340:75-1-18. Dispositional hearing and options, and placement guidelines
(a) Dispositional hearing purpose. The purpose of the dispositional hearing is to determine the individualized needs of the child and family, and custody of the child during the deprived case. The court considers all helpful evidence in determining the disposition that is in the child's best interests.
(b) Dispositional hearing. After a child is adjudicated to be deprived, the court holds a dispositional hearing, per Section 1-4-706 of Title 10A of the Oklahoma Statutes (10A O.S. § 1-4-706).
(1) When the child is removed from the parent's custody, the court or the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) considers concurrent permanency immediately and throughout the case. When appropriate, a concurrent plan is developed to ensure permanency for the child occurs at the earliest opportunity in the event reunification fails or is delayed. Appropriate in-state and out-of-state placement options are identified and the placement selected is the best available placement to provide permanency for the child.
(2) At the hearing, a DHS recommended, individualized service plan is presented to the court. The judge makes the final decision regarding if the proposed individualized service plan is accepted and if any or all recommendations are ordered by the court. • 1
(c) Court orders regarding custody or guardianship. Every effort is made to place a child with a member of the child's family in a safe and appropriate home, per 10A O.S. § 1-4-706. When a child is removed from the custodial parent and the court, in the child's best interests, is unable to release the child to the noncustodial parent, a placement preference is given to relatives and persons who have a kinship relationship with the child. DHS reports to the court, the diligent efforts made to secure the placement per 10A O.S. 1-4-204 and Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) 340:75-6-85.2. In cases when the Indian Child Welfare Act applies, the placement preferences of the Act are followed per OAC 340:75-19-14.
(d) Placement prohibitions. A potential foster or adoptive parent is not approved as placement for a child when the potential foster or adoptive parent or any other person residing in the home of the potential foster or adoptive parent was convicted of any of the criminal offenses specified in 10A O.S. §1-4-705 and OAC 340:75-7-15 or when the potential foster or adoptive parent is subject to, or is married to, or living with someone subject to the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registration Act.
(e) Dispositional options. 10A O.S. § 1-4-707 permits the court to enter dispositional orders including, but not limited to:
(1) placing the child under DHS protective supervision in the child's own home, with the child's parent or legal guardian with whom the child was residing at the time the events or conditions arose that brought the child within the court's jurisdiction, subject to conditions as prescribed by the court that would reasonably prevent the child from continued deprivation. DHS supervision remains in effect for one year unless extended or reduced in appropriate circumstances by the court per 10A O.S. § 1-4-707 .
(2) placing custody of the child with the non-custodial parent under DHS protective supervision; and ordering:
(A) reunification services for the parent or legal guardian from whom the child was, or is being removed;
(B) services for the parent, who is assuming physical custody of the child to allow the parent to later obtain legal custody without court supervision; or
(C) services for both parents, with the court determining at a subsequent review hearing which parent, if either, will have legal custody of the child;
(3) placing the child in the home of a parent. The court gives a preference for placing temporary custody of the child with a relative, per 10A O.S. 1-4-204, subject to the child's best interests and the conditions and restrictions specified in 10A O.S. §1-4-705. In determining whether to place temporary custody of the child with a relative, the court may consider:
(A) the child's physical, psychological, educational, medical, and emotional needs;
(B) the wishes of the parent, the relative, and child, when appropriate;
(C) when placement of the siblings and half-siblings can be made in the same home, if that placement is found to be in the best interest of each child;
(D) the background information of the relative and any other person living in the home, including whether any such person has a prior history of violence, acts of child abuse or neglect, or any other background that would render the home unsuitable;
(E) the nature and duration of the relationship between the child and the relative, and the relative's desire to care for and to provide long-term permanency for the child when reunification is unsuccessful; and
(F) the ability of the relative to:
(i) provide a safe, secure, and stable environment for the child;
(ii) exercise proper and effective care and control of the child;
(iii) provide a home and the necessities of life for the child;
(iv) protect the child from his or her parents;
(v) facilitate court-ordered reunification efforts with the parent;
(vi) facilitate visitation with the child's siblings and other relatives; and
(vii) arrange for appropriate and safe child care, when necessary;
(4) placing the child in the custody of a private institution or agency, including any institution established and operated by the county, authorized to care for children or to place them in family homes.
(A) In placing a child in a private institution or agency, the court selects one that is licensed by DHS or another state agency supervising or licensing private institutions and agencies; or, when such institution or agency is in another state, by the analogous department of that state.
(B) Whenever the court places a child in an institution or agency, it transmits with the order of commitment a summary of its information concerning the child, and the institution or agency gives to the court such information concerning the child as the court may at any time require;
(5) placing the child in DHS custody. DHS makes an individualized determination when selecting a placement for the child based upon the child's best interests and permanency plan, utilizing:
(A) a home or facility meeting the preferences specified by the federal and state Indian Child Welfare Acts, when applicable;
(B) a non-custodial parent's home;
(C) a DHS-approved relative's home;
(D) a DHS-approved non-relative's, kinship family home;
(E) an approved foster home where the child was previously placed;
(F) a DHS-approved suitable, non-kinship, foster family home;
(G) a suitable licensed group home for children; or
(H) an independent living program;
(6) ordering that any person residing in the home follow specific conduct the court determines is in the child's best interests that reasonably prevents the child from continued deprivation;
(7) ordering establishment of a permanent guardianship per 10A O.S. § 1-4-709; and
(8) dismissing the petition and terminating the court's jurisdiction at any time for good cause when it is in the child's best interests. • 3
(f) Additional court determinations. The court makes a determination whether:
(1) reasonable efforts:
(A) were made to reunite the child with his or her family; however, the period for reunification services may not exceed 17 months from the date the child was initially removed from the child's home, unless the court finds compelling reasons to the contrary;
(B) to reunite the child with his or her family are inconsistent with the child's permanency plan;
(C) were taken to finalize the child's permanent placement including, when appropriate, through an interstate placement; or
(D) to reunite the child with the family are not required, per 10A O.S. § 1-4-809 and OAC 340:75-1-18.4;
(2) services provided to assist any youth, 16 years of age or older, in the transition from out-of-home care to independent living are appropriate; and
(3) to place siblings, who were removed, together in the same foster care, guardianship, or adoptive placement and provide for frequent visitation or other ongoing interaction for siblings, who were removed, and are not placed together. Guidance on when siblings may be separated is found in OAC 340:75-6-85. • 4
(g) Notification of hearing. DHS provides notice of the hearing per OAC 340:75-1-16.1.
