CHINS: Child In Need Of Service

You do not have to sign over custody of your child to receive DCF services.

CHINS: Child In Need Of Service:

Today Massachusetts school districts file CHINS applications in juvenile court at an untold number in order to cover their own requirement for attendance and test performance with the Department of Primary and Secondary Education.

Parents until just recently have been denied a voice in CHINS proceeding due to lack of ability to afford legal representation. Recently DCF argued in court to remove parental rights to participation in a CHINS proceeding. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in February 0f 2008 against DCF and now all parents must be provided with legal representation for participation in the CHINS hearing.

Adolescents who are taken into foster care via a CHINS hearing in many case removing their parents love and affection as well as parental influence decline in in their ability to be academically, and socially successful

Parents will also sometimes file CHINS application based on bad behavior or other behaviors which are deemed by the parents to be detrimental to the child’s well being.

Children between the age of thirteen and sixteen can be brought to juvenile court under a CHINS petition. The CHINS order if issued before the seventeen birthday, may be carried on to the child’s eighteenth birthday.

In the state of Massachusetts, no agency will enforce any juvenile status on adolescents once they have reached the age of seventeen.

After the application for a CHINS petition is filed with any Massachusetts court, the child may come to the attention of the Department of Children and Families in four different ways:

Court referred

Court-ordered pre-trial detention

Court-prescribed services

Court-ordered commitment of the child to the custody of the Department.

110 CMR 460 Through 4.67 set forth the Departments responsibilities to children and their families under the Children In Need of Services (CHINS) statute found at M.G.L. c. 119, § 39E through 39J.

4.61 General Provisions

After an application for a CHINS petition is filed with any court, the child may come to the attention of the Department in four different ways: [I] court referral, (2] court-ordered pre-trial detention. [3] court-prescribed services, and (4) court-ordered commitment of the child to the custody of the Department.

4.62 Court Referred

(I) A probation officer of a court in which a CHINS petition has been filed may refer the child or his/her family to the Department for provision of social services by instructing the child or his/her family to contact the Department and apply for services.

(2) If the child, or the child and his/her parents, apply for services, the application shall be treated in the same manner as a voluntary application for services,

3) A referred child who reasonably appears to be mentally ill and in danger of serious harm if not hospitalized should be the subject of an application for a commitment hearing before a district court under M.G.L. c. 123, § 12. No Department employee shall make such an application. The referring probation officer shall be informed immediately by the Department that in the Department’s opinion the referred child is mentally ill and that without hospitalization serious harm is likely.

(4) If any child is referred to the Department for services under circumstances which indicate that the child may to be in need of care and protection. a case conference shall be held to determine if legal action is warranted, and thereafter the Department may initiate court proceedings under M.G,L. c. I l9~

4. 63 Court-Ordered Pre-Trial Detention

(1) If a court finds that a child alleged to be in need of services is not likely to appear at the trial of the CHINS petition, the court may set ball or other terms and conditions for the child’s release, or may order the Department to secure the child in lieu of bail and to hold the child in pre-trial detention.

(2) Detention is a period of custodial deprivation of liberty between the issuance of a CHINS petition and the trial on the merits. The only legally permissible purpose of detention is to secure the presence of the child at trial.

(3) Court-ordered detained children shall be placed by the Department in a setting which. consistent with humane practice and the requirements of law, reasonably appears to be able to ensure the child’s availability on the trial date. Such children shall be placed in the least restrictive setting possible, including placement in the child’s own home.

4. 64 Court-Prescribed Services (No Custody to Department

(1) Following a trial on a CHINS petition, if the court finds that the allegations have been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, it may adjudicate the child in need of services

(2) Once the child has been adjudicated, the court may order provision of specified services (without committing the child to the custody of the Department).

(3) The Department may provide such court-prescribed services if the services are available, and the Department determines in its clinical judgment that the services are appropriate for the child and her/his family, and to the extent the Department is reasonably able to comply.

