Juvenile Court Rules on Independent Living and Transition Planning

Juvenile Court Rule 1608--Independent Living Planning

Court's findings.

1. Findings at all six-month hearings. At the permanency hearing, the court shall enter its findings and conclusions of law into the record and enter an order pursuant to Rule 1609. On the record in open court, the court shall state: ...

j) the services needed to assist a child who is sixteen years of age or older to make the transition to independent living, including:

i. the specific independent living services or instructions that are currently being provided by the county agency or private provider;
ii. the areas of need in independent living instruction that have been identified by the independent living assesment completed pursuant to the Chafee Act, 42 U.S.C. § 671 et seq.;
iii. the independent living services that the child will receive prior to the next permanency review hearing;
iv. whether the child is in the least restrictive, most family-like setting that will enable him to develop independent living skills;
v.    the efforts that have been made to develop and maintain connections with supportive adults regardless of placement type;
vi.    whether the child is making adequate educational progress to graduate from high school or whether the child is enrolled in another specified educational program that will assist the child in achieving self-sufficiency;
vii. the job readiness services that have been provided to the child and the employment/career goals that have been established;
viii. whether the child has physical health or behavioral health needs that will require continued services into adulthood; and
ix. the steps being taken to ensure that the youth will have stable housing or living arrangements when discharged from care.

Juvenile Court Rule 1631: Termination of Court Supervision

 A.  Concluding Supervision. Any party, or the court on its own motion, may move for the termination of supervision when court-ordered services from the county agency are no longer needed and:

  10)  the child is eighteen years of age or older and a hearing has been held pursuant to paragraph (E);

 E.  Children eighteen years of age or older.

   1)  Before the court can terminate its supervision of a child who is eighteen years of age or older, a hearing shall be held at least ninety days prior to the child turning eighteen years of age.

   2)  Prior to the hearing, the child shall have the opportunity to make decisions about the transition plan and confer with the county agency about the details of the plan. The county agency shall provide the transition plan to the court and the plan shall, at a minimum, include:

     a)   the specific plans for housing;

     b)   a description of the child’s source of income;

     c)   the specific plans for pursuing educational or vocational training goals;

     d)   the child’s employment goals and whether the child is employed;

     e)   a description of the health insurance plan that the child is expected to obtain and any continued health or behavioral health needs of the child;

     f)   a description of any available programs that would provide mentors or assistance in establishing positive adult connections;

     g)   verification that all vital identification documents and records have been provided to the child;

     h)   a description of any other needed support services; and

     i)   notice to the child that the child can request resumption of juvenile court jurisdiction until the child turns twenty-one years of age if specific conditions are met.

   3)  At the hearing, the court shall review the transition plan for the child. If the court is not satisfied that the requirements of paragraph (E)(2) have been met, a subsequent hearing shall be scheduled.

   4)  The court shall not terminate its supervision of the child without approving an appropriate transition plan, unless the child, after an appropriate transition plan has been offered, is unwilling to consent to the supervision and the court determines termination is warranted.

Rule 1634. Motion for Resumption of Jurisdiction

 A.  Venue. A motion to resume jurisdiction shall be filed with the court that terminated court supervision of the child pursuant to Rule 1631.

 B.  Contents. The motion for resumption of jurisdiction shall aver:

   1)  dependency jurisdiction was previously terminated:

     a)   within ninety days prior to the child’s eighteenth birthday; or

     b)   on or after the child’s eighteenth birthday; and

   2)  the child:

     a)   is under twenty-one years of age;

     b)   was adjudicated dependent prior to turning eighteen years of age;

     c)   has requested the court to resume jurisdiction; and

     d)   is:

       i)   completing secondary education or an equivalent credential;

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

       iii)   participating in a program actively designed to promote or prevent barriers to employment;

       iv)   employed for at least eighty hours per month; or

       v)   incapable of doing any of the activities as prescribed in paragraphs (B)(2)(d)(i)—(iv) due to a medical or behavioral health condition, which is supported by regularly updated information in the permanency plan for the child;

   3)  whether the child would like his or her guardian or other interested adult involved in the court proceedings;

   4)  that a verification has been signed by the child attesting the above requirements have been met; and

   5)  whether an expedited hearing for placement and services is being requested due to the child’s current living arrangement.

