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Juvenile Case Plan: Placement of the Children

If the Court takes Jurisdiction of your child or children, the social worker must present a plan for services, known as a Case Plan. This plan will contain things that the parents are required to do, such as parenting classes, clean drug tests, visitation, etc. The social worker must also follow the plan by offering services and regularly meeting with both the child and the parents, usually once a month while the case plan is in progress.

Changing the Case Plan or Court Orders
When there is a change of the parents' circumstances for the better, or new compelling evidence that the Court should made aware of, your attorney can petition to change the previous court orders
.

Your juvenile law attorney can file a motion – at any appropriate time – for a change of any prior dependency court order, as long as it can be shown that it is in the best interest of the child, there is new evidence or there are changed circumstances. This must take place before parental rights are terminated.

The motion is called a 388 petition, otherwise known as a JV-180. In California, this refers to the Welfare & Institutions Code that states either the parents OR the county may petition the Court to change the previous orders. It is up to the attorney to put on evidence and show why it is in the best interest of the children, and it must comply with juvenile law. If it meets the threshold requirements, the Court will grant a hearing date in which to argue the evidence and the judge, if satisfied, will grant a change in the prior court order. This can be for an accelerated visitation plan or return of the children. It can be for anything relevant to the case.


Three things could take place:

1) The dependency judge could deny the petition without a hearing.
2) The dependency judge could order a hearing.
3) The dependency judge could agree to a stipulation by all of the attorneys.


Like all previous juvenile court proceedings, adverse 388 rulings can be appealed by the parents.


Grandparents and Other Relatives

If you are a grandparent or other person, you can also petition the court for what is called de facto parental status. You can ask the court to place the children in your care. The law mandates that relatives be given preferential treatment for placement of the children. Your application MUST be considered by the social worker. Many motions, arguments and procedures exist to protect the grandparent’s rights in juvenile court. The Law Offices of Johnson & Johnson have represented many grandparents and other caregivers in juvenile court.

Out of State Relatives

If you are a relative and you live out of state, you can apply for the placement of the children in your care through what is known as ICPC, the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. The social worker, once notified, can make appropriate inquiries to get this process moving forward. There are ways it can be done in a very expedited manner under certain circumstances.

Status Review Hearings

If the case proceeds through disposition, review hearings are generally set in six month increments. There are many circumstances where the court will set them earlier than six months, but the general setting of reviews are at six months.

The court reviews the progress of the parent’s on their case plan at these stages and can dismiss or continue the jurisdiction at these proceedings.



Termination of Parental Rights


If, at this unfortunate stage of the dependency proceedings, a parent is incapable or unable to finish or complete the requested case plan set forth by the social worker from CPS/DFCS, the Department of Social Services will move for termination of parental rights, long term foster care, or guardianship in what is known as a "26 Hearing". Again, this is an informal reference to the California Welfare & Institutions Code 366.26 that essentially allows the state to put your children up for adoption. This is supposed to be a last-resort action by the Court.

YOUR ATTORNEY WHO WORKS IN THE AREA OF JUVENILE LAW AND JUVENILE DEPENDENCY can and should strongly argue for no termination of parental rights. A 388 petition or JV-180 can be filed, within the parameters of juvenile law requirements, and may be heard to stop the termination of parental rights. This is something your attorney who works in the area of juvenile law and juvenile dependency will advocate for.



Conclusion


In the many years of my experience in the area of juvenile law nothing is more important than an interested, hard working, zealous advocate with experience in the specific area of juvenile dependency in order for you to have the most effective advocacy in the court room.

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