The Indiana Department of Child Services (“DCS”) handles the task of investigating reports of child abuse and neglect in an effort to protect children throughout Indiana. DCS has a legal obligation to investigate all allegations of child abuse and neglect and they have specific statutes and procedures that they are required to follow throughout the investigations. Although the goals of DCS are always to protect the children—the same as all parents want—they may be an intimidating agency to be contacted by if you are accused of abuse or neglect. This blog covers the top five things that you need to ...
October 29, 2019CD
To find that a child is a CHINS at a fact-finding hearing (trial), DCS must prove three elements: (1) the parent’s actions or inactions have seriously endangered the child; (2) that the child’s needs are unmet; and (3) that those needs are unlikely to be met without State coercion. It is the third of these elements that the Supreme Court has found to be the most important. The purpose of a CHINS proceeding is to protect the child, not punish the parent. Therefore, at the time of the hearing, courts tend to focus on what steps parents have taken to ...
October 9, 2019CD
By statute, the Indiana Department of Child Services (“DCS”) has to investigate every claim of abuse or neglect by a parent reported to the hotline number. Unfortunately, DCS is understaffed and its primary investigators are not trained sufficiently to handle the onslaught of parental neglect reports including those who make false reports to gain some tactical advantage (such as in a divorce case). Thus, it is not uncommon for a parent to be falsely accused of neglect/abuse of their child and be caught up in the DCS system. This blog explores your rights and what you might want to do ...
September 26, 2019CD
The United States Supreme Court has long recognized the “fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.”1 This fundamental right to parent is why the Indiana Courts place the burden of proof on the Department of Child Services (“DCS”) when it comes to proving that a child is a child in need of services (“CHINS”). Specifically, our Indiana Supreme Court has found that DCS must prove three basic elements for a CHINS finding.2 Those elements are: (1) that the parent’s actions or inactions have seriously endangered the child; (2) that the child’s ...
June 17, 2019CD
The right to parent your child is a fundamental right, guaranteed by the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. But, just like anything else in life, that right is not absolute. For example, parents who abuse their children, whether it be physical or verbal, do not have an absolute right to parent their child anymore. When a child is found to be in a detrimental home environment or found not having their basic needs met, then the State can become involved to protect the child. But there are limits to the State’s ability to intervene, such as when the ...
June 13, 2019CD
The United States Supreme Court has found that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions as to care, custody, and control of their children.1 This means that a State has no independent right to interfere in the parent-child relationship. Of course, this, like most other things in life, has its limits. A parent who abuses or neglects their child, for example, has no fundamental right to do so. Children in abusive or otherwise dangerous situations can be protected by the State. The State does this by claiming the child is a child in need of ...
May 17, 2019CD
Do I need an attorney if I am contacted by DCS about my children? Yes. Your right to parent your child is a fundamental right, guaranteed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. But, just like any other right in life, it is not absolute. For example, parents can discipline their children (known as the parental privilege) but do not have carte blanche to abuse or neglect their children. When a child is in a detrimental home environment or is found not having their basic needs met, then the State can become involved to protect the child. These questions ...
February 6, 2019CD
All parents have the fundamental right to the care, custody, and control of their child(ren).1 Basically, this means parents can raise their children in their own way--even if most people disagree with their style. While this is a fundamental constitutional right, it is not absolute. When a parent presents a risk or danger to a child’s physical or emotional wellbeing, DCS may file a Children in Need of Services (CHINS) case and the Court opens a CHINS case. The CHINS process is designed to allow an investigation into suspected abuse and neglect and provide the parents (and children) with services ...
October 4, 2018CD
Yes. But as of Monday, July 31, 2018 so can certain advocates and attorneys for your children. This comes by a sweeping decision by the Indiana Court of Appeals applying the statutory authority for this power (or standing) created by the Legislature. This blog surveys when and why DCS may seek to sever a parent-child relationship and addresses who else the Legislature empowered to do so by a new application of the law. After the Department of Child Services (DCS) brings a Child in Need of Services (CHINS) case, and the court finds a legal basis for the children being CHINS, ...
August 8, 2018CD
Have You Been Contacted by CPS or the Police for "Alleged" Child Abuse or Molestation? Consider These Three Key Points You Need To “Know” And What “To Do” (Or Not Do). There is a somewhat shared knowledge in our society that some children in ordinary—to—high-risk families are physically or sexually abused. Statistics are hard to come by but generally indicate, on average, that one in four children is subject to physical or sexual abuse, not factoring in the significant problem of human sex-trafficking of children. However, everyone identifies with an innocent child and sometimes what gets lost in the emotional response to ...
March 5, 2018CD