 C.  Service. A copy of the motion shall be served upon:

   1)  the county agency;

   2)  the attorney for the county agency;

   3)  the child;

   4)  the child’s attorney; and

   5)  the guardian or other interested adult if the child requesting resumption of jurisdiction would like the guardian or other interested adult involved in the case as averred in paragraph (B)(3).

Rule 1635. Hearing on Motion for Resumption of Jurisdiction

 A.  Time for hearing. Within thirty days of receiving a motion for resumption of jurisdiction, the court shall conduct a hearing to determine whether it will resume juvenile court jurisdiction.

 B.  Notice. Notice of the date, time, place, and purpose of the hearing shall be given to:

   1)  the county agency;

   2)  the attorney for the county agency;

   3)  the child;

   4)  the child’s attorney;

   5)  any other persons, including the guardian or other interested adult, as directed by the court.

 C.  Hearing. At the hearing, the court shall state its findings and conclusions of law on the record in open court as to whether:

   1)  dependency jurisdiction was previously terminated:

     a)   within ninety days prior to the child’s eighteenth birthday; or

     b)   on or after the child’s eighteenth birthday but before the child turns twenty-one years of age; and

   2)  the child continues to meet the definition of child pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. §  6302 because the child:

     a)   is under twenty-one years of age;

     b)   was adjudicated dependent prior to turning eighteen years of age;

     c)   has requested the court to resume jurisdiction; and

     d)   is:

       i)   completing secondary education or an equivalent credential;

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

       iii)   participating in a program actively designed to promote or prevent barriers to employment;

       iv)   employed for at least eighty hours per month; or

       v)   incapable of doing any of the activities as prescribed in paragraphs (C)(2)(d)(i)—(iv) due to a medical or behavioral health condition, which is supported by regularly updated information in the permanency plan for the child;

   3)  reasonable efforts were made by the county agency to prevent the return of the child to juvenile court jurisdiction unless, due to the child’s immediate need for assistance, such lack of efforts was reasonable;

   4)  it will exercise jurisdiction pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. §  6351(j) because it is best suited to the protection and physical, mental, and moral welfare of the child;

   5)  a guardian or other interested adult should be involved in the child’s case;

   6)  there are any health or educational needs of the child; and

   7)  the county agency has developed an appropriate transition plan.

 D.  Orders.

   1)  After a hearing, the court shall enter an order granting or denying the motion to resume juvenile court jurisdiction.

   2)  If the court resumes jurisdiction, the court shall order:

     a)   that resumption of jurisdiction is best suited to the protection and physical, mental, and moral welfare of the child;

     b)   any findings as to the transition plan for the child;

     c)   regular scheduling of permanency hearings pursuant to Rule 1608;

     d)   any designations of custody and/or placement of the child; and

     e)   any evaluations, tests, or treatments for the health and educational needs of the child.

 E.  Termination of court supervision in resumption cases.

   1)  Once the goals in the transition plan have been accomplished for a child which, at a minimum, includes the requirements pursuant to Rule 1631(E)(2), or the child has refused to cooperate with the plan, a party may move for termination of court supervision pursuant to Rule 1631.

   2)  In no event shall a child remain under juvenile court supervision once the child has turned twenty-one years of age.

 F.  Advanced Communication Technology. The provisions of Rule 1129 shall apply to this proceeding.

2. Youth Independent Living Services Guidelines Bulletin and Appendix, Office of Children, Youth, and Families, Bulletin 3130-11-04, July 8, 2011

The Department of Public Welfare has authority pursuant to 55 Pa. Code 3130.92 to issue Bulletins to provide guidance to the county children and youth agencies. The Youth Independent Living Services Guidelines Bulletin and Appendix provide great detail on the provision of services to older youth, planning obligations, and placement options. The Bulletin can be found here and the Appendix here.