D. Court Shall Review Service Plan

1. Service Plan Shall Be Filed

Except as provided by Tex. Fam. Code § 262.2015, DFPS must file a service plan not later than the 45th day after the date the court renders a temporary order appointing DFPS as temporary managing conservator of a child. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.101.

Tex. Fam. Code § 263.103 requires that the service plan shall be developed jointly with the parents. If the parents refuse to or are unable to participate, DFPS is required to file the service plan with the court and request that the court order that it is effective. The service plan remains in effect until amended by the court. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.103.

Tex. Fam. Code § 263.104 clarifies that any amendments to the service plan shall be developed jointly with the parents. If the parents refuse to or are unable to participate, DFPS is required to file the service plan with the court for it to become effective. The parent is allowed to file a motion with the court at any time to request review and modification of the amended service plan. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.104. A court can modify a service plan at any time. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.106.

2. Contents of the Service Plan

The service plan must:

•   Be specific;

•   Be in writing and in a language that the parents understand, or made otherwise available;

•   Be prepared by DFPS in conference with the child's parents;

•   State appropriate deadlines;

•   Specify the primary permanency goal and at least one alternative goal;

•   State the steps necessary to:

◦   return the child to the child's home if the placement is in foster care;

◦   enable the child to remain in the child's home with the assistance of a service plan if placement is in the home under DFPS's supervision; or

◦   otherwise provide a permanent safe placement for the child;

•   State the actions and responsibilities that are necessary for the child's parents to take to achieve the plan goal during the period of the service plan and the assistance to be provided to the parents by DFPS or other agency toward meeting that goal;

•   State any specific skills or knowledge that the child's parents must acquire or learn, as well as any behavioral changes the parents must exhibit, to achieve the plan goal;

•   State the actions and responsibilities that are necessary for the child's parents to take to ensure that the child attends school and maintains or improves the child's academic compliance;

•   State the name of the person with DFPS whom the child's parents may contact for information relating to the child if other than the person preparing the plan; and

•   Prescribe any other term or condition that DFPS determines to be necessary to the service plan's success. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.102(a).

The service plan shall include the following statement:

TO THE PARENT: THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT DOCUMENT. ITS PURPOSE IS TO HELP YOU PROVIDE YOUR CHILD WITH A SAFE ENVIRONMENT WITHIN THE REASONABLE TIME PERIOD SPECIFIED IN THE PLAN. IF YOU ARE UNWILLING OR UNABLE TO PROVIDE YOUR CHILD WITH A SAFE ENVIRONMENT, YOUR PARENTAL AND CUSTODIAL RIGHTS MAY BE RESTRICTED OR TERMINATED OR YOUR CHILD MAY NOT BE RETURNED TO YOU. THERE WILL BE A COURT HEARING AT WHICH A JUDGE WILL REVIEW THIS SERVICE PLAN. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.102(b).

3. Service Plans for Children Under Two Years of Age

DFPS shall consult with relevant professionals to determine the skills or knowledge that the parents of a child under two years of age should learn or acquire to provide a safe placement for the child. DFPS shall incorporate those skills and abilities into service plans, as appropriate. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.102(f).

4. Effective Date

The service plan takes effect when:

•   The child's parents and the appropriate representative of DFPS sign the plan; or

•   The court issues an order giving effect to the plan without the parents' signatures. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.103(d).

The plan is in effect until amended by the court or is superseded by a new plan negotiated between the parents and DFPS. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.103(e) and Tex. Fam. Code § 263.104. A court can modify a service plan at any time. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.106.

5. Court Implementation of Service Plan

After reviewing the original or any amended service plan, and making any changes or modifications deemed necessary, the court must incorporate the original or amended service plan into the orders of the court. The court may also render additional appropriate orders to implement or require compliance with an original or amended service plan. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.106.