Eighteen Month Review For When the Child is Residing out of the Care of Both Parents (WIC 366.22(a))
An Eighteen Month Review Hearing is a hearing that is held 18 months after the removal of the child from the home. Technically, this is a few days prior to the Detention Hearing.
What Happens at an Eighteen Month Review Hearing?
At this hearing, the child is to be returned home to the parent UNLESS the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) that return would still put the child at substantial risk of physical or emotional harm. If a parent fails to participate regularly and make substantive progress in their court-ordered services, the law presumes the child would still be a risk if sent home. See WIC 366.22(a)
If the child is not returned, absent especially rare circumstances described by the governing statute, services will be terminated, and the matter will be set for a 366.26 Hearing at which parental rights may be terminated.
What are Circumstances that Require Additional Reunification Time?
Unusual and rare findings required for those rare circumstances to get additional reunification time include:
– There is clear and convincing evidence that it is in the best interests of the child to give more services; AND
– The parent is making significant and consistent progress in a court-ordered residential substance abuse treatment program, OR a parent who was either a minor or non-minor dependent at the time of the initial hearing (Detention Hearing) and is making significant and consistent progress in providing a safe home OR the parent was recently discharged from incarceration, institutionalization, or immigration hold and is making significant and consistent progress in providing a safe home; AND
– There is a substantial probability of return by the end of 24 months after removal OR that reasonable services have not been offered. The same analysis is employed to determine the substantial probability of return as used at the Twelve Month Review.
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