What is the FCRB? How do I get this child's FCRB info?
The Foster Care Review Board (FCRB) reviews the case of each child in foster care every 6 months and advises the court on the progress of the case toward permanency. FCRB hearings are held every six months and are scheduled about 2-3 months before being held.
To find out if your child has a hearing coming up, call the FCRB office that serves your region. If you are the current placement, then you can also request that the FCRB office send you copies of FCRB reports.
The FCRB website also has online forms to send information about your child's case for an upcoming hearing, including a form that the child can complete so that the child's voice is also heard.
What are the expectations of confidentiality?
Now that a child is placed in my home, can I take time off work?
Information from the U.S. Dept of Labor about the ability to take unpaid family leave to bond with a new foster or adoptive placement is available here.
Talk to your human resources department at work about making arrangements to take family medical leave.
Does guardianship make sense for me?
Legal/Permanent Guardianship (Title 8) makes every day decisions including health issues, education, and contact with birth parents. Guardianship may be considered if terminating parental rights is not in the child’s best interest or if the potential for adoption is not optimistic. When legal guardianship occurs, parents’ rights are suspended by the court. However, birth parents can go to court at any time to have their parent rights restored. The parents must prove the problems have been remedied and it is in the child’s best interest to reverse guardianship.
Guardianship subsidy is a monthly payment to the caregiver to assist with the expenses of caring for the child. If a child receives Social Security or other benefits, the amount is deducted from the guardianship subsidy. Health coverage is available through AHCCCS, but eligibility is based on the legal guardian’s income.
- Click here for daily rates and a summary of adoption and guardianship information.
- Click here to obtain a guide to community resources for adoptive and guardianship families.
Benefits of guardianship when reunification and adoption are ruled out:
- A child’s sense of normalcy is maintained by retaining the original family roles, such as grandparent and grandchild.
- Birth parents can remain involved in the child’s life, if appropriate.
- Relatives who do not want the parents’ rights terminated or are hopeful that the parents will be able to change and assume parenting in the future may feel more comfortable with guardianship.
- A child over 12 years of age must consent to adoption and guardianship. A child may be unwilling to consent to adoption, but agree to guardianship.
- Birth parents may agree to guardianship, which avoids court hearings.
- A significant person in the child’s life may not want to adopt, but may be willing to be a guardian.
How do I help the children in my care understand the court process?
Although the children in your care have attorneys or GAL's who are their legal advocate and you don't want to interfere with their work, you can help your foster child by : (1) supporting their desire to attend hearings: (2) encourage them to communicate regularly with their legal advocate; and (3) help them write down questions they may have so they can ask their legal advocate and (4) introduce this website to children who may have questions about the process.
What happens in a dependency case?
A dependency petition ('Petition') is filed by DCS through its lawyers, the Arizona Attorney General's Office ('AG') within 72 hours of the child being removed from the home. The Petition will detail the reasons removal is being requested (suspected physical abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse, abandonment, neglect or the parents' inability to control the child).
Within 5-7 days after the Petition is filed, the Court will hold a Preliminary Protective Hearing ('PP5') to determine whether temporary custody of the child by the State is clearly necessary to prevent abuse and neglect. The PP5 is where the Judge will appoint counsel for the parents, a Guardian ad litem ('GAL') to represent the child's interest and to resolve issues like custody, placement and visitation. Sometimes a parent may not appear at the PP5. If that happens then the Judge will set an initial hearing for 21 days from the service of the Dependency Petition. At the initial hearing the parents can deny or admit the allegations in the Petition. If the parents deny the allegations the court will set the matter for an adjudication hearing (trial) . The State must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the children are dependent and in need of state care.
The Adjudication Hearing takes place within 90 days from the Service of the Petition. The State must prove that the children were not adequately being cared for. This Hearing includes witnesses and evidence from all the parties. If the Judge finds the child dependent the court will hold a Disposition hearing within 30 days to determine the placement of the children, the case-plan and ongoing services for the children and the parents. DCS will be required to submit a case plan outlining the long term goals for the children, which includes family reunification or severance and adoption.
Since most case plans involve reunification the Court will order that the parents comply with any services required of them including things like counseling, drug testing, work with a parent mentor/ aide and actively participate in visitation. The court will schedule a Report and Review within six months of the Disposition Hearing. The purpose of the Report and Review is to assess the At the Report and Review the court will assess parent's progress. A judge may return a child at the review hearing if he or she is satisfied the danger to the child has passed.
Within 12 months of the child's removal from the home the court must hold a Permanency Hearing (PH). At the PH the Court determines if the parents have made enough progress to be reunified, if the state has met its burden in providing services (reasonable efforts) or alternatively if the case plan will be changed to severance and adoption or permanent guardianship. If parental rights are to be severed then the state must file a Termination Motion within 10 days after the PH. The Initial Termination Hearing happens within 30 days of the PH and the Termination Trial 90 days from the PH.
If the case plan involves a guardianship instead of a severance the Guardianship Hearing must be held within 30 days after the PH and a Guardianship Trial 90 days from the PH.
For a visual depiction of the Dependency Process click here. For additional information on guardianships or non-DCS related actions click here.
Do different rules and time frames apply for younger children?
If the parents have not made diligent efforts towards reunification, the state may file for termination of parental rights earlier if children under 3 years of age have been in care for 6 months.
If there are all these deadlines and hearings why is it taking so long?
Although the time frames required under the law are strict the volume of children in foster care have strained every part of the system. As a result it is not uncommon for the process to take longer than expected and hearings to be scheduled outside the required timeline.