(4) A child receiving court-prescribed services (but not in the court-ordered custody of the Department) who reasonably appears to be mentally ill and in danger of serious harm if not hospitalized should be the subject of an application for a commitment hearing before a district court under M.G.L. c. 123, § 12. No Department employee shall make such an application. A probation officer or other employee of the Court which ordered the provision of services shall be informed immediately by the Department that in the Department’s opinion the child is mentally ill and that without hospitalization serious harm is likely.

(5) If the court orders the Department to provide particular services or treatment, the Department shall carefully review the order. The Department may only be ordered to provide those services that it is legally required to provide. (Charrier v. Charrier. 416 Mass- 105 (1993)), Until such time as a court’s order is vacated, changed or dismissed, the court’s order shall nevertheless be complied with, if the services are available and to the extent the Department is reasonably able to comply — but at the same time the Department’s legal counsel shall be contacted, so that an appeal may be considered.

4. 6 Court ordered Commitment (Custody to Department)

(1) After a trial on a CHINS petition. a child may be adjudicated to be in need of services. The court may then commit the child to the custody of the Department for a period of up to six months,

(2) Following such a commitment order, the child shall be considered to be in the temporary custody of the Department

(3) A child committed to the temporary custody of the Department shall be placed in the home of his/her parents unless substitute care would better serve the child’s interests.

(4) Children may only be committed to the custody of the Department by a court after a CHINS adjudication has been entered.

(5) A CHINS child committed to the custody of the Department who reasonably appears to be mentally ill and in danger of serious harm if not hospitalized should be the subject of an application for a commitment hearing before a district court under M.G.L. c. 123. § 12. Department social workers, after consultation with a member of the Department’s legal staff: shall be responsible for making such applications

(6) If the court orders the Department to provide particular services, treatment or placement, the Department shall carefully review the order The Department may only be ordered to provide those services that it is required by law to provide Charrier v. Charrier 416 Mass 105 (1993). In addition, a court in a CHINS matter may recommend out-of-home placement of a child. If such placement is recommended the Department may not refuse the out-of-home placement, but the Department shall direct the type and length of the out-of-home placement. The Department shall also give consideration to a request of the child that s/he be placed outside the home of a parent or guardian when there is a history of abuse and neglect in the home of the parent or guardian. Until such time as the order is vacated, changed or dismissed the court’s order shall nevertheless be complied with, to the extent the services are available and to the extent the Department is reasonably able to comply —but at the same time the Department’s legal counsel shall be contacted, so that an appeal may be considered.

(7) After any order committing a child to the custody of the Department after a CHINS adjudication, the Department shall complete a service plan in accordance with 110 CMR 6.00.

(8) When preparing the service plan, the Department’s social worker shall involve other interested persons such as relatives, friends, or community agencies who may be willing to provide helpful services.

(9) Where a child’s service plan will affect the child’s educational placement, the Department social worker shall consult with the child’s school system in the development of such plan. This consultation shall occur prior to placement except in emergencies. Whenever the Department social worker has reason to believe that a child is in need of special education, the Department social worker shall initiate a request for an evaluation of the child under procedures set forth in 110 CMR 7.400.


CHAPTER 119. PROTECTION AND CARE OF CHILDREN, AND PROCEEDINGS AGAINST THEM

PROTECTION OF CHILDREN

Chapter 119: Section 39E. Petitions seeking determination that child is in need of services; jurisdiction; standing

Section 39E. The divisions of the juvenile court department may receive and hear petitions seeking a determination that a child is in need of services as defined in section twenty-one, in accordance with the provisions of this section and of sections thirty-nine F to thirty-nine I, inclusive. Proceedings pursuant to sections thirty-nine E to thirty-nine I, inclusive, shall not be deemed criminal proceedings. The jurisdiction of the Boston juvenile court for the subject matter of this section shall extend to the territorial limits of Suffolk county.

