The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) requires that a permanency hearing occur no later than 12 months from the date the child is considered to have entered foster care. The date that the child is considered to have entered foster care is either the date of the first judicial finding that the child has been subject to abuse or neglect (date of the adjudication hearing) or 60 days from the date that the child was placed into foster care, whichever is earlier.
The permanency hearing is the point at which a decision is made about achieving permanency for the child. This decision will involve establishing the child’s permanency plan that will include reunification with the parent or parents, termination of parental rights and adoption, legal guardianship, or another planned permanent living arrangement. For older youth, the permanency hearing also addresses the services and supports needed for the child to make the transition from foster care to independent living.
Permanency hearings are required no less frequently than every 12 months thereafter throughout the child’s stay in foster care until the child achieves permanency.