Having your child removed from your care by a state children and youth agency can be one of the most frightening and uncertain moments of your life. Rest assured that you have rights. In order to protect and assert those rights, you must act as quickly as possible. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has stated that terminating a parent’s rights is in dependency court what the death penalty is in criminal court.
Once your child is removed from your custody by a state children and agency, Pennsylvania law requires that a Shelter Care Hearing be held within 72 hours. Your child will be present at that hearing, unless the judge orders otherwise.
In Bucks County, you will have been appointed an attorney to represent you at the Shelter Care Hearing. While you should consult with your attorney, the social worker assigned to your case is tasked with providing you resources to help you towards reunification with your child.
The goal of a juvenile dependency case, generally, is reunification of the child with his or her parent(s). Children and Youth Services will provide with many resources to help towards that goal. Those resources include drug and alcohol assessments and treatment, job search tools, housing assistance, rides to and from visits with your child, and numerous other resources. You should consult with your attorney if there is a resource you feel you need that you are not being provided.
Yes, you may be responsible for paying child support of your child during the juvenile dependency process.
Absolutely. As a matter of fact, Children and Youth Services must conduct Family Finding to find family members who may be potential resources for your child.