A parent or legal guardian of a child having custody of such child, or a police officer may apply for a petition in one of said courts alleging that said child persistently runs away from the home of said parent or guardian or persistently refuses to obey the lawful and reasonable commands of said parent or guardian resulting in said parent’s or guardian’s inability to adequately care for and protect said child.

Any supervisor of attendance, duly appointed pursuant to section nineteen of chapter seventy-six may apply for a petition in said court alleging that said child persistently and wilfully fails to attend school or persistently violates the lawful and reasonable regulations of his school.

If the child is not brought into court on arrest, the clerk shall set a date for a hearing to determine whether a petition should issue, shall notify the child of such hearing and shall request the chief probation officer or his designee to conduct a preliminary inquiry to determine whether in his opinion the best interests of the child require that a petition be issued. The court shall hold a hearing in which it shall receive the recommendation of the probation officer and shall either (i) decline to issue the petition because there is no probable cause to believe that the child is in need of services; (ii) decline to issue the petition because it finds that the interests of the child would best be served by informal assistance without a trial on the merits, in which case the court shall, with the consent of the child and his parents or guardian, refer the child to a probation officer for assistance; or (iii) issue the petition and schedule a trial on the merits. If the child is brought in on arrest, the petition shall issue if it has not already issued, and the court shall immediately request the probation officer promptly to make like inquiry and thereafter report to the court his recommendation as to whether the interests of the child can best be served by informal assistance without a trial on the merits. Upon receiving such recommendation, the court may hold a hearing and shall decide whether to proceed with a trial on the merits or to refer the child to the care of a probation officer for assistance.

Whenever a child is referred to a probation officer for assistance, such officer shall have the authority to refer the child to an appropriate public or private organization or person for psychiatric, psychological, educational, occupational, medical, dental or social services and shall have the authority to conduct conferences with the child and the child’s family for the purpose of effecting adjustments or agreements which are calculated to resolve the situation which formed the basis of the application or petition and which will eliminate the need for a judicial trial on the merits. During the pendency of such referrals or conferences, neither the child nor his parents may be compelled to appear at any conferences, produce any papers, or visit any place. However, if the child or his parents fail to participate in good faith in the referrals or conferences arranged by the probation officer, the probation officer shall so certify in writing, and the clerk shall issue a petition, if one has not already been issued, and shall set a date for a trial on the merits. The judge who conducted the hearing on the issuance of a petition shall not preside at any subsequent hearing on the merits. If the child is being detained in any facility pending the determination as to whether a petition shall issue, or pending a trial on the merits, and a determination is made either not to issue the petition or to refer the child to the probation officer, the person in charge of the facility wherein the child is detained shall be notified immediately and the child shall be immediately released. Conferences and referrals arranged under this section may extend for a period not to exceed six months from the date that the application was initially made for the petition, unless the parent and child voluntarily agree in writing to a continuation of such conferences or referrals for an additional period not to exceed six months from the expiration of the original period. Upon the expiration of the initial six-month period, or of such additional six-month period, the petition, if any, shall be dismissed and the child and his parents discharged from any further obligation to participate in such conferences and referrals, or a petition shall, if not already issued, be issued and a date set for a trial on the merits. No statements made by a child or by any other person during the period of inquiries, conferences, or referrals may be used against the child at any subsequent hearing for the purpose of adjudicating him a child in need of services, but such statements may be received by the court after adjudication for the purpose of disposition.

Upon the filing of a petition under this section, the court may issue a summons, to which a copy of the petition shall be attached, requiring the child named in such petition to appear before said court at the time named therein. If such child fails to obey the summons, said court may issue a warrant reciting the substance of the petition and requiring the officer to whom it is directed forthwith to take and bring such child before said court. Notice of the hearing shall be given to the department of youth services and to the department of social services.

