Consider an attorney who is appointed to represent an indigent parent in a juvenile abuse, neglect, and dependency (A/N/D) proceeding. The attorney reviews the petition which was prepared using form AOC-J-130. Perhaps only the box for neglect is marked but the written allegations mirror the statutory definition of abuse. Or perhaps no boxes are checked but the petition has a prior custody order attached to it. What grounds for adjudication are alleged here? Does it matter what boxes are checked or what portions of a petition are completed? Are magic words or statutory citations required? What if this was a termination of parental rights (TPR) petition where a statutory citation for an alleged ground was not included?Continue Reading
This post was updated on September 6, 2022 in response to helpful reader feedback regarding the nuances that exist when determining whether there is a conflict of interest for a GAL program and, if so, the possible options available to cure that conflict. The amended portion can be found in the Conflicts of Interests section below.Continue Reading
The ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic on prisons and the court system have been wide-reaching. We are still seeing, and will likely continue to see, the tentacles of these issues stretch into cases for years to come. The North Carolina Supreme Court recently issued a decision tackling one such issue: whether a parent who was unable to attend a termination of parental rights hearing because he was incarcerated during a pandemic-related prison lockdown was entitled to a continuance so he could be present for the hearing. In re C.A.B., 2022-NCSC-51, ¶ 1.
Meet Austria. She’s one of the loves of my life. We’ve been together for more than 10 ½ years. She has been a witness to my life during that time – loving me unconditionally, making me laugh daily, going on multiple daily walks as part of my own self-care, sleeping with me when I’m sick, comforting me when times are hard, vacationing with me (I’ve driven the I-95 corridor from Miami to Portland, Maine more times than I can count so she is with me during family visits), helping me transition to North Carolina, meeting friends, sharing bags of Doritos (my weakness when writing or driving), watching me leave and waiting for me to get home in her princess and the pea pile of dog beds in front of the window, and so much more. She is a joy. She is a dog of a lifetime. She is my family.Continue Reading
It is with great joy and enthusiasm that I am announcing these two updated resources for those of you who work in the area of child welfare.
- Abuse, Neglect, Dependency, and Termination of Parental Rights Proceedings in North Carolina (Feb. 2022), otherwise known as “the A/N/D Manual” or “the Manual.”
This February 2022 edition of the Manual is now available on the SOG website, here. This edition replaces the 2019 edition. As those of you who work in this area know, the law is constantly changing either because of legislative changes or appellate opinions interpreting the law. The pace of the changes applying to this legal area is reflected by the fact that this edition was supposed to be a 2021 edition but because of North Carolina Supreme Court opinions published on February 11, 2022, it became the February 2022 edition. This February 2022 edition is current through February 15, 2022 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. The changes are so significant that you should not rely on any earlier editions of the Manual.Continue Reading
On October 1, 2021, two laws went into effect that pertain to parents who test positive for controlled substances while involved in juvenile abuse, neglect, or dependency (A/N/D) proceedings. Together, the laws
- dictate what happens to a parent’s court ordered visits following a positive test,
- clarify that participation in Medication-Assisted Treatment is not a violation of an order prohibiting substance use, and
- implicitly acknowledge that parents who may use drugs still have roles to play.
Perhaps it is not surprising that juveniles who experience abuse, neglect, or dependency have a higher risk of suffering from mental health issues. These children have experienced trauma, and when they are removed from their homes and families, they further experience loss, separation, and disruption. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that “[u[p to 80 percent of children in foster care have significant mental health issues, compared to approximately 18-22 percent of the general population.”* According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “[m]ental and behavioral health is the largest unmet health need for children and teens in foster care.”**Continue Reading
The UNC School of Government’s Public Defense Education group is excited to announce the newest entry in a series of practice guides, The First Seven Days, by Timothy Heinle, Civil Defender Educator. The guides offer practical tips and strategies for respondent’s attorneys in various civil proceedings to use during the first several days of representation. The ideas suggested in the guides are designed to help busy attorneys hit the ground running in ways that reduce stress for the attorney and improve representation for the client.
The newest entry in the series is The First Seven Days as a Parent Defender. Strategies are explored that will improve client representation and help attorneys better manage their workloads and Continue Reading
I am happy to announce the publication of my new bulletin, “When and How Criminal-Defense Attorneys Can Obtain Access to Confidential Child Welfare and Juvenile Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency Records.” I hope it is of help to anyone needing to determine criminal attorney access to these protected records.
Consider these common scenarios. A criminal attorney learns that a county department of social services (DSS) or equivalent agency has been involved with that attorney’s client and family. Or maybe the attorney believes that the DSS has investigated a report of suspected abuse, neglect, or dependency that involves a witness or alleged victim in the criminal case. How can the criminal attorney access existing child-welfare and juvenile abuse, neglect, and dependency records that may be relevant to the criminal case?
Alternatively, a respondent parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker in a juvenile abuse, neglect, and dependency (A/N/D) action has been charged criminally. The criminal attorney asks the attorney representing the same individual in the A/N/D matter to share records and information relating to the A/N/D proceeding. What can the A/N/D attorney share with the criminal attorney?
During the 2021 Legislative session, there have been numerous and significant amendments made to the laws addressing child welfare, most of which are in G.S. Chapter 7B (the Juvenile Code) and became effective October 1st. This is my third post explaining those legislative changes. Today’s post focuses exclusively on legislative changes that relate to foster parents. The issues addressed include the consideration of foster parents for placement at nonsecure custody, their participation in permanency planning hearings, required training, and the creation of a Foster parents’ Bill of Rights.
My earlier blog posts are here (summarizing S.L. 2021-100 (H132)) and here (summarizing S.L. 2021-132 (S693)). As the 2021 Legislative Session continues, more changes may be made, and if that happens, I will post about them as well. Continue Reading