Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.netWhen The Department of Human Services removes children from a home, here are some questions parents may have about what has happened.

Why were my children removed from my home?

Your children can be placed outside of your home when the Department of Human Services does an investigation and determines your children are not safe in your care.  A number of situations can prompt DHS to remove children.  Some such situations include child abuse, neglect, parental drug use, domestic violence, and out of control behaviors by a child.

The days following the removal of a child can be very confusing and upsetting.  When your children are removed, you are entitled to a hearing before a judge within 72 hours of removal.  In order for your children to be returned to your home, you will need to convince human services and/or the judge that you are able to safely parent your children.

Do I need to tell my family I am involved with social services?

The best place for children to be when they cannot be with a parent is with relatives.  It is very important that you are forthcoming with the human services caseworker about relatives who may be able to care for your children, even if they live out of state.  To set yourself up for the best possible outcome, you must get all family members you know of involved in your case as soon as human services determine your children cannot stay with you.

Where will my children live when they are out of my home?

Your children could live in a few different types of places while they are out of your home.  If you have family members who are appropriate to take them, it is likely the kids will be placed with one or more family members.  This is the best scenario because it keeps your kids with people they should already be familiar with.  If your only family members live out of state, your children can still go live with them, but not immediately.  For out of state family, a home study process must be completed to approve your family member’s home.  This can take up to six months.

If there are no appropriate family members, your children can be placed in foster care.  The law requires social services to attempt to place siblings in the same foster home, however, if this is not possible, they will be split and put in different foster homes.

Your child may also be placed in a residential treatment center or a mental health facility if he/she has issues that require daily treatment.  Your child can remain in the treatment center until he/she makes enough progress in treatment to either go to a family member’s home, a foster home or return to your home.

When will I see my children again?

The law requires human services to provide visitation between you and your children.  You should see your children at least once within the first week they are removed from home.  Where and how often you see your kids will be determined by your caseworker and the Guardian ad Litem, who is an attorney who represents your child’s best interests.

You could see your kids either with a therapist in the room assisting you, with a professional supervisor watching behind a glass window, with a family member supervising, or unsupervised during specific times.  The level of supervision required depends on the severity of the situation that got human services involved and your relationship with your children.

If you are not seeing your children, contact us to see how we can get visits started immediately.

How long will my children be out of my home?

This question is difficult to answer because your children can come home as soon as human services believe your home is safe.  No one will be able to give you a specific time period for this, which can be frustrating.

The law says that children have to be in a permanent home within one year.  This means that you need to begin working with social services immediately to remedy the issues that brought your case before the court.  Waiting to work on the issues will only delay your children returning home longer.

Our firm specializes in Dependency and Neglect law and we can help if your children have been removed from your care, or even if social services are performing an investigation on your family.  Contact us for assistance.

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