Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Court System

Here is a sort of breakdown of how a child is brought to CPS.

1. Report is received, ER (Emergency Response)responds and the child is removed. A detention hearing is set. At the detention hearing, the child will either go home (with Family Maintenance) or be detained. If the child is detained, relative placements are the preference. The child remains in shelter (30 days) or foster care until relatives are approved if available. At this time, a child may be placed in a concurrent planning home. What that is is a foster home where the family prefers to just be a foster family and supports parent reunification, but is open to adopting if reunification is not possible.

2. So if the child is detained after the detention hearing, CDU (Court Dependency Unit) investigates. A Juris/Dispo Hearing is set for 30 days. At the J/D hearing, the child will either go home with Family Maintenance (FM), or be removed by the court and become a dependent. If the child is removed, most likely there there will be Family Reunification (FR) services provided and another court date will be set for 6 months to determine how services are going. FR services are for the birth parents/parent, and they could be anything from parenting classes or drug rehab. Services also include parent/child visits, and services for the child.

3. At the end of six months, the court will determine one of two things: a) additional services are not ordered and adoption becomes an immediate plan. b) if FR services are going well, the parents are offered six more months of services and a review hearing is set in another six months. But if the child is 3 yrs and younger, the parents are only given the
first 6 months, not an additional 6 months.

4. So if services are terminated, a 366.26 Hearing (Selection and Implementation Hearing) is set to terminate parental rights in 120 days. Parental rights must be severed to ALL parents, including unknown fathers (which is typically the case). The child must be in an adoptive home for parental rights to be severed.

As you can see, it's a lot of information to digest and figure out. It's extremely overwhelming and stressful at times, and very emotional. But I want this more than anything and am in for the long haul. There is a sort of spectrum of High Risk to Low Risk in regard to the place a child can be in the court system. Of course I want to be matched with a child that is Low Risk, meaning that Family Reunification is very low. But even with that, there will be some risk. My child will more than likely be placed with me before parental rights have been severed, and that scares me more than anything. But I trust my social workers and know that they not only have the child's best interest, but mine as well. And my social worker is not the child's social worker. The child will have their own SW.

So there ya go! It's a lot I know. And so much more to learn. I will try and update you all as much as I can. But honestly, it's tough keeping up with my blog! But I love all of your comments and words of support and encouragement! Please feel free to ask any questions you may have!

Thank you!!!


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