Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Child Protective Services, The Juvenile Court and Dependent Children.

Child Protective Services,
The Juvenile Court and
Dependent Children.
Bolded words in the text are defined in the glossary, pages 18-21
The Beginning – Child Protective Services
Everyyear, the state of Arizona receives thousands of phone calls to the child abuse
hotline from people who are concerned about the safety of children. The people who
check out these concerns are Child Protective Services (CPS)investigators.
CPS investigates family problems like:
•When children are being hurt by their parents,
•When children are not being protected by their parents,
•When children are left alone for a long time or left in unsafe situations, (sometimes
due to their parent’s death or when their parent is locked up in a jail or prison),
•When parents do not provide a safe home (sometimes because of serious
alcohol, illegal drugs or mental health problems),
•When parents do not provide critical medical care or will not feed their children,
or
•When parents will not let their children live with them.
Most of the time, the CPS investigator is able to help the family with their problems
and keep children safe in their homes. But sometimes children must be moved from
their home to keep them safe.
If a child
1
is moved from his home by CPS, CPSwill find a place for the child to live.
This is called foster careand may be with a relative or a family the child knows, with
afoster family or in a larger home with other children. CPS must tell the parents right
away that the child is in foster care and must return the child to his parents within a
fewdays or get the DependencyCourtinvolved. If CPSdoes not return the child
back to his parents, CPSmust ask the Dependency Court to agree to keep the child
in foster care. Theydo this by giving a DependencyPetitionto the Court.
ADependencyPetitionis a written report to the Court which tells why a child is
not safe in the home, what CPS tried to do to help make things safe, why those things

are not enough to keep the child safe at home and why neither parent can care for
the child. The Petition must go to the Judge within a few days of the child being
moved from his or her home.
Sometimes a Dependency Petition is given to the Court by someone other than CPS.
This may happen when a relative is very concerned about their grandchild, niece or
nephew, and feels the court must get involved to protect the child, or when a Guardian
ad Litem (GAL)is representing a child and believes the child’s home situation is not
safe. This kind of dependency petition is referred to as a private dependency petition.
The Middle – The Juvenile Dependency Court
Court hearings are important meetings where everyone comes together to give
the Judge information to make decisions about the family. There are different kinds
of hearings for different decisions that need to be made. All cases are different, and
not all families go through all hearings.
Look at the Flow Chart (page 6) to follow when the court hearings happen.
Once the courtreceives the DependencyPetition, the Judge must read it right away
and decide if the child would be safe or not if living at home.
If the judge gets the dependency petition and decides that the home is not safe for
the child, the Judge will permit the child to stay in foster care until the first courthearing.
The first hearing is held a few days later and is called a Preliminary Protective
Hearing or PPH. All parents are invited to this hearing, but some may not come.
Sometimes one or both parents cannot be found in time for the hearing.
At the PPH, the Judge will ask the parents if theyagree with CPS about where the
child will live and if theyagree to get help for their problems. If the parents, CPSand
the Judge agree, the child will be made a ward of the court–also called a
dependent child. This usually means the child will stay in foster care while the
parents work with CPSto solve their problems. The Judge will continue to watch over
what happens to and for the child.
If the parents do not go to the PPH, the Judge will have everyone come back in a few
weeks to hear from the parents. This is called the Initial DependencyHearing. Just
like at a PPH, if the parents, CPS and the Judge agree, the child will remain a ward of
the court (a dependent child) and the child will probably stay in foster care while the
parents work with CPSto solve their problems. The Judge will continue to watch over
what happens to and for the child. 

If the parents do not agree with CPS and want their child back home, then there
will be other hearings that happen within the next few months.
First, there will be a hearing so the Judge can decide whether the child needs to be
protected even if the parents do not agree. This is called a Dependency
Adjudication Hearing. At this hearing, the Judge hears from the parents, CPS and
other people (witnesses) who tell their side of the family story. It is the Judge’s job to
listen to everyone and decide what to do to keep the child safe. If the Judge decides
the home is safe, the Judge will tell CPS to take the child back home, or the Judge can
decide that the parents need help before the child can go back home and be safe.
If the Judge decides that the parents need help before they can have their child back
home, there will be another hearing called a Dependency Disposition Hearing. At this
hearing, the Judge decides if the child should stay living where he or she is, or live
somewhere else, while the family works on getting help. Sometimes the Adjudication
Hearing and the Disposition Hearing happen at the same time.
When the Judge makes a decision to keep
watch over the child, CPS tries to work
together with the family to fix the family
problems and make the home safe for the
child. Until the Judge decides the home is
safe, the child will live in foster care and will
get medical and dental care, go to school
and get other help (such as counseling). The
Judge continues to watch over the case and
everyone comes to courtagain for a Report
and ReviewHearingwhich usually takes
place every six months. Sometimes the
Judge will bring everyone back together
sooner to find out what is happening.
The Judge will watch over the child
through Report and Review Hearings as
long as the child is in foster care and
sometimes even when a child goes back
home, to make sure the child is still okay.
At any court hearing, the Judge can
return the child home if it is safe.

