Thursday, November 1, 2012

Guide to CPS

Guide to CPS
Child Protective Services (CPS) is a part of Division of Children, Youth and
Families (DCYF) within the Arizona State Department of Economic Security and
works on behalf of children and families of Arizona. The role of CPS is to ensure
the safety of children while maintaining the integrity of the family. When allegations
of child abuse or neglect, exploitation or abandonment indicate the need, Arizona
law requires that CPS conduct an investigation. One of the most important
functions of CPS is to help families receive the services necessary to enable them to
remain together and to build better family relationships.
The Goal of Child Protective Services
Child Protective Services helps families by strengthening the ability of parents,
guardians or custodians to provide good child care. Its primary objective is to keep
children safely within their own families. CPS works cooperatively with parents to
make that happen.
Some Basic Information About Child Abuse And Neglect
Sometimes parents, guardians or custodians take actions that create a danger to
children in the home. Failure to protect children also may result in their being
abused or neglected. There are several types of abuse and neglect:
* Physical abuse includes nonaccidental physical injuries such as broken bones,
bruises, burns, cut or other injuries.
* Sexual abuse occurs when there is sexual conduct or contact with children. Using
children in pornography, prostitution or other types of sexual activity is also sexual
abuse.
* Neglect exists when parents, guardians or custodians place children at substantial
risk of harm by not providing children with adequate food, clothing, shelter,
supervision or medical care. Neglect includes:
- parents leaving a child with no one to care for them or leaving a child with a
caretaker and not returning or making other arrangements for their care.
- Allowing children to live in a hazardous environments.
- Using a child for material gain including forcing a child to panhandle, steal or
perform other illegal activities.
* Emotional abuse or neglect occurs when a child suffers severe anxiety,
withdrawal, depression or other severe emotional disturbance due to acts or
omissions by the parent or caretaker.
How CPS Receives Information About A Family
Any individual or agency representative may call CPS to report that a child is not
receiving adequate care or protection or that a family might benefit from services.
This report can be made by a doctor or nurse, teacher, counselor, social worker or
any other concerned person who is aware of the situation. Arizona law requires
certain people, such as doctors and psychologists, to make a report to CPS or the
police when they suspect that a child is being abused or neglected. When CPS
receives information concerning possible abuse or neglect, the report is screened to
decide whether investigation is necessary. If so, the report is then ranked according
to its seriousness and a decision is made about how quickly the investigation will
begin.
How CPS Investigates Reports of Child Abuse
The law requires Child Protective Services to investigate appropriate reports of
suspected child abuse or neglect. To do this, the law allows CPS to talk to alleged
victims and their siblings without parental permission. Often this occurs at school
because it is a neutral environment. All CPS records are confidential. A CPS
representative may visit the family home to discuss the report and to talk about the
family situation. At the time, suggestions may be offered regarding help that is
available to assist the family.
Parents and other individuals have the right to refuse to be interviewed by the CPS
representative, to provide information and refuse services offered. However, CPS
may proceed with the investigation and file a dependency petition in the juvenile
court when it is necessary to protect a child
How A Substantiated CPS Investigation Finding Is Appealed
After an investigation, if CPS has reason to believe that a parent, guardian or
custodian abused or neglected a child and intends to confirm this, a letter will be
sent to the person accused explaining how an appeal of this decision may be
requested and how to get a copy of the CPS report.
If an appeal is requested, the Division of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF)
Protective Services Review Team (PSRT) will review all information and determine
if there is enough evidence to agree with the decision made by CPS. If the PSRT
disagrees with the decision made by CPS, the person accused will be sent a letter
and the abuse or neglect will not be substantiated.
If the PSRT agrees with the CPS decision, a hearing will be scheduled for the
person accused with the Office of Administrative Hearings. At this hearing, an
Administrative Law Judge will hear all the evidence and make a decision about the
allegation and finding.
The Police And Child Protective Services
Suspected child abuse or neglect may be reported either to the police or to Child
Protective Services. Both agencies share these reports with the other agency.
Although CPS cooperates with the police, the focus of its assessment is different.
CPS seeks to protect children and to maintain and stabilize families, not to arrest or
prosecute parents.
When A Child Needs Protection
Few of the children who are reported to Child Protective Services are removed
from their homes. In most situations where verified family problems exist, the
families and CPS work together cooperatively to resolve them. However, under
certain circumstances, the law does allow a police officer or a CPS representative
to remove a child for up to 72 hours (not counting weekends and holidays) for
protection while the investigation takes place. Within 72 hours, the child must be
returned home or a dependency petition filed in the juvenile court. A child also may
be removed for up to 12 hours for a medical or psychological evaluation. If the
CPS investigation shows that the child must remain out of the home for a longer
period to protect him/her from harm, CPS arranges for safe, temporary care.
