paragraph is homeless, as defined in 42 U.S.C. § 11434a, including by obtaining information regarding the former CINA’s homelessness in an application for public assistance or through contact between the former CINA and a caseworker, the local department shall contact the former CINA and advise the former CINA of the right to reenter care and procedures for reentering care under this paragraph.

    (c)    In establishing the out–of–home placement program the Administration shall:

        (1)    provide time–limited family reunification services to a child placed in an out–of–home placement and to the parents or guardian of the child, in order to facilitate the child’s safe and appropriate reunification within a timely manner;

        (2)    concurrently develop and implement a permanency plan that is in the best interests of the child; and

        (3)    provide training on an annual basis for the staff at each local department who administer requests for voluntary placement agreements for children with developmental disabilities or mental illnesses under subsection (b) of this section.

    (d)    (1)    The local department shall provide 24–hour a day care and supportive services for a child who is committed to its custody or guardianship in an out–of–home placement on a short–term basis or placed in accordance with a voluntary placement agreement.

        (2)    (i)    A child may not be committed to the custody or guardianship of a local department and placed in an out–of–home placement solely because the child’s parent or guardian lacks shelter or has a disability or solely because the child’s parents are financially unable to provide treatment or care for a child with a developmental disability or mental illness.

            (ii)    The local department shall make appropriate referrals to emergency shelter services and other services for the homeless family with a child which lacks shelter.

    (e)    (1)    Unless a court orders that reasonable efforts are not required under § 3–812 of the Courts Article or § 5–323 of this title, reasonable efforts shall be made to preserve and reunify families:

            (i)    prior to the placement of a child in an out–of–home placement, to prevent or eliminate the need for removing the child from the child’s home; and

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

        (2)    In determining the reasonable efforts to be made and in making the reasonable efforts described under paragraph (1) of this subsection, the child’s safety and health shall be the primary concern.

        (3)    Reasonable efforts to place a child for adoption or with a legal guardian may be made concurrently with the reasonable efforts described under paragraph (1) of this subsection.

        (4)    If continuation of reasonable efforts to reunify the child with the child’s parents or guardian is determined to be inconsistent with the permanency plan for the child, reasonable efforts shall be made to place the child in a timely manner in accordance with the permanency plan, including consideration of both in–State and out–of–state placements, and to complete the steps to finalize the permanent placement of the child.

    (f)    (1)    In developing a permanency plan for a child in an out–of–home placement, the local department shall give primary consideration to the best interests of the child, including consideration of both in–State and out–of–state placements. The local department shall consider the following factors in determining the permanency plan that is in the best interests of the child:

            (i)    the child’s ability to be safe and healthy in the home of the child’s parent;

            (ii)    the child’s attachment and emotional ties to the child’s natural parents and siblings;

            (iii)    the child’s emotional attachment to the child’s current caregiver and the caregiver’s family;

            (iv)    the length of time the child has resided with the current caregiver;

            (v)    the potential emotional, developmental, and educational harm to the child if moved from the child’s current placement; and

            (vi)    the potential harm to the child by remaining in State custody for an excessive period of time.

        (2)    To the extent consistent with the best interests of the child in an out–of–home placement, the local department shall consider the following permanency plans, in descending order of priority:

            (i)    returning the child to the child’s parent or guardian, unless the local department is the guardian;

            (ii)    placing the child with relatives to whom adoption, custody and guardianship, or care and custody, in descending order of priority, are planned to be granted;

            (iii)    adoption in the following descending order of priority:

                1.    by a current foster parent with whom the child has resided continually for at least the 12 months prior to developing the permanency plan or for a sufficient length of time to have established positive relationships and family ties; or

                2.    by another approved adoptive family; or

            (iv)    for a child at least 16 years old, another planned permanent living arrangement that:

                1.    addresses the individualized needs of the child, including the child’s educational plan, emotional stability, physical placement, and socialization needs; and

                2.    includes goals that promote the continuity of relations with individuals who will fill a lasting and significant role in the child’s life.

