Having represented people in juvenile dependency cases against Child Protective Services (“CPS”, or the Department of Children and Family Services, DCFS, as they are known in Los Angeles County) for almost 30 years, I’ve come to realize something very important which all parents and families should know: And that is no matter what allegations or charges you are accused of, be they true or false, you should sign up for family reunification services early in the case, and you should attend these services as frequently and as often as possible.
And, please know that your participation in these services is NOT an admission of guilt. In fact, in my experience, it tends to be a positive thing when the juvenile judge is informed that you are participating in these services. The negative is that these services will take time out of your schedule, may interfere with work and may cost money. Another positive about participating early is that it can actually help your case down the road – for example, at the dispositional phase of the case. In most cases, the dispositional phase is the 3rd or 4th main hearing in the juvenile dependency process.
Now, you can take the position that “I’m being falsely accused”, and/or “I don’t want to participate in these services”; and that’s ok. But as an expert in this field, I’m just giving you my professional opinion. And, this recommendation is bolstered by the fact that in most cases the services are provided to you FREE of charge, or on a LOW cost basis. At my office, we always try to find the FREE court approved programs for our clients.
So what are family reunification services? Well, it depends on what the allegations are against you. Here’s a list of some of the typical services:
1. Parenting Classes – usually for parents who’ve inappropriately physically disciplined their child.
2. Domestic Violence Classes or Counseling – usually for the parents who’ve been involved in physical altercations in front of the children.
3. Drug Rehabilitation or Alcohol Rehabilitation Counseling – usually for the parents who’ve been involved in a Drug or Alcohol addiction that hinders their ability to care for the children.
4. Individual Counseling to address different issues in the case. An example may be, individual counseling with a licensed therapist to address issues of marital discord within the family, sometimes referred to as Couples Counseling.
5. Sex Abuse Counseling – usually comes into play when a parent has been accused of sexually abusing a child.
6. Drug Testing & Alcohol Testing – usually required when the parent has been accused of using illegal drugs. TIP: If you are using marijuana, under current California law you should have a medical marijuana card, if your doctor is so inclined to prescribe the same.
It is extremely important that you consult with an experienced Juvenile Dependency attorney. You don’t want to agree to things the social worker wants you to do, when they are not warranted in a certain type of case. For example, the social worker gets involved in a physical abuse case, and then wants the parent to drug test. In my opinion, the request for drug testing is not supported by California law.
My name is Vincent Davis, and I’m a Juvenile Dependency trial & appellate attorney with almost 30 years experience. If you’d like to consult with me, please contact my office. We offer:
2. Case analysis, where I review your case and give you a plan and a strategy to implement with your court appointed attorney;
3. Extended phone, Skype or in person consultations about your case, and what to do and how to do it; and/or
4. Full legal representation as your attorney (we represent people all over the state of California.
888 888 6582