Foster Care Proceedings

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Rule 403: Foster Care Review Board.

(a)  Scheduling and Notice.  The court shall determine the date, time and location of each foster care review board and shall notify the Department of Children’s Services and the board members no later than 14 calendar days prior to the scheduled review. Each case shall be set at a specific time that allows for a comprehensive review. All parties, their attorneys, guardians ad litem, and foster parents shall be notified in writing of the review not less than 10 calendar days prior to the scheduled review. 

(b)  Documentation.  The Department shall provide supporting documentation in regard to the child’s safety, well-being, and permanency as determined by local rule. Documentation should be provided to the court facilitator no less than 7 calendar days prior to review for distribution to the board members.

(c)  Quorum and Attendance.  Prior to the beginning of each review, the court facilitator shall verify that a quorum of members exists. In verifying the quorum, the court facilitator shall inquire as to any conflicts of interest of the board members requiring recusal. The review shall proceed only if it is determined that all necessary persons who are not present were properly notified. If timely notification was not provided, the court facilitator will reschedule the matter as soon as possible. 

(d)  Conduct of the Review.

(1)  The board shall use a summary form to gather information.

(2)  Information provided to the board shall only come from persons before the board during the review or from documentation provided by the parties. 

(3)  Only the parties, their attorneys, the child, and the guardian ad litem or attorney for the child have the right to be present during the entire review. Necessary persons may be present during the entire review if agreed to by all the parties. Necessary persons are to present information to the board in the presence of the parties. 

(4)  The board may hear from the child outside the presence of the parties. 

(e)   Recommendations.  The board shall make written recommendations that address the child’s safety, well-being, and permanency. The board shall deliberate to develop recommendations. All deliberation shall occur outside the presence of the parties, their attorneys, and other persons present for the review. Recommendations shall be made addressing the needs pursuant to Rule 402(b) of these rules. All recommendations should be agreed upon by a majority of board. If there is no majority agreement for each recommendation, the court facilitator shall:

(1)  Identify the conflict;

(2)  Instruct the board to review all relevant documentation and testimony;

       (3)  Instruct the board to ensure that the recommendations provide for the
       safety, well-being, permanency of the child, and are in the child’s best
       interest; and

(4)  In the event no consensus can be reached, make a direct referral to the court.

(f)  Announcement of Recommendations -Scheduling Next Review.  After deliberation, the board will announce its recommendations to the parties and set a date for the next review. No additional information may be presented during the announcement of the recommendations. The court facilitator shall ensure the signatures of all parties present at the review are obtained on the summary form, noting those persons were present for the review. The court facilitator shall also note anyone else who was present for the review.

(g)   Summary Form Filed with Clerk.The court facilitator shall file the summary form with the clerk of the court, who shall record the date and time of the filing. The clerk of the court shall send a copy of the summary form to all parties and their attorneys of record or guardians ad litem. 

(h)  Review by Judge or Magistrate. The court shall establish a procedure to provide the recommendations to the judge or magistrate within 10 judicial days of the review for the court to review the recommendations, determine if they are in the best interest of the of the child, and confirm as an order of the court at the next ratification hearing, periodic progress review, or permanency hearing.

(i)  Direct Referral. When the board makes the determination that a direct referral shall be made by the court, the court facilitator will determine the type of direct referral as provided by T.C.A. § 37-2-406(c)(1)(B). The court facilitator will file the direct referral with the clerk of the court. The court facilitator shall inform the review board of the outcome of the direct referral at the next review of the child’s case before the foster care review board.

(j)  Statements of Child. Any statements made by a child at the review are not admissible in a delinquent or unruly proceeding prior to a dispositional hearing.

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