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Legal Resources | Welfare and Institutions Code |    727.2  

Juvenile Court Law; reunification services   

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

(a) If the court orders the care, custody, and control of the minor to be under the supervision of the probation officer for placement pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 727, the juvenile court shall order the probation department to ensure the provision of reunification services to facilitate the safe return of the minor to his or her home or the permanent placement of the minor, and to address the needs of the minor while in foster care, except as provided in subdivision (b).

(b) Reunification services need not be provided to a parent or legal guardian if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that one or more of the following is true:

(1) Reunification services were previously terminated for that parent or guardian, pursuant to Section 366.21, 366.22, or 366.25, or not offered, pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 361.5, in reference to the same minor.

(2) The parent has been convicted of any of the following:

(A) Murder of another child of the parent.

(B) Voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent.

(C) Aiding or abetting, attempting, conspiring, or soliciting to commit that murder or manslaughter described in subparagraph (A) or (B).

(D) A felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the minor or another child of the parent.

(3) The parental rights of the parent with respect to a sibling have been terminated involuntarily, and it is not in the best interest of the minor to reunify with his or her parent or legal guardian.

If no reunification services are offered to the parent or guardian, the permanency planning hearing, as described in Section 727.3, shall occur within 30 days of the date of the hearing at which the decision is made not to offer services.

(c) The status of every minor declared a ward and ordered to be placed in foster care shall be reviewed by the court no less frequently than once every six months. The six-month time periods shall be calculated from the date the minor entered foster care, as defined in paragraph (4) of subdivision (d) of Section 727.4. If the court so elects, the court may declare the hearing at which the court orders the care, custody, and control of the minor to be under the supervision of the probation officer for foster care placement pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 727 at the first status review hearing. It shall be the duty of the probation officer to prepare a written social study report including an updated case plan, pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 706.5, and submit the report to the court prior to each status review hearing, pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 727.4. The social study report shall include all reports the probation officer relied upon in making his or her recommendations.

(d) Prior to any status review hearing involving a minor in the physical custody of a community care facility or foster family agency, the facility or agency may provide the probation officer with a report containing its recommendations. Prior to any status review hearing involving the physical custody of a foster parent, relative caregiver, preadoptive parent, or legal guardian, that person may present to the court a report containing his or her recommendations. The court shall consider all reports and recommendations filed pursuant to subdivision (c) and pursuant to this subdivision.

(e) At any status review hearing prior to the first permanency planning hearing, the court shall consider the safety of the minor and make findings and orders which determine the following:

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

(2) The extent of the probation department's compliance with the case plan in making reasonable efforts to safely return the minor to the minor's home or to complete whatever steps are necessary to finalize the permanent placement of the minor.

(3) Whether there should be any limitation on the right of the parent or guardian to make educational decisions for the minor. That limitation shall be specifically addressed in the court order and may not exceed what is necessary to protect the minor. If the court specifically limits the right of the parent or guardian to make educational decisions for the minor, the court shall at the same time appoint a responsible adult to make educational decisions for the minor pursuant to Section 726.

(4) The extent of progress that has been made by the minor and parent or guardian toward alleviating or mitigating the causes necessitating placement in foster care.

(5) The likely date by which the minor may be returned to and safely maintained in the home or placed for adoption, appointed a legal guardian, permanently placed with a fit and willing relative or referred to another planned permanent living arrangement.

(6) In the case of a minor who has reached 16 years of age, the court shall, in addition, determine the services needed to assist the minor to make the transition from foster care to independent living.

The court shall make these determinations on a case-by-case basis and reference in its written findings the probation officer's report and any other evidence relied upon in reaching its decision.

(f) At any status review hearing prior to the first permanency hearing, after considering the admissible and relevant evidence, the court shall order return of the minor to the physical custody of his or her parent or legal guardian unless the court finds, by a preponderance of evidence, that the return of the minor to his or her parent or legal guardian would create a substantial risk of detriment to the safety, protection, or physical or emotional well-being of the minor. The probation department shall have the burden of establishing that detriment. In making its determination, the court shall review and consider the social study report, recommendations, and the case plan pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 706.5, the report and recommendations of any child advocate appointed for the minor in the case, and any other reports submitted to the court pursuant to subdivision (d), and shall consider the efforts or progress, or both, demonstrated by the minor and family and the extent to which the minor availed himself or herself of the services provided.

(g) At all status review hearings subsequent to the first permanency planning hearing, the court shall consider the safety of the minor and make the findings and orders as described in paragraphs (1) to (4), inclusive, and (6) of subdivision (e). The court shall either make a finding that the previously ordered permanent plan continues to be appropriate or shall order that a new permanent plan be adopted pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 727.3. However, the court shall not order a permanent plan of "return to the physical custody of the parent or legal guardian after further reunification services are offered," as described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 727.3.

(h) The status review hearings required by subdivision (c) may be heard by an administrative review panel, provided that the administrative panel meets all of the requirements listed in subparagraph (B) of paragraph (7) of subdivision (d) of Section 727.4.

(i) (1) On and after January 1, 2012, at any status review hearing at which a recommendation to terminate delinquency jurisdiction is being considered, or at the status review hearing held closest to the ward attaining 18 years of age, but no fewer than 90 days before the ward's 18th birthday, the court shall consider whether to modify its jurisdiction pursuant to Section 601 or 602 and assume transition jurisdiction over the minor pursuant to Section 450. The probation department shall address this issue in its report to the court and make a recommendation as to whether transition jurisdiction is appropriate for the minor.

(2) The court shall order the probation department or the minor's attorney to submit an application to the child welfare services department pursuant to Section 329 to declare the minor a dependent of the court and modify its jurisdiction from delinquency to dependency jurisdiction if it finds both of the following:

(A) The ward does not come within the description set forth in Section 450, but jurisdiction as a ward may no longer be required.

(B) The ward appears to come within the description of Section 300 and cannot be returned home safely.

(3) The court shall set a hearing within 20 judicial days of the date of its order issued pursuant to paragraph (2) to review the decision of the child welfare services department and may either affirm the decision not to file a petition pursuant to Section 300 or order the child welfare services department to file a petition pursuant to Section 300.

(j) On and after January 1, 2012, if a review hearing pursuant to this section is the last review hearing to be held before the minor attains 18 years of age, the court shall ensure that the minor's transitional independent living case plan includes a plan for the minor to meet one or more of the criteria in paragraphs (1) to (5), inclusive, of subdivision (b) of Section 11403, so that the minor can become a nonminor dependent, and that the minor has been informed of his or her right to decline to become a nonminor dependent and to seek termination of the court's jurisdiction pursuant to Section 607.2.

(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 208, Sec. 4.)