INSTRUCTIONS TO STAFF 340:75-1-23
1. (a) Oklahoma Statutes. The CW worker accesses website http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/index.asp?ftdb=STOKST to review the online statute.
(b) Consideration of termination of parental rights.
(1) Termination of parental rights is an extreme legal step that requires in-depth analysis of all the facts in the case. The parent permanently loses control and custody of the child. Visitation and communication with the child may continue if in the best interests of the child. Most terminations of parental rights occur after the parent(s) fails to correct the conditions that led to the child's removal from the home. Despite all the service efforts to assist the parent(s), the parent(s) is either unwilling or unable to do what is needed to make the home environment safe for the child.
(2) Circumstances that indicate a child cannot be safely returned home, include, but are not limited to examples listed in (A) through (H).
(A) Despite diligent and appropriate or reasonable efforts by Child Welfare (CW) and other service providers, the parent(s) has failed to correct the behaviors or conditions that threaten the child's safety.
(B) There exists a long-standing pattern of abandonment or extreme parental disinterest.
(C) There is a projected long-term parental incapacity to care for the child based upon mental or emotional illness, mental retardation, or physical incapacity.
(D) There is a history of drug or alcohol related incapacity or unwillingness to care for the child, and repeated unsuccessful efforts at treatment.
(E) There is prior abuse or neglect of the child, a sibling, or other children in the family and the parent has failed to correct the behaviors or conditions that threaten the child's safety.
(F) The neglect or abuse of the child was so severe that the court has determined reasonable efforts to reunify the child are not required.
(G) Prior abuse or neglect has caused the child to develop a deep aversion or fear of the parent that has not subsided with counseling.
(H) The parent is imprisoned for a prolonged period and will be unavailable during the child's minority.
(c) Petition for termination. Federal and Oklahoma laws require that a petition for termination be filed for a child no later than the end of the 15th month from the date of out-of-home placement. The requirement to consider filing a petition is only applied to a child once if an exception, as described in OAC 340:75-1-23 Instructions to Staff 1(e), is determined appropriate and the State does not file a petition for termination of parental rights.
(1) When a child has been in a continuous, single episode of out-of-home placement, the date of out-of-home placement is either the date of adjudication or 60 days after removal from the home, whichever is earlier.
(2) When the out-of-home placement is not a continuous, single episode:
(A) a cumulative method is used to count the 15 months, if a child experiences multiple exits from and entries into out-of-home placement during the 22 month episode; and
(B) trial home visits and runaway episodes are not included in the 15-month calculation.
(d) Documenting motion or petition for termination. For any case where the Child Welfare (CW) worker has requested a petition to terminate, the CW worker documents the request in the KIDS/Court/Par Rights/Recommend screen within five working days.
(e) Exception determination. For any case where the CW worker or court has determined that the petition to terminate is not required based on an exception, the CW worker documents the type of exception in the KIDS Court/Par Rights/Recommend screen within five working days. The exception request is submitted to the court in the applicable court or progress report. The exceptions, as set forth by statute, are:
(1) the child is properly cared for by a relative;
(2) the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) has documented compelling reasons for determining that filing a motion or petition is not in the best interests of the child and may include consideration of any of the following circumstances:
(A) the parent or legal guardian has maintained a relationship with the child and the child would benefit from continuing this relationship;
(B) the child, who is 12 years or older, objects to the termination of the parent-child legal relationship;
(C) the foster parents of the child are unable to adopt the child because of exceptional circumstances that do not include an unwillingness to accept legal responsibility for the child but are willing and capable of providing the child with a stable and permanent environment, and the removal of the child from the physical custody of the foster parents would be seriously detrimental to the emotional well-being of the child because the child has substantial psychological ties to the foster parents;
(D) the child is not capable of achieving stability if placed in a family setting; or
(E) the child is an unaccompanied, refugee minor and the situation regarding the child involves international legal issues or compelling foreign policy issues; or
(3) OKDHS has not provided to the family of the child, consistent with the time period in the case plan, the services that are necessary for the safe return of the child to the child's home, if reasonable efforts are required.