1. At the emergency custody hearing, the court:
(1) determines whether there is reasonable suspicion that the child is in need of immediate protection due to abuse or neglect or that the child's circumstances or surroundings are such that the child's continuation in his or her own home would present an imminent danger to the child;
(2) advises the parent, legal guardian, or custodian in writing of:
(A) any right of the parent, legal guardian, or custodian to testify and present evidence at court hearings;
(B) the right to be represented by an attorney at court hearings;
(C) the consequences of failure to attend any hearings that may be held; and
(D) the right to appeal and procedure for appealing an order of the court.
(3) determines custody of the child and orders the parent, legal guardian, or custodian necessary to identify and locate kinship placement resources, complete an affidavit listing the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any parent, whether known or alleged, grandparent, adult aunt, adult uncle, adult brother, adult sister, adult half-sibling, and adult first cousin and provide comments concerning the appropriateness of the potential placement of the child with the relative. When no such relative exists, the parent, legal guardian, or custodian is required by the court to list any other relatives or persons with whom the child has had a substantial relationship or who may be a suitable placement for the child. The affidavit is filed with the court clerk no later than five business days following the hearing, or as otherwise ordered by the court, and a copy is provided to Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS). DHS exercises due diligence to identify and provide notice to relatives per Oklahoma Administrative Code 340:75-6-85.2;
(4) directs the parent, legal guardian, or custodian to furnish DHS with a copy of the child's birth certificate within fifteen business days from the hearing when a petition is filed, unless otherwise extended by the court; and
(5) determines whether reasonable efforts have been made to:
(A) place siblings, who have been removed, together in the same foster home, guardianship, or adoptive placement; and
(B) provide frequent visitation or other ongoing interaction in the case of siblings who have been removed, and who are not placed together.
2. Opportunity to be heard in placement and custody decisions.
(1) The child welfare (CW) specialist asks the District Attorney (DA) for the opportunity to be heard by requesting to testify on the record. When the DA declines, the CW specialist directly requests from the court the opportunity to be heard on the record prior to conclusion of the hearing.
(2) When the court refuses to provide an opportunity to be heard, the CW specialist advises the CW supervisor, who contacts the DHS Legal Services.
(3) When the court releases a child from DHS custody and orders DHS to continue to supervise the child's placement, the CW specialist:
(A) does not recommend that DHS be relieved of supervision;
(B) closely supervises the child's placement; and
(C) documents any concerns for the court.
(4) The court, DA, or the attorney for the parties may cross examine the DHS representative, the child when of sufficient age as determined by the court, the present foster parents, and the guardian ad litem, when any.
(5) The court issues a written finding of fact and conclusions of law and all hearings concerning placement and release from state custody are on the record.
(6) DHS does not have the same right to be heard when the district attorney is declining to file a petition and the child is released by operation of law.
3. Objection to release from state custody and review of court order. Per Section 1-4-801 of Title 10A of the Oklahoma Statutes , the DA and attorney for the child may give verbal notice to the court of an objection to the order and intention to seek review of the order releasing the child from state custody based on the grounds that the order creates a serious risk of danger to the child's health, safety, or welfare. The court is required to stay the order when the DA or attorney for the child objects, pending the filing of an application by the objecting party. When verbal notice of an objection is given, the procedure in (1) through (3) of this Instruction is followed.
(1) The party giving notice of objection and intention to seek review of the court order files with the presiding judge of the administrative judicial district, within three judicial days from the custody order, a written application to review the order.
(2) When the written application is not filed timely or a written notification is received that the objection is withdrawn, the objection is considered abandoned and the stay is lifted.
(3) When the application is filed timely, the presiding judge of the administrative judicial district assigns a juvenile judge within the judicial district to complete a review of the order.
(A) The review is completed within five judicial days of the filing of the written application for review.
(B) When there is no finding of serious risk of danger, the reviewing judge orders the stay lifted and the child released according to the order under review.
(C) When the reviewing judge finds a serious risk of danger, the court issuing the order under review is required to enter another order.
4. (a) DHS Legal Services assistance. When a question is not satisfactorily resolved by reference to DHS policy or interpretation of policy, a request for formal legal opinion is submitted to DHS Legal Services, as provided in DHS:2-25-3. Requests for informal legal opinions and advice or assistance on individual case problems are, when time permits, made by or after consultation with administrative, program, or supervisory staff.
(b) Prompt consultation. Circumstances that require prompt consultation between a CW specialist and a DHS attorney are not delayed by contacts with supervisory or other staff, who are contacted as soon as possible thereafter. Examples of such circumstances include:
(1) a request, by the court, the DA, the child's attorney, or a parent's attorney, for the DHS position on a question of law or for legal action by DHS made in the course of a hearing or proceeding before the court;
(2) the issuance of an order or directive from the court requiring the provision of a service or other action by DHS within a short time and the service or action cannot be provided because it is not authorized by law, conflicts with DHS policy, or is impossible to provide or perform within the time allowed;
(3) obstruction of a mandatory Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation or necessary and authorized CPS investigative procedures. Reasonable requests by the DA or law enforcement officers aimed at advancing a criminal investigation and planned multidisciplinary team activities that alter normal investigative protocols do not constitute obstruction per OAC 340:75-3-110 and 340:75-3-440; and
(4) receipt of work-related legal process, such as a summons or notice, per OAC 340:75-1-45.
5. Protocol for challenging a court-ordered directed placement. When the court is believed to have exceeded its authority by ordering DHS to place a child in DHS custody in a specific home or placement contrary to the DHS recommendation, the procedure in (1) through (4) of this Instruction is followed.
(1) The CW specialist, immediately after the hearing consults with the supervisor and district director to determine whether DHS will initiate legal action to challenge the court order.
(2) When the decision is made to initiate legal action to challenge the court order, the district director immediately notifies the deputy director for the region and DHS Legal Services.
(3) The DHS Legal Services consults with the Child Welfare Services director to determine the appropriate legal action warranted by the facts and circumstances of the case, including contacting the court and counsel for the parties, preparing appropriate motions to stay, reconsider, or vacate the order, preparing an application for new hearing, or preparing petitions or applications for appellate court relief or intervention.
(4) The DHS Legal Services notifies the district director of the decision and, when necessary, takes the appropriate legal action necessary to challenge the court-ordered directed placement.