INSTRUCTIONS TO STAFF 340:75-1-18
1. Dispositional hearings.
(1) When reasonable efforts are required to return the child to the child's home, the court allows the child's parent at least three months to correct conditions that led to the child's adjudication as a deprived child.The time period for reunification services may not exceed 17 months from the date the child was initially removed from the child's home, absent a finding of compelling reasons to the contrary, per Section 1-4-707 of Title 10A of the Oklahoma Statutes (10AO.S. § 1-4-707).
(2) When the child is placed outside of the home, the dispositional order is reviewed by the court at least once every six months until:
(A) the behaviors and/or conditions that caused the child's adjudication are addressed and the child is reunified with a parent or legal guardian;
(B) the parent's rights to the child are terminated and a final adoption is decreed;
(C) permanent guardianship of the child is granted; or
(D) the court terminates jurisdiction.
(3) The family is ultimately responsible for only those recommendations that are court-ordered per Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) 340:75-6-40.4.
2.Concurrent permanency planning.Concurrent planning provides for reunification services while simultaneously developing an alternative plan in the event reunification efforts fail or are delayed.Concurrent planning is required in cases where current or historical familial circumstances indicate a poor prognosis for reunification.Efforts are made early in the case process to determine the most appropriate placement for the child and OAC 340:75-7-15 is followed when making placement decisions.When a petition to terminate parental rights is filed, the child welfare (CW) specialist actively pursues the previously determined concurrent plan or appropriate alternate permanency plan, as applicable.When the plan is adoption, the CW specialist ensures that the identification, recruitment, and processing of a qualified adoptive family for the child are timely completed.Questions to consider when determining the appropriateness of the placement are listed in (1) through (4) of this Instruction.
(1) Are the siblings placed together?
(2) Is the child located in his or her own community, school district, or within close proximity to close family attachments?
(3) Are appropriate services available and readily accessible?
(4) Will this placement provide permanency when efforts to reunite are unsuccessful?
3.Other dispositional options. 10AO.S. § 1-4-707allows the court to enter other dispositional orders including, but not limited to:
(1) placing the child with a suitable person including a non-custodial parent, relative, or other person when available per OAC 340:75-1-18(c) upon the completion of a home assessment; and
(2) ordering a party or other person living in the home to vacate the child's home indefinitely or for a specified period of time within 48 hours of issuing the order; or
(3) ordering a party or the child's parent or legal guardian to prevent a particular person from having contact with the child.
4. Placement considerations.Factors considered when identifying the placement that meets the child's best interests and long-term needs are listed in (1) through (10) of this Instruction.
(1) Siblings.Siblings are placed together, when possible, unless joint placement is contrary to the safety or well-being of any sibling.Siblings are separated only in certain circumstances per OAC 340:75-6-85.
(2) Attachment.The nature and degree of the child's attachment to the siblings and significant others is assessed and used as an indicator of the child's ability to attach to a resource family.
(3) Age.Age is evaluated as a factor in relation to the applicant's ability to parent the child into adult years, provided age is not used as the basis to deny a resource applicant.
(4) Health.The health records of the potential applicant indicate he or she has the health to participate with the child in normal developmental activities and the ability to parent the child beyond the child's age of majority.
(5) Culture.The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) does not rely on generalizations about the cultural identity needs of the child's particular race or ethnicity.DHS does not presume from the race or ethnicity of the potential adoptive applicant that he or she is unable to maintain the child's ties to another racial, ethnic, or cultural community.
(6) Placement of an Indian child.The Indian child, as defined by the federal and state Indian Child Welfare Acts (ICWA), Section 1901 of Title 25 of the United States Code and 10 O.S. §§ 40 et seq., is placed according to the placement preferences per OAC 340:75-19-14.Prior to placing an Indian child with a non-extended family or a non-Indian family, the child's CW specialist requests the court with jurisdiction in the deprived case conduct a hearing to determine if good cause exists to allow placement of an Indian child outside ICWA placement preferences.When a placement is requested that is not in compliance with the ICWA placement preferences, ICWA requires:
(A) a good cause hearing be conducted;
(B) prior notice of the good cause hearing is given to all parties, including the tribe; and
(C) the court make a finding as to whether good cause exists to not follow the specified ICWA placement preferences.
(7) Religion.The child is provided an opportunity for spiritual and moral development.When the child has made a religious commitment or the parent has made a specific request, DHS makes a reasonable effort to find an adoptive family of like religious faith.
(8) Language.When the child's primary language is not English, special consideration is given to identifying an adoptive family fluent in the child's language, including sign language for a child who is hearing impaired.
(9) Education.The child is given the opportunity to develop his or her potential and is not subjected to unrealistic academic expectations.