Each Ohio county has a child protective services agency that addresses allegations of child abuse, neglect and dependency. These agencies are charged with investigating the allegations and determining their veracity.
What rights do I have if a caseworker comes to my home?
Unless the caseworker has a court order, you do not have to allow the caseworker into your house, permit her to talk to your children, sign releases for any of your personal information or consent to any evaluations or tests. You also have a right to have an attorney present when you talk to a caseworker.
What happens if, based on the caseworker’s visit, the agency decides that my children are being neglected or abused?
In such a case, the agency may either ask you to work a voluntary case plan, or may file a complaint for a shelter care hearing in juvenile court asking the state to intervene on behalf of your children.
What happens if a complaint is filed against me?
A hearing must be held within 72 hours after a complaint is filed. This first hearing is a called a shelter care hearing. At this hearing, the agency must prove to the court that your children should not be returned home. A Motion for Removal from Shelter Care may be filed in response. A party to the case, including a parent, legal custodian, guardian ad litem, agency or prosecutor can request a removal from shelter care hearing if (1) the child was removed from the care of a parent or legal custodian and put into placement in foster care or with a relative or other individual, AND (2) either of the following occurred: (a) they were not served or given notice of that initial Shelter Care hearing, or (2) there is a change in the situation of the child or the parent/legal custodian that would give rise to a request for the parent or legal custodian to request the child be released from shelter care and returned to them or a parent or legal custodian.
If your children are found to be abused, neglected or dependent, the court will schedule a dispositional hearing where a case plan will be adopted and the temporary placement of your children will be determined.
By Denise E. Ferguson, Ohio State Bar Association, Law You Can Use, May 28, 2012