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General Laws

[Text of section applicable as provided by 2010, 359, Sec. 133.]

Section 29B. (a) Except as provided in subsection (d), within 12 months of the original commitment, grant of custody or transfer of responsibility of a child to the department by a court of competent jurisdiction and not less than every 12 months thereafter while the child remains in the care of the department, the committing court shall conduct a permanency hearing, in accordance with rules established by the chief justice of the trial court, to determine and periodically review thereafter the permanency plan for the child. The plan shall address whether and, if applicable, when: (i) the child will be returned to the parent; (ii) the child will be placed for adoption and the steps the department will take to free the child for adoption; (iii) the child will be referred for legal guardianship; (iv) the child will be placed in permanent care with relatives; or (v) the child will be placed in another permanent planned living arrangement. The department shall file a permanency plan prior to a permanency hearing that shall address the above placement alternatives. The court shall consult with the child in an age-appropriate manner about the permanency plan developed for the child.

(b) The committing court shall continue to hold annual permanency hearings as described in subsection (a) for young adults to whom subsection (f) of section 23 applies. The young adult shall be entitled to counsel under section 29.

(c) If a child or a young adult is not to be returned to the child or young adult’s parents, the permanency plan shall consider in-state and out-of-state placement options. In the case of a child placed in foster care outside the state in which the home of the parents of the child is located or a young adult in an out-of-state placement, the permanency plan shall also address whether the out-of-state placement continues to be appropriate and in the best interests of the child or young adult. In the case of a child who has attained age 16 or any young adult, the permanency plan shall also address the services needed to assist the child or young adult in making the transition from foster care to independent living; provided, however, that the court shall consult with the child or young adult in an age-appropriate manner about the permanency plan. If a person in the custody of or under the responsibility of the department has attained the age of 17 years and 9 months, the permanency plan shall also address the status of and the topics of the transition plan required under 42 USC § 675(5)(H); provided, however, that the court shall retain jurisdiction until it finds, after a hearing at which the person is present unless the person chooses otherwise, that a satisfactory transition plan has been provided for the person.

(d) In conducting a permanency hearing, the court may make any appropriate order as may be in the child or the young adult’s best interests including, but not limited to, orders with respect to care or custody. At the same time, the court shall consider the provisions of section 29C, and shall make the written certification and determinations required by said section 29C. The health and safety of the child or young adult shall be of paramount, but not exclusive, concern.

The permanency hearing for a child or young adult shall be held within 30 days of a hearing at which a court determines that reasonable efforts to preserve and reunify families are not required pursuant to section 29C. The court may, however, make such determination at the time of the permanency hearing.

If continuation of reasonable efforts to return a child or young adult safely to the child or young adult’s parent or guardian are found to be inconsistent with the permanency plan for the child or young adult or if reasonable efforts are not required pursuant to section 29C, or in the case of any young adult to whom subsection (f) of section 23 applies, the department shall make reasonable efforts to place the child or young adult in a timely manner in accordance with the permanency plan including, if appropriate, through an interstate placement, and to complete whatever steps are necessary to finalize the permanent placement of the child or young adult. In subsequent permanency hearings held on behalf of the child or young adult, the court shall determine whether the department has made such efforts in accordance with section 29C.

(e) A child, parent of a child, guardian, young adult, or the department may appeal to the appeals court from the determination or order of the trial court. The claim of appeal shall be filed in the office of the clerk or register of the trial court within 30 days following the court’s determination or order. Thereafter, the appeal shall be governed by the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure. The scope of appellate review shall be limited to abuse of judicial discretion.

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