Posted on June 3rd, 2009 No comments
Juvenile Guardianships are coming to a court near you. As I have reported here, in July 2008, legislation was enacted by the legislature and signed into law by the governor with immediate effect establishing juvenile guardianships as an alternative permanent plan in child protection proceedings. I attended the SCAO-CWS & DHS Juvenile Guardianship Webcast today and found it quite informative. I am posting the Power Point materials on this site below.
Here are some interesting bits of information I picked up that is not in the materials:
- Upon the appointment of a juvenile guardian, the L-GAL is released, but may be re-appointed by the Court.
- Upon the appointment of a juvenile guardian, the child protection proceeding is closed.
- The juvenile guardianship requires an annual review. The court may appoint an L-GAL, court staff or anyone to investigate for the annual review.
- Upon a petition to terminate the guardianship, the court must appoint DHS to investigate.
- The court may place limits on the juvenile guardian’s powers in the letters of authority.
- A petition to terminate the guardianship may be filed by the juvenile guardian or “other interested persons.” The term “other interested persons” is undefined in the Court Rule MCR 3.979. Courts may interpret parents, whose rights have not been terminated, as other interested persons entitled to file a petition to terminate the juvenile guardianship if the conditions that led the children into care have been corrected and that they are fit.
- If the juvenile guardian and the child live in another county, the case may be transferred to that county under the regular change of venue rule (MCR 3.926). However, if the guardianship is revoked, the Court places the child with DHS and reinstates the previous NA case, which may be in the transferring county. So, it goes back. There is no guidance on what do do in this situation, but I would assume the transferring court would just change venue of the NA case to the court that handled the guardianship.
There was also a whole segment of the seminar that discussed providing funds to assist juvenile guardians. There are mechanisms for Federal funds through Title IV-E and State funds. With the current state of Michigan’s economy and the State’s budget, it is uncertain whether there will be any state funding for juvenile guardians. In order to receive the Federal money, the juvenile guardian must be or become a licensed foster parent. This will represent a significant barrier to many juvenile guardians receiving those Federal Funds.
I also understand that SCAO is still working on the forms for juvenile guardianships and should have them available to the courts soon.
All in all, it is important to note that these juvenile guardianships are an entirely new concept and the courts are going to have a great deal of difficulty initially with them. They require new case codes, captions, forms and procedures. I assume that if you are considering recommending a juvenile guardianship as a permanent plan in one of your cases, be ready to get more than a few quizzical looks from the Court and/or the clerks. Juvenile guardianships share many of the characteristics of guardianships under EPIC, but they are in the circuit court. The circuit court clerks are not accustomed these types of proceedings like the probate court.
Here are the Power Point materials from the presentation: