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The Intervention Cycle

1.The agency receives a report of child abuse or neglect from the community. (The steps in the typical process cycle described here are from Ohio’s process and may vary in other locations.) The agency does not have the authority to initiate an investigation or an assessment without a request from the family or a report from the community.
2.The investigation is initiated within one to twenty-four hours of the receipt of the report, depending on the severity of the report.
3.The report is thoroughly investigated and assessed by conferring with the reporter and by interviewing the alleged victim, all members of the victim’s household, the alleged perpetrator, and when appropriate, the schools, neighbors, law enforcement officials, etc. (If the report is not supported by the investigation, the agency’s involvement with the family terminates at this point.)
4.The risk of future abuse to the child is assessed using a combination of a risk assessment tool and professional judgment.

·       The agency may determine that the child can safely remain in the home with the provision of mental health, drug and alcohol, intensive home-based, or other services.

·       If the child cannot safely remain in the home, the agency asks the child’s parents to identify appropriate relatives (to be approved by the agency) such as grandparents with whom the child may be voluntarily placed by the parents and safely live on a temporary basis.

·       If the results of the assessment indicate that the child cannot safely remain in the home and no appropriate relatives are identified, the agency petitions the juvenile court for an emergency ex-parte order of custody; and if granted, the child is removed from the home and is placed with a licensed foster family or in another appropriately certified care setting. (If the order is not granted, the child remains with his family.)

1.If an ex-parte order of custody is granted, within twenty-four or seventy-two hours (if removal occurs over a weekend or holiday), the juvenile court holds a hearing to determine whether either continuing the agency’s temporary custody, awarding custody to a relative or other appropriate caretaker, or returning the child to his family and requiring protective supervision by the agency is warranted.

·       The agency is represented in court by the District or Prosecuting Attorney.

·       Parents are represented in court by legal counsel (court appointed if financially eligible).

·       The court may appoint a guardian-ad-litem to represent the child.

·       If the court decides that it is warranted, the child will remain in the custody of the agency and adjudicatory (to determine whether the child is an abused, neglected, or dependent child) and dispositional (to determine the action to be taken if the child is an abused, neglected, or dependent child) hearings will be scheduled. These hearings must be held within ninety days from the filing of the original complaint.

·       If continuing separation of the child from the family is deemed unwarranted by the court, the child is returned to his family with either an order for the agency to provide Protective Supervision or an order to terminate further legal involvement.

2.If the court determines that continuing agency involvement is warranted either through continuing temporary custody or protective supervision, a case plan is developed including the agency, the child’s parents, and the guardian-ad-litem, setting forth the activities that need to be performed by each party in order to achieve full “reunification” of the child with his parents. (The activities in the case plan are time limited.) If there is disagreement among the parties regarding the contents of the case plan, the court holds a hearing to resolve the differences. Once finalized, either through agreement or court decision, the court journalizes the case plan, giving it the status of a court order.
3.During the sixth month following the journalization of the case plan, a formal “semi-annual review” is held to assess progress on the case plan. Agency representatives, the child’s parents, the guardian-ad-litem, the child (if he is old enough to understand), foster parents if the child is in foster care, relatives, child serving and treatment professionals, and others delivering services in accordance with the case plan attend this review. Decisions, based on case plan progress and level of risk, may include:

·       Continuing work on the case plan for an additional six months.

·       Returning the child from out-of-home care to the care of the parents with or without protective supervision.

·       Maintaining the child with relatives or in the temporary custody of the child protection agency with or without modification of the case plan.

·       Petitioning the court for: transfer of the child’s custody to relatives or other appropriate caretaker; especially for older adolescents, an award of PPLA (Planned Permanent Living Arrangement formerly known as long term foster care) to the agency; or termination of all parental rights and a grant of permanent custody of the child to the agency. (The results of this review are reviewed and journalized by the court.)

1.Prior to the twelfth month, the agency must assess progress on the case plan to determine whether or not the agency should file for permanent custody. At the point a child has been in custody for any 12 of the past 22 months, the agency shall file (absent compelling reasons) and the court may permanently sever all parental rights.
2.During the twelfth month, the court holds another dispositional hearing. Again, all parties are present for the hearing and represented by legal counsel. At this hearing, the court may order:

·       Any of the options mentioned above in relation to the semi-annual review.

·       An additional six-months of agency involvement that follows the same or a court-modified case plan. The same action can again take place at the eighteen-month point of continuous agency involvement. (Note that the granting of additional six-month periods can only occur at the discretion of the court and are based upon the presentation of compelling reasons having been presented to and accepted by the court.) At the end of the two years, the court must terminate agency involvement, award PPLA, or award permanent custody to the agency. If the agency is granted permanent custody, the child is free for adoption.[18]

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