Supreme Court recognizes 22nd Judicial Circuit for successfully holding timely hearings for children

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – On behalf of the 22nd Judicial Circuit, Presiding Judge Bryan Hettenbach accepted the Permanency Award during a special ceremony at the presiding judges’ meeting in Lake Ozark. This is the eighth time the 22nd Circuit, which includes St. Louis city, has received the Permanency Award.

The Permanency Award is given to circuits for successfully holding timely hearings during fiscal 2015 in child abuse and neglect cases in which children removed from their homes are to be reunited with their families or are to be placed in another permanent home as soon as possible.

The hearing time frames apply to six types of hearings and vary depending on the type of hearing. For example, when a child is taken into protective custody, an initial hearing must be held within three business days, the allegations must be proven within 60 days, and a disposition entered within 90 days. If the child remains in protective custody, the court must hold periodic reviews until the child is reunited with its natural parents, is adopted or another permanent placement is made. These time frames were developed based on recommendations from the Commission on Children’s Justice.

In evaluating which circuits qualify for the permanency awards, the circuits first were placed in size classes based on the total number of hearings that were due to be held during a particular time period. A circuit then had to achieve either 100 percent timeliness each quarter or an average of 100 percent annually to qualify.