The Ending - Options and Goals for Leaving Foster Care
CPS and the parents have about one year to work together before the next big
decision must be made. After a year, there will be a Permanency Planning
Hearing. At this hearing the Judge again listens to the parents, CPS and others talk
about what everyone is doing to fix the family problems. The decision as to what to
do next is often very hard to make so the Judge will require CPS to suggest a good
long-term plan to make sure the child can be healthy and safe.
The Judge will decide how soon the child can go back home, which will depend on
howwell the parents are doing with solving
their problems. If the Judge decides it is not
safe for the child to go back home, the
Judge will tell CPS to find another
permanent home for the child. This could
be living with relatives or friends
permanently, or being adopted by another
family. Sometimes, a child will stay in foster
care until they are at least 18 years old.
Depending on the decision of the Judge,
other hearings may be needed. If the Judge
decides a child should be adopted by
another family, there must be a court
hearing first to decide whether the parents
will no longer be able to make decisions
about where the child will live and how to take care of the child. This is called a
Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) Hearing. If the Judge does end the parents’
rights, it is CPS’ job to make sure that the child finds a good, forever, adoptive family.
Many times, the child is adopted by a relative or his or her foster parent. There are
many steps to a child being adopted; however, the final step is the Adoption
Hearingwhere the Judge decides that the child will be placed with the adoptive
family forever. At this hearing, the Judge must ask a child who is age 12 or older
whether theywant to be adopted by the family. If the Judge and child agree, then the
adoption is approved.
Sometimes the child can have contact with his or her birth parents and other family
members after the child is adopted. Tomake this decision, the Judge may ask the
child their opinion, especially if the child is at least 12 years old. Contact with the birth
parents and other family may be sharing letters, pictures or visits.
When an adoption is approved, the Judge and CPSare no longer involved with the
child and the child’s new adoptive family.

Sometimes, adoption is not what’s best
or possible for a child. In that case, the
Judge may decide that a child should
permanently live with a relative, a family
friend or the child’s foster family until the
child is at least 18 years old. This would
require another type of hearing called a
Guardianship Hearing. If the Judge agrees to a guardianship, the family the child is
with will make all the decisions for the child even though the rights of the child’s birth
parents have not ended. If everyone agrees, the child could continue to have contact
with the birth parents and other family members even after the guardianship is
approved. Contact with the birth parents and other family members may be sharing
letters, pictures or visits.
When the child cannot go back home, and adoption or guardianship are not
possible, the child might stay in foster care until he is at least 18 years old. In this case,
the Judge may agree to a case plan called, Alternative Planned Permanent Living
Arrangement, where the child continues to go to school, get services and skills
training to help learn what he or she needs to knowabout being an adult, before
leaving foster care. If this plan is approved, the Judge continues to reviewthe case and
watch out for the child at Report and Review Hearings.
By law, a child becomes an adult when he or she reaches the age of 18. At that time,
the Judge cannot make any more decisions about the child (young adult) in foster
care. But, these young adults can choose to stay in foster care to receive help with
services and life decisions until they are 21 or they can choose to leave foster care
when theyturn 18or older. (Note: If the young adult leaves foster care and then
decides that he or she really does need the help and support that CPS can provide,
theycan return to CPSfor help until theyare 21 years old. Former foster children who
want to return for help from CPSthrough the independent living program must
contact CPS directly. The court is not involved.)
Report and Review Hearings continue throughout the time a child is under the age
of 18and stays in foster care.
After a child is safe at home, in an adoptive home, in a Guardian’s home or has
turned 18, the Dependencycase is closed and no more court hearings are held.