In cases where a child has suffered, or is at substantial risk of suffering, serious harm as a result of abuse or neglect, a petition may be filed with the Sacramento County Juvenile Court to make the child a dependent of the Court. The Court Services social workers investigate the allegations in the petition to determine if they are true and prepare jurisdictional reports with the facts of the investigation and a social study of the family. Parents, children, medical personnel, school personnel, and law enforcement are interviewed regarding the allegation. The Court Services social workers also make a dispositional recommendation to the Court, as to whether the child should be declared a dependent, placed in foster or relative care, or released to a parent. A case plan is developed with the family in order to address the issues that led to Juvenile Court involvement. Court Services staff works to locate absent parents, locate and assess relatives for placement of the child, and make recommendations as to family visitation.
The Court Services program works hand in hand with the office of County Counsel, to ensure legal sufficiency for the recommendations and that due process is afforded to children and families. Court Services social workers are often called to testify to their reports in contested hearings. Cases come to Court Services from the Emergency Response program, after the investigation of the initial CPS referral has resulted in a determination of need for Juvenile Court intervention.
The Court Services social worker engages with the family and assists them in developing a case plan to be presented to the Court. This is a plan of action to improve the situation that led up to Court involvement in the child’s life. The Case Plan may include, but are not limited to:
• Treatment for abuse of alcohol and/or other drugs
• Special programs or classes
• Parenting classes
The Court may adopt the case plan in part or in whole. The Court may allow the child to return to the home with the support of services provided by the case plan. If not, the child may be placed with a relative or in a foster home.
According to Federal Law PL 110-351, County Child Welfare Agencies are required to provide notification to any known relatives of children who have been removed from his/her parent/guardian within the first 30 days of the removal. If you are a relative of a child you believe to have been removed from his/her parent/guardian, and you have not been notified, please contact us to discuss how you may be of help to the child and parent/guardian.
Some of the ways you may help include:
• Providing us with information about other relatives and how we can contact them
• Supporting the child and parent through this process
• Visitation with the child while in foster care
• Being considered for placement of the child
• Other ideas you may have regarding the situation
Please contact us at 916-875-6972 to discuss these options with a social worker. If you are calling long distance you may call “collect”. Please know that contacting us does not obligate you in any way.