The decision to remove a child is not made by one person. The CPS case manager
discusses each case with a supervisor. When a child is in temporary custody and a
dependency petition is being considered, the law requires that a removal review
team composed of certain people to assess the case, and alternatives to continued
out-of-home placement and services. The review team includes the CPS case
manager, a CPS supervisor, a member of a local Foster Care Review Board
(FCRB) and a child's physician, if the child has a medical need or chronic illness.
Other professionally qualified persons may also participate in the removal review.
If requested by a parent, guardian or custodian, staff from the department's Family
Advocacy Office will also participate in the review of a child's removal, before a
dependency petition is filed. In order to ensure sufficient time for the review of the
removal, please make this call with 48 hours (not including weekends and holidays)
of receiving the temporary custody notice.
In certain situations, parents and CPS may agree to place a child in voluntary foster
care as an alternative to a dependency petition. This service, limited to a 90-day
period, is entered into only when families are willing and able to resolve problems
within the allowed time frames. Written consent of the parents as well as the child, if
age 12 or older, is required.
Any time beyond 60 days of the child's initial out-of-home placement will be
counted for termination of parental rights purposes if:
* a dependency petition is filed
* the child is made a ward of the court, and
* the case plan is termination of parental rights based on length of time in out-of
home placement.
What Happens When A Child Is Removed From The Home
When a child is removed from home for protection from immediate harm. he/she is
placed in a licensed foster home, shelter, other licensed family or with a parent or
relative. A written notice, called a Temporary Custody Notice (TCN), CPS-1000A,
is given to the parent, guardian or custodian stating the reason for removal and the
circumstances that placed the child at imminent risk of harm.
The Temporary Custody Notice will include information about a Preliminary
Protective Hearing, obtaining an attorney, a meeting to be held, if a dependency
petition is filed with the juvenile court and rights and responsibilities, services
available, and agencies to contact for assistance.
If a hearing date is not known when the Temporary Custody Notice is served, CPS
will give you a notice of the date and time of the Preliminary Protective Hearing
within 24 hours. This hearing will be held within 5 to 7 days.
How To Get A Lawyer
The court will appoint a lawyer to represent the parents and if they cannot afford
the lawyer's fee, the court provides legal representation without charge. The
Temporary Custody Notice will tell you how to contact an attorney, or this
information will be included on the notice of Preliminary Protective Hearing
delivered by the CPS case manager within 24 hours after the dependency petition is
filed. The parents may consult with the lawyer at any time and have the lawyer
represent them at all hearings concerning the children and their parental rights. Any
disagreements with CPS may also be discussed with the lawyer.
If parents do not have an attorney before the Preliminary Protective Hearing, or
Initial Dependency Hearing, they may make this request at the hearing or at any
other time during court involvement.
The Preliminary Protective Hearing
When a dependency petition has been filed, a Preliminary Protective Hearing will be
held within 5 to 7 days from the child's removal. You must talk to your attorney
before this hearing and come to a meeting before the hearing. Other people can
come to this meeting, including relatives, witnesses, or others with whom the child
might be placed.
At this meeting, efforts will be made to try and reach an agreement about the child's
placement, services that should be provided and visitation with the child. The
results of this meeting will be discussed at the hearing. At the hearing the court will
make orders about the child's placement, visitation and tasks and services to be
provided.
If the parent or guardian denies the allegations in the petition, the court may set a
date for an initial dependency hearing.
The Initial Dependency Hearing
An Initial Dependency Hearing will be set within 21 days after the petition is filed.
At this hearing the court can declare the child "dependent" or set other conferences
or mediation.
After a child has been declared "dependent" the court holds a review hearing at
least every six months. The purpose of this hearing is to evaluate the progress made
in solving family problems. At this hearing, the court also reviews the child's
placement and placement and decides if its continued involvement is necessary. The
court is also required by law to hold an Initial Permanency Hearing if a child has
been in out-of-home care at least one (1) year. The purpose of this hearing is to
determine if the child would be safe if returned home, or if another permanent plan,
such as adoption, guardianship or long-term care is the most appropriate plan for
the child.
Case Plans And Staffings
The assigned CPS case manager develops a proposed case plan for every case
within 21 days of case assignment. If dependency petition has been filed, this case
plan must be a part of the report that is submitted to the court at the time of the
Preliminary Protective Hearing. The case plan identifies the goal, objectives, tasks
or services to be provided, responsible persons and time frames. The parents
should actively participate in the development of the case plan and the case manager
must provide parents with a copy of it.
