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May 23, 2024 Clouds | 73°F
The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 29C: Judicial certification of need to remove child from home

Section 29C. If a court of competent jurisdiction commits, grants custody or transfers responsibility for a child to the department or its agent, the court shall certify that the continuation of the child in his home is contrary to his best interests and shall determine whether the department or its agent, as appropriate, has made reasonable efforts prior to the placement of a child with the department to prevent or eliminate the need for removal from the home; but, if a child has been placed voluntarily with the department by the parent under clause (1) of subsection (a) of section 23 and the parent consents to continued placement under a petition filed under said clause (1) or clause (2) of said subsection (a) of said section 23, the court shall determine at an initial hearing only whether continued placement is in the child's best interests. Except as provided herein, if a court has previously committed, granted custody or transferred responsibility for a child to the department or its agent, the court shall determine not less than annually whether the department or its agent has made reasonable efforts to make it possible for the child to return safely to his parent or guardian. In making any determination, the health and safety of the child shall be of paramount concern.

If a young adult continues under the responsibility of the department pursuant to subsection (f) of section 23, the committing court shall continue to annually determine whether the department or the department's agent has made reasonable efforts to achieve the permanent plan approved by the court under section 29B.

Reasonable efforts by the department prior to removal of a child from the home or to return the child to a parent or guardian shall not be required if the court finds that: (i) the child has been abandoned as defined in section 3 of chapter 210; (ii) the parent's consent to adoption of a sibling of the child was dispensed with under section 26 or under said section 3 of said chapter 210, or the parent's rights were involuntarily terminated in a case involving a sibling of the child; (iii) the parent has been convicted of 1 of the following crimes by a court of competent jurisdiction: (a) murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent or aiding, abetting, attempting, conspiring or soliciting to commit such a murder or voluntary manslaughter; or (b) an assault constituting a felony which resulted in serious bodily injury to the child or another child of the parent; or (iv) a parent has subjected the child to aggravated circumstances consisting of murder of another parent of the child in the presence of the child or by subjecting the child or other children in the home to sexual abuse or exploitation or severe or repetitive conduct of a physically or emotionally abusive nature. For the purposes of this section, conduct of an ''emotionally abusive nature'' shall mean any conduct causing an impairment to or disorder of the intellectual or psychological capacity of a child as evidenced by observable and substantial reduction in the child's ability to function within a normal range of performance and behavior.

If a court has determined at a permanency hearing convened under section 29B, that reasonable efforts to safely return the child to his parent or guardian are inconsistent with the permanency plan for the child or if a court has determined that reasonable efforts are not required as set forth herein, the court shall determine at least annually thereafter whether the department has made reasonable efforts to place the child in a timely manner in accordance with the permanency plan determined and reviewed under section 29B.

The court shall make the certification and determinations required under this section in written form, which shall include the basis for the certification and determinations. A determination by the court that reasonable efforts were not made shall not preclude the court from making any appropriate order conducive to the child's best interest.