Because the Minnesota legislative session will begin in a couple of weeks, I'd like to focus this blog post on a Minnesota-specific bill related to child welfare. Last April, the Minnesota House (HF 0749) and Senate (SF 1339) introduced a bill called the Family Reunification Act of 2011. The bill would reestablish legal rights between a parent and child which were previously terminated by the court system. Here is a breakdown of what is in the bill.
Who would be able to bring the motion to reestablish rights to court?
- A minor child who is subject of a guardianship or transfer of custody,
- A parent who had a termination of parental rights under section 260C.317,
- A child's Guardian ad Litem,
- An Indian child's tribe, and
- A responsible social service agency.
Situations which would prevent the motion from being brought to court include:
- If a similar motion was brought within the previous 2 years,
- If the child was subjected to egregious harm,
- If the child was NOT in foster care for 24 months following the final order for a termination of parental rights and freeing the child for adoption,
- If the child was adopted or the subject of a written adoption placement agreement between social services and the prospective adoptive parents, or
- If the child did not agree to any previous motions to reestablish the relationship with his/her parent(s).
What would the courts look for when considering a reestablishment of rights?
- Is reestablishment in the best interest of the child?
- Is the parent fit to safely provide day-to-day care, including addressing the child's developmental, emotional and long-term needs?
- Have the conditions that led to the CHIPS/ termination been corrected?
- Do both the child and parent desire a relationship?
- How will reestablishment of rights affect the child's sibling(s), especially if they reside in the same foster home?
As a resource on this topic, check out NACAC's webpage called Permanence Can Mean Going Home.
What do you feel the pros and cons are of reestablishment of parental rights? How might this affect kinship and long-term foster care placements? How do you believe parents will find out about this legislation?