Child in need of care

My daughter has a three-year-old child. She is not married to the father. In fact, the father is currently in jail and is frequently in jail for various reasons. He is a very poor example for his child to say the least. My daughter actually is not a whole lot better. She is also young and immature. She frequently parties and I suspect that she occasionally abuses drugs. She brings people around my grandchild that are very questionable people. I often watch my grandchild while my daughter is off partying—sometimes for multiple days and nights. I love my daughter and don’t want to get SRS involved. However, her behavior is certainly not good for my grandchild and I love him too. Is there anything I can do legally to get her to change her behavior for the sake of her son without getting the state involved?

Several options may help to resolve this situation. If your daughter agrees, you could establish a guardianship for your grandchild. This could allow you to act as the guardian for your grandchild and thus make decisions on your grandchild’s behalf. If your daughter gets her life back in order, the guardianship could be dismissed.

You could also pursue what is called a private child in need of care case. You would need to file a petition against the parents of your grandchild and allege what you believe constitutes their problematic behavior.

One must indicate reasons why the child is in need of care specifically in the petition. Pursuant to K.S.A. section 38-1502, common grounds include the allegation that the “child is without adequate parental care, control or subsistence” or that “the child is without the care or control necessary for the child’s physical, mental or emotional health.”

You could ask in the petition that your grandchild be immediately removed from your daughter’s home and placed in your care. Your daughter would be entitled to a hearing, however, if you sought to remove the child from her home on this immediate but temporary basis.

The court would next determine if the child was in fact in need of care through a process called adjudication. If the court made this determination, then the case would proceed to disposition. At disposition the court would determine where the child should be placed or if the child could appropriately be reintegrated back into your daughter’s home.

The goal is always to pursue means to allow the parents to take the steps necessary to make changes in their lives in order to care for their children. Usually parents are able to improve their lives and parenting skills and the children are reintegrated into the homes of the parents. In certain situations, however, termination of parental rights may occur.

In your daughter’s situation, although it may be difficult to pursue a guardianship or a private child in need of care case against her, these legal tools may help her change her situation and mature for the sake of her child. This sounds like a particularly difficult dilemma and I wish you the best of luck in resolving it.