Has your child been removed from your home because someone suspects your
child has been abused or neglected? If so, this article is meant for you.
If you are the subject of a
child abuse investigation, bear in mind that this is very serious and can have long-lasting effects.
The outcome of a
juvenile dependency case can change your child’s life and it can change your life permanently.
As such, you are strongly encouraged to read this article in its entirety
and contact an attorney from our firm to help you to understand your legal
rights and options.
How Cases Are Started
In California, child abuse and neglect cases are initiated
after someone makes a report because they’re concerned the parents are
abusing their child or not taking proper care of their child. A case can
start when someone reports a concern that someone else, other than the
parents, is abusing a child or not taking property care of a child, or
is failing to protect the child.
Such a report can also be made when someone is concerned that a child is
in danger of being abused or in danger of not being properly cared for
by the parents or someone else. Generally, people make reports of possible
child abuse or neglect to the police or to social workers.
Whenever someone reports child abuse or neglect, by law, the social worker
or police are required to launch an investigation. If the police are notified
first, usually the police turn the case over to a social worker to conduct
The Social Worker’s Investigation
Once a case lands in the hands of a social worker, he or she will investigate
the report by talking to the parents, the child, people who know the parents
and the family, and the social worker will look at where the family lives.
The social worker may talk to the child at their school without the parents
being present for the interview. “But is that legal?” a lot
of parents ask. Social workers can talk to children at school; they do
not need court orders to speak to children at school, as long as there
are no police officers present when social workers talk to children. However,
if a social worker were to talk to your child at school, he or she would
have to inform you that they interviewed your child at school.
After the social worker conducts their investigation, one of the following
The social worker
will not take any action because he or she did not find any evidence of abuse or neglect.
The social worker will
offer you voluntary services, which are free services that can help you get educated on safe parenting.
The social will
leave your child in your car, but they’ll petition the court to open a case that will protect
The social worker will
take your child and remove him or her from your care. This is the worst-case scenario. In this situation, the
social worker would file a petition with the court asking the court to
open a case to protect your child. If the social worker believes your
child is in immediate danger under your care, the social worker will remove
your child from your home. If this happens, the social worker may place
your child in someone else’s care, which we explain below.
What Do I Do if My Child Was Removed?
If your child was removed from your home, surely, you’re very distraught
right about now. One of the single, most important things you can do in
this situation is giving the social worker on your case the names and
numbers of family members who you’d feel good about taking your
child for the time being. Do you have a parent, a sibling, a grandparent,
or an aunt or uncle who you’d like to care for your child during
the investigation? If so, give their information to the social worker.
When children are taken away from their parents, they have four placement
options: 1) the other parent if the parents do not live together, 2) a
family member, or 3) a foster home, or 4) a shelter. Most people don’t
want their children to be placed with strangers as this can be very stressful
and traumatic for the children and their parents. If you don’t want
your child going to a foster home or a shelter, be sure to give your relatives’
information to the social worker on your case.
“Can I see my child, after they’ve been removed from my care?”
If your child is taken away from you, we suggest that you ask the social
worker for frequent visits with your son or daughter. If it is appropriate
considering the facts of your case to see your child, you’ll be
able to see him or her while you wait to attend your first court hearing,
which is called the “detention hearing” in most California courts.
Even if your child has been removed, you still have rights regarding your
child’s education. So, we advise that you continue being involved
in your child’s educational decisions. If you fail to respond and
participate in school meetings, your right to make educational decisions
on your child’s behalf can be limited by the court. You also have
the right to make healthcare decisions for your child and attend your
child’s doctor's appointments.
If you’re subject to child abuse or neglect case,
contact Claery & Hammond, LLP at once to schedule a