§ 2501 Intent and purpose.
(a) The General Assembly hereby declares that there is a need for a clear statutory framework for the proper procedures and requirements for when the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families [DSCYF] is granted custody of a dependent, neglected or abused child.
(b) This chapter shall be liberally construed so that these purposes may be realized.
(c) For the purposes of applicable state and federal law, any dependent, neglected or abused child in DSCYF custody shall be considered a ward of the State.
§ 2502 Definitions.
For the purposes of this chapter, unless the context indicates differently:
(1) "Abuse" or "abused child" is as defined in § 901 of Title 10.
(2) "Adult" is as defined in § 901 of Title 10.
(3) "Best interests" is determined in accordance with § 722 of this title.
(4) "Caregiver" means a person with whom the child is placed while in DSCYF custody including any licensed home or facility, including group homes, or any relative or nonrelative placement, including those not licensed by DSCYF. Caregiver shall not include secure facilities, facilities primarily operated for the detention of children adjudicated delinquent, accredited psychiatric residential treatment facilities or hospitals.
(5) "Child" is as defined in § 901 of Title 10.
(6) "Court" or "court" is as defined in § 901 of Title 10.
(7) "Department" or "DSCYF" is as defined in § 901 of Title 10.
(8) "Dependency" or "dependent child" is as defined in § 901 of Title 10.
(9) "Division" or "DFS" means the Division of Family Services of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families.
(10) "Foster parent" is as defined in § 2302 of this title.
(11) "Guardian" is as defined in § 2302 of this title.
(13) "Licensed agency" is as defined in § 901 of this title.
(14) "Neglect" or "neglected child" is as defined in § 901 of Title 10.
(15) "Parent" is as defined in § 2302 of this title.
(16) "Parental responsibilities" is as defined in § 1101 of this title.
(17) "Permanency" is as defined in § 2302 of this title.
(18) "Reasonable and prudent parent standard" shall mean the standard characterized by careful and sensible parental decisions that maintain the health, safety and best interests of a child, while at the same time encouraging the emotional and developmental growth of the child, that a caregiver shall use when determining whether to allow a child placed in his or her care while in DSCYF custody to participate in extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities.
(19) "Relative" is as defined in § 901 of Title 10.
(20) "School of origin" means as defined in § 202A(a) of Title 14.
§ 2503 Jurisdiction and venue.
(a) The Family Court shall have jurisdiction over proceedings under this chapter to grant, modify and/or terminate DSCYF custody orders.
(b) A petition for DSCYF custody under this chapter may be filed in the Family Court of any of the following counties:
(1) The county in which the organization or persons, having legal or physical care, custody, or control of the child is located; or
(2) The county in which the child resides.
(c) The provisions of §§ 722, 724, 728(d)-(f) of this title and Chapters 7A and 24 of this title shall be applicable to proceedings filed under this chapter.
§ 2504 Hearing procedure and notice requirements.
(a) When a petition is filed under this chapter, the Court shall set a date for a hearing on the petition, and shall cause notice of time, place, and purpose of the hearing to be served as required in this section.
(b) Notice of the time, place, and purpose of the hearing shall be served upon the parent or parents, guardian or guardians, person or persons, DSCYF, or licensed agency holding parental rights at the respondent's last known address or to the address received in the petition.
(c) If the Court shall find that personal service within the State cannot be accomplished upon a party, the petitioner shall cause notice to be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the respondent is most likely to be residing.
(d) Personal service at any time prior to the hearing shall be sufficient to confer jurisdiction upon the Court.
(e) Notice provided pursuant to this section shall constitute conclusive evidence of service and a hearing will then proceed at the time and date set, with or without the appearance of the parent or parents, guardian or guardians, person or persons, DSCYF, or licensed agency holding parental rights so notified.
(f) When a petition is filed under this chapter, the Court shall appoint an attorney authorized to practice law in this State to represent the child. When appointing an attorney, the Court may also appoint a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer to work in conjunction with the attorney. The rights, responsibilities and duties in representing the child are set forth in § 9007A of Title 29. For the purposes of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (42 U.S.C. § 5106a, et seq.), the attorney for the child and the Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer, if one is appointed, shall fulfill the role of guardian ad litem for the child.
§ 2505 Sanctions.
The Court may impose such sanctions or remedies as the Court deems just and proper to ensure compliance with this chapter, including but not limited to:
(1) Extra visitation or contact with the child when it is in the child's best interest to do so;
(2) The payment of costs and reasonable counsel fees of the person or agency applying for relief under this section; or
(3) A fine in the discretion of the Court.
§ 2506 Confidentiality of proceedings.
All proceedings under this chapter and all records of such proceedings shall be held before the Court privately, except for reasons found sufficient to the Court, a hearing in any particular case may be made open to the public.
§ 2507 Appeals.
Appeal from any order or decree entered under this chapter shall lie to the state Supreme Court. No appeal shall lie from any order or decree under this chapter unless taken within 30 days from the date of such order or decree.