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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 12-1899



Promulgation of Local Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure; MD. No. 81-2008

[42 Pa.B. 6135]
[Saturday, September 29, 2012]

Order of the Court

And Now, 24th day of August, 2012, it is hereby Ordered and Decreed that Venango County Court of Common Pleas Local Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure 1101, 1102, 1105, 1242, 1242(A)(2), 1242E, 1242F, 1390, 1391, 1392, 1393, 1394, 1395, and 1396, are adopted. These rules shall be continuously available for public inspection and copying in the office of the prothonotary/clerk of courts. Upon request and payment of reasonable costs of reproduction and mailing, the prothonotary/clerk shall furnish to any person a copy of any local rule. The said local rules shall become effective and enforceable thirty (30) days after the date of publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

By the Court

President Judge

V.C.R.J.C.P. 1101. Construction.

 These rules shall be construed using the same rules of construction used in construing the Pennsylvania Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure.

V.C.R.J.C.P. 1102. Citing the Local Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure.

 These rules shall be cited as ''V.C.R.J.C. P. ____ .''

V.C.R.J.C.P. 1105. Local Rules. Noncompliance.

 No case shall be dismissed nor request for relief granted or denied because of failure to comply with one or more of these local rules. In any case of noncompliance, the Court will alert the party to the specific provision at issue and will provide a reasonable time for subsequent compliance.

V.C.R.J.C.P. 1242. General Conduct of Shelter Care Hearing.

 The Court shall make a determination if the subject child is in need of Shelter Care. At the Shelter Hearing the Court shall determine if and where the child shall be placed, what services the child requires and determine an appropriate visitation schedule.

V.C.R.J.C.P. 1242A(2). Appointment of Counsel for Parents.

 In all Dependency Cases an attorney will be provided to the parents and or custodians to represent them during the pendency of the case.

V.C.R.J.C.P. 1242E. Parents' Rights Video.

 The parties shall view the parents' rights video at the Shelter Review Hearing if the child is in placement. In the event that there is no shelter placement, the parties shall view the video prior to the Facilitation. This video is mandatory for parents and guardians and the video is available for anyone else who wants to view the video.

V.C.R.J.C.P. 1242F. Additional Shelter Hearing Provisions.

 In addition the Court may also:

 Determine whether the child and/or the parent, guardian, and/or custodian should be referred for appropriate services; and,

 The Agency/Petitioner shall provide a copy of the shelter application to the parties prior to the commencement of the hearing. The Agency/Petitioner may serve the attorneys via e-mail or fax in addition to the other methods of service.

Chapter 13
Part F. Facilitation

V.C.R.J.C.P. 1390. Facilitation.

 Immediately preceding the Dependency Hearing on a petition to adjudicate a child to be dependent, or at a time otherwise directed by the Court, Facilitation may be conducted.

V.C.R.J.C.P. 1391. Facilitation defined.

 Facilitation is a confidential process in which a neutral third person, appointed by the court, acts to encourage and to assist the parties in achieving a non-adversarial resolution to the allegations set forth in the petition alleging the child to be dependent. The Facilitator assists the parties in problem identification and resolution. During the facilitation process, the parties may agree to orally amend the allegations of the petition and the terms of the proposed plan for parent participation. The Facilitator will assist the parties in resolving issues regarding the child's placement; the plan for visitation by the parent, guardian, and/or custodian; the responsibilities, duties and requisite services for the family's care and treatment; the roles of other individuals in the family's service plan; and other matters relative to insuring the child's safety and best interests.

V.C.R.J.C.P. 1392. Participants to the Facilitation.

 The parent, guardian, and/or custodian; the attorney representing the parent, guardian, and/or custodian; the guardian ad litem; court appointed special advocate (CASA); and the Agency may participate in the facilitation process. If Facilitation occurs, the child shall attend the Facilitation, unless the child has been excused pursuant to Pa. R. J.C.P. 1128(B). The child's relatives; the foster parent; persons providing support for the parent, guardian or custodian; and/or other persons who have significant or caretaking relationships to the child may be in attendance at the Facilitation unless excluded by the court. Facilitations are not otherwise open to the public except as may be approved by the Court for the purposes of training or research.

V.C.R.J.C.P. 1393. Facilitation Procedure.

