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Permanency Planning Hearings (MCR 3.976)

A permanency planning hearing is conducted to review and finalize a permanency plan for a child in foster care. A judge or attorney referee may conduct a permanency planning hearing. The supervising agency must strive to achieve a permanent placement for a child within 12 months of the child’s removal from his or her home. The law requires the court to conduct a permanency planning hearing not more than 365 days after the child was removed, where the child remains in foster care and the parent’s rights to the child have not been terminated. Permanency planning hearings must be conducted by a judge or attorney referee and must be open to the participation of the parents (unless parental rights have been terminated), the child, and foster or pre-adoptive parents (if any). A key function of this hearing is to determine whether reasonable efforts have been made to finalize a permanency plan, and to assess whether those efforts have been effective.


Permanency Goals, in order of preference:

  1. Reunification.  The court must order the child returned home unless it finds that reunification would cause a substantial risk of harm to the child’s life, physical health, or mental well-being. The parent(s)’ failure to substantially comply with the terms of the treatment plan may be considered as evidence of substantial risk and creates a presumption in favor of proceeding toward a hearing to terminate parental rights.
  2. Adoption.  If the court determines that a child cannot be returned home, or if the child has been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months, then termination proceedings must be initiated by the agency within 28 days unless the agency demonstrates to the court that termination of parental rights would clearly not be in the child’s best interests.
  3. Juvenile Guardianship​.
  4. Permanent Placement with a Relative.
  5. Another Permanent Planned Living Arrangement.


Note that in cases where a proposed juvenile guardian would be dependent on guardianship assistance funding for the child’s care, the court should verify that reunification and adoption have been ruled out, otherwise DHS may deny guardianship assistance funding.


The court must obtain the views of the child regarding the permanency plan in a manner appropriate to the child’s age. Unless a child is in a permanent foster family agreement or is placed permanently with a relative, the court must hold a review hearing not more than 91 days after the permanency planning hearing and every 91 days thereafter for the first year. Subsequent reviews must occur no later than 182 days after the last review hearing in the first year and no more than 182 days thereafter until the case is closed.


If the permanency planning goal is not reunification, adoption, placement within the kinship network, or juvenile guardianship, compelling reasons must be documented within the Initial and Updated Service Plans and court reports which detail why these goals are not in the child’s best interest. Compelling reasons are:

  • The child is age 14 or over and refuses to consent to adoption.
  • The parent suffers from a chronic serious illness and the child is unable to return to the home, but there continues to be a close relationship between the child and parent.
  • There are financial benefits for the child if parental rights are maintained.
  • The child is in custodial care and treatment services are not yet completed.
  • There is an appropriate relative to care for the child and the relative is not willing to adopt the child.
  • The youth is age 18 or over.
  • The supervising agency has not yet provided the services detailed in the service plan to make reunification possible.
  • The child is an unaccompanied refugee minor.

 Toolkit Information

Notice of Hearing (procedural issues)
Time Requirements (procedural issue)
Applicable Rules of Evidence (procedural issue)
Court's Permanency Options (procedural issue)
Review of Referee Recommendations (procedural issues)
Roles and Responsibilities
Statues, Court Rules, DHS Policies
Guardianship Assistance Eligibility
MJI Child Protective Proceedings Benchbook -- Permanency Planning Hearings
Benchcard -- judicial

 Publications and Administrative Memos

Parents Attorney Protocol
Michigan Absent Parent Protocol
Livingston County Parent Handbook
Obtaining the Child's Opinion at PPH (memo)
Entire Library

 Court Forms

Order Following Dispositional Review/Permanency Planning Hearing (JC19)
Waiver of Summons/Notice of Hearing (JC23)
Request and Order for Review of Referee Recommendations (JC42)

 Training Information

Archived Materials and Upcoming Programs