CASA’s Role in Juvenile Court Proceedings

Courtroom 1

Stone Mountain Judicial Courtroom

As a volunteer, do you understand what is supposed to happen at different types of hearings? Do you know what to do or what your role is? No need to worry! We’ve got you covered here…

Stages of a Judicial Proceeding:

DFCS Files Complaint Alleging Child Abuse or Neglect

  • Child may be removed from the home under an emergency custody order or
  • A complaint may be filed without removing the child.

CASA’s┬áRole

The filing of a complaint can trigger the appointment of a CASA Volunteer. At all stages, the CASA should:

  1. Provide the child with an age-appropriate explanation of the proceedings and result and
  2. Advocate for services to meet any of the child’s unmet needs.

72-Hour Hearing

  • The Judge decides whether or not the child should remain in DFCS custody.
  • Inquires made about any missing parents, possible relative placements, the status of other children in the home, and the child’s needs.

CASA’s Role

The CASA volunteer, if appointed by this stage, should attend this hearing. The CASA should also start interviewing parties, visiting the child and others who have knowledge of the child’s case and review records such as medical and DFCS records.

Adjudication Hearing

  • Occurs within 5 days of the 72-Hour Hearing.
  • Facts and circumstances presented to the Judge.
  • Judge determines whether there is clear and convincing evidence that the allegations of child abuse or neglect occurred.

CASA’s Role

The CASA volunteer, if appointed by this stage, should attend this hearing. The CASA should continue interviewing parties, visiting the child and others who have knowledge of the child’s case and review records such as medical and DFCS records.

Disposition Hearing

  • Often occurs immediately after the Adjudication.
  • Judge determines what should happen to the child for the child’s best interest.

CASA’s Role

CASA Volunteer presents a report and may be called to testify.

Initial & Periodic Review

  • Held within 90 days of the Disposition.
  • Judge considers the progress of the parents and the needs of the child.
  • Judge reviews the need for continued DFCS custody and what efforts are being made to find a permanent plan for the child.

CASA’s Role

CASA volunteer presents a report at each review hearing giving the Judge current information about what the child wants and what is in the child’s best interest.

Permanency Hearing

  • Held within 12 months of the initial removal from the home.
  • Judge makes a decision about the permanent plan for the child: reunification with a parent, termination of parental rights, or custody to a relative or suitable person.

CASA’s Role

CASA volunteer presents a recommendation for permanency. CASA also informs the Judge of the child’s level of comfort and well-being in the current placement.

Custody Extension Hearing

  • Held within 12 months of removal.
  • The initial court order granting DFCS custody expires.
  • DFCS will make a motion to extend its custody.
  • This hearing may be held with the Permanency Hearing depending on local court practice.

CASA’s Role

CASA volunteer may be called upon to advise the court as to whether custody should be extended or the case dismissed.

Termination of Parental Rights (TPR)

  • May be filed by DFCS if a Judge ceases reunification efforts.
  • Judge decides whether TPR is in the best interest of the child.
  • If the parent’s rights are terminated, then he or she is no longer a party to the abuse/neglect proceedings.

CASA’s Role

The CASA volunteer may prepare a report for the court and may be called on to testify about whether TPR is or is not in the child’s best interest.

Post TPR Placement Review

  • Held within every six months of the TPR and every six months until permanency is achieved.
  • Judge reviews the child’s permanency plan and services the child may need.
  • Judge looks at efforts made by DFCS to find a permanent placement.

CASA’s Role

The CASA should provide the reviewer with information about the child’s progress, any adoption issues, and the child’s well-being.

Please note: A CASA Volunteer, at the discretion of the Judge, may be appointed at any stage during the judicial proceedings.

Hopefully this helps! Remember to always be different! Always be prepared!

#advocate #volunteer #onevoiceonechild

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