        (3)    Subject to paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection and to the extent consistent with the best interests of a child in an out–of–home placement, in determining a permanency plan, the local department shall consider the following in descending order of priority:

            (i)    placement of the child in the local jurisdiction where the child’s parent or guardian resides; or

            (ii)    if the local department finds, based on a compelling reason, that placement of the child as described in item (i) of this paragraph is not in the best interest of the child, placement of the child in another jurisdiction in the State after considering:

                1.    the availability of resources to provide necessary services to the child;

                2.    the accessibility to family treatment, if appropriate; and

                3.    the effect on the local school system.

    (g)    (1)    The local department shall:

            (i)    prepare the permanency plan in writing within 60 days of the date the child comes into care;

            (ii)    if the child is under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, furnish the plan to the child’s parents, the child or the child’s counsel, and to the juvenile court; and

            (iii)    maintain the plan in the agency’s case record.

        (2)    The local department shall amend the plan promptly as necessary in light of the child’s situation and any court orders which affect the child.

    (h)    Unless a child has received a review from the local board of review of foster care under § 5–544 of this subtitle, the local department shall perform an administrative review every 6 months to determine the success of the efforts to meet the goals set out in the permanency plan or the agreement with the parents or guardians in voluntary placements.

    (i)    (1)    Foster parents who wish to adopt a foster child in their care and who wish to contest the agency’s decision to place the child with another adoptive family may, within 30 days from the removal of the child, file with the agency a request for a hearing.

        (2)    Within 10 days after receipt of a request for a hearing under paragraph (1) of this subsection, the agency shall notify the Office of Administrative Hearings, which shall hold the hearing and issue a decision within 45 days of the receipt of the request.

    (j)    The Administration shall adopt regulations that:

        (1)    establish goals and specify permanency planning procedures that:

            (i)    maximize the prospect for reducing length of stay in out–of–home placement in the best interests of children; and

            (ii)    implement the intent of this section;

        (2)    prohibit a local department from seeking the custody or guardianship of a child for placement in foster care solely because the child’s parent or guardian lacks shelter or has a disability or solely because the child’s parents are financially unable to provide treatment or care for a child with a developmental disability or mental illness;

        (3)    specify the compelling reasons for placing a child in a local jurisdiction other than the local jurisdiction where the child’s parent or guardian resides, under subsection (f)(3)(ii) of this section;

        (4)    require the local department to make appropriate referrals to emergency shelter and other services for families with children who lack shelter;

        (5)    establish criteria for investigating and approving foster homes, including requirements for window coverings in accordance with § 5–505 of this subtitle;

        (6)    for cases in which the permanency plan recommended by the local department or under consideration by the court includes appointment of a guardian and rescission of the local department’s custody or guardianship of a child:

            (i)    establish criteria for investigating and determining the suitability of prospective relative or nonrelative guardians; and

            (ii)    require the filing of a report with the court as provided in § 3–819.2 of the Courts Article; and

        (7)    ensure that all children in foster care who are at least 18 years of age have a birth certificate, a Social Security card, health insurance information, medical records, and a driver’s license or State–issued identification card at emancipation.

    (k)    (1)    At least one time each year, the Administration shall provide to a child in an out–of–home placement who is at least 13 years old information regarding benefits available to the child on leaving out–of–home care.

        (2)    The information provided under paragraph (1) of this subsection shall include information regarding tuition assistance, health care benefits, housing, job training and internship opportunities, and the right to reenter care and procedures for reentering care under subsection (b)(3) of this section.

        (3)    The Administration may provide to the child the information required under paragraph (1) of this subsection:

            (i)    at a permanency planning hearing or review hearing held in accordance with § 3–823 of the Courts Article; or

            (ii)    by certified mail.

    (l)    (1)    The Department shall develop a Foster Youth Bill of Rights delineating the rights of children in out–of–home placements.

        (2)    At least one time each year, the Administration shall provide to each child in an out–of–home placement who is at least 13 years old a copy of the Foster Youth Bill of Rights developed under paragraph (1) of this subsection.