Description of Juvenile Court Dependency Process
Juvenile Court Dependency,
involving protection of minors through removal from parental custody and
adjudication of Court Dependency, is prescribed by Welfare and Institutions
Code, Section 300.
Basic reasons minors may
become Dependents are:
suffering, or having substantial risk of suffering, serious physical harm
inflicted nonaccidentally by parent/guardian.
suffering serious physical harm or illness, due to failure of parent to
adequately supervise/protect minor, or negligent failure of parent to provide
adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment, or inability of parent
to provide regular care due to parents' mental illness, developmental
disability, or substance abuse.
suffering serious emotional damage (severe anxiety, depression,
aggressive behavior toward self/others) as result of conduct of parent.
suffering sexual abuse by parent, or parent fails to protect minor from
left without support as result of parents' incarceration/institutionalization,
or parent unwilling to provide care.
Protection of minor shall
focus on the preservation of the family whenever possible.
Further, nothing in Section 300 is intended to limit the offering of
voluntary services to those families in need of assistance but who do not come within
Whenever a minor
is removed from parents' custody, the Juvenile Court shall order provision
of services, through Child Welfare, to facilitate reunification of the
family. If reunification is not
possible, the Juvenile Court shall order an appropriate stable plan for the
minor's care, including adoption, guardianship, or long-term foster care.
Outline of Juvenile Dependency Process
Below is a graphical representation of the Court Process:
Removal of Minor from caretaker:
(Click to Enlarge)
Investigation by Dependent Intake Unit
- ProtectiveCustody: 72 hour hold placed by law
enforcement, removing minor from condition of risk.
- Criminal citation and/or arrest of caretaker may occur.
- Medical evaluation of all minors under age of
two, and/or minors requiring medical intervention.
- Minor placed at Children's Receiving Home or Emergency Foster Care.
- In first
48 hours (of 72 hour hold) the allegations of risk are investigated.
- Based on
investigation, case resolution is determined:
Intake Report generated to document basis of case dismissal and/or referral of
services, or to justify legal evidence of Dependency Petition.
Process of Petitioning Dependency
dismissed; minors returned to caretaker.
- Case dismissed, minor returned to caretaker with specified, contracted services to family.
- Petition for Dependency filed on behalf of minor.
Hearing: Held at end of 72 hours; based
on Intake Report, Judge rules regarding evidence for continued detention of
minor; minor is either released or detained, pending Jurisdictional Hearing.
B. If minor
detained: Court investigation begun; Court report generated addressing family
history/dynamics, continued risk to minor, recommendations for placement, and
Hearing: Held not longer than 15
judicial days following Detention Hearing; based on Court report, Judge rules
regarding evidence for Dependency; minor is either released or adjudicated a
D. If minor adjudicated a Dependent: Disposition Hearing is held immediately
following Jurisdictional hearing; based on court report, Judge rules regarding
placement of minor and specific court orders for reunification.