CPS Investigations in Orange County, California: How They Can Lead to Juvenile Dependency Cases
When a child is removed from their home due to CPS investigations in Orange County, California, it can often lead to juvenile dependency cases.
In these types of cases, the court will determine whether or not the child should be placed with a family member or in foster care.
WHAT IS CPS?
Child Protective Services (CPS) is the government agency responsible for investigating reports of child abuse and neglect. CPS will open an investigation if they receive a report that a child has been abused or neglected.
Once the investigation is opened, a CPS investigation will determine whether or not the child is at risk of harm. If they determine that the child is at risk of abuse or neglect or has been abused or neglected, the child may be removed from the home while a formal CPS case is opened against the parents.
CPS and Child Welfare Services are similar agencies with similar roles. Whether you will have to work with CPS, or another agency, depends on where your case is located. For example, in Orange County, the governing entity is CPS.
HOW IS CPS CASE OPENED?
A CPS case is opened when someone makes a report to the agency that a child has been abused or neglected.
Anyone can make the report, including a family member, friend, teacher, doctor, or neighbor. Once the CPS report is made, CPS will open an investigation.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A CPS INVESTIGATION?
During a CPS investigation, a social worker will interview the child, the parents, and other adults who live in the home. The social worker will also speak to any witnesses who may have information about the alleged abuse or neglect.
The social worker will use this information to determine whether or not the child is at risk of harm. The social worker has a legal obligation to act in the child’s best interests.
This obligation means that if the social worker has a good faith belief that the child has been abused or neglected in violation of WIC 300, she must remove the child from the home, and a juvenile dependency case will be opened.
WHAT IS JUVENILE DEPENDENCY?
Juvenile dependency is a legal term that refers to the court-supervised care of minors.
During Juvenile Dependency proceedings, the court will determine whether the child’s best interests are and if the parents will be reunified with the parents. If reunification is not possible, the court will terminate parental rights.
Therefore, if CPS decides to open an investigation, the court will take jurisdiction over the child and decide whether or not to open a juvenile dependency case at the first court hearing.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF JUVENILE DEPENDENCY?
There are many consequences of juvenile dependency. Juvenile dependency can also result in the loss of parental rights. The most severe consequence is that the parent’s rights may be terminated, and the child will be permanently removed from the home and placed in foster care.
Juvenile Dependency cases may also take a long time to resolve. Depending on the evidence the social worker reports and how responsive parents are to their programs, cases can last from 6 months to 18 months. Parents may have limited visitation rights or supervised visits when they see their children during this time.
If CPS is investigating you, it is essential to seek legal assistance immediately. The Juvenile Court process can be very complex, and you will need an experienced attorney to protect your rights.
Our firm has extensive experience handling CPS investigations in Orange County and all over Southern California. We can help you navigate the Juvenile Dependency and Criminal Court systems.
WHAT TYPES OF CHILD ABUSE FALL UNDER WIC 300?
Section 300 of the Wellness and Institutions Code (WIC) lists the types of abuse and neglect that fall under CPS jurisdiction. These include:
WHAT ELSE CAN HAPPEN IF CPS FINDS THAT ABUSE OR NEGLECT OCCURRED?
If a CPS investigation finds that abuse or neglect occurred, not only will a dependency case be opened, but criminal charges may be filed as well.
The penalties for child abuse are very severe. Depending on the type of abuse, the parent may have to do jail time on the lesser end or be required to register as a sex offender on the more extreme end. They may also be sentenced to jail or prison and face hefty court fines.
WHAT SHOULD I DO I HAVE A CPS INVESTIGATION?
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 the juvenile dependency attorneys at ALL Trial Lawyers by your side.