What happens in a Child in Need of Assistance (CINA) case?
If a child is removed from the home, the department of social services will file a petition alleging that: the child has been abused, neglected, has a development disability or mental disorder and the child’s parents are unable or unwilling to provide proper care for the child. After the child is removed, the court will hold a Shelter Care Hearing where the judge or master will decide whether the temporary out of home placement of the child in “shelter care” should continue. “Shelter care” can be up to 30 days and 60 days in certain circumstances. The court will then hold an Adjudicatory Hearing where the court will decide whether the facts alleged in the petition are true. At the end of the hearing, the court can grant an order to continue shelter care or proceed straight to the Disposition Hearing.
At this hearing, the court will decide if the child is a “Child in Need of Assistance”. If the court finds the child is not, the court may dismiss the case. If the court finds the child is a CINA, the court may do any of the following:
- Return the child to the care of his or her parents
- Return the child home but require the department of social services to supervise the home
- Order the parents or child to participate in certain services
- Order additional assessments to determine what is best for the child
- Place the child in foster care or a treatment facility
- Place the child in the care of a relative
- Determine custody, visitation, support or paternity of a child
Permanency planning hearings will then take place to determine what the best long-term solution for the child is. These are usually held within 6 months of when the child was committed to the department and continue at least every 6 months after that while the child is in the care of the department.