Child neglect petitions charge that the parent or guardian of a child has harmed the child, failed to properly care for the child by providing inadequate education or medical care, abandoned the child, or otherwise failed to exercise a minimum degree of care for the child.
Child abuse petitions charge that the parent or guardian of a child has physically, sexually, mentally or emotionally injured the child.
In New York State, every alleged case of child abuse or neglect is investigated by the county's Department of Social Services or New York City's Administration for Children Services. If evidence of child neglect or abuse is found, the child protective agency can petition the court for help with protecting the child.
In circumstances of imminent danger to a child, the Family Court Act authorizes the child protective agency or the police to remove the child for the home with or without a court order, even before a petition is filed.
1027 or Intake Hearing: If the child is removed from the home without a court order, a hearing known as a "1027" must be held on the next date court is in session after the petition is filed to determine if the child should be remanded to a place designated by the court, placed in the custody of a suitable person other than the parent or guardian, or released to the parent or guardian pending a final order. The court may also authorize medical treatment for the child if necessary.
Often, a 1027 hearing is held without the parent or guardian of the child being present because of the emergency nature of the case.
Upon the filing of a petition for neglect and/or abuse, an Attorney for the Child (law guardian) is assigned to the child, and a copy of the petition is served upon the parent or guardian who officially becomes the respondent.
1028 Hearing: In many cases, the respondent parent or guardian can move to have the child released to his or her care pending the final outcome of the case. The hearing which takes place to consider this motion is known as a "1028". It is usually held within 3 days of the removal of the child from the home or care of the parent or legal guardian.
The respondent has the right to the following in such cases:
- An attorney
- A copy of the petition
- The names of the caseworker and the Attorney for Child(law guardian)
- The name, location, and telephone number of the foster care agency in cases where the child has been removed
- Reasonable and regularly scheduled visits with the child unless restricted by the court
- To request that a relative be considered as a fit foster parent
A fact-finding hearing is held to determine whether a child has been neglected or abused. At this hearing, the child protective agency presents its case and the respondent can challenge the evidence and present his or her own case. If the judge determines that the allegations have not been sufficiently proven the case may be dismissed and a child that has been removed may be returned to the respondent. If the judge determines that the allegations have been sufficiently proven, a dispositional hearing is scheduled to determine what should happen to the child.
A respondent may admit or consent to a finding of abuse or neglect. Prior to accepting such an admission, however, the judge must inform the respondent that a finding of abuse or neglect allows the court to place the child in foster care for up to 1 year, which may, if the respondent fails to maintain contact with or plan for the child's future, result in the termination of parental rights. Also, the respondent must be made aware of the fact that a report of abuse or neglect will remain on file in the state registry until the child is 28 years old.
Before or during the fact-finding hearing, the court may adjourn the case in contemplation of dismissal (ACD) with the consent of the petitioner, the respondent, and the Attorney for the Child(law guardian). This resolution is possible when the parties agree to essential terms and conditions, including the supervision of the relationship of the child and respondent by a child protective agency. Unless the case is restored to the court calendar before the end of the ACD period, a case resolved in this manner will be dismissed.
At the dispositional hearing, the judge listens to testimony and reviews agency reports and recommendations prior to issuing a dispositional order which may include the following:
- Suspending judgment on specified terms and conditions for up to 1 year
- Releasing the child to the respondent under the supervision of a child protective agency and on certain conditions for up to 1 year
- Releasing the child to the respondent on the condition that there is no further abuse or neglect
- Placing the child with a relative or other suitable adult for up to 1 year
- Placing the child in a foster home, group home, or under the care of another authorized agency
The court may also issue an order of protection, mandatory alcohol or drug abuse treatment, or mental health services for the respondent. In addition, referrals for services needed by the child may be ordered.
If the respondent requests an attorney but cannot afford one, the judge will assign one.Family Court Home Page