How to Fight Child Protective Services
- Find a qualified private Juvenile Dependency Attorney. It is a highly specialized field and a regular family law attorney will not know the special rules. Ask the Juvenile Dependency lawyer you are interviewing how many times they have appeared in Juvenile Dependency Court.
- Once you have secured your Juvenile Dependency attorney, tell the DCFS social worker that you would be more than happy to speak with him or her but your attorney has prohibited it unless he or she is present as well.
- Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of as many relatives who can take the minor(s) into their home. It is hard for DCFS to deny placement with a relative or non-related family member with close ties to the minor if you have 50 names submitted.
- Bring copies of any certificates of completion of drug rehabilitation, anger management, parenting, AA meeting attendance, or enrollment in counseling to the hearing with you.
- If the cased involves an unexplained injury figure out which persons had the minor in their custody.
- If you have American Indian heritage it is very important to get that information on record. Get information about tribal enrollment of your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Find out the date of tribal enrollment, if any, name of the tribe, date of birth of the relative. There is a form to fill out in court concerning Native American heritage. A trained Juvenile Dependency Attorney will help you with this process.
- If you are the father, the Court will want to know if you assisted the mother while pregnant, were present at the birth, was named on the birth certificate, supported the minor after the birth, if you were married to mother, or if you affirmatively asserted that the child was yours. The Court will make a determination of paternity at the detention hearing.
- Be courteous and polite to the investigating DCFS social worker on the case. It does not help to be rude to the social worker. Anything you say negatively will be used against you.
- Provide photographs of the home if the home is alleged to be in a filthy condition to prove that it has been cleaned up or that it was not messy. This will show DCFS that the situation has been resolved.
- Figure out a safety plan so that the minor(s) can be safely left in the home. Find out if a relative, like the grandmother, can move into the family home to have additional safety. If one parent is alleged to have injured the child(ren) and the other party is not named, see if one parent can move temporarily out of the home so that the minor(s) can stay with the “non-offending” parent. The Juvenile Dependency Attorney can request for family preservation so someone will be coming by on an unannounced frequent basis.
Most of the attorneys appearing in the Juvenile Dependency Court are appointed by the Court. They are in the same Courtroom day after day and have a heavy caseload. If you hire a private Juvenile Dependency attorney, he or she will be there only for your case and will have more time to spend learning about your case and interacting with you. The Court-appointed attorney may only have a few minutes to speak to you before the case is called.
This can be critical when your case is in the detention phase. Having a qualified Juvenile Dependency attorney who is knowledgeable about the case , may enable you to keep the children in your home or get them released relatively quickly.
Many times the social worker has no evidence on the case. They use the interview to gather information which can be used against the client.
Bring the top three relatives with whom you want placement to Court with you at the detention hearing. Try to pick someone who’s home is in the County where the hearing is taking place. It takes longer to place with an out-of-county relative.
Sometimes DCFS brings up old allegations of an ancient drug history or domestic violence. Showing completion of classes which successfully dealt with that problem are important to show the Judge at the detention hearing to show that there is no current risk of danger.
Try to remember who was with the child during the time frame the injury was alleged to occur. Try to remember all persons who were with the minor that day. By going back in time you might remember another person or witness who could shed light on who might have injured the child. Sometimes it might be a babysitter.
There is a form to fill out in court concerning Native American heritage.
If you are the mother, the Court will inquire as to the father of each minor as to whether the father assisted financially during the pregnancy, was present at birth, was named on the birth certificate, was married to the mother at birth, acted as the father after birth by visiting the minor, providing support, etc. Your Juvenile Dependency Lawyer can assist you with this.
Find out if a relative, like the grandmother, can move into the family home to have additional safety. If one parent is alleged to have injured the child(ren) and the other party is not named, see if one parent can move temporarily out of the home so that the minor(s) can stay with the “non-offending” parent. Ask for family preservation so someone will be coming by on an unannounced frequent basis.