The Dependency Court Process - Step by Step
72 Hour Shelter Care Hearing
At this hearing a judge decides whether it is safe for the child to remain in the home or whether the child should be placed in out-of-home care. The focus of the 72-hour shelter care hearing is to protect the child and offer ways for the parent to address the issues that led to the state's involvement. At this hearing, the court also decides an appropriate visitation schedule for children and parents, recommended for the parents.
At this hearing the court will schedule a trial date if your case remains open.
A trial held in front of a judge to determine if the allegations in the dependency petition can be proven. A fact-finding hearing is generally held within 75 days of filing a dependency petition. At this hearing, the parties can present evidence to the court, including witness testimony. The parties may also enter an agreed order of dependency, rather than having a fact finding trial.
After the fact-finding hearing, the court will make a ruling and enter an order. The order will say whether the child will be returned home or stay out of home in licensed foster care or relatives to the family. It will also say what services the parents are to complete and what the Children's Administration must do to support parents in completing requirements.
A permanency planning hearing is held between nine and 12 months after the child is placed in out-of-home care. A permanent plan is established for the child. If the child remains in out-of-home care, permanency planning hearings are held at least every 12 months to decide what is best for the child.
Permanency Plans of Care/Termination of Parental Rights/Fact Finding Hearing
If a child cannot safely return home in a reasonable time, the social worker must find another permanent living environment for the child. Federal law requires the social worker to file a petition to terminate parental rights between 12- 15 consecutive months of the child being in foster care. Other permanent plans for a child can include adoption, non-parental custody or guardianship.
Family Recovery Court
Family Treatment Court (FRC) is designed to improve the safety and well-being of children in the Dependency process by providing parents access to drug and alcohol treatment, judicial monitoring of their sobriety and individualized services to support the entire family. FRC is a voluntary program. If you would like more information about the program please review the link above.