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DEFINITIONS

Sec475[42 U.S.C. 675]  As used in this part or part B of this title:

(1) The term “case plan” means a written document which includes at least the following:

(A) A description of the type of home or institution in which a child is to be placed, including a discussion of the safety and appropriateness of the placement and how the agency which is responsible for the child plans to carry out the voluntary placement agreement entered into or judicial determination made with respect to the child in accordance with section 472(a)(1).

(B) A plan for assuring that the child receives safe and proper care and that services are provided to the parents, child, and foster parents in order to improve the conditions in the parents’ home, facilitate return of the child to his own safe home or the permanent placement of the child, and address the needs of the child while in foster care, including a discussion of the appropriateness of the services that have been provided to the child under the plan.

(C) The health and education records of the child, including the most recent information available regarding—

(i) the names and addresses of the child’s health and educational providers;

(ii) the child’s grade level performance;

(iii) the child’s school record;

(iv) a record of the child’s immunizations;

(v) the child’s known medical problems;

(vi) the child’s medications; and

(vii) any other relevant health and education information concerning the child determined to be appropriate by the State agency.

(D) Where appropriate, for a child age 16 or over, a written description of the programs and services which will help such child prepare for the transition from foster care to independent living.

(E) In the case of a child with respect to whom the permanency plan is adoption or placement in another permanent home, documentation of the steps the agency is taking to find an adoptive family or other permanent living arrangement for the child, to place the child with an adoptive family, a fit and willing relative, a legal guardian, or in another planned permanent living arrangement, and to finalize the adoption or legal guardianship. At a minimum, such documentation shall include child specific recruitment efforts such as the use of State, regional, and national adoption exchanges including electronic exchange systems to facilitate orderly and timely in-State and interstate placements.

(F) In the case of a child with respect to whom the permanency plan is placement with a relative and receipt of kinship guardianship assistance payments under section 473(d), a description of—

(i) the steps that the agency has taken to determine that it is not appropriate for the child to be returned home or adopted;

(ii) the reasons for any separation of siblings during placement;

(iii) the reasons why a permanent placement with a fit and willing relative through a kinship guardianship assistance arrangement is in the child’s best interests;

(iv) the ways in which the child meets the eligibility requirements for a kinship guardianship assistance payment;

(v) the efforts the agency has made to discuss adoption by the child’s relative foster parent as a more permanent alternative to legal guardianship and, in the case of a relative foster parent who has chosen not to pursue adoption, documentation of the reasons therefor; and

(vi) the efforts made by the State agency to discuss with the child’s parent or parents the kinship guardianship assistance arrangement, or the reasons why the efforts were not made.

(G) A plan for ensuring the educational stability of the child while in foster care, including—

(i) assurances that each placement[231] of the child in foster care 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; and

(ii)(I) an assurance that the State agency has coordinated with appropriate local educational agencies (as defined under section 9101 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965) to ensure that the child remains in the school in which the child is enrolled at the time of each[232] placement; or

(II) if remaining in such school is not in the best interests of the child, assurances by the State agency and the local educational agencies to provide immediate and appropriate enrollment in a new school, with all of the educational records of the child provided to the school.

(2) The term “parents” means biological or adoptive parents or legal guardians, as determined by applicable State law.

(3) The term “adoption assistance agreement” means a written agreement, binding on the parties to the agreement, between the State agency, other relevant agencies, and the prospective adoptive parents of a minor child which at a minimum (A) specifies the nature and amount of any payments, services, and assistance to be provided under such agreement, and (B) stipulates that the agreement shall remain in effect regardless of the State of which the adoptive parents are residents at any given time. The agreement shall contain provisions for the protection (under an interstate compact approved by the Secretary or otherwise) of the interests of the child in cases where the adoptive parents and child move to another State while the agreement is effective.

(4)(A) The term “foster care maintenance payments” means payments to cover the cost of (and the cost of providing) food, clothing, shelter, daily supervision, school supplies, a child’s personal incidentals, liability insurance with respect to a child, reasonable travel to the child’s home for visitation, and reasonable travel for the child to remain in the school in which the child is enrolled at the time of placement. In the case of institutional care, such term shall include the reasonable costs of administration and operation of such institution as are necessarily required to provide the items described in the preceding sentence

(B) In cases where—

(i) a child placed in a foster family home or child-care institution is the parent of a son or daughter who is in the same home or institution, and

(ii) payments described in subparagraph (A) are being made under this part with respect to such child,

the foster care maintenance payments made with respect to such child as otherwise determined under subparagraph (A) shall also include such amounts as may be necessary to cover the cost of the items described in that subparagraph with respect to such son or daughter.