Where the court summons such child, the court shall in addition issue a summons to both parents of the child, if both parents are known to reside in the commonwealth, or to one parent if only one is known to reside within the commonwealth, or, if there is no parent residing in the commonwealth, then to the parent having custody or to the lawful guardian of such child. Said summons shall require the person served to appear at a time and place stated therein at a hearing to determine whether or not such child is in need of services.

Unless service of the summons required by this section is waived in writing, such summons shall be served by the constable or police officer, either by delivering it personally to the person to whom addressed, or by leaving it with a person of proper age to receive the same, at the place of residence or business of such person, and said constable or police officer shall immediately make return to the court of the time and manner of service.

The hearing of a petition filed under section thirty-nine E in a division of the district court department or of the juvenile court department shall be by a jury of six, unless the child files a written waiver and consent to the petition being heard without a jury, subject to his right of appeal there from for trial by a jury of six pursuant to section thirty-nine I. Such waiver shall not be received unless the child is represented by counsel or has filed, through his parent or guardian, a written waiver of counsel. Such trials by jury in the first instance shall be in jury sessions designated for their respective departments by the administrative justices of the district and juvenile courts for the hearing of appeals claimed pursuant to section thirty-nine I. All provisions of law and rules of court relative to the hearing and trial of such appeals shall apply also to jury trials in the first instance.

Chapter 119: Section 39F. Right to counsel; determination of indigency; assessment of costs

Section 39F. When a child alleged to be in need of services is brought before a juvenile court or a juvenile session of a district court pursuant to section thirty-nine E, said child shall be informed that he has a right to counsel at all hearings, and if said child is not able to retain counsel, the court shall appoint counsel for said child. The court shall determine whether the parent or guardian of a child alleged to be in need of services is indigent. If the court determines that the parent or guardian is not indigent, the court shall assess a $300 fee against the parent or guardian to pay for the cost of appointed counsel. If the parent is determined to be indigent but is still able to contribute toward the payment of some of said costs, the court shall order the parent to pay a reasonable amount toward the cost of appointed counsel

Chapter 119: Section 39G. Hearing; determination of child in need of services

Section 39G. At any hearing to determine whether a child is in need of services, said child and his attorney shall be present. If the court finds the allegations in the petition have been proved at the hearing beyond a reasonable doubt, it may adjudge the child named in such petition to be in need of services. Upon making such adjudication the court, taking into consideration the physical and emotional welfare of the child, may make any of the following orders of disposition:

(a) subject to any conditions and limitations the court may prescribe, including provision for medical, psychological, psychiatric, educational, occupational and social services, and for supervision by a court clinic or by any public or private organization providing counseling or guidance services, permit the child to remain with his parents;

(b) subject to such conditions and limitations as the court may prescribe, including, but not limited to provisions for those services described in clause (a), place the child in the care of any of the following:

(1) a relative, probation officer, or other adult individual who, after inquiry by the probation officer or other person or agency designated by the court, is found to be qualified to receive and care for the child; (2) a private charitable or childcare agency or other private organization, licensed or otherwise authorized by law to receive and provide care for such children; or (3) a private organization which, after inquiry by the probation officer or other person or agency designated by the court, is found to be qualified to receive and care for the child; or

(c) subject to the provisions of sections 32 and 33 and with such conditions and limitations as the court may recommend, commit the child to the department of social services. At the same time, the court shall consider the provisions of section 29C and shall make the written certification and determinations required by said section 29C. The department shall give due consideration to the recommendations of the court. The department may not refuse out-of-home placement of a child if the placement is recommended by the court provided that the court has made the written certification and determinations required by said section 29C. The department shall direct the type and length of such out-of-home placement. The department shall give due consideration to the requests of the child that the child be placed outside the home of a parent or guardian where there is a history of abuse and neglect in the home by the parent or guardian.

A child found to be in need of services shall not be committed to any county training school. A child found to be in need of services shall not be committed to an institution designated or operated for juveniles adjudicated delinquent. However, such child may be committed to a facility which operates as a group home to provide therapeutic care for juveniles regardless of whether juveniles adjudicated delinquent are also provided care in such facility and may, in addition, be referred to the department of youth services for placement in individual foster care.

