After the Arraignment & Detention Hearing, the case is assigned to a social worker called a Dependency Investigator (DI). It is this workers job to independently, and objectively, investigate the allegations of the Emergency Response (ER) social worker, the allegations in the WIC 300 petition, including reviewing documents and interviewing witnesses.
It is my humble opinion that these investigations are not independent, nor objective in most cases. Please note, I wrote “most,” not “all.” However, more times than not, the Dependency Investigator supports the claims of the ER worker is not later sued by the family.
Is there ever child abuse committed by a parent? “Yes.” But is there ever inaccurate or exaggerated reporting by the DI? “Yes.”
I’m currently involved in a case where the DI seems to have copied – word for word – the ER worker’s report. And in my investigation, it seems to appear that the social worker has not talked to the witnesses independently.
Not too long ago, an ER worker wrote in her report that the child’s counselor said that the child was being “emotionally abused”, or words to that effect. The DI wrote in her report that very same thing, and made it seem like she had spoken with the therapist.
At the Contested Jurisdictional Hearing, I subpoenaed the therapist to testify. The therapist testified that she never told the ER worker anything about the child being emotionally abused. She further testified that she’d never met or even spoken with the DI.
The report prepared by the Dependency Investigator for this hearing usually contains proposed factual findings, as well as recommendations for the children. Essentially, the report, in this case, recommended that the court should take jurisdiction of the children, and gave conditions and recommendations. These recommendations included, where the children should reside: parent’s home, relative home, or foster home. And it also recommended, if the children were not returned home, what classes and therapy the parents should participate in, in order to regain or keep custody of the children.
If the parent is not in agreement with some, or all, of the recommendations, s/he has the constitutional right to a trial. This includes the right to subpoena witnesses to testify and be cross-examined.
At this hearing, the attorney generally recommends that the client accept some sort of plea bargain to settle the case. This would usually mean that the parent would plead “no contest” to some or all of the allegations in the WIC 300 petition. I don’t ever recommend a plea bargain, unless there is some sort of advantage to my client. And, if there is no plea bargain, there must be a trial.