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The 192nd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

SECTION 1. Paragraph A of section 23 of chapter 119 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2000 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the first paragraph the following 2 paragraphs:-

The department may file a petition for care and responsibility in the probate court on behalf of a child accepted into foster care if the department determines that continued placement beyond 6 months is required for reasons unrelated to parental unfitness and the parent consents to continued placement. At the initial hearing on the petition, the court shall determine whether continued placement with the department is in the child's best interests and shall issue its determination, including the rationale therefor, in written form. The allowance of the petition shall not abrogate a parent's right to make decisions on behalf of the child, but the department may accept from the parent a temporary delegation of certain rights and responsibilities necessary to continue to provide foster care for the child under conditions agreed upon by both and terminable by either.

Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, a permanency hearing shall be held within 60 days of the transfer of responsibility by order of the probate court or within 12 months of initial placement into foster care with the department, whichever date is later. The hearing shall be conducted as provided in section 29B.

SECTION 2. Section 29C of said chapter 119, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the word "home", in line 7, the following words:- ; but, if a child has been placed voluntarily with the department by the parent pursuant to paragraph A of section 23 and the parent consents to continued placement pursuant to a petition filed pursuant to said paragraph A or paragraph C of said section 23, the court shall determine at an initial hearing only whether continued placement is in the child's best interests.

Approved November 20, 2002.