When a person brings a child into the world, they have an obligation to that child to make sure that their basic physical and emotional needs are cared for. They have a responsibility to make that child feel safe and secure. Sadly, too often in our society more and more parents fall short of their obligation to care for their child’s needs. Selfish parents may choose to satisfy their drug and alcohol addictions instead of purchasing food and clothing for their children. A parent may knowingly decide to move in with a significant other who has a history of physical or sexual abuse of children. Or a parent may be abusive or neglectful themselves. What should a concerned friend or family member do in this situation? How can you protect a child in need?
While CHIPS actions are most often brought by the state, the statutes allow for any interested party to bring about a petition for a Child in Need of Protective Services. Once allegations are brought against a parent or guardian, a social worker or police officer will immediately investigate these allegations. They will make a determination about whether they feel the child is safe in their home or not. If they feel like the conditions in the home are not safe for the child, they may ask the offending adult to leave the home or remove the child from the home. In cases where the child is removed from the home they will likely be moved to the home of a relative, family friend, foster home, or even the hospital if necessary.
- Neglect (Dirty clothing, poor hygiene, asking for food or money)
- Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
- Drug and alcohol abuse by parent or parents
- Living with or exposed to a convicted sex offender
If a child is removed from the home, there will be a hearing within 2 business days to determine where the child should stay while the action is pending and will give the court an opportunity to hear why the child is in need of assistance. If you are a person that would like to gain custody or temporary guardianship of a child in this situation, contact an experienced custody attorney to be present with you at all such hearings and represent your interest in this child. During the course of the investigation it would most certainly be in a child’s best interests to be in a caring environment that they are familiar with.
The court will hold a plea hearing where the accused parent will have an opportunity to deny or admit the allegations made in the petition. If the allegations are admitted, a hearing will be held in which the judge will make a final decision as to the best situation for the child. The Judge will have many options available to him, such as placing the child back in his home, ordering counseling services for the child and the parent(s), ordering outpatient drug or alcohol treatment services for the parent or child, placing the child in the home of a relative, placing the child in a foster home, or ordering a child welfare agency to provide certain services to the child and/or the child's family.
If you have been falsely accused of abuse or neglect
Since parents involved in heated custody battles and divorces often will falsely accuse other parents of abuse or neglect in order to win their case, our firm certainly understands that not all accused parents are bad parents. If you have been falsely accused and your child has been removed from your home, contact our Milwaukee law firm immediately to fight these false allegations and work to be reunited with your children. Once you deny the allegations, a trial will be held to determine whether or not the child is actually in need of protective services. If it is determined that the allegations are unfounded, the case will be dismissed and the child returned home.
Working to be reunited with your child
The ultimate goal of the courts and any good custody attorney is to find a good, safe home for the child. At the disposition hearing, the Judge will tell the parents or guardians what must be done to keep the child safe in the home, or what conditions must be met in order for the child to return to his or her home. The court will also lay out a "permanency plan" for the long term care of the child. This may include a warning that if certain conditions are not met, the courts can terminate the parental rights of a neglectful or abusive parent. Parents should work quickly to meet the conditions outlined by the court in order to have their child returned to them, or the court may decide to have another person permanently care for the child.
No matter which side you are on, it is important that you have an attorney with you through the entire CHIPS process to aggressively advocate for the best interests and safety of endangered neglected children. It is heart breaking to see a child that has been neglected or abused by a parent, but you are not without options. If you need help protecting a child you care about, please call us today.