Section 12-15-312

Reasonable efforts in judicial determinations; situations in which reasonable efforts are not required to be made.

(a) When the juvenile court enters an order removing a child from his or her home and places the child into foster care or custody of the Department of Human Resources pursuant to this chapter, the order shall contain specific findings, if warranted by the evidence, within the following time periods while making child safety the paramount concern:

(1) In the first order of the juvenile court that sanctions the removal, whether continuation of the residence of the child in the home would be contrary to the welfare of the child. This order may be the pick-up order that the juvenile court issues on the filing of a dependency petition.

(2) Within 60 days after the child is removed from the home of the child, whether reasonable efforts have been made to prevent removal of the child or whether reasonable efforts were not required to be made.

(3) Within 12 months after the child is removed from the home of the child and not less than every 12 months thereafter during the continuation of the child in out-of-home care, whether reasonable efforts have been made to finalize the existing permanency plan.

(b) As used in this chapter, reasonable efforts refers to efforts made to preserve and reunify families prior to the placement of a child in foster care, to prevent or eliminate the need for removing the child from the home of the child, and to make it possible for a child to return safely to the home of the child. In determining the reasonable efforts to be made with respect to a child, and in making these reasonable efforts, the health and safety of the child shall be the paramount concern. If continuation of reasonable efforts is determined to be inconsistent with the permanency plan for the child, reasonable efforts shall be made to place the child in a timely manner in accordance with the permanency plan including, if appropriate, through an interstate placement, and to complete whatever steps are necessary to finalize a permanent plan for the child.

(c) Reasonable efforts shall not be required to be made with respect to a parent of the child if the juvenile court has determined that the parental rights of the parent to a sibling of the child have been involuntarily terminated or that a parent has done any of the following:

(1) Subjected a child to an aggravated circumstance against the child or a sibling of the child and the risk of child abuse or neglect is too high for the child to remain at home safely or to be returned home. An aggravated circumstance includes, but is not limited to, rape, sodomy, incest, aggravated stalking, abandonment, torture, chronic abuse, or sexual abuse. An aggravated circumstance may also include any of the following:

a. Allowing a child to use alcohol or illegal drugs to the point of abuse, neglect, or substantial risk of harm.

b. Substance misuse or abuse, or both, by a parent or interfering with the ability to keep the child safe and refusal of a parent to participate in or complete treatment, or where treatment has been unsuccessful.

c. A parent demonstrating extreme disinterest in the child by doing either of the following:

1. Not complying with the steps outlined in the individualized service plan or case plan over a period of six months.

2. Repeatedly leaving the child with someone who is unwilling or incapable of providing care and not returning for the child as promised.

d. Abandoning an infant or young child when the identity of the child is unknown and the parent is unknown or unable to be located after a diligent search.

e. When the parent has an emotional or mental condition and there is clearly no treatment that can improve or strengthen the condition enough to allow the child to remain at home safely or to return home safely.

f. When a parent is incarcerated and the child is deprived of a safe, stable, and permanent parent-child relationship.

(2) Committed murder or manslaughter of another child or murder or manslaughter of the other parent of the child.

(3) Aided or abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit murder or manslaughter of another child or aided or abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit murder or manslaughter of the other parent of the child.

(4) Committed a felony assault which resulted in serious bodily injury to the child or another child or to the other parent of the child. The term serious bodily injury means bodily injury which involves substantial risk of death, extreme physical pain, protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty.

(d) Nothing in the exceptions to making reasonable efforts listed in subsection (c) shall be interpreted to require the reunification of a child with a stepparent or paramour of a parent under similar circumstances. The crimes listed in subsection (c) may include those from other states or federal crimes if the elements of the crimes are substantially similar to those crimes in this state.

(e) If reasonable efforts are not made with respect to a child as a result of a determination made by a juvenile court in situations as described above, a permanency hearing, as provided in Section 12-15-315, in which in-state or out-of-state placement options for the child are considered, shall be held for the child within 30 days after the determination. Reasonable efforts shall be made to place the child in a timely manner in accordance with the permanency plan and to complete whatever steps are necessary to finalize permanent placement of the child. Reasonable efforts to place a child for adoption or with a legal guardian or legal custodian, including identifying appropriate in-state and out-of-state placements, may be made concurrently with other reasonable efforts.

(Act 2008-277, p. 441, §18.)