A child was removed by SRS, what can we expect?

For some circumstances involving my granddaughter’s boyfriend that I don’t want to explain, my granddaughter had her son removed by SRS. It just happened and the whole situation is overwhelming. I have read a little about the process but would like an explanation of what we can expect.

When Social and Rehabilitative Services (SRS) removes children from a home due to a concern with the care offered to the children, lawyers refer to these situations as Child in Need of Care (CINC) cases.

CINC cases present a range of very difficult and stressful issues for all involved. On one hand the parents are usually angry with SRS for interfering with their fundamental right to parent. On the other hand, SRS has the very important role of helping safeguard children.

Nonetheless, parents usually are very distrustful of SRS personnel and are often infuriated with the process. The process begins with a preliminary determination of whether the child should temporarily be removed from the home.

If it is determined that the situation merits temporary removal, the case proceeds to adjudication. Adjudication is where the judge must determine if the “child is in need of care.”

Parents have a full right to a hearing and a number of related rights. Parents can even testify on their own behalf, although their lawyers may not recommend them doing so. For a variety of reasons, many parents actually stipulate to or do not contest the adjudication.

If the child is adjudicated as being in need of care, the case proceeds to disposition. At disposition, a determination is made regarding where the child should be placed as the case proceeds. Theoretically the child could even be returned home at this stage but that is usually rare.

At that point, the parent(s) must complete a variety of case plan tasks to work toward reintegrating the child back into the home. This may include a variety of items such as seeking stable housing, getting a mental health evaluation, going to drug and alcohol counseling and completing parenting classes. The goal is always reintegration and offering parent(s) the resources needed to provide an adequate home for the child.

Along the way, the judge may have occasional hearings to monitor progress. There are also citizen review boards (CRBs) that have the same role and power of the court. CRBs are supervised by an organization called Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).

It should also be noted that SRS actually delegates the daily supervision of the case to private entities. These private entities consist of social workers and other professionals that must ensure that parents are completing the case plan tasks. In Harvey County, the organization that SRS contracts with is St. Francis Community Services.

CASA also usually has a representative that independently works with the parties involved and makes a recommendation to the judge. This is usually a community volunteer or an employee of CASA.

In summary, CINC cases involve a number of unique players that interact with and impact the parent(s) and the child(ren) subject to the CINC. Although the process may appear quite complex and involved, it is important to remember the overarching goal: to provide children with a safe, sanitary and loving environment.