Imagine a Department of Social Services (DSS) receives a report alleging a juvenile was abused by her father. Following an investigation, DSS substantiates the report. At this point, does placing the father on the Responsible Individual’s List (RIL) have anything to do with the decision to file (or not) a juvenile abuse, neglect, dependency (AND) petition? Let’s explore the interplay between these two actions.Continue Reading
The federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is proposing regulatory changes that could have a significant impact on the placement of children removed from their parents due to suspected abuse, neglect, or dependency. This post discusses the proposed changes and the reasons supporting them and highlights the importance of relatives and nonrelative kin in juvenile abuse, neglect, dependency (A/N/D) proceedings.
(Note that while the proposal refers generally to Title IV-E agencies, this post refers specifically to the Department of Social Services (DSS), the petitioner in North Carolina A/N/D matters. Additionally, this post cites to the ACF’s proposal but omits internal citations within the proposal. See the proposal if you are interested in the research and other sources cited to by the ACF.)
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
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
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?
As the 2021 Legislative Session continues, many session laws that revised the abuse, neglect, dependency and termination of parental rights (TPR) statutes in the Juvenile Code (G.S. Chapter 7B) became effective on October 1, 2021 (last Friday), unless stated otherwise. Previously, I blogged about S.L. 2021-100, “An Act to Make Revisions to the Juvenile Code Pursuant to Recommendations by the Court Improvement Program,” which you can read here. Today’s post summarizes S.L. 2021-132 (S693), which makes additional significant amendments to the Juvenile Code.Continue Reading
This post is also cross posted on our Coates Canon blog.
As the 2021 Legislative Session continues, one new session law that addresses child welfare, S.L. 2021-132, has raised a number of questions for county department of social services (“DSS”) directors and attorneys. This new session law has many elements related to child welfare court proceedings, which my colleague Sara DePasquale will address in a separate blog post. This blog focuses solely on Section 1.(c) of S.L. 2021-132, which amends G.S. 7B-302 – a law that addresses confidentiality of child protective services (“CPS”) records. The amendment allows members of the North Carolina General Assembly to access confidential social services information and records in certain limited instances. Continue Reading
As the 2021 Legislative Session continues, laws that revise the Juvenile Code are being enacted. The most recent session law is S.L. 2021-100, which amends various provisions of Subchapter I of Chapter 7B of the General Statutes – the laws that relate to abuse, neglect, dependency and termination of parental rights proceedings. This blog summarizes the amendments made by “An Act to Make Revisions to the Juvenile Code Pursuant to Recommendations by the Court Improvement Program.” Continue Reading
North Carolina adoption laws are codified in G.S. Chapter 48. I find it to be one of the more difficult Chapters to navigate because it consists of interrelated Articles and Parts. As you get familiar with the Chapter, the procedures and requirements become less challenging to piece together. It is imperative to know these procedures because “the law governing adoptions in North Carolina is wholly statutory.” Boseman v. Jarrell, 364 N.C. 537, 542 (2010).
Under North Carolina adoption laws, before an adoption of an unemancipated minor may be granted, certain consents must be obtained. See G.S. 48-3-601 through -603. One required consent is from the minor adoptee if they are 12 years old or older. G.S. 48-3-601(1). However, that minor’s consent may be waived when the court issues an order based upon a finding that it is not in the minor’s best interests to require their consent. G.S. 48-3-603(b)(2).
What court has jurisdiction to enter the order waiving the minor adoptee’s consent?
The question is circulating due to some recent North Carolina Supreme Court opinions involving appeals of termination of parental rights (TPR) orders. The facts of the opinions indicate the district court in the TPR action waived the juvenile’s consent to the adoption. The issue of whether the district court in a TPR proceeding has subject matter jurisdiction to waive the juvenile’s consent does not appear to have been raised before or decided by the Supreme Court. Instead, the minor’s waiver of consent is discussed by the Supreme Court in its review of the facts when analyzing a challenge to the district court’s determination that the TPR is in the juvenile’s best interests. The factual summaries in the Supreme Court TPR opinions made me sit up in my chair, take notice, and ask the questions in this post. Continue Reading