I'm interested in learning about the law that applies to my foster child's case - where do I start?
Unfortunately there is so much information and it is in so many different places that is not necessarily an easy task. The law governing the welfare of children is found in Title 8 of the Arizona Revised Statutes (“A.R.S.”) which you can access here. Court rules which apply to the proceedings in Dependency Actions can be found here. There are also regulations in the Arizona Administrative Code which apply to the care of children, the license of foster homes and other services which may impact kids in care. Find the Arizona Administrative code here.
What are the grounds for terminating parental rights in Arizona?
A.R.S. §8-533 establishes, among other things, the following grounds for severance:
- Abandonment, the parent has failed to maintain regular contact and reasonable support;
- Willful abuse, neglect or failure to protect;
- Mental deficiency, mental illness or substance abuse –the parent's condition renders them unable to discharge parental duties;
- Incarceration or felony conviction, the felony is of such a nature that it is obvious the parent cannot parent or the length of incarceration is at a minimum more than two years;
- Failure to file a paternity action;
- Consent to adopt;
- Time in care – nine months if the parents have substantially neglected or refused to follow through on services or fifteen months if the parent has been unable to remedy the situation while participating in services; and
- Previous Dependency – within eighteen months of the return of the children, the children are again removed by the state. Also, the court must find that it is in the children's best interest to terminate the parents' rights. Once a parent's rights have been severed their children are free to be adopted by others
As a foster parent, do I have a right to attend court proceedings?
Yes. Rule 41 (I) of the Arizona Rules of Procedure for Juvenile Court gives you that right to notice, to attend and to be heard. It also gives DCS the responsibility of providing that notice.
I. Notice in cases with regard to children in foster care. (A) If the Department of Child Safety (the Department) is a party, it shall notify the foster parents, pre-adoptive parents, relative caregivers or relative who has been identified as a possible placement for a child in foster care under the responsibility of the State of the date, time, and location of all proceedings to be held with respect to the child. Foster parents, pre-adoptive parents, or relative caregivers of a child in foster care under the responsibility of the State shall have a continuing duty to provide the Department with a current and correct mailing address, including addresses identified as protected by court order.
(B) The foster parents, pre-adoptive parents, or relative caregivers shall be afforded the right to be heard in any proceeding to be held with respect to a child in foster care. This right shall not be construed to require that any foster parents, pre-adoptive parents, or relative caregivers be made a party to such proceeding solely on the basis of such notice and a right to be heard.
(C) Nothing in this rule shall be construed to limit the periodic review hearing notice requirements of ARS § 8-847(B).
What if I'm not receiving notice about hearings?
Speak with your DCS case manager or the GAL in charge of the case to make certain you are receiving the required notice.
What is a CASA?
CASA stands for court appointed special advocate. A CASA advocate is an unbiased, trained volunteer who acts as the eyes and ears of the court in a dependency case. Not every child in care has a CASA assigned to them. If the child in your care has a CASA assigned to them a Legal Party Memorandum will be sent to all parties listed in the minute entries of the court with the name of the volunteer.
A CASA advocate is essentially an information gatherer on behalf of the court to make sure the child is getting the services and care they need. They interview everyone involved in the child's life and keep track of how the child is doing and then submit a written report to the judge to assist in the decision-making process. Typically a CASA advocate sticks with the case until it is closed. Click here to learn more about what a CASA's responsibilites involve.
Am I a mandated reporter?
Yes, foster care providers have the responsibility for the care and treatment of a minor(s) and are considered mandated reporters. By law a mandated reporter who reasonably believes that a minor is or has been the victim of abuse or neglect shall immediately report or cause reports to be made to the Department of Child Safety (DCS).
Who should I call to report suspected maltreatment?
Call the Department of Child Safety (DCS) Hotline at 1-888-SOS-CHILD or 1-888-767-2445
After calling the DCS Hotline, the Hotline Specialist may also ask you to call local law enforcement (see hand out; Maricopa Count Law Enforcement Agencies and Phone Numbers).
If your report includes allegations of sexual abuse, you must make a formal report to the local law enforcement of the jurisdiction where the sexual abuse happened. If you are unsure which law enforcement agency to contact, call the nearest local law enforcement agency for assistance in determining jurisdiction.
When should I make a report?
As defined by ARS 13-3620, any person who reasonably believes that a child under 18 has been abused, neglected, exploited or abandoned, shall immediately report or cause reports to be made of this information to a peace officer, DCS or to a tribal law enforcement or social services agency.
What questions do I ask if I suspect abuse/neglect?
If possible, find a quiet, private place to talk. Do not make promises – reassure the child you will do what is necessary for their safety. Remember to listen and be supportive. Document exact quotes provided by the child and do not change any words the child says. If the information has not been volunteered, ask the child ONLY these four questions:
1. What happened?
2. Who did this to you?
3. Where were you when this happened?
4. When did this happen?
What should I write down when I call the DCS hotline?
When reporting to DCS:
1. Document the name of the Hotline Specialist
2. If the information meets Report Criteria, document the name of the Field Supervisor that will receive your report.
3. If they arrive at your site, document the name of the case manager
If DCS asks you to call local law enforcement:
1. Document the name of the Dispatcher you spoke to
2. Ask if and when a patrol officer is expected to respond
3. Document the name and serial number of the patrol officer upon arrival
4. Document the DR number assigned to the case
Where can I receive more information/training about Mandated Reporting?
Childhelp Info Center now offers an online training on their website.