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Juvenile Court Law   

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(a) Services to minors are best provided in a framework that integrates service planning and delivery among multiple service systems, including the mental health system, using a team-based approach, such as a child and family team. A child and family team brings together individuals that engage with the child or youth and family in assessing, planning, and delivering services. Use of a team approach increases efficiency, and thus reduces cost, by increasing coordination of formal services and integrating the natural and informal supports available to the child or youth and family.

(b) (1) For the purposes of this section, "child and family team" has the same meaning as in paragraph (4) of subdivision (a) of Section 16501.

(2) In its development of the case plan, the probation agency shall consider any recommendations of the child and family team, as defined in paragraph (4) of subdivision (a) of Section 16501. The agency shall document the rationale for any inconsistencies between the case plan and the child and family team recommendations.

(c) A case plan prepared as required by Section 706.5 shall be submitted to the court. It shall either be attached to the social study or incorporated as a separate section within the social study. The case plan shall include, but not be limited to, the following information:

(1) A description of the circumstances that resulted in the minor being placed under the supervision of the probation department and in foster care.

(2) Documentation of the preplacement assessment of the minor's and family's strengths and service needs showing that preventive services have been provided, and that reasonable efforts to prevent out-of-home placement have been made. The assessment shall include the type of placement best equipped to meet those needs.

(3) (A) A description of the type of home or institution in which the minor is to be placed, and the reasons for that placement decision, including a discussion of the safety and appropriateness of the placement, including the recommendations of the child and family team, if available.

(B) An appropriate placement is a placement in the least restrictive, most family-like environment that promotes normal childhood experiences, in closest proximity to the minor's home, that meets the minor's best interests and special needs.

(d) The following shall apply:

(1) The agency selecting a placement shall consider, in order of priority:

(A) Placement with relatives, nonrelated extended family members, and tribal members.

(B) Foster family homes and certified homes or resource families of foster family agencies.

(C) Treatment and intensive treatment certified homes or resource families of foster family agencies, or multidimensional treatment foster homes or therapeutic foster care homes.

(D) Group care placements in the following order:

(i) Short-term residential treatment centers.

(ii) Group homes.

(iii) Community treatment facilities.

(iv) Out-of-state residential treatment pursuant to Part 5 (commencing with Section 7900) of Division 12 of the Family Code.

(2) Although the placement options shall be considered in the preferential order specified in paragraph (1), the placement of a child may be with any of these placement settings in order to ensure the selection of a safe placement setting that is in the child's best interests and meets the child's special needs.

(3) A minor may be placed into a community care facility licensed as a short-term residential treatment center, as defined in subdivision (ad) of Section 11400, provided the case plan indicates that the placement is for the purposes of providing short-term, specialized, and intensive treatment for the minor, the case plan specifies the need for, nature of, and anticipated duration of this treatment, and the case plan includes transitioning the minor to a less restrictive environment and the projected timeline by which the minor will be transitioned to a less restrictive environment.

(e) Effective January 1, 2010, a case plan shall ensure the educational stability of the child while in foster care and shall include both of the following:

(1) Assurances that the placement takes into account the appropriateness of the current educational setting and the proximity to the school in which the child is enrolled at the time of placement.

(2) An assurance that the placement agency has coordinated with appropriate local educational agencies to ensure that the child remains in the school in which the child is enrolled at the time of placement, or, if remaining in that school is not in the best interests of the child, assurances by the placement agency and the local educational agency to provide immediate and appropriate enrollment in a new school and to provide all of the child's educational records to the new school.

(f) Specific time-limited goals and related activities designed to enable the safe return of the minor to his or her home, or in the event that return to his or her home is not possible, activities designed to result in permanent placement or emancipation. Specific responsibility for carrying out the planned activities shall be assigned to one or more of the following:

(1) The probation department.

(2) The minor's parent or parents or legal guardian or guardians, as applicable.

(3) The minor.

(4) The foster parents or licensed agency providing foster care.

(g) The projected date of completion of the case plan objectives and the date services will be terminated.

(h) (1) Scheduled visits between the minor and his or her family and an explanation if no visits are made.

