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What is dependency?

Dependency is the term used in Florida for civil cases where the state protects children from abuse, abandonment or neglect. The court must make a finding that the child is dependent on the state for protection.


Parents have a _____________ right to the care, custody and control of their children.



What rights do parents have in dependency cases?

1. An attorney - This is a statutory right in Florida throughout the dependency case, but is a US constitutional right when the state seeks to permanently terminate parental rights. If the parent is indigent, counsel will be appointed.
2. Notice of all hearings.
3. Visitation - unless there is clear and convincing evidence visitation is not in the child's best interest. Grandparents also have right to reasonable visits.


Does the state's interest in protecting children justify intrusion into private family life?

Yes, but the state seeks to minimize the intrusion and limit the amount of time the state is involved.


The state must use ____________________ to keep the child in the home with services.

Reasonable efforts


If the child is removed, the state must use ________________ to reunify the child with his family as quickly as possible.

Reasonable efforts


When may the state consider other options to find the child a new permanent family?

Only if family reunification efforts are unsuccessful or unlikely.


The three main child welfare goals reflected in federal and Florida law are:

1. Safety: protect the child from harm;
2. Permanency: ensure the child has a permanent home with a family; and
3. Well-being: ensure that the child receives appropriate health, education and other services.


Who are the parties in a dependency case?

1. Parents - each is a separate party;
2. Guardian ad litem - advocates for the best interests of the child;
3. Department of Children and Families (DCF): state agency with authority to protect abused, abandoned and neglected children. Responsible for investigation, brining dependency case, monitoring parents and children, and custody and care of children;
4. Petitioner - if different from DCF, but in most cases DCF is the petitioner; and
5. Child.


Does a child have a right to counsel?



An attorney must be appointed for a child who:

1. Lives or is being considered for placement in a skilled nursing facility;
2. Is prescribed psychiatric medications but does not want to take it;
3. Has a diagnosis of developmental disability;
4. Is placed or is being considered for placement in a residential treatment center; or
5. Is a victim of human trafficking.


The ___________ Court has exclusive jurisdiction, and dependency cases are typically heard in the ____________ division.



Types of hearings and standard of proof (for each), include:

1. Shelter (emergency removal) - probable cause
2. Arraignment
3. Adjudication (trial) - preponderance of the evidence
4. Disposition
5. Judicial Review
6. Permanency hearing
7. Termination of Parental Rights - clear and convincing evidence