Each state has a child services office that protects children. Whenever a report comes in that a child is being abused or neglected, child services must check into it. Abuse means that the child's body or mind is being hurt. Neglect means the child's basic needs, such as food or medical care, aren't being met. In some cases, child services will take children out of the home for their own protection.
Case Workers Must Investigate Abuse and Neglect Reports
Child service workers must check out reports of abuse or neglect right away, usually within 24 hours. The worker talks to the child, the parents, and anyone else who has information. The worker also visits the home to see if it is safe. The full investigation may take 30 days or longer, but the worker can decide at any time that the child is not safe in the home.
Workers Can Remove a Child From the Home if Necessary
The child services worker can leave your child in the home if it can be made safe. For example, if the parent accused of hurting the child agrees to move out, the child could be safe with the other parent. If the situation can't be improved, however, the worker could remove your child - which means that your child will be taken to someone else for temporary care.
Where Do They Take My Child?
The worker will try to arrange for the child to stay with a family member, if possible. Of course, this person must agree to care for the child, and the home must be safe. If no relatives can care for your child, the child may be sent to a group home or a foster home. In most situations, you will be told where your child is and will be allowed to visit.
What Happens Next?
A judge must hold a court hearing whenever a child services worker has removed a child from the home. If the judge does not agree with the worker's decision, your child will be returned to your home. Otherwise, the child will stay in temporary care. State laws vary, but typically there will be several more hearings. At each one, the judge could decide to return your child to your home or keep the child in temporary care. If you don't make your home safe by following the worker's instructions, the judge may keep the child out of the home on a long-term basis.
A Family Law Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding removal of a child from your home is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a lawyer specializing in family law.