 All cases pending a Dependency Hearing may first bet submitted for facilitation.

 a. All parties are required to attend the Facilitation and each party shall be permitted to participate in the Facilitation to the extent each party desires to do so and, if participating in the Facilitation Process, shall mediate the issues in good faith. The parties are not compelled to reach any agreement.

 b. The Facilitator shall first determine whether the parties named in the petition have been apprised of their rights and if they are represented by Counsel. The Facilitator shall explain the process and identify the issues that are to be discussed in Facilitation any party attending the Facilitation must have Counsel present unless the right to Counsel is affirmatively waived

 c. Each allegation of the petition alleging the child to be Dependent shall be reviewed. The parties shall be given an opportunity to explain their position with regard to each allegation, however, no party shall be compelled to speak concerning the Dependency Allegations, but may always be permitted to participate in the discussions and potential agreements with regard to the parent participation plan, family service plan, or other proposed services Where appropriate and, by agreement of the parties, each allegation may be modified.

 d. Once the petition is facilitated, the Facilitator shall assist the participants in determining the nature and types of services in which the child or parent, guardian, custodian, or other person should be required to participate. Agreements reported to the Court following facilitation must be based on the autonomous decisions of the parties and not the decisions of the Facilitator.

 e. The Facilitator shall orally present the results of the facilitation to the Court at the Dependency Hearing and, if appropriate, the Dispositional Hearing. The report shall include a recitation of the parties' respective admissions and denials to the allegations of the petition, the parties' agreement as to the proposed provisions of the parent participation plan, family service plan, and proposed services. Any allegation which is denied by a party shall simply be reported by the Facilitator to the Court as being denied without further explanation.

 f. At the Dependency Hearing, the Court will review the stipulations of fact that have been agreed upon at the Facilitation by the parties in the form of allegations that have been admitted as alleged or admitted as modified. The Court will then determine if the stipulations of fact are sufficient for the Court to enter a finding of dependency and/or whether a further fact-finding hearing will be necessary. With regard to any agreement reached by the parties with respect to the Parent Participation Plan, Family Service Plan or proposed services, the Court may adopt the parties' agreement as an order of the Court if it determines the agreement is in the best interests of the child. Any issues that are not resolved through facilitation or not adopted as an order of the Court may be referred back by the Court for additional facilitation, may be resolved by order of the court based on a summary presentation, or may be scheduled by the Court for subsequent hearing.

 g. The rules of evidence do not apply in facilitation.

V.C.R.J.C.P. 1394. Termination of Facilitation.

 The Facilitator may terminate facilitation whenever the Facilitator believes that continuation of the process would harm or prejudice the child or one or more of the parties. The Facilitator may bifurcate the process whenever the Facilitator determines that a party's prior history of domestic violence would impede another party's ability to openly discuss issues should the other person be present.

V.C.R.J.C.P. 1395. Confidentiality.

 Statements and issues discussed in Facilitation are confidential and may not be used as statements against interest or otherwise against a party in any Dependency Hearing, fact finding, or in any civil or criminal proceeding unless consent by the declarant is given. Facilitators shall not be subject to process requiring the disclosure of any matter discussed during the Facilitation, but rather, such matters shall be considered confidential and privileged in nature. The confidentiality requirement may not be waived by the parties, and a successful objection to the obtaining of testimony or physical evidence from Facilitation may be made by any party or by the facilitators. Nothing in this rule shall prevent persons subject to Mandated Reporting Requirements from complying with said laws and they shall be permitted to make all disclosures and reports required by law and the Facilitator shall inform the parties accordingly.

V.C.R.J.C.P. 1396. Qualification of Facilitators.

 All Facilitators shall be appointed by the Court. In determining the appointment of a Facilitator, the Court may require any of the following training to be completed:

 a. A series of court-approved classes or seminars on the principles of Family Group Decision Making and/or dependency mediation as offered by the Court,

 b. Classes or seminars offered by American Humane Association,

 c. Classes or seminars offered by model courts designated by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges;

 d. Dependency mediation courses that may be offered by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts;

 e. Classes or seminars on the law governing dependent children;

 f. Classes or seminars on issues related to poverty, racial and cultural diversity, strength based practices, and positive youth development;

 g. In addition to the foregoing, the Court may require a Facilitator to complete such other training as the Court determines to be necessary and appropriate.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 12-1899. Filed for public inspection September 28, 2012, 9:00 a.m.]

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