Sunday, September 21, 2014

General Information

Telephone Directory

Juvenile Dependency Court Phone Numbers

  • Juvenile Court Presiding Judge (Department 90): 916-875-5200
  • Reception: 916-875-3450
  • Dependency File Room: 916-875-2552
  • Department 130: 916-875-2530
  • Department 131: 916-875-2531
  • Department 133: 916-875-2533
  • Department 134: 916-875-2534
  • Department 135: 916-875-2535
  • Appeals: 916-875-2537

Other Helpful Phone Numbers

  • WRRFRC Administration: 916-875-3470
  • WRRFRC Main number: 916-875-3400
  • Parent Advocates of Sacramento (PAS): 916-731-4981
  • Dependency Associates of Sacramento (DAS): 916-454-1676
  • Children's Law Center of Sacramento: 916-520-2000

Dependency Calendar Directory (effective 03/05/2001)

Monday through Friday:

Mornings: Hearings include Detention, Arraignment, Jurisdiction, Disposition, Review, and various Motions

Afternoons: All contested matters or trials

Purpose of Juvenile Dependency Court

Juvenile Dependency Court is the branch of the Superior Court which hears cases involving neglected and/or abused children under eighteen years of age.

What happens after law enforcement places a child in protective custody?

A Juvenile Court Dependency Hearing may begin with children being removed from their parents and placed in protective custody. The law allows law enforcement to detain children up to 72 hours for their protection if the officer believes there is a risk of neglect or abuse. Children are usually taken to the Children’s Receiving Home. When children are taken into protective custody, the officer or social worker will immediately attempt to notify the parent(s) or guardian(s). If the children are not in immediate danger of neglect or abuse, and are living with a parent, relative, or friend, they may be allowed to remain there pending the court proceedings.

When the children are placed in protective custody and taken from the home, there must be an investigation to decide whether the children can be safely returned to the home from which they were taken. The first investigation is made by the social worker in the Intake Unit of the Department of Social Services.

If the social worker decides that the children were not significantly at risk for abuse or neglect, the children can be released to the parent(s). No court action is taken; however, the parent(s) may be requested to sign a Family Maintenance Agreement, agreeing to certain conditions to keep the children in the home. If the parent(s) abide by the Agreement for six months, no further action will be taken. If there is another report of neglect or abuse of the children, or the parent(s) fail to abide by the Agreement, the children can be removed from the home again, and a Petition may be filed with the Juvenile Court.

If the social worker decides the children are at risk, the children will remain out of the home pending the court hearing. The Department of Health and Human Services must file a Petition with the Juvenile Court within 48 hours.

The Petition includes necessary legal information and a statement telling why a Dependency proceeding is considered necessary for the safety of the children. In response to the Petition, a Detention Hearing is held before a Judge or Referee the next court day after the Petition is filed.

The First Hearing

In the event the children were removed from the home, the first hearing will be an Initial Hearing Detention. If the children were not removed, the first hearing is called an Initial Hearing Non-Detention. Both hearings advise parties of the allegations, appoint counsel (if necessary), and set a future hearing. However, the detention hearing addresses the additional element regarding the custody status of the children pending the jurisdiction hearing.

At the first hearing, the receptionist will provide the parents with the petition and report upon their arrival at court. The petition and report have been provided to the parents' attorney; if a private attorney has been retained a copy of the petition filed by the Department of Health and Human Services will be provided to the attorney.

If the parents do not have an attorney, the judge or referee will ask if they want an attorney to represent them. If the parents answer yes, the court will appoint either an attorney from Parent Advocates of Sacramento, Dependency Associates of Sacramento, or from a panel of private attorneys. Usually a separate attorney represents the child. In the case of conflict of interests, private counsel can be appointed.

If the children are not released to the parents, they will remain detained in their current placement. The court investigator will meet with the parents, investigate the facts of the case, and prepare a report for the court hearing. The report will include an evaluation of the case, a reunification/service plan and recommendations to the court regarding placement of the children. The court investigator will also arrange visits, if court approved, between the parents and the children, and coordinate services for the parents and the children that may include referrals to parenting classes, counseling, drug and/or alcohol testing, or other services deemed appropriate.

It is important for the parents to cooperate with both their attorney(s) and the court investigator. If the parents make a positive effort to participate in the services offered by the court investigator, the court will take this into consideration in deciding whether to return the children.

The Jurisdictional Hearing

The proceeding at which the Court determines whether allegations of abuse or neglect concerning a child are sustained by the evidence and if so, are legally sufficient to support state intervention on behalf of the child, is called a Jurisdictional Hearing. This hearing provides the basis for state intervention into a family. The disposition hearing addresses where the child will live and identifies the services to be offered to the child and the parent(s).

The Reunification/Service Plan

The Reunification/Service Plan or Case Plan tells the parent(s) what s/he needs to do to resolve the problems that brought the children’s case before the Court. If the children are returned to the parent(s) or placed with a relative, the parent(s) will be ordered to comply with this plan. This plan may include parenting classes, counseling, visitation requirements, and drug/alcohol counseling.

Review Hearings

The Court is required to review the status of each dependent child regularly. These Review Hearings are held every six months. Prior to each review, the supervising social worker will prepare a report and discuss the recommendation with the parent(s). This report describes the services offered/provided to the parent(s) to correct the problems which resulted in the child becoming a dependent of the Juvenile Court. It also discusses the parents’ progress and cooperation in these services. If the child is with the parents, it reports on the continuing necessity of supervision. If the child is out of the home, it reports on whether the child can be returned to the parents or on the development of an alternative permanent plan if the child cannot be returned. If the report indicates that the family problems are resolved, the Court may terminate dependency at this time. If problems remain which require the help of the Department of Health and Human Services, dependency will continue. Such reviews occur as long as the child remains a dependent.

If the child was removed from the parent(s), placed in foster care, and the Court determines at a second six-month review that reunification of child and parent is not likely, the Court will attempt to find a permanent home for the child. This may take the form of freeing the child for adoption or guardianship or long-term foster placement.