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Arizona Superior Court in Pima County

Who is Involved

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Who is Involved?

An Investigating Case Specialist is the DCS worker that:

●  Is the first DCS responder to look into allegations of abuse and/or neglect.
●  Has the obligation to determine if abuse and/or neglect has occurred.
●  Is responsible for ensuring the safety of all the children in the home.
●  Assesses the needs of the family to determine the child’s safety needs.
●  Provides services to support families in remedying the situation and tries to keep the family together.
●  Works with the Assistant Attorney General to file a dependency petition if DCS determines the need to obtain custody of the child.
●  Prepares the court report and first draft of the case plan.
●  Is no longer on the case after Adjudication.

An ongoing Case Specialist is the DCS worker that:

●  Monitors the case plan for progress (or lack of progress).
●  Monitors the child’s placement and wellbeing.
●  Attempts to have at least monthly contact with the parents.
●  Maintains case notes and prepares reports for the Court.
●  Acts as a team leader, coordinating services and gathering information.
●  Makes recommendations to the judge based on the information and facts gathered.
●  Talk to your attorney about your case and what reasonable expectations for the session are.
●  Works with a team (DCS supervisor, therapists, other treatment providers, family members, placements, his or her attorney, parent aides, and others as appropriate) and advocates for the services needed.
●  Provides reunification services to the parent or parents involved. (Please note that for some services, the case manager makes referrals, but for others the case manager provides a list of resources and the parent is expected to make his or her own arrangements with the actual service provider.)
●  Complies with the policies and procedures of the Department.
●  Consults with his or her Assistant Attorney General on legal issues.
●  Is the child safety expert and advises and educates on child safety issues.

Pima County Juvenile Court is a “One Family/One Judge” court. This means that every time you or your children come to Court for a hearing, you should see the same Judge, who will remember the family. The assigned judge in the case:

●  Is the finder of fact.
●  Is the decision maker. When there are disagreements, the judge will make the decision.
●  Conducts hearings.
●  Ensures the administration of justice.
●  Determines, applies, and enforces the law.
●  Makes sure there is order in the court. They can determine who can be in the courtroom and when and if someone can speak.

The child’s lawyer:

Advocates the child’s point of view

This lawyer has an ethical responsibility to represent their client’s wishes to the Court. This may not be the same as the parents’ wishes.

Maintains regular contact

The child’s attorney will maintain meaningful contact with the child and will meet with the child before each substantive hearing  when important decisions will possibly be made. In some cases the attorney may send someone from her/his office to meet with the child. These people are certified by the Presiding Judge to conduct these interviews and they count as a meeting with the attorney.

Gathers information, advises, and counsels and keeps the child informed

The children’s attorney is responsible for gathering information concerning the children. It is the children’s attorney’s responsibility to advise and counsel the children and to keep the children informed of how their case is progressing. He or she also monitors the case plan goals and the children’s situation and circumstances.

Becomes familiar with the child’s desires and needs

Don’t be angry with the children’s attorney if you disagree with what he or she is saying. They are following through on their ethical duty to represent their client’s wishes to the Court. When children are very young and are unable to verbally express their wishes, the children’s attorney advocates for what would be in the children’s best interests.

The parent’s lawyer:

Advocates for and advises the parent

They advise the parent on the strengths and weaknesses of the case and offer legal advice. They also serve as a counselor to the parent. They provide the parent with an honest assessment of his or her progress in the case and then recommend a course of action. They determine a legal strategy.

Counsels the parent and maintains attorney-client privilege

They file appropriate motions with the Court. They explain court orders and court processes to the parent and they advocate the parent’s position before the Court. The attorney also keeps the parent’s secrets confidential. This is attorney-client privilege.

The parent’s attorney cannot get the children back to the parent unless the parent gives them the “evidence” to demonstrate to the Court that it would be safe to do so. Without the parent’s active participation and involvement, the attorney is at a disadvantage. If you are a parent, maintain ongoing contact with your attorney.

The Assistant Attorney General (AAG)

Lawyers from the State Attorney General’s office represent the State’s various agencies. Because DCS is a State agency and case specialists are agents of the State, Assistant Attorneys General are appointed to represent them. They are often referred to as AAGs. The AAG's role in the dependency process includes the following:

●  In the beginning, an AAG consults with the DCS investigating case specialist on whether to file a dependency petition with the Court. If the child is found to be dependent, the AAG then works with the ongoing case specialist towards resolution of the case.
●  The AAG advises the investigating case specialist regarding case-related matters and represents the Department’s position in court.
●  The AAG oversees the ongoing investigating case specialist's efforts to bring about a speedy resolution to the case. They also review court orders with the investigating case specialist and advise the investigating case specialist on questions that might come up in connection to any court order.
●  AAGs, like the other attorneys involved, communicate with other professionals and other attorneys involved in the case and participate in efforts to bring about non-adversarial resolution of cases and issues.

The CASA volunteer that is appointed in some dependency cases:

Is a specially-trained volunteer

CASAs are volunteers from the community. Each CASA volunteer is interviewed, fingerprinted, trained, and certified before they are appointed to a case by the Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court.

Is appointed by the Judge to be the “eyes and ears” of the Court

A CASA is yet another voice for the child – another person making recommendations to the judge about what he or she thinks is in the child’s best interests. The judge does not have to do what the CASA recommends, but the judge will take the recommendations very seriously.

Makes recommendations to the Court about the best interests of the child

After the CASA has gathered information about the case, they prepare a report for the Court that states their recommendation.

Forms a relationship with the child, but also gets to know the parents, placement, family, teachers, and many others who know the child

Another role of the CASA is to develop a relationship with the children, built on consistent contact and trust. This relationship is intended to support the children while the family is involved with the Court.

Investigates, reports, and attends meetings, Foster Care Review Board (FCRB) reviews, and hearings

The CASA attends all meetings relating to the case. This includes attending FCRB and DCS case staffings. The CASA may also attend court hearings. The CASA is encouraged to have contact with all other parties involved in the case.

What is Family Drug Court

FDC is a voluntary program for parents with substance abuse problems whose children are in the legal custody of DCS. FDC provides extra support and accountability while these parents are working on their recovery from addiction to drugs (including prescription drugs) and/or alcohol.

How to join

If a parent wants to join FDC, they must do so within four months of the removal of their children if the child is under 3. If the child is over 3, they must join within 7 months.  This is so they have an opportunity to successfully complete the program before their dependency case closes.

FDC session observation requirement

Parents must observe one session before entering FDC. Call 740-2029 for more information or to observe an FDC session.

Extra support

FDC participants are assigned a case specialist and case aide who help them get into the right treatment, stay in treatment, and finish successfully. The case specialist and/or case aide sees the parent every week and helps them solve problems that might prevent them from getting clean and sober.

Extra accountability

During FDC sessions, participants appear before the FDC judge with their Case Specialist to talk about their recovery progress. Compliance with treatment and drug/alcohol testing will be addressed. If they have relapsed, that will be addressed as well. A compliance or non-compliance finding will be made for each participant.

Pros and cons

The FDC Judge reports a parent’s compliance to his/her Dependency Judge. Whether doing well or not, the Dependency Judge will find out more frequently. If a parent does well, there are incentives. If a parent does poorly, there are sanctions. Participants in FDC may be eligible for extra services like Parenting in Recovery classes that include extra visits with their children, group and/or individual therapy to address trauma issues, stabilization housing, job training referrals, monthly bus passes, and supportive education groups for children of addicted parents.