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What is Considered Neglect of a Child in California? Important Information – 2024

January 29, 2024

What is Considered Neglect of a Child in California?

What is Considered Neglect of a Child in California?

In California, neglect of a child is defined as the failure of a parent or guardian to provide adequate supervision and care. 

The law applies to all caregivers responsible for a child’s well-being and safety, including parents, legal guardians, relatives, or any other person or institution that has been granted custody of the child.

This blog post will give an overview of what the law in California defines as child neglect and the legal proceedings that happen after allegations of child neglect. 

What Are Examples of Child Neglect According to WIC 300?

California Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) 300 is the legal definition of neglect. It defines what actions constitute neglect and outlines what steps cps can take in cases of alleged negligence. 

It also sets out the rights of parents to defend themselves against allegations of neglect, as well as what recourse cps has if parental rights are terminated.

Examples of neglect, according to California’s Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) 300, include:

  • Failing to provide a child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and supervision;
  • Abandoning the child or leaving him/her in an unsafe environment;
  • Not providing a safe and secure home;
  • Failing to ensure the child’s emotional or physical development due to lack of care or supervision;
  • Allowing a situation that results in the death, sexual assault, exploitation, abduction, or severe physical injury of a child; and
  • Not providing adequate protection from verbal abuse.

Neglect can also mean not providing appropriate emotional and psychological care, refusing to acknowledge a child’s individual needs, or exposing the child to physical danger.

What are Substantiated Allegations of Child Neglect?

When an allegation of child abuse is made, an investigation is conducted by a California Social Services Agency (SSA), such as Child Protective Services (CPS) or Child Welfare Services (CWS), to determine if the allegation is unfounded, inconclusive, or substantiated. 

CPS, DCFS, CWS, and SSA all use social workers to determine substantiated allegations of child neglect. When an allegation of neglect is made, CPS will investigate whether sufficient evidence exists. If the allegations are found to be true, then a juvenile dependency court hearing may be held.

If the allegation is substantiated, the county will refer the information regarding the caregiver along with case information to the Child Abuse Central Index (CACI) of the California Department of Justice for inclusion in the statewide database.

What is Juvenile Dependency Court?

The juvenile dependency court is a special court that deals with cases involving the abuse or neglect of a minor child. It is separate from criminal court and has its own procedures and standards for determining a child’s best interests. 

During the hearing, evidence may be presented, witnesses may testify, and parents or guardians are given the opportunity to respond to the allegations. The court will then decide whether the child should remain with his/her parents or be placed in foster care.

What is the Termination of Parental Rights?

If a juvenile dependency court determines that it is in the best interests of a minor child for them to remain in foster care, the court may terminate parental rights.

This means that the parent or guardian no longer has any legal responsibility for the child, and either foster parents or the legal system is given full custody of the child until he/she reaches 18.

In California, neglect of a child is a serious allegation and carries severe consequences for those who fail to provide proper care and supervision.

Juvenile dependency court provides an essential service in protecting children from dangerous situations, and social workers can play a crucial role in determining what is best for the child.

All persons responsible for caring for a minor child must understand their obligations and take proper steps to ensure the safety and well-being of those in their care.

What is a Detention Hearing?

A detention hearing is an essential step in the juvenile dependency process. Social workers and county counsel will present evidence to support their allegations at the hearing, and a judge will decide whether or not to detain the child. 

If social workers or county counsel believes that a minor child’s safety is at risk, they may seek to have the child placed in protective custody pending further investigation. 

A social worker is present at the hearing as a witness for the government and to advocate for the “child’s best interests.” The parent or guardian is also given the opportunity to respond to cps allegations and can call witnesses on their behalf if they wish.


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.

Don’t risk calling the wrong lawyer. If CPS is investigating you, you do not have to deal with them alone. 

We know how the juvenile court process in California works. We have handled hundreds of juvenile dependency cases in Orange CountySan Diego CountyLos Angeles CountySan Bernardino County, and Riverside County.

We have an office located near you, and we’re ready to start working on your case.

Call us now to speak to a lawyer and for your free consultation. Call (866) 811-4255.

Dealing with a CPS case can be scary. You don’t have to face a CPS case alone.

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