(2) Whether the child has other siblings, and, if any siblings exist, all of the following:

(A) The nature of the relationship between the child and his or her siblings.

(B) The appropriateness of developing or maintaining the sibling relationships pursuant to Section 16002.

(C) If the siblings are not placed together in the same home, why the siblings are not placed together and what efforts are being made to place the siblings together, or why those efforts are not appropriate.

(D) If the siblings are not placed together, all of the following:

(i) The frequency and nature of the visits between the siblings.

(ii) If there are visits between the siblings, whether the visits are supervised or unsupervised. If the visits are supervised, a discussion of the reasons why the visits are supervised, and what needs to be accomplished in order for the visits to be unsupervised.

(iii) If there are visits between the siblings, a description of the location and length of the visits.

(iv) Any plan to increase visitation between the siblings.

(E) The impact of the sibling relationships on the child's placement and planning for legal permanence.

(F) The continuing need to suspend sibling interaction, if applicable, pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 16002.

(3) The factors the court may consider in making a determination regarding the nature of the child's sibling relationships may include, but are not limited to, whether the siblings were raised together in the same home, whether the siblings have shared significant common experiences or have existing close and strong bonds, whether either sibling expresses a desire to visit or live with his or her sibling, as applicable, and whether ongoing contact is in the child's best emotional interests.

(i) (1) When placement is made in a foster family home, group home, or other child care institution that is either a substantial distance from the home of the minor's parent or legal guardian or out of state, the case plan shall specify the reasons why the placement is the most appropriate and is in the best interest of the minor.

(2) When an out-of-state group home placement is recommended or made, the case plan shall comply with Section 727.1 of this code and Section 7911.1 of the Family Code. In addition, documentation of the recommendation of the multidisciplinary team and the rationale for this particular placement shall be included. The case plan shall also address what in-state services or facilities were used or considered and why they were not recommended.

(j) If applicable, efforts to make it possible to place siblings together, unless it has been determined that placement together is not in the best interest of one or more siblings.

(k) A schedule of visits between the minor and the probation officer, including a monthly visitation schedule for those children placed in group homes.

(l) Health and education information about the minor, school records, immunizations, known medical problems, and any known medications the minor may be taking, names and addresses of the minor's health and educational providers; the minor's grade level performance; assurances that the minor's placement in foster care takes into account proximity to the school in which the minor was enrolled at the time of placement; and other relevant health and educational information.

(m) When out-of-home services are used and the goal is reunification, the case plan shall describe the services that were provided to prevent removal of the minor from the home, those services to be provided to assist in reunification and the services to be provided concurrently to achieve legal permanency if efforts to reunify fail.

(n) (1) The updated case plan prepared for a permanency planning hearing shall include a recommendation for a permanent plan for the minor. The identified permanent plan for a minor under 16 years of age shall be return home, adoption, legal guardianship, or placement with a fit and willing relative. The case plan shall identify any barriers to achieving legal permanence and the steps the agency will take to address those barriers.

(2) If, after considering reunification, adoptive placement, legal guardianship, or permanent placement with a fit and willing relative the probation officer recommends placement in a planned permanent living arrangement for a minor 16 years of age or older, the case plan shall include documentation of a compelling reason or reasons why termination of parental rights is not in the minor's best interest. For purposes of this subdivision, a "compelling reason" shall have the same meaning as in subdivision (c) of Section 727.3. The case plan shall also identify the intensive and ongoing efforts to return the minor to the home of the parent, place the minor for adoption, establish a legal guardianship, or place the minor with a fit and willing relative, as appropriate. Efforts shall include the use of technology, including social media, to find biological family members of the minor.

(o) Each updated case plan shall include a description of the services that have been provided to the minor under the plan and an evaluation of the appropriateness and effectiveness of those services.

(p) A statement that the parent or legal guardian, and the minor have had an opportunity to participate in the development of the case plan, to review the case plan, to sign the case plan, and to receive a copy of the plan, or an explanation about why the parent, legal guardian, or minor was not able to participate or sign the case plan.

(q) For a minor in out-of-home care who is 16 years of age or older, a written description of the programs and services, which will help the minor prepare for the transition from foster care to successful adulthood.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 773, Sec. 49.5.)