Child In Need
Child in Need of Services (CHINS) cases are, in many respects, the most stressful and unusual cases that a parent can be involved in. The investigation and legal process that follows allegations of child abuse or neglect can be confusing. If you are being investigated by the Department of Child Services, you need to hire an attorney immediately to ensure that you keep custody of your child.
While these are civil cases, there are severe consequences, including the termination of a parents rights, that can result. The cases are filed against the child’s parents or guardians by the Department of Child Services (“DCS”) alleging some action or inaction on the part of the parents that negatively impacts the child. In other instances, the child themselves are either a danger to themselves or others or have been the victims of sexual offenses and need the assistance of the Department to access services for the child. In either case, the child can be removed from the home and parents required to participate in services.
There are several key areas that the parents/guardians need to be aware of to understand their rights, what the Department of Child Services has to prove in a case and the possible outcomes and/or consequences of being charged with a Child in Need of Services case.
In some cases, a child may not need to be removed from a non-offending parent. Parents and DCS may enter into an informal adjustment. An informal adjustment is a contract between Parents and the DCS that is approved by the court. The informal adjustment will outline the responsibilities of the parents and will normally contain a service referral for rehabilitative services. So long as both parties comply with the terms of the informal adjustment, the case will usually resolve without formal court intervention.
In other cases, DCS may request the filing of a formal CHINS petition. In these cases, formal court intervention is requested. In these circumstances, the parents are required to attend Court hearings to determine what services are necessary to ensure the safety of the child. The child may still be placed in a non-offending parents home, but the services that are requested by DCS can be Ordered by the court and a parental participation order will ensure the parents compliance. If the child is at risk or a non-offending parent cannot be located, the child may be removed from the home and placed in the home of a relative, a licensed foster-care home, or an emergency shelter care pending further hearing. In this instance a detention hearing will need to be held within four-eight (48) hours of the child’s removal, excluding weekends and holidays. The parent must be given notice of a detention hearing. In these instances, it is imperative that the parent seeks legal counsel at the earliest opportunity as the statutory timeframes are very concise in these types of cases.
Once a formal Petition is filed with the Court, the court will determine whether there is probable cause to determine that a child is a child in need of services. If the court finds probable cause, DCS will be authorized to proceed with filing its petition and moving forward with a case. If DCS requests that your child be declared a CHINS, you will be given notice of an initial hearing at which point the Court will advise you of the allegations of abuse or neglect that led to the opening of the case. If you choose to deny the allegations, the court will set a fact-finding hearing (or trial) within sixty (60) days of the initial hearing.
If your child is determined to be a CHINS whether by adjudication or by agreement, the court will hold additional hearings to determine what you as a parent need to do to resolve the case. This is called a dispositional hearing and the services and terms that are contained therein are periodically reviewed to determine whether the case needs to continue or can be dismissed.
In the unfortunate event that the conditions that led to the filing of the CHINS cannot be alleviated, the Department may seek to terminate the parents’ rights and place the child for adoption with someone else.
Child Protection Services
The Indiana Department of Child Services, sometimes referred to as Child Protective Services, had responsibilities and obligations to parents and children in Child in Need of Services Cases. When involvement is necessary, the least restrictive interventions are required to be utilized to preserve the family and community ties. Maintenance of family and community ties are essential to safety, well-being, stability, and permanency for children as stated in the Department of Child Services Mission, Visions and Values Statement.
It has been our experience, however, that there are times that the Department’s responsibilities and obligations are not being fulfilled through oversight or otherwise. When this happens, it greatly affects the parents and children’s rights and permanency. Parents have a right to bring issues before the Court in order for the Court to make a determination as to whether the Department is acting in accordance with the law and policy.
Why Choose Us
Preserving a family and preventing a child’s removal from a family is of paramount importance to a child’s development. We help educate our clients and advocate for them regardless of age, family size, religious affiliation, or income. We also obtain the legal documentation necessary to give you the edge you need so that your family can remain intact.