Tag: abuse neglect and dependency
  • Legislative Changes in Child Welfare: The Short Session

    The North Carolina General Assembly made some changes to child welfare laws during this short session. Many of these changes have taken effect and some will be effective by January 1, 2025. All the amendments are important for those of you who practice in this area to be aware of. Continue Reading

  • Medical Appointments, Consents, and Children in DSS Custody

    In North Carolina, a juvenile who is the subject of an abuse, neglect, or dependency petition may be placed in the custody of a Department of Social Services (DSS). When DSS has a court order of custody, it places a child outside of the child’s home, often in a licensed foster home or in the home of a relative or other placement provider. Here at the School of Government (SOG), we are often asked whether North Carolina law authorizes foster parents (or the child’s placement providers) to consent to health services for the children in DSS custody who are placed in providers’ homes. Spoiler: the answer is “no.” If foster parents or placement providers cannot consent to medical care for the children in their home, must the person whose consent is required (e.g., a DSS caseworker) attend and give consent at every appointment for every child who is in DSS custody? This blog post, co-authored by SOG faculty Kirsten Leloudis and Sara DePasquale, addresses these questions. Continue Reading

  • The 2023 edition of the Abuse, Neglect, Dependency – TPR Manual Is Here!

    My belated Valentine’s gift to you all is the 2023 edition of Abuse, Neglect, Dependency, and Termination of Parental Rights Proceedings in North Carolina, otherwise known as “the A/N/D Manual” or “the Manual.”

    The 2023 edition of the Manual is now available at no charge on the SOG website, here. This edition replaces the February 2022 edition and is current through December 31, 2023 for both appellate opinions issued by the North Carolina appellate courts (most of which are published) as well as legislative changes made through that date. This updated and revised edition includes over 100 new opinions and the legislative changes impacting child welfare, including the significant changes to infant safe surrender.

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  • When Child Abuse or Neglect Ends in a Fatality, What Does the Public Have a Right to Know?

    Every year, county departments of social services investigate thousands of reports of child abuse and neglect across North Carolina. Tragically, some of those cases of abuse or neglect end in the death of a child. After one of these fatalities occurs, concerned citizens, public officials, and members of the media often have questions about the circumstances leading up to the fatality.  The public often wants to understand whether a county department of social services (DSS) was involved with the child, and if so, whether more could have been done to prevent the child’s death. Though child protective services information is highly confidential, a North Carolina statute gives any member of the public a right to request and receive specific information after certain child fatalities and near fatalities. This blog post discusses the responsibilities of public agencies to disclose information under this statute, G.S. 7B-2902. Continue Reading

  • Parents Forfeited Their Right to Court-Appointed Counsel in TPR: What Is the Law for Attorney Representation of Parents in A/N/D and TPR Actions?

    North Carolina law requires that parents in abuse, neglect, dependency (A/N/D) and termination of parental rights (TPR) cases receive court-appointed counsel if they are indigent. G.S. 7B-602; 7B-1101.1. Parents also have a right to knowingly and voluntarily waive their statutory right to counsel. Id. The question of whether a parent may forfeit their right to counsel in a juvenile proceeding based on their behaviors had not been answered until recently. Three appellate opinions address the issue and answer that question. Parents can and have forfeited their statutory right to court-appointed counsel. To get to forfeiture, you first need to understand the rules related to a parent’s statutory right to court-appointed counsel. Continue Reading

  • New Supports for Relative Placements of Abused, Neglected, and Dependent Juveniles


    Recent changes to both state and federal law aim to increase support for relatives who provide placement and care of juveniles who are the subject of abuse, neglect, and dependency (AND) proceedings. Financial assistance to offset the costs of care and the possibility of new and relaxed licensing standards for relative placements could have a significant effect on a number of juveniles across North Carolina. This post addresses the new laws and considers what it may mean for children, families, and attorneys who represent parents in juvenile AND proceedings.

