Dependency Team Members
The DCS Investigating Case Manager is the first responder from DCS when a credible allegation of abuse or neglect occurs.
The DCS Investigating Case Manager determines if abuse or neglect has occurred and will assess safety needs of all children in the home. The Investigating Case Manager can provide services to remedy the situation and try to keep the family together; however, if their investigation determines the child’s immediate safety requires removal from the home, the Investigating Case Manager will work with the Assistant Attorney General to file a dependency petition for DCS to obtain custody of the child.
If, after the initial investigation, the Court rules that a child is “dependent,” the case will be transferred to a DCS Case Ongoing Manager.
There are many people that will be involved with you and your child during a dependency. The DCS Ongoing Case Manager acts as a team captain; they will work with specialists to determine what supports you and your child need to keep your child safe. Using that information, they will develop a case plan for your family based on those needs. The case plan will be reported to the court and will be used determine a family’s progress in closing their dependency.
The DCS Ongoing Case Manager will meet with your child at least once a month, attempt to have contact with you at least once a month and will work with other team members to determine if the goals of the case plan are being met. They will prepare a report to the court based on the progress, or lack of progress, in a case plan.
The DCS Ongoing Case Manager is represented by the Assistant Attorney General (AG).
The Behavioral Health Case Manager works for an independent behavioral health agency; they do not work for DCS or the courts, but coordinate with the team to help ensure a child in a dependency receives appropriate services.
The Behavioral Health Case Manager is responsible for planning and facilitating all Child Family Team meetings (CFTs) and are responsible for referring for additional support services, which may include psychiatric services, counseling, behavior coaching and more. The Behavioral Case Manager is also responsible for referring children with more advanced needs to a higher level of care, outside of a foster or kinship placement.
In selected cases, the Court may appoint a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) to help with a case. CASAs are trained volunteers whose primary responsibility is to represent the child’s best interests. CASA volunteers are members of the service team, have access to case records, attend staffings and Court hearings, and may be involved in all case-related activities. From their unique perspective as the child’s special advocate, CASAs prepare reports for all Court hearings and may testify on the child’s behalf. The purpose of this program is to ensure that everything is being done to help reunify the family and achieve a safe, permanent home for the child as quickly as possible.
The Community Coordinator is a court employee, appointed by the Judge in certain cases to assist DCS, families, placement and behavioral health to ensure the needs of the children and family are being met. The Community Coordinator monitors cases to ensure that court ordered services are completed and provide regular reports to the Judge. The goal of the Community Coordinator is to remove barriers to a help a child achieve permanency.
Juvenile Probation works with children under the age of 18, typically teenagers, who have committed delinquent act, called a delinquency, that would be considered a criminal offense if committed by an adult and have been adjudicated by the court.
Juvenile Probation Officers make regular visits to the child’s home or placement to ensure they are following the conditions set by the Court. They also work closely with the child and their family to change or eliminate behavioral issues. Probation officers can make recommendations to the Court based on the child’s ability to comply with the court order.
If a child is involved in a dependency and a delinquency then their Juvenile Probation Officer coordinates with the child’s dependency team to support the child, make recommendations and update the team on matters related to the child’s delinquency case.
The Assistant Attorney General is the attorney who represents The Department of Child Safety and their recommendations for the case to the Court.
The Court will appoint an attorney to represent you, and if you cannot afford the attorney’s fee, the Court provides legal representation without charge. The Temporary Custody Notice, provided to you by DCS, will tell you how to contact an attorney, or this information will be included on the notice of Preliminary Protective Conference and Hearing delivered by the DCS case manager within 24 hours after the dependency petition is filed. The parents may consult with the attorney at any time and have the attorney represent them at all hearings concerning the child and their parental rights. Any disagreements with DCS may also be discussed with the attorney.
The Court will appoint an attorney to represent your child’s wishes. The attorney will meet with the child before each hearing during which important decision may be made. The attorney will talk to the child about his/her wants or needs regarding placement, visitation and services. The child’s attorney will advocate for the child to ensure she/he has what is needed throughout the course of the dependency. The child’s attorney will report back to the court regarding the child’s wishes. If the child is young or nonverbal, the child’s attorney will represent what is in the child’s best interest.
The Court may appoint an attorney to represent the best interests of your child. This attorney is called a Guardian ad Litem (GAL). The GAL is an objective person who will meet with your child and the other people involved in the case. You may benefit from cooperating with the GAL by answering the GAL’s questions and letting the GAL visit with you or your child. The GAL represents the best interest of your child. The GAL does not represent you or DCS.
In some situations, a parent is appointed a GAL in order to ensure the best interest of the parent is adequately represented. If you are assigned a GAL, your discussion with your GAL are not confidential and you do not have attorney-client privilege.
While an attorney represents a person’s wishes, a GAL represents a person’s best interest. Beyond working with their client, GALs may work with others involved in their client’s life to determine areas of potential risk or concern and will make reports to the Court based on those findings to support the best interest of their client.
The judges at the Juvenile Court are Superior Court Judges. It is their job to determine, apply, and enforce the laws of the State of Arizona.
Pinal County Juvenile Court believes in “One Family/One Judge.” That means that every time you or your children come to Court for a hearing, you should see the same Judge, who will remember you and your family. Once in a while (like when a Judge is moved to a different courthouse), you will have a new judge. The new judge will receive all of the reports and information about the hearings you’ve already had, and get caught up very quickly.
Your Judge is the “finder of fact” and the decision maker. When there are disagreements among the parties, your judge will make the decision. The Judge maintains order in the Court. The Judge determines who can be in the courtroom and when and if someone can speak.
The Foster Care Review Board (FCRB) advises the juvenile court on progress toward achieving a permanent home for a child or children involved in a dependency action and in an out-of-home placement. The FCRB is comprised of five volunteers appointed by the court.
The Foster Care Review Board advises the juvenile court on progress toward achieving a permanent home for a child or children involved in a dependency action and in an out-of-home placement. The well-being of these children is the highest concern to board members.
FCRB Meetings are an opportunity for you to make your progress, needs and concerns known. Anyone with current knowledge about children in an out-of-home placement is welcome to attend an FCRB review. Parents, relative placements and other interested parties have a chance to talk with the Board Members. After listening to everyone, the Board writes a report and sends it to the Court and to the interested parties. The report includes updates and recommendations. The goal of the FCRB report is to assist the judge in making decisions about what would be best for the children.