• Beyond the Bench Podcast, Season 2: Episode 4 — The Case Plan: In and Out of Court

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    This will be the last On the Civil Side blog post for 2016. We will be back on January 11, 2017. That gives you plenty of time to listen to Episode 4, “The Case Plan: In and Out of Court,” for our Beyond the Bench Season 2 podcast, available now!

    This episode picks up where episode 3 ended. There’s been an adjudication of child neglect and an initial disposition order entered by the court. Now the family and department are engaged in case planning. The court is monitoring the progress and ultimately deciding what the final goals for the family are through periodic review and permanency planning hearings.  Find out what’s involved both in and out of court.

    Listed in order of appearance, featured guest interviewees include:

    • Christina Triplett, Program Manager, Catawba County Department of Social Services
    • Jessica Ford, Program Manager, Catawba County Department of Social Services
    • Deana Fleming, Associate Counsel, NC Guardian ad Litem
    • Honorable Denise Hartsfield, Judicial District 21 (Forsyth County)
    • Honorable Cheri Siler-Mack, Judicial District 12 (Cumberland County)
    • Jamie Hamlett, Staff Attorney, Alamance County Department of Social Services
    • Honorable J. Corpening II, Chief District Court Judge, Judicial District 5 (New Hanover and Pender Counties), and
    • Dorothy Hairston Mitchell, Assistant Clinical Professor at NC Central School of Law Juvenile Law Clinic and Parent Attorney.

    You can listen to this (and past) episodes on our podcast website or through Itunes and Stitcher. I hope you like it. Please share your feedback and don’t forget to leave a review if you listen through Itunes or Stitcher.



    Sara DePasquale is an Assistant Professor at the School of Government specializing in child welfare (abuse, neglect, dependency, termination of parental rights, and adoption) and juvenile court.

    2 thoughts on “Beyond the Bench Podcast, Season 2: Episode 4 — The Case Plan: In and Out of Court”

    • Sara says:

      This podcast is very helpful. It would be helpful to know:
      1. Does a permanency plan that anticipates no reunification with the parents at any future point usually result in a tpr adjudication?
      2. In my line of work I hear from parents who believe that they “lost custody” when DSS came to their house, but there does not seem to be a separate civil custody proceeding indicating that. Could the impression that they lost custody be due to the fact that they consented to a case plan that involved some kind of temporary guardianship that didn’t actually result in losing legal custody, or that the custody proceeding took place within the permanency planning hearing and therefore is not a separate civil case?

      • mm Sara DePasquale says:

        1. A TPR will be sought if the primary permanent plan is adoption and a TPR is needed for the adoption to proceed and be achieved. It’s possible for there to be concurrent permanent plans that do not include reunification, for example, a primary plan of guardianship and secondary plan of custody, where a TPR will not be sought. Each case is fact specific. Deciding whether a TPR is needed will depend on the permanent plan and/or whether there are grounds and a termination of parental rights is in the child’s best interests.

        2. It depends on what the parent means by “lost custody.” When a county department conducts its assessment of a report, it may ask the parent to agree to a safety plan that includes having the child live with a relative or other suitable person. By agreeing to that temporary separation, the parent may view that as “losing custody.” However, the parent has a constitutional right to care, custody, and control of his/her child. This means, the parent can take the child back into his or her care at anytime. There has been no legal change in custody of the child as a result of the parent’s agreement to have the child live elsewhere. If, there is a court action that is started, and the court enters an order that grants custody of the child to someone else (including a county department), then the parent cannot simply go and take his/her child back. The parent would have to go to court to have the order modified or vacated. A county department may file a petition in district court that alleges a child is abused, neglected, or dependent and seek custody of that child. This court case is not the same a civil custody case but involves custody of a child.

        Episode 2 discusses the county department’s assessment process, safety planning, filing a petition, and seeking a temporary emergency temporary order. Episode 3 talks about how the court determines whether the child is or is not abused, neglected, or dependent and whether a case is dismissed or proceeds to dispositional hearings.

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