An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority. Citation is disfavored, but may be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(e)(3) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Proced ure.

NO. COA04-1360


Filed: 3 May 2005


T.C.                                Wilkes County
                                No. 02 J 193

    Appeal by respondent from order entered 26 May 2004 by Judge David V. Byrd in Wilkes County District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 25 April 2005.

    Paul W. Freeman, Jr. for petitioner-appellee Wilkes County Department of Social Services.

    Winifred H. Dillon for respondent-appellant Robert Bobbitt.

    ELMORE, Judge.

    Respondent, Robert Bobbitt, appeals from a permanency planning order relieving petitioner, Wilkes County Department of Social Services (DSS), from efforts to reunify him with his daughter T.C.
    On 29 October 2002 petitioner filed a petition alleging that T.C. was dependent, in that T.C.'s mother was unable to provide for her care or supervision and lacks an appropriate alternative child care arrangement. Respondent's whereabouts were unknown at the time. A nonsecure custody order was issued on 1 November 2002, and T.C. was placed in DSS custody. Respondent was served with the summons on 6 November 2002.
    On 13 January 2003, the trial court adjudicated T.C. neglected, with the consent of T.C.'s mother and respondent, andcontinued her in DSS custody. The trial court ordered respondent to establish paternity and ordered petitioner to conduct a home study of respondent's household. After conducting a review hearing on 2 June 2003, the trial court entered an order continuing T.C.'s custody with DSS. The trial court also ordered respondent and his wife to complete psychological evaluations. On 26 May 2004, the trial court entered a permanency planning order which continued T.C.'s custody with DSS and ordered that the permanent plan for T.C. be changed to adoption. From this order, respondent appeals.
    The issue on appeal is whether the trial court erred by entering a permanency planning order that does not comply with the statutory requirements of N.C. Gen Stat. § 7B-907 (2003).
    The goal of the permanency planning hearing is “to develop a plan to achieve a safe, permanent home for the juvenile within a reasonable period of time.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-907(a) (2003). Under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-907(b), if at the conclusion of the permanency planning hearing the trial court determines the children are not to return home, the trial court must consider the following enumerated factors and make written findings of fact regarding those relevant to the case:
        (1) Whether it is possible for the juvenile to be returned home immediately or within the next six months, and if not, why it is not in the juvenile's best interests to return home;

        (2) Where the juvenile's return home is unlikely within six months, whether legal guardianship or custody with a relative or some other suitable person should be established, and if so, the rights and responsibilities which should remain with the parents;
        (3) Where the juvenile's return home is unlikely within six months, whether adoption should be pursued and if so, any barriers to the juvenile's adoption;

        (4) Where the juvenile's return home is unlikely within six months, whether the juvenile should remain in the current placement or be placed in another permanent living arrangement and why;

        (5) Whether the county department of social services has since the initial permanency plan hearing made reasonable efforts to implement the permanent plan for the juvenile;

        (6) Any other criteria the court deems necessary.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-907(b) (2003).
    This Court has acknowledged that “[w]hile it is true that the court is not expressly required to make every finding listed, it must still make those findings that are relevant to the permanency plans being developed for the children.” In re J.S., 165 N.C. App. 509, 512, 598 S.E.2d 658, 660-61 (2004) (trial court committed reversible error by entering a permanency planning order that continued custody with DSS without making proper findings as to the relevant statutory criteria required by N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B- 907(b)). This rule applies even if “the evidence and reports in this case might have supported the determination of the trial court.” In re Ledbetter, 158 N.C. App. 281, 286, 580 S.E.2d 392, 395 (2003) (reversing on the grounds that “our statute requires the court to consider the [N.C. Gen. Stat.] § 7B-907(b) factors and make relevant findings”).
     Here, the trial court found that “[r]eturn of the juvenile to her father's home within the next six (6) month[s] is highlyunlikely,” however, the order fails to state why it was not possible for the minor T.C. to return home. See In re Ledbetter, 158 N.C. App. at 286, 580 S.E.2d at 395 (reversing the trial court's order as it failed to explain why it was not in the child's best interest to be returned to his mother and because it did not make the findings required by N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-907(b)). Furthermore, the order fails to explain why T.C. should stay in her current placement. Because the trial court's findings fail to comply with the statutory requirements of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-907(b), we remand this matter to the trial court to make the appropriate findings of fact.
    Reversed and remanded.
    Judges BRYANT and GEER concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

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