Child Protection Services
"What are Indiana child protection services? Does this apply to neglected and abused children or just juvenile delinquents? As a parent, how does it impact me?"
Everyone is generally aware of what child services is and does. This is an umbrella term that has no precise legal definition in Indiana. The child protection attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. a large part of what we do, and what makes us good at our job, is providing information and education about legal topics of interests. No one pulls at our heartstrings more than our children. Truly, our children’s children will share the same concern, as children are our future.
The most important concept to understand is that child services usually refers to those provided by and under the authority of units of government. The topic is best thought of in two parts. The first is a child who is alleged to have been abused or neglected at the hand of a parent or guardian. The other category is a juvenile delinquent, which is a child who has committed an act that, if he or she were an adult, would be criminal.
Incidentally, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. child protection attorneys understand the line between these two divisions is often a fine one, as a child who is abused or neglected is statistically more likely to become a juvenile delinquent. In either circumstance, the objective of child services is to provide timely interventions to mitigate or eliminate the problems the child is experiencing in order to ensure he or she has a real chance at a productive adult life.
For parents of a child in need of services (CHINS) or a juvenile delinquent, the legal system is rightly geared toward the child. A number of service providers, from probation officers to caseworkers, are organized and orchestrated by the court to ensure that the child’s needs are met. A significant portion of these interventions involve the parents, but we find that clients are often lost in this process, which is driven by acronyms and very complicated procedures.
As experienced domestic advocates, we can help. In fact, the Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. child protection attorneys are frequently involved various phases of CHINS or delinquency cases. Simply put, we help guide and represent clients, typically adults, through the process, but more critically, advise them of the collateral considerations and pitfalls.
For example, a petition alleging a child is a CHINS is routinely “admitted” to by a parent at the first hearing, particularly if he or she is not represented by counsel. Many times, these set out that a parent, this parent, has abused or neglected his or her child. If the parent admits to the petition so that the child may obtain services, this may be a criminal admission. Thus, we exercise extraordinary care in guiding our clients through this process. An unwitting mistake may have criminal implications. As a corollary, the failure of a parent to adhere to and follow the directives of the CHINS court may subject him or her to contempt and to termination of his or her parental rights.
It is in this complicated (and stressful) mix that Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. lawyers thrive — and sometimes find unique opportunities for clients to attain legal objectives that he or she otherwise may not ever reach. For example, if a custodial mother is drug-addicted, and this underpins the CHINS case, an advocate may parlay this into the father obtaining physical custody of the child.
Such careful lawyering is no less important for a third party, such as foster parents who wish to become de facto custodians and obtain custody or adopt the children. On its face, a foster parent with whom the children may be placed during the pendency of a CHINS case appears to be a de facto custodian. However, this is not the case; the time a child spends with a caregiver during a CHINS proceeding does not count toward the time the third party (foster parent) may later use as evidence of being a de facto custodian.
No matter the ultimate legal objective, be it reduction of criminal risk to the resumption of parenting and closure of the CHINS case, the overlap of these already-complicated legal areas creates incredible complexity and, sometimes, opportunity. A logical legal course in one case or legal area may be counter-productive in the other. The child protection attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. we will partner with you for the duration of this circuitous journey and explore all of the possibilities to obtain your legal objectives.