The permanency hearing is one of the most important stages of dependency proceedings. It is the driving force of a dependency case as the proceeding often determines the outcome of the case. In fact, the term permanency reflects the ultimate goal of a dependency case; to establish a proper home on a permanent basis for a child. The purpose of the permanency hearing is to “fine tune, correct, adjust, and update the case plan.” These hearings can help ensure that decisions concerning a child’s future are made at regular intervals and implemented.
A typical Permanency Hearing is required to be held within six months of the date of the child’s removal from his or her parents or pursuant to a transfer of temporary legal custody or other disposition, whichever is the earliest. The court shall conduct a permanency hearing every six months until the child is returned to a parent (or guardian), or removed from the jurisdiction of the court. (Pa.R.J.C.P. 1607 B).
Some circumstances require that permanency hearings be scheduled more frequently than every six months. Permanency hearings can always be scheduled more frequently than the mandated time frames.