When a child is removed from his or her parent/legal guardian’s home and is declared a “dependent of the court,” the process is called juvenile dependency. Juvenile Dependency cases occur for a variety of reasons. Sometimes there is alleged abuse or neglect on the part of the parent or caretaker and sometimes parents are not able to meet the needs of their special needs children. In such cases, the justice system is obliged to take over legal guardianship of the minor.
A juvenile dependency case most often begins when a report is filed with law enforcement or child protective services alleging abuse or neglect. CPS will then investigate whether the claims are true or false. If the agency determines that there has been abuse or neglect, they will then file for “dependent of the court” status for the child. Courts will often issue an action plan for the parents to follow through with certain duties and tasks.