(5) The term “case review system” means a procedure for assuring that—

(A) each child has a case plan designed to achieve placement in a safe setting that is the least restrictive (most family like) and most appropriate setting available and in close proximity to the parents’ home, consistent with the best interest and special needs of the child, which—

(i) if the child has been placed in a foster family home or child-care institution a substantial distance from the home of the parents of the child, or in a State different from the State in which such home is located, sets forth the reasons why such placement is in the best interests of the child, and

(ii) if the child has been placed in foster care outside the State in which the home of the parents of the child is located, requires that, periodically, but not less frequently than every 6 months, a caseworker on the staff of the State agency of the State in which the home of the parents of the child is located, of the State in which the child has been placed, or of a private agency under contract with either such State, visit such child in such home or institution and submit a report on such visit to the State agency of the State in which the home of the parents of the child is located,

(B) the status of each child is reviewed periodically but no less frequently than once every six months by either a court or by administrative review (as defined in paragraph (6)) in order to determine the safety of the child, the continuing necessity for and appropriateness of the placement, the extent of compliance with the case plan, and the extent of progress which has been made toward alleviating or mitigating the causes necessitating placement in foster care, and to project a likely date by which the child may be returned to and safely maintained in the home or placed for adoption or legal guardianship,

(C) with respect to each such child, (i) procedural safeguards will be applied, among other things, to assure each child in foster care under the supervision of the State of a permanency hearing to be held, in a family or juvenile court or another court (including a tribal court) of competent jurisdiction, or by an administrative body appointed or approved by the court, no later than 12 months after the date the child is considered to have entered foster care (as determined under subparagraph (F)) (and not less frequently than every 12 months thereafter during the continuation of foster care), which hearing shall determine the permanency plan for the child that includes whether, and if applicable when, the child will be returned to the parent, placed for adoption and the State will file a petition for termination of parental rights, or referred for legal guardianship, or (in cases where the State agency has documented to the State court a compelling reason for determining that it would not be in the best interests of the child to return home, be referred for termination of parental rights, or be placed for adoption, with a fit and willing relative, or with a legal guardian) placed in another planned permanent living arrangement, in the case of a child who will not be returned to the parent, the hearing shall consider in-State and out-of-State placement options, and, in the case of a child described in subparagraph (A)(ii), the hearing shall determine whether the out-of-State placement continues to be appropriate and in the best interests of the child, and, in the case of a child who has attained age 16, the services needed to assist the child to make the transition from foster care to independent living; (ii) procedural safeguards shall be applied with respect to parental rights pertaining to the removal of the child from the home of his parents, to a change in the child’s placement, and to any determination affecting visitation privileges of parents; and (iii) procedural safeguards shall be applied to assure that in any permanency hearing held with respect to the child, including any hearing regarding the transition of the child from foster care to independent living, the court or administrative body conducting the hearing consults, in an age-appropriate manner, with the child regarding the proposed permanency or transition plan for the child;

(D) a child’s health and education record (as described in paragraph (1)(A)) is reviewed and updated, and a copy of the record is supplied to the foster parent or foster care provider with whom the child is placed, at the time of each placement of the child in foster care, and is supplied at no cost at the time the child leaves foster care if the child is leaving foster care by reason of having attained the age of majority under the State law;

(E) in the case of a child who has been in foster care under the responsibility of the State for 15 of the most recent 22 months, or, if a court of competent jurisdiction has determined a child to be an abandoned infant (as defined under State law) or has made a determination that the parent has committed murder of another child of the parent, committed voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent, aided or abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit such a murder or such a voluntary manslaughter, or committed a felony assault that has resulted in serious bodily injury to the child or to another child of the parent, the State shall file a petition to terminate the parental rights of the child’s parents (or, if such a petition has been filed by another party, seek to be joined as a party to the petition), and, concurrently, to identify, recruit, process, and approve a qualified family for an adoption, unless—

(i) at the option of the State, the child is being cared for by a relative;

(ii) a State agency has documented in the case plan (which shall be available for court review) a compelling reason for determining that filing such a petition would not be in the best interests of the child; or

