DCFS Pre-Release Investigation in Los Angeles County CPS Cases
A Juvenile Dependency Attorney can make a difference in the client’s case by requesting release to a relative or a non-related person who has close ties to the minor at the detention hearing.
The Juvenile Dependency Lawyer would request that a “pre-release investigation report” be made on the relative or non-related person with close ties to the minor. This is called a “PRI” or interim placement hearing.
Legal Request to DCFS to Release Child
Usually a one-week turn-around date is requested by the Juvenile Dependency Lawyer to pressure the DCFS into releasing the child as soon as possible.
Generally, the person’s criminal background is investigated and all adult persons in the home will need to do a “live-scan” fingerprint clearance at the local DCFS office. Additionally, the home will be checked out for safety issues and whether it is suitable for placement of minor(s).
At the detention hearing, it is typical for the Dependency Lawyer to ask for a “PRI” investigation and to ask for “discretion to release to any appropriate relative.”
If the Juvenile Dependency Lawyer brings the relatives or non-related family members to Court at the detention hearing, they can be live-scanned right at the Court building where there is a live-scan machine and also can do a “CLETS”
The “CLETS” can be done while parties are waiting to be heard in Court. The relatives or non-related persons with close ties to minor who are suggested as possible placements are called “resources.” There is a form the Juvenile Dependency Lawyer can fill out in Court to give the names of these relatives to the Court officer, who is the representative of the Department of Children and Family Services in the Courtroom.
If you have a Big Family & Opened-Armed, Willing Relatives…
The more people the Juvenile Dependency Lawyer has available for placement, the more difficult it will be for the DCFS to find a reason not to release to one of them. This is another reason for hiring a qualified private Juvenile Dependency Lawyer.
The goal is that Dependency cases be resolved quickly and through as non-confrontational means as possible so as to maximize all parties’ cooperation with any dispositional orders the court may issue. Except where there is a contested issue of fact or law, the proceedings shall be conducted in an informal nonadversary atmosphere with a view to obtaining the maximum cooperation of the minor upon whose behalf the petition is brought and all persons interested in his or her welfare with any provisions that the court may make for the disposition and care of the minor. California Rules of Court Section 5.534 (b) and Welfare and Institutions Code Section 350(a).
The proposed home should have smoke detectors and be free of hazards such as exposed electrical wiring, sharp objects, socket covers should be installed on all electrical outlets, chemicals and cleaning materials should be out of reach of minors. Any medications should be out of reach of minors. Any dangerous objects should be out of reach of minors. If there is a pool, there should be a fence around it and a locked gate. The yard should be free of junk, any dangerous objects, or rusting metal objects so that the minors could play there safely. A qualified private Juvenile Dependency Lawyer is invaluable to assist with this process.
When the Juvenile Dependency Lawyer returns back to Court, he or she will have a chance to review the PRI report. The Juvenile Dependency Lawyer can go over the report with the client to make sure the information in the PRI report is accurate.
If the relative or non-related person has a criminal record, the Juvenile Dependency Attorney should see how old the record is. Chances are that it if is 15-years old and the person has completely rehabilitated, there can be a waiver obtained. Sometimes there was just an “arrest” and the charges were dismissed. Inquire with the person whom you are seeking placement with to make sure the report is accurate. If they had a prior problem with anger management, for example, bring their certificate of completion of their anger management program to show the Court. If they had a drug problem, bring their certificate of completion of their live-in drug program.
If there is a physical problem with the home such as need a bunk bed or needs smoke alarms, the Juvenile Dependency Attorney should continue the PRI to correct the issue and ask that the minors be released and if they don’t correct the problem, that DCFS may detain them. Try to get them released right away.
The Juvenile Dependency Lawyer should get all the names, addresses, driver’s licenses, social security number, telephone number of all the potential resources for placement of the minors.
DCFS Social Worker may visit relative’s home for a “PRI” Investigation
Having the DCFS place your child with a Relative is the next best solution.
Once the children are placed with family or friends the case takes on a much different posture and the parents don’t have to be concerned with a foster parent trying to adopt their child.
The RESOURCE LIST: the Bigger – the Better!
If the Juvenile Dependency Lawyer has a chance to organize a list of all possible “resources” for placement prior to the detention hearing, it would be a valuable tool to have the list typed up with all the information on it.
Interview all the relatives and non-relatives who have a close relationship to the child or children and figure out which ones should be at the top of the list. Which persons could really care for the child(ren)?
- Are they too elderly to run after little toddlers?
- Do their work hour preclude them from giving care for the minors after school?
- Are they a stay-at-home Mom? (ideal)
- Do they have enough room in their home and where would each child sleep?
- How many adults live in the home?
- Are there any persons living in the home with criminal records?
These are the questions the Juvenile Dependency Lawyer must ask before figuring out which relatives to suggest placement with.
The Juvenile Dependency Attorney should try to find local relatives who live in Los Angeles County. It will be faster if the social worker can interview persons in Los Angeles County. If they are out-of-county it will take longer. If it is out-of-state one has to get an “interstate compact” to evaluate the placement in another state.
Seek out persons who are used to caring for children and have experience doing so.
Needless to say, the Juvenile Dependency Attorney we are talking about here is Vincent W. Davis: a truly experienced, compassionate Juvenile Dependency Attorney who has appeared in more than 1,000 Juvenile Dependency Court proceedings and who often makes all the difference in the best possible outcome when your child has been taken away from you.