Any order of disposition pursuant to this section shall continue in force for not more than six months; provided, however, that the court which entered the order may, after a hearing, extend its duration for additional periods, each such period not to exceed six months if the court finds that the purposes of the order have not been accomplished and that such extension would be reasonably likely to further those purposes.

No order shall continue in effect after the eighteenth birthday of a child named in a petition authorized to be filed by a parent or a legal guardian having custody, or a police officer, under the provisions of the second paragraph of section thirty-nine E, or after the sixteenth birthday of a child named in a petition authorized to be filed by a supervisor of attendance under the provisions of the third paragraph of said section thirty-nine E.

Chapter 119: Section 39H. Arrest of child; notification and placement; bail; detention; right of appeal

Section 39H. A child may be arrested for committing the behavior described in the definition of child in need of services in section twenty-one, only if such child has failed to obey a summons issued pursuant to section thirty-nine E, or if the arresting law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that such child has run away from the home of his parents or guardian and will not respond to a summons.

Whenever such child is arrested and the court with jurisdiction over the case is not in session, the law enforcement officer in charge of the police station or town lockup to which the child has been taken, or his designee, shall immediately notify (1) the probation officer of the division of the juvenile court department within whose district such child was arrested or resides, or such other probation officer who may have knowledge of the child and (2) a representative of the department of social services, if the law enforcement officer has reason to believe that the child is or has been in the care or custody of such department, and shall inquire into the case.

The law enforcement officer, in consultation with the probation officer, shall then immediately make all reasonable diversion efforts so that such child is delivered to the following types of placements, and in the following order of preference:

(i) to one of the child’s parents, or to the child’s guardian or other responsible person known to the child, or to the child’s legal custodian including the department of social services or the child’s foster home;

(ii) to a temporary shelter facility licensed or approved by the office for children, a shelter home approved by a temporary shelter facility licensed or approved by said office for children, or a family foster care home approved by a placement agency licensed or approved by said office for children; provided, however, that such a placement is available and, in the view of the probation officer, appropriate for the child; provided, further, that such a placement furnish said law enforcement officer with a written statement that it will make reasonable efforts to secure the child’s appearance at the next available court session and that such placement will furnish the necessary transportation to such placement and to the court, unless the law enforcement officer chooses to furnish said transportation, provided, further, that such child may not be securely detained in a police station or town lockup.

Notwithstanding the foregoing requirements for placement, any such child who is arrested shall, if necessary, be taken to a medical facility for treatment or observation.

If the court finds that a child alleged to be a child in need of services by reason of persistently refusing to obey the lawful and reasonable commands of his parents or legal guardian is likely not to appear at the preliminary inquiry or at the hearing on the merits, the court shall order the child to be admitted to such bail or to be released upon such terms and conditions as it determines to be reasonable. A child who does not post bail and is not otherwise released may be detained under such terms and conditions as the court may impose in a facility operated by or under contract with the department for the care of juveniles, provided that no such child is so detained for more than fifteen days without being brought again before the court for a hearing on whether such detention should be continued for another fifteen day period. If the court decides to so continue said detention, it shall note in writing the detailed reasons for its decision. Any child aggrieved by such decision shall have an immediate right to appeal to the superior court under the procedures set forth in section fifty-eight of chapter two hundred and seventy-six; provided further, however, that in no event shall any child be detained under this section for more than forty-five days. If a child fails without good cause to respond to a summons, the court may similarly admit the child to bail, or release the child upon conditions set by the court, or, if the child fails to post bail, and is not otherwise released, detain the child subject to the above limitations. Whenever bail is imposed under this section, the provisions of section fifty-eight of chapter two hundred and seventy-six shall be applicable.