As soon as possible but not later than 60 days after case opening, the case manager
arranges a staffing. Staffings are meetings held with parents and others who are
providing services to the family to develop or review the case plan. At the first
staffings the permanent case plan is developed. It includes specific details about
case objectives, services that will be provided, who will be responsible for
providing them and how long they will continue. Parents are encouraged and
expected to be involved in this planning process. Staffing also provide an
opportunity for all participants to discuss progress, exchange ideas and
suggestions, and to work together cooperatively to resolve family problems.
Regular staffings are scheduled at least every six months to discuss case progress.
Visitation
Visitation with children in the custody of DES is approved on a case by case basis.
All case plans for children in out-of-home care include a Visitation Agreement
which is developed by the case manager and family members. Family members
include persons who are related by blood or law, are legal guardians, siblings, or
adults with a meaningful relationship with the child. Family members should contact
the child's case manger to request visitation.
The Foster Care Review Board (FCRB)
When a child is placed outside his/her own home, the FCRB reviews the case
within six months of the original date of placement and every six months after that
while the child remains in out-of-home care. The function of the FCRB is to review
the case plan, and progress toward its goal and objectives and to make sure the
child is receiving good care. The FCRB is made up of community members who
are appointed by the juvenile court judge in each county. They are not employed by
DES or by the court. The FCRB makes recommendations to the court about
individual cases but has no decision-making authority. The court considers the
recommendations of the FCRB with other information such as evidence and
testimony from parents, case managers and attorneys.
The Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program
In selected cases, the court may appoint a Court-Appointed Special Advocate
(CASA) to help with a case. CASAs are trained volunteers whose primary
responsibility is to represent the child's best interests. CASA volunteers are
members of the service team, have access to case records, attend staffings, FCRB
reviews and court hearings and may be involved in all case-related activities. From
their unique perspective as the child's special advocate, CASAs prepare reports to
the court for all court hearings and may testify on the child's behalf. The purpose of
this program is to ensure that everything is being done to help reunify the family and
achieve a safe, permanent home for the child as quickly as possible.
If A Child Is Placed In Foster Care
All foster homes and other facilities used by CPS to provide temporary
out-of-home care are licensed by the state and supervised by an assigned licensing
worker. Foster parents are trained to provide care and to work with CPS and family
members toward the goal of family reunification. CPS case managers visit regularly
with children and foster families to ensure that the necessary services, including
medical care, are being provided and to monitor the child's progress. Whenever
possible, children needing protection are placed with members of their extended
family. Placements with relatives may occur during the period of temporary custody
or at any later time. Relatives providing such placements must agree to a
background investigation, a home evaluation, and sign an agreement with CPS that
specifies the conditions of placement.
Services Are Available For Family
The Department of Economic Security provides services to help families deal with
problems and work toward the goal of family reunification. Usually, there is no
charge for these services. The CPS case manger talks with family members to
decide what is needed. There are also other agencies or groups in Arizona that offer
help. Services that may be suggested include:
* Help in getting food, housing, clothing and medical care.
* Intensive family preservation services.
* Psychological evaluations.
* Individual, family or relationship counseling.
* Day care.
* Parent aide services
* Parenting skills training.
* Educational programs, job training or vocational rehabilitation.
* Sexual assault or domestic violence counseling.
* Drug or alcohol treatment programs.
* Peer self-help groups.
Parents Have Responsibilities too
During Child Protective Services involvement, parents are expected to:
* Work with CPS to solve family problems.
* Attend and participate in case staffings, FCRB reviews and court hearings.
* Provide CPS with information about the children.
* Keep CPS informed about changes such as a new address, telephone number,
job, income, marriage, or other living changes.
* Follow court orders.
* Visit children regularly when they are in out-of-home placements.
* Contribute to the cost of children's out-of-home care.
* Keep appointments made with CPS, attorneys, therapists and others who are
working with the family.
When Children Return Home
The goal of CPS is to return every child who has been removed to a safe and
permanent home. The agency helps parents in solving problems and making a safe
living situation for their children. Although the CPS case manager may recommend
that a child return home, the court makes the final determination about when the
child is returned. CPS works diligently with families to reunify them as quickly as
possible and usually continues to provide needed services for some period after
family reunification has occurred.
Additional Information And Help Is Available
The Parent Assistance Program is a service designed to help parent or guardians.
This program, operating through the Administrative Office of the Courts, provides
a 24-hour toll-free hotline to assist parents with their questions and concerns about
CPS. Through the hotline, parents may obtain information about legal assistance,
the juvenile court system and their legal rights and responsibilities. Trained hotline
staff may also provide crisis counseling and referrals to appropriate agencies or
individuals.