(iii) the State has not provided to the family of the child, consistent with the time period in the State case plan, such services as the State deems necessary for the safe return of the child to the child’s home, if reasonable efforts of the type described in section 471(a)(15)(B)(ii) are required to be made with respect to the child;

(F) a child shall be considered to have entered foster care on the earlier of—

(i) the date of the first judicial finding that the child has been subjected to child abuse or neglect; or

(ii) the date that is 60 days after the date on which the child is removed from the home;

(G) the foster parents (if any) of a child and any preadoptive parent or relative providing care for the child are provided with notice of, and a right to be heard in, any proceeding to be held with respect to the child, except that this subparagraph shall not be construed to require that any foster parent, preadoptive parent, or relative providing care for the child be made a party to such a proceeding solely on the basis of such notice and right to be heard; [233]

(H) during the 90-day period immediately prior to the date on which the child will attain 18 years of age, or such greater age as the State may elect under paragraph (8)(B)(iii), whether during that period foster care maintenance payments are being made on the child’s behalf or the child is receiving benefits or services under section 477, a caseworker on the staff of the State agency, and, as appropriate, other representatives of the child provide the child with assistance and support in developing a transition plan that is personalized at the direction of the child, includes specific options on housing, health insurance, education, local opportunities for mentors and continuing support services, and work force supports and employment services, includes information about the importance of designating another individual to make health care treatment decisions on behalf of the child if the child becomes unable to participate in such decisions and the child does not have, or does not want, a relative who would otherwise be authorized under State law to make such decisions, and provides the child with the option to execute a health care power of attorney, health care proxy, or other similar document recognized under State law, and is as detailed as the child may elect; and[234]

(I)[235] each child in foster care under the responsibility of the State who has attained 16 years of age receives without cost a copy of any consumer report (as defined in section 603(d) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act) pertaining to the child each year until the child is discharged from care, and receives assistance (including, when feasible, from any court-appointed advocate for the child) in interpreting and resolving any inaccuracies in the report.

(6) The term “administrative review” means a review open to the participation of the parents of the child, conducted by a panel of appropriate persons at least one of whom is not responsible for the case management of, or the delivery of services to, either the child or the parents who are the subject of the review.

(7) The term “legal guardianship” means a judicially created relationship between child and caretaker which is intended to be permanent and self-sustaining as evidenced by the transfer to the caretaker of the following parental rights with respect to the child: protection, education, care and control of the person, custody of the person, and decisionmaking. The term “legal guardian” means the caretaker in such a relationship.

(8)(A) Subject to subparagraph (B), the term “child” means an individual who has not attained 18 years of age.

(B) At the option of a State, the term shall include an individual—

(i)(I) who is in foster care under the responsibility of the State;

(II) with respect to whom an adoption assistance agreement is in effect under section 473 if the child had attained 16 years of age before the agreement became effective; or

(III) with respect to whom a kinship guardianship assistance agreement is in effect under section 473(d) if the child had attained 16 years of age before the agreement became effective;

(ii) who has attained 18 years of age;

(iii) who has not attained 19, 20, or 21 years of age, as the State may elect; and

(iv) who is—

(I) completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential;

(II) enrolled in an institution which provides postsecondary or vocational education;

(III) participating in a program or activity designed to promote, or remove barriers to, employment;

(IV) employed for at least 80 hours per month; or

(V) incapable of doing any of the activities described in subclauses (I) through (IV) due to a medical condition, which incapability is supported by regularly updated information in the case plan of the child.


[231]  P.L. 112-34, §106(a)(1), struck out “‘the placement” and inserted “each placement”. For the general effective date [October 1, 2011] and the delay permitted if State legislation is required, see Vol. II, P.L. 112-34, §107.

[232]  P.L. 112-34, §106(a)(2), inserted ‘‘each’’. For the general effective date [October 1, 2011] and the delay permitted if State legislation is required, see Vol. II, P.L. 112-34, §107.

[233]  P.L. 112-34, §106(b)(1), struck out “and”.

[234]  P.L. 112-34, §106(b)(2), struck out the period and inserted “; and”.

[235]  P.L. 112-34, §106(b)(3), added this new subparagraph (I). For the general effective date [October 1, 2011] and the delay permitted if State legislation is required, see Vol. II, P.L. 112-34, §107.