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  • 2023 Child Welfare Legislative Changes

    As the 2023 Legislative Session continues, many session laws that amend child welfare statutes, including abuse, neglect, dependency; termination of parental rights (TPR); adoption of a minor; and foster care licensing became effective on various dates. Some of these changes are significant. Some session laws focus on specific statutory changes involving an individual juvenile or family; other session laws make changes to state systems. Continue Reading

  • S.L. 2023-106: Parents’ Rights, Who Is a Parent, and Juvenile Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Cases

    This blog was updated on October 3, 2023 to incorporate amendments made by the 2023 Appropriations Act (S.L. 2023-134). The changes are in italics.

    On August 16th, the legislature used an override of the Governor’s veto to pass S.L. 2023-106 (S49), a law enumerating the rights of parents regarding their children’s education, health care, and mental health needs. But in addressing a parent’s rights, the law contains some exceptions when the child is alleged to be abused, neglected, or dependent. Notably, the new law defines “parent” as “any person with legal custody of a child, including a natural or adoptive parent or legal guardian.” In cases where a department of social services (DSS) has filed a petition alleging a juvenile is abused, neglected, or dependent, DSS may obtain custody of the juvenile, or the court may ultimately award legal custody or guardianship to a person who is not the juvenile’s parent. As a result, the new law impacts abuse, neglect, and dependency cases. This post discusses the new law as it relates to abuse, neglect, and dependency cases only and is not a comprehensive discussion of the new law generally. Continue Reading

  • UCCJEA: Transitioning from Temporary Emergency Jurisdiction to Home State Jurisdiction in A/N/D Cases

    The Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) governs a state’s subject matter jurisdiction to hear child custody cases, including abuse, neglect, dependency (A/N/D), and termination of parent rights (TPR). See G.S. 50A-102(4); 50A-106. Without following the jurisdictional requirements of the UCCJEA, the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. Any orders entered when a court lacks subject matter jurisdiction are void ab initio. In re T.R.P., 360 N.C. 588 (2006). I receive numerous inquiries about the UCCJEA in A/N/D cases. A common question involves North Carolina’s use of temporary emergency jurisdiction and whether it ever becomes initial custody jurisdiction when North Carolina becomes the juvenile’s “home state” after the A/N/D petition has been filed in district court. Earlier this month, the court of appeals answered this question when it published In re N.B., ___ N.C. App. ___ (July 5, 2023). This blog serves as a follow up to my previous blog post about temporary emergency jurisdiction under the UCCJEA. Continue Reading

  • U.S. Supreme Court Holds the Indian Child Welfare Act Is Constitutional

    The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was enacted by Congress in 1978 and applies to designated “child custody proceedings” that involve an “Indian child.” An Indian child is a person who is under 18 years old and is either (1) a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe or (2) eligible for membership in a federally recognized Indian tribe and a biological child of a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe. 25 U.S.C. 1903(4). There are four types of child custody proceedings that are governed by ICWA: (1) foster care placements, (2) preadoptive placements, (3) termination of parental rights (TPR), and (4) adoptions.

    The purpose of ICWA is to set minimal federal standards for four types of child custody proceedings that involve the removal and placement of Indian children. Through ICWA, Congress sought to address “an alarmingly high percentage of Indian families that are broken up by the removal, often unwarranted, of their children from them by nontribal public and private agencies.” 25 U.S.C. 1901(4). ICWA encompasses a national policy of protecting the best interests of Indian children and promoting the stability and security of Indian tribes and families. 25 U.S.C. 1902. ICWA has many provisions that apply to abuse, neglect, dependency; TPR; guardianship of minors; and adoptions of minors (including stepparent adoptions) when an Indian child is involved. (For more information about ICWA and its requirements, see Chapter 13, section 13.2 of the A/N/D-TPR Manual here.)

    In 2019, ICWA was challenged as and held to be unconstitutional because it exceeded federal authority, infringed on state sovereignty, and discriminated on race. That federal district court opinion was appealed and ultimately heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. Last Thursday, in a 7-2 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected every challenge made by the petitioners in Haaland v. Brackeen, 599 U.S. ___ (2023) and held that ICWA is constitutional. This opinion has two concurrences and two dissents, all of which are discussed below. Continue Reading

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