Act 91 FAQs: Procedures for Resumption of Jurisdiction

This FAQ represents the interpretation of Juvenile Law Center. We will update this FAQ as we learn new information, so please check back frequently for updates. For more information, please contact Jenny Pokempner at Juvenile Law Center at (215) 625-0551, ext. 111., or [email protected].

What is the procedure for resumption of jurisdiction? 

The Juvenile Act, amended by Act 91, provides the eligibility criteria for resumption of jurisdiction at 42 Pa. C.S.A. 6351 (j). Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Rules on Resumption of Jurisdiction were recently issued and became effective on December 1, 2013. These Rules provide specific guidance on how motions are filed and the procedures and processes that must be followed. Juvenile Law Center has also created a summary of the Rules.

The questions in the following section are information by the law and the Rules.

Who can file a resumption of jurisdiction motion?

Under Juvenile Court Rule 1634, a youth, the county child welfare agency, or the youth’s attorney can file a motion for resumption of jurisdiction.

Is the county children and youth agency required to file a motion for resumption of jurisdiction if a youth makes the request?

Yes. According to the Comments to Juvenile Court Rule 1634, if approached by the youth, the county agency or the attorney for the youth “is to assist the child in the filing of the motion.”  Because in many counties it will be the agency or agency representative, such as an IL worker, who the youth will have the most contact with, agencies should be prepared to facilitate filing to ensure that the youth has access to the court and an attorney can be appointed to assist him or her. To meet the requirements of the Rules, it is recommended that:

The county children and youth agency:

  • Develop a protocol for handling calls and inquiries from youth requesting re-entry, including a process for filing motions in court;
  • Develop procedures to meet immediate shelter and other basic needs on an emergency basis while processing a case to court; and
  • Make all procedures as youth friendly as possible to prevent barriers to access to services.

Children's attorneys should:

  • Inform their clients of the right to re-enter if and when they leave care before turning age 21, and
  • Be prepared to file motions for resumption of court jurisdiction.

What must be contained in the motion for resumption of jurisdiction?

Juvenile Court Rule 1634 (B) requires that the following be included in a motion:

  • That dependency jurisdiction was terminated within 90 days of the youth’s 18th birthday or on or after the youth’s 18th birthday, and 
  • The youth is under age 21, and
  • The youth was adjudicated dependent before turning age 18, and
  • The youth has requested that the court resume jurisdiction, and
  • The youth is doing at least one of the following:
    • Completing post-secondary education or an equivalent credential
    • Enrolled in an institution which provides postsecondary or vocational education,
    • Participating in a program actively designed to promote or prevent barriers to employment,
    • Employed at least 80 hours per month; or
    • Is incapable of doing any of activities listed above due to a medical or behavioral health condition supported by regularly updated information in the permanency plan for the child. 
  • Whether the youth would like his or her guardian or other interested adult involved in the court proceedings;
  • That a verification has been signed by the youth attesting the above requirements have been met; and
  • Whether an expedited hearing for placement and services is being requested due to the youth’s current living arrangement.

Does the child welfare agency need to notify the youth’s parent or guardian of the motion for resumption of jurisdiction?

While the court will make the final determination about notification, the Juvenile Court Rules require that the motion indicate the youth’s preference about whether a parent, guardian, or other interested adult should be notified. Juvenile Court Rule 1634 (B). Similarly, the Rules state that notice to a parent, guardian, or other interested adult will be given if requested by the youth. Juvenile Court Rule 1635 (B). If the youth wants a parent, guardian, or interested adult notified, the name and contact information should be provided in the motion. 

What can county child welfare agencies do to implement this notification requirement in a way that promotes older youth permanency and respects youths’ wishes?

It is recommended that county agencies develop a process so that the discussion of notification can be had in a way that respects youths’ wishes, but also supports them in developing a network of caring adults who can play a positive role in their lives. Many agencies and staff have acquired great expertise in the area of older youth permanency that they can put to good use in developing these procedures.  Staff that have expertise in family finding and family group decision making in particular should be consulted in developing procedures. How older youth are engaged with parents and other supportive adults in a constructive and appropriate manner can make a big difference in improving permanency options for a youth who re-enters care. 

If a youth has moved between counties in Pennsylvania, where should the resumption of jurisdiction motion be filed?

Juvenile Court Rule 1634 (A) requires that the motion be filed in the county that had dependency jurisdiction of the youth. The Comments to the Rules also state that if the youth has moved to another county, the case may be transferred to another county at any time after the filing of the motion, including prior to hearing on the motion. 

It is recommended that child welfare agency develop policies on how cross-county cases will be handled that prioritize helping the youth maintain and benefit from any stability or ties that they have made in the community that they consider their own even if it is not the “home” county, 

Case Example: Youth was adjudicated dependent in County A, but was placed in a therapeutic foster home in County C, two hours away from County A. The youth signed herself out of care at age 18 despite the counseling of the child welfare agency and her foster parents. The youth remained in county C after her discharge, but did not have a viable discharge plan and “house hopped” for several months.  Without support and structure, she let her health insurance lapse and stopped going to treatment or taking her medication. At age 19 she told her former foster parents she would like to re-enter care and live with them or in a program where she could get some help.

The youth and her former foster parents called the agency worker in County A. As per the Court Rules, the agency worker assisted the youth and prepared the case for the county solicitor in County A and a resumption of jurisdiction motion was filed for the youth in County A. After consulting with the youth and the foster parents and the chain of command at County A and C, it was agreed that County C would provide supervision of the case, but that permanency reviews and casemanagement would occur in county A. Because County A would have responsibility for placement and care of the youth, it was financially responsible for the cost of care, which would be delivered by the youth’s former foster parents.  County A renewed its special contract with the foster care agency in County C that employed the foster parents. 

Are youth who were dependent in other states eligible to ask that the court resume jurisdiction of their case in Pennsylvania?

No. At this time, Act 91 only allows youth who were adjudicated dependent under Pennsylvania law to be eligible for resumption of jurisdiction. However, a youth who is under age 21 and was in the child welfare system of another state when they were age 16 or older, may be eligible for IL services if they are living in Pennsylvania. Therefore, youth between ages 18 and 21 should be assessed for Chafee IL eligibility if they are not eligible for re-entry under Act 91. 

Does the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts provide a sample Motion for Resumption of Jurisdiction?

Yes. The Comments to the Court Rules provide a link to a sample motion here.  Note that the motion references that the “child has signed a verification that the above requirements have been met.” Please make sure to have template verification forms available if the youth will be filing to facilitate the process. A sample verification template created by Juvenile Law Center can be found here.

How soon after a resumption of jurisdiction motion is filed should a hearing be held?

Juvenile Court Rule 1635 requires that a hearing be held within thirty days of a motion being filed. 

Are there any provisions for expedited hearings when a youth needs placement or services immediately?

Yes. Rule 1634 does permit requests for expedited hearings based on the circumstances of the youth such as a need for immediate assistance or placement. Advocates should ensure that motions for resumption of jurisdiction clearly signal that an expedited process is necessary when the circumstances require. See the section directly below for how Voluntary Placement Agreements can be used to address emergency situations in some resumption of jurisdiction cases.