Sunday, January 28, 2007

Parents losing their children!

Child protection Law and Procedure
Parents losing their children!!


Issues: Termination of parental rights pursuant to §§ 19b(3)(b)(ii), (g), and (j); Whether the trial court erred in terminating the respondent-mother’s parental rights based on environmental neglect; Whether respondent was offered services related to the issue; Whether there was testimony the home conditions adversely affected the children; In re King; Whether the trial court erred in terminating respondent’s parental rights based on her husband’s alleged abuse of them and her failure to protect; In re Miller; The best interests of the children
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)

Case Name: In re S.L.A.
e-Journal Number: 34586
Judge(s): Per Curiam – Saad, Cavanagh, and Schuette

Since clear and convincing evidence supported termination of the respondent-mother’s parental rights, the trial court properly terminated them. The children were removed following the death of their brother, Ethan, at 14 months. He died from position asphyxiation—although the death was ruled accidental, the facts were consistent with the child getting stuck in his highchair and being unable to breathe.

When he was examined at the hospital, the child had been dead at least six hours. Respondent had been busy with Girl Scouts, errands, and cooking. Her husband was left in charge most of the time beginning about 2 PM. The husband found the child’s body about 8 PM.

The evidence showed a filthy, unsanitary environment in the home unsafe for anyone to live in. Clothes, garbage, used diapers, and animal feces littered the home, and extension cords snaked around the floor.

The electricity did not work on one side of the house and the gas was not working. Dirty dishes were piled in the sinks and bathtub, and the tub had grayish-black water covered with a scum and gnats flying about.

The toilet was very dirty and the house had a foul odor. The record supported the trial court’s finding respondent was incapable of providing a safe, clean environment for the children. Affirmed.

How does this process start?

I Overview

Child Protection proceedings are commenced when a person reports a suspected instance of child abuse and neglect to the Department of Human Services or a mandatory reporter. ( teacher, doctors etc..)

Abuse and neglect reports are referred to a protective services worker. Law enforcement assistance must be sought within 24 hours of a sexual abuse or exploitation , severe physical injury, or death from suspected abuse or neglect or if the abuse was committed by a person responsible for the children care and welfare.

The prosecutor must be informed of cases involving pornography, and criminal sexual conduct.

The court may conduct a preliminary inquiry which is an informal review to determine appropriate action on a petition or a preliminary hearing.

If a child is taken into protective custody a preliminary hearing is required.
The court may dismiss the complaint, deny authorization of the petition, refer the matter to alternative services or authorize that a petition be filed on a showing of probable cause that one or more of the allegations in the petition are true. MCLA 712A.13a, MCR 5.926 (B).

If there are reasonable grounds to believe that the home conditions would endanger a child health welfare or safety the court may enter an order for the removal of the child from the parents home and placer the child in custody usually foster care.

A protective services worker must then file a petition requesting court action. MCR 5.961, within 24 hours.

A preliminary hearing authorizes the filing of a petition for the children if probable cause is shown that abuse or neglect has been shown. Probable cause is when reasonable, within the bounds of common sense, grounds are stated that if true become the basis for belief that the accused person is guilty as charged.

If the petition is authorized a child may be placed with someone other than the parent if (1) parental custody presents a substantial risk of harm to the life, physical health or mental health of the child.. (2) alternative services or arraignments cannot protect the child from those risks in the parents home and (3) the conditions of placement away from the parents are adequate to safeguard the health and welfare of the child. MCR 5.965 ©)(2).

A child must be placed in the most family like setting consistent with his or her needs.

A court must inquire whether any immediate or extended family is available to take custody of the child. Grandparents her is where you should become immediately involved and contact the child protective services workers.

If the child is placed with a relative a criminal and protective services background check and a home study must be made. MCLA 712A. 13a (9).

If the court finds probable cause at a hearing that a parent , guardian, custodian or other person residing in the home committed the abuse it may authorize the petition and order the perpetrator out of the home. MCLA 712A.13a

If placement is outside the parents home the court must inform the parties about an initial services plan. Parenting time may be discontinued if it might be harmful to the child pending psychological evaluation or counseling .

Parenting time is automatically suspended at an initial hearing to consider termination unless the parent establishes and the court determines that the exercise of parenting will not harm the child . MCLA 712 A.18f (3) (f).

If the child is not placed outside the home a trial must be held within 6 months. If the child
is placed outside the home the trial must begin within 63 days.

The parent gets a jury trial only if asked for early on.