(A) Permanency Plan. At or before each permanency planning hearing, the court must determine whether the agency has made reasonable efforts to finalize the permanency plan. At the hearing, the court must review the permanency plan for a child in foster care. The court must determine whether and, if applicable, when:
(1) the child may be returned to the parent, guardian, or legal custodian;
(2) a petition to terminate parental rights should be filed;
(3) the child may be placed in a legal guardianship;
(4) the child may be permanently placed with a fit and willing relative; or
(5) the child may be placed in another planned permanent living arrangement, but only in those cases where the agency has documented to the court a compelling reason for determining that it would not be in the best interests of the child to follow one of the options listed in subrules (1)-(4).
(1) An initial permanency planning hearing must be held within 28 days after a judicial determination that reasonable efforts to reunite the family or to prevent removal are not required given one of the following circumstances:
(a) There has been a judicial determination that the child’s parent has subjected the child to aggravated circumstances as listed in sections 18(1) and (2) of the Child Protection Law, 1975 PA 238, MCL 722.638.
(b) The parent has been convicted of one of the following:
(i) murder of another child of the parent;
(ii) voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent;
(iii) aiding or abetting, attempting, conspiring, or soliciting to commit such a murder or such a voluntary manslaughter; or
(iv) a felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the child or another child of the parent.
(c) The parent has had rights to one of the child’s siblings involuntarily terminated.
(2) If subrule (1) does not apply, the court must conduct an initial permanency planning hearing no later than 12 months after the child’s removal from the home, regardless of whether any supplemental petitions are pending in the case.
(3) Requirement of Annual Permanency Planning Hearings. During the continuation of foster care, the court must hold permanency planning hearings beginning no later than 12 months after the initial permanency planning hearing. The interval between permanency planning hearings is within the discretion of the court as appropriate to the circumstances of the case, but must not exceed 12 months. The court may combine the permanency planning hearing with a review hearing.
(4) The judicial determination to finalize the court-approved permanency plan must be made within the time limits prescribed in subsections (1)-(3).
(C) Notice. The parties entitled to participate in a permanency planning hearing include the:
(1) parents of the child, if the parent’s parental rights have not been terminated,
(2) child, if the child is of an appropriate age to participate,
(4) legal custodian,
(5) foster parents,
(6) pre-adoptive parents,
(7) relative caregivers, and
(8) if the child is an Indian child, the child’s tribe.
Written notice of a permanency planning hearing must be given as provided in MCR 3.920 and MCR 3.921(B)(2). The notice must include a brief statement of the purpose of the hearing, and must include a notice that the hearing may result in further proceedings to terminate parental rights. The notice must inform the parties of their opportunity to participate in the hearing and that any information they wish to provide should be submitted in advance to the court, the agency, the lawyer-guardian ad litem for the child, or an attorney for one of the parties.
(D) Hearing Procedure; Evidence.
(1) Procedure. Each permanency planning hearing must be conducted by a judge or a referee. Paper reviews, ex parte hearings, stipulated orders, or other actions that are not open to the participation of (a) the parents of the child, unless parental rights have been terminated; (b) the child, if of appropriate age; and (c) foster parents or preadoptive parents, if any, are not permanency planning hearings.
(2) Evidence. The Michigan Rules of Evidence do not apply, other than those with respect to privileges, except to the extent such privileges are abrogated by MCL 722.631. At the permanency planning hearing all relevant and material evidence, including oral and written reports, may be received by the court and may be relied upon to the extent of its probative value. The court must consider any written or oral information concerning the child from the child's parent, guardian, custodian, foster parent, child caring institution, or relative with whom the child is placed, in addition to any other evidence offered at the hearing. The court shall obtain the child’s views regarding the permanency plan in a manner appropriate to the child’s age. The parties must be afforded an opportunity to examine and controvert written reports received and may be allowed to cross-examine individuals who made the reports when those individuals are reasonably available.
(3) The court, upon receipt of a local foster care review board’s report, shall include the report in the court’s confidential social file. The court shall ensure that all parties have had the opportunity to review the report and file objections before a dispositional order, dispositional review order, or permanency planning order is entered. The court may at its discretion include recommendations from the report in its orders.
(E) Determinations; Permanency Options.
(1) In the case of a child who will not be returned home, the court shall consider in-state and out-of-state placement options. In the case of a child placed out of state, the court shall determine whether the out-of-state placement continues to be appropriate and in the child’s best interests. The court shall ensure that the agency is providing appropriate services to assist a child who will transition from foster care to independent living.
(2) Determining Whether to Return Child Home. At the conclusion of a permanency planning hearing, the court must order the child returned home unless it determines that the return would cause a substantial risk of harm to the life, the physical health, or the mental well-being of the child. Failure to substantially comply with the case service plan is evidence that the return of the child to the parent may cause a substantial risk of harm to the child's life, physical health, or mental well-being. In addition, the court shall consider any condition or circumstance of the child that may be evidence that a return to the parent would cause a substantial risk of harm to the child's life, physical health, or mental well-being.
(3) Continuing Foster Care Pending Determination on Termination of Parental Rights. If the court determines at a permanency planning hearing that the child should not be returned home, it may order the agency to initiate proceedings to terminate parental rights. Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, if the child has been in foster care under the responsibility of the state for 15 of the most recent 22 months, the court shall order the agency to initiate proceedings to terminate parental rights. If the court orders the agency to initiate proceedings to terminate parental rights, the order must specify the date, or the time within which the petition must be filed. In either case, the petition must be filed no later than 28 days after the date the permanency planning hearing is concluded. The court is not required to order the agency to initiate proceedings to terminate parental rights if one or more of the following apply:
(a) The child is being cared for by relatives.
(b) The case service plan documents a compelling reason for determining that filing a petition to terminate parental rights would not be in the best interests of the child. A compelling reason not to file a petition to terminate parental rights includes, but is not limited to, any of the following:
(i) Adoption is not the appropriate permanency goal for the child.
(ii) No grounds to file a petition to terminate parental rights exist.
(iii) The child is an unaccompanied refugee minor as defined in 45 CFR 400.111.
(iv) There are international legal obligations or compelling foreign policy reasons that preclude terminating parental rights.
(c) The state has not provided the child’s family, during the period set in the case service plan, with the services the state considers necessary for the child’s safe return to his or her home, if reasonable efforts to reunify the family are required.
If the court does not require the agency to initiate proceedings to terminate parental rights under this provision, the court shall state on the record the reason or reasons for its decision.
(4) Other Permanency Plans. If the court does not return the child to the parent, guardian, or legal custodian and if the agency demonstrates that termination of parental rights is not in the best interests of the child, the court may
(a) continue the placement of the child in foster care for a limited period to be set by the court if the court while the agency continues to make reasonable efforts to finalize the court-approved permanency plan for the child,
(b) place the child with a fit and willing relative,
(c) upon a showing of compelling reasons, place the child in an alternative planned permanent living arrangement, or
(d) appoint a juvenile guardian for the child pursuant to MCL 712A.19a and MCR 3.979.
The court must articulate the factual basis for its determination in the court order adopting the permanency plan.