The purpose of this page is to inform caregivers of how to protect and advocate for the foster children/youth in their care when the county placing agency plans to remove (i.e. change the placement of) a dependent child/youth to another foster home.
If a placement change becomes necessary, minimizing the trauma experienced by the child/youth from the move should be the primary concern to all parties involved. For information regarding transition planning, please visit our Transitions page.
Rights to Education and Placement Stability
In addition to disrupting a child's stability at home, a placement change may also require the child to change schools (often during the school year already in session). Such a disruption can adversely affect the child’s academic progress as well as his or her emotional well-being. If the caregiver has been designated the educational rights holder (i.e. educational representative), there may be additional rights to notification of placement changes and opportunities to object.
Notice Requirements of County Social Worker: Pursuant to California Rule of Court 5.651, the juvenile court has the authority to supervise and maintain the child or youth’s educational stability. When a proposed placement change will result in the child/youth's removal from their school of origin, the social worker must notify the court, the child or youth’s attorney, and the child or youth’s educational rights holder within 24 hours of that determination. California Rules of Court, Rule 5.651(e). If the child has an IEP, there are additional notices required to the local educational agency providing the IEP program and the educational agency in the area to where the child will be moved at least 10 days before the change in placement.
Duties of Minor's Counsel: The attorney must discuss the proposed placement change and its effect on the child/youth’s right to attend the school of origin with the child/youth and with the person who holds educational rights (who may be the caregiver). See California Rules of Court, Rule 5.651 (e)(2)
If there is an Objection to Proposed Change of Schools: The attorney or educational representative must file a JV-539 Request for Hearing Regarding Child’s Access to Services no later than 2 courts days after receiving the notice. A court hearing must be held no later than 5 court days. The clerk must give required notice if the JV-539 is filed by the educational representative. If removal from the school of origin is disputed, the child/youth must be allowed to remain in that school pending the hearing and for as long as there is a disagreement between the child or educational rights holder and the local educational agency. See California Rules of Court, Rule 5.651 (e)(3)
The social worker must file a report within 2 court days after the hearing request form is filed containing specific information, including how the proposed change of schools serves the best interests of the child. The court is authorized to determine what actions are necessary to ensure the protection of the child or youth’s educational rights and to make any findings and orders needed to secure those rights. See California Rules of Court, Rule 5.651 (f)(1)
Placement Changes Before the .26 Hearing
Prior to the Welfare and Institutions Code Section 366.26 hearing, caregivers are entitled to 14 Days Written Notice of Intent to Remove. There is an additional requirement that the county placing agency implement a placement preservation strategy in an attempt to maintain the current placement of the child/youth. Welfare and Institutions Code section 16010.7
Furthermore, California Department of Social Services Regulation 31-020.1 provides individuals objecting to the change of placement the rights to request an intra-agency grievance review hearing.
For more information about 14 Days Notice of Removal and grievance procedures, please click here.
*NOTE: Unless the child is in imminent danger, he/she SHALL remain with the foster parent(s), pending decision of the agency director, when removal is the basis for a complaint. California DSS Manual 31-020.7
Placement Changes When the .26 Hearing has been Set or Parental Rights are Terminated
Once the caregiver has Prospective Adoptive Parent status (i.e. the child/youth has been with the caregiver for 6 months or longer and parental rights are terminated), the county placing agency is required to serve a JV-323 Notice of Removal prior to a placement change. If a JV-325 Objection to Removal is filed by the prospective adoptive parent, the matter will be set for a court hearing at which the county has the burden of proof to show that the proposed placement change is in the best interest of the child.
*NOTE: even if you have not been formally designated as the Prospective Adoptive Parent, you have the right to written notice of intent to move the child/youth in your care, and the right to object and request a hearing if you meet the threshold criteria for Prospective Adoptive Parent. The Court will decide at the hearing whether or not you will be designated as the Prospective Adoptive Parent. A caregiver who qualifies but has not yet been designated a Prospective Adoptive Parent must prepare and file both the JV-321 and the JV-325. California Rule of Court Rule 5.727
Legal Disclaimer: Advokids provides educational information and resources to those who use our website, call our hotline, or submit requests for information via the website. Any information provided may not be construed as the giving of legal advice to any person about a particular legal matter and should not be relied upon as the basis for taking a particular action or refraining from taking a particular action in any legal matter. If you want or need legal advice about a particular legal matter, you should consult a lawyer.