When it comes to CPS cases otherwise known as juvenile dependency cases in California, are they public or not?
The answer may surprise you. Unlike other court proceedings, juvenile dependency cases are confidential by law.
In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at what that means for families involved in a CPS case / Juvenile Dependency case.
What Does the Law Say?
Juvenile dependency cases in California are governed by the Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC).
WIC 300 states that juvenile dependency proceedings “shall be confidential and shall not be open to the public.” This means that the general public cannot access juvenile dependency records.
The “juvenile case file” are dependency or delinquency records maintained by the court, probation, social services agency, and law enforcement; they may contain personal information – psychological assessments, education records, medical records, drug test results, and California Information and Identification (Cll) information for the minor, the parents or extended family.
WIC § 827 would control disclosure even if a case were not filed.
The juvenile case file may include the following:
Court Delinquency (WIC § 601, et seq.) or Dependency (WIC § 300, et seq.) files
Probation Department files – containing: risk/needs assessments, case management notes, and drug test results
Social Services Agency files – containing: SSA reports, medical records, case management notes, school records, parent & relative information, psychotropic medication information, psychological assessment and treatment information, visitation logs, police reports, CASA reports, and witness statements.
Are CPS Cases / Juvenile Dependency Cases Open to the Public?
The short answer is no. CPS cases and Juvenile dependency cases are not open to the public in California. This is because of the confidential nature of the proceedings. However, there are exceptions to this rule.
Some of the people who may have access to juvenile dependency records include:
The child’s attorney
The child’s parents or guardians
The child welfare worker assigned to the case
The juvenile court judge
The district attorney
Other people listed under Section 828
Why are Juvenile Dependency Cases Confidential?
There are several reasons why juvenile dependency cases are kept confidential.
First, it is essential to protect the privacy of the children and families involved.
Second, confidentiality helps encourage families to participate in the juvenile dependency process without fear of stigma or embarrassment.
Are There Exceptions to the Confidential Rule?
There are some exceptions to the rule of confidentiality.
For example, law enforcement may access juvenile dependency records if they investigate a crime. Child welfare workers may also share juvenile dependency information with other child welfare agencies.
In addition, the juvenile dependency court may choose to release information to the public in some instances, such as when a child is missing or there is a threat to public safety.
WHAT SHOULD YOU IF YOU ARE DEALING WITH A CPS CASE OR JUVENILE DEPENDENCY CASE?
If you have been accused of abuse or neglect, it is crucial to get an attorney as soon as possible.
You deserve to have a lawyer who will help you fight to get your children back. If you are dealing with a juvenile dependency case, child-welfare services case, or CPS case in Orange County, California, or Southern California, you need thejuvenile dependency attorneys at ALL Trial Lawyers by your side.
Don’t risk calling the wrong lawyer. If CPS is investigating you, you do not have to deal with them alone.