To contact the parent assistance program call:
Phoenix: (602) 542-9580
Statewide toll-free: 1-800-732-8193
The Family Advocate's Office Upon request by the parent, guardian or custodian,
the Family Adovate Office will immediately review the removal of a child by CPS
before a dependency petition is filed. The family Advocate Office accepts requests
for removal reviews received within 72 hours of the date and time the Temporary
Custody Notice (TCN) was served; however, since dependency petition need to be
filed within 72 hours of the child's removal, in order to ensure sufficient time for the
review of the removal, please contact the Family Advocate Office within 48 hours
(excluding weekends and holidays) of receiving the TCN.
The DES Family Advocate's Office is also available to provide additional
information or assistance to parents. The responsibility of the Family Advocate is
to handle inquiries, concerns and complaints/grievances about CPS. This office
explains procedures to parents and other concerned individuals, assesses clients'
needs and attempts to resolve problems. The Family Advocate may review case
records, and working in coordination with CPS, initiates the problem-solving
process.
To contact the Family Advocacy Office call:
Statewide toll-free: 1-877-527-0765
Phoenix: (602) 364-0777
The DES Client Advocate's Office is also available to provide additional
information or assistance to parents. The responsibility of the CPS Client Advocate
is to handle inquiries, concerns and complaints about CPS. This office explains
procedures to parents and other concerned individuals, assesses clients' needs and
attempts to resolve problems. The Client Advocate may review case records, and
working in coordination with CPS, initiates the problem-solving process.
To contact the client advocate call:
Phoenix: (602) 542-3581
Statewide toll-free: 1-800-352-8168
The Arizona Ombudsmen-Citizen's Aide is available to handle inquires, concerns
and complaints about agency actions, including CPS. This office may be able to
help you to resolve your complaint.
To contact the ombudsman-citizen's aide call:
Phoenix: (602) 277-7292
Statewide toll-free: 1-800-872-2879
Handling Disagreements With CPS
All parties are encouraged to discuss issues and resolve complaints with their CPS
case manager, and proceed to supervisors or management staff only when
resolution has not been reached. When parents disagree with the case manager, they
should express their concerns either directly to the case manager, within the staffing
or with their lawyer. Parents also may speak with the CPS supervisor. If agreement
still cannot be reached, the assistant program manager or the district program
manager may assist with problem resolution. The CPS Client Advocate
(602-542-3581) may also be of assistance in working with the system.
The Child Welfare Mediation Program, operating within the Arizona Attorney
General's Office, was created to mediate certain disputes that arise among families,
CPS and others concerned with the welfare of children. Mediation of issues will be
arranged when a family member or CPS requests it.
To contact the mediation program call:
Phoenix: (602) 542-4192
Tucson: (520) 628-6504
Flagstaff: (928) 773-0474
To Learn More About The Law
Arizona's laws about child protection are contained in the Arizona Revised Statutes,
Title 8, Section 2-5. These may be obtained at any county court house building or
at the public library.
What are the guidelines for the age that a child can be left home alone while we are
at work
Arizona's statutes (laws) do not designate an age when a child can be left alone. A
parent is responsible for the decisions they make about their children being left
alone.
The law does require however, that the Arizona Department of Economic Security
Child Protective Services (CPS) investigate reports of neglect which include failure
to provide supervision that places a child at substantial risk of harm. Leaving
children alone is included in the category of supervision.
CPS has identified situations (that could cause a substantiated risk of harm to
children who are alone) that are taken as reports for investigation. For example: -
Children under the age of six; - A child of any age who cannot care for his or
herself due to a physical, emotional or mental inability; - Children six to nine years
of age, for three hours or longer; or it is unknown when the parent will return.
CPS understands there are times when school age children may have to be alone for
a while. A call about these (latch key) children doesn't automatically mean a CPS
report will be taken, however, anyone can call CPS when they know or believe
children are alone.
When calls come into CPS, specific questions are asked to help determine if there
is a problem for the child. These may include: Does the child know how to reach
the parent? Does the child know how to get emergency help? Is there a neighbor to
go to? Is someone checking in on the child?
Sometimes police are called to the home. Before removing children, often police
will try to make contact with the parent or other responsible person to come and
supervise the children. The police are required to make these reports to CPS. This
could result in a CPS Specialist contacting the children and parent about the report
and making an assessment of any needed services.
Parent's must use good judgment about their children's capabilities, as they are
ultimately responsible.
We hope this helps in providing an answer to your question. If you need additional
information or wish to speak to someone from CPS, call the CPS Hotline at
1-888-767-2445.