In re D.S., ___ N.C. App. ___, 817 S.E.2d 901 (2018)

Held: 
Vacated and Remanded
  • Procedural History: A December 2016 a permanency planning order in a neglect and dependency action awarded guardianship of the child to Ms. Green, a non-relative. Respondent father appealed. The appellate opinion determined that the findings that Ms. Green had adequate resources to appropriately care for the child was not supported by evidence, vacated the permanency planning order, and remanded the case for further proceedings. On remand, the trial court limited the hearing to the issue of whether Ms. Green had adequate resources. The trial court entered a supplementary order that incorporated the December 2016 permanency planning and guardianship order, made findings that Ms. Green had adequate resources, and ordered guardianship as the permanent plan. Respondent father appeals, arguing the trial court erred in appointing Ms. Green as guardian without first finding that it properly considered and rejected the paternal grandmother (a relative) as a placement.
  • G.S. 7B-903(a1) addresses the out-of-home placement of a juvenile. This statute mandates (through the use of the word “shall”) that the court (1) first consider whether a relative is willing and able to provide proper care and supervision to the child in a safe home, and (2) if so, place the child with that relative unless there is a finding that the placement is not in the child’s best interests. “Failure to make specific findings of fact explaining the placement with the relative is not in the juvenile’s best interest will result in remand.” Sl. Op. at 4 (citation omitted). There have never been the required findings or conclusions of law resolving the issue of relative placement and the child’s best interests.
Category:
Abuse, Neglect, Dependency
Stage:
Disposition (All Stages Post-Adjudication)
Topic:
Relative Placement
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