Chapter 119: Section 39I. Appeal; trial de novo, with or without jury; rights and procedures

Section 39I. Any child who is adjudicated a child in need of services may appeal for a trial de novo in a jury-of-six session of the juvenile court department for the county where the hearing is held, as designated by the chief justice of the juvenile court department. Such appeal shall be made by filing a written notice of same by the end of the next business day after the entry of judgment or adjudication, or within such further time as the court may allow.

The child may waive his claim to jury trial and have the appeal heard by a judge without jury. When an appeal is claimed, the clerk of the court in which said claim is filed shall forward forthwith all papers in the case to the clerk of the court designated to hear such appeals. The verdict of the jury shall be unanimous and the court shall enter and record its findings upon the verdict of the jury.

All the rights and procedures provided in sections thirty-nine E to thirty-nine H, inclusive, shall apply at the trial of the appeal. The justice presiding at said trial shall have all the powers and duties of a justice sitting in a juvenile court under this chapter. No justice shall preside over a trial on appeal in a case in which he presided at the initial trial. The trial on appeal in a district court jury session shall be heard in a session set apart from the other business of the district court and devoted exclusively to juvenile cases. This shall be known as the juvenile appeals session and shall have a separate trial list and docket.

An appeal shall not stay the order, judgment or decree appealed from, but the district court or juvenile court may otherwise order, on application and hearing consistent with this chapter, if suitable provision is made for the care and custody of the child.

Review may be had in the appeals court in the same manner as is provided for trials of civil cases held in the superior court department.

Chapter 119: Section 39J. Payment of expenses for services by counties under Secs. 39E to 39I

Section 39J. Expenses for services provided children alleged or adjudicated to be children in need of services shall be paid by the county in which the court sits upon written certification thereof by the court. The clerk of court shall collect and transmit to the county treasurer, or, in Suffolk county, to the auditor of Boston, hereinafter included in the term “county treasurer”, together with an attested copy of the court’s order, all bills and vouchers for the costs of any services authorized by the court under the provisions of sections thirty-nine E to thirty-nine I, inclusive. The county treasurer shall keep a record of all payments made for said services, including therein the name of the child, the name or names and addresses of any public or private organization or persons to whom payment is made, the services for which payment is made, and the date upon which payment was made. Periodically, according to a schedule established by the treasurer and receiver-general of the commonwealth, the several county treasurers shall requisition funds from the commonwealth to cover such payments made by the counties during the preceding period. The state treasurer shall pay said requisitions from such sums as may have been appropriated or are otherwise available therefor, and he may require any documentation that he deems appropriate before making payment. Any state agency, department or secretariat which provides, operates, maintains, supervises or funds a program under which any of the services authorized in sections thirty-nine E to thirty-nine I, inclusive, are available may, to the extent consistent with the purposes of such program, provide such services or release funds to the state treasurer for reimbursement by him to the counties for services provided by others which are within the scope of the services authorized in said sections thirty-nine E to thirty-nine I, inclusive.

The state treasurer shall on or before December first of each year render a written report to the general court containing statistics showing the purpose and amounts of expenditures for said services by the various counties for which the commonwealth has made reimbursement, and making such recommendations for change in the law as he shall see fit.

February 11, 2008

Parent spurs change in juvenile court policy

By Thomas Caywood TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF

WORCESTER— For years parents have been shut out of a type of juvenile court hearing in which children with serious behavioral problems could be placed in foster homes.

In some cases, parents were told by juvenile court judges they could be represented at the hearings, but only if they could afford to hire a private lawyer.

That all changed last week, in part because of a local mother who took her fight against the policy all the way to the state’s highest court.

The state Supreme Judicial Court ruled Tuesday that parents who can’t afford to hire a lawyer have a right to be represented at public expense in “child in need of services,” or CHINS, hearings when the court could grant custody of the child to the state Department of Social Services. In such cases, parents may lose custody for the good of an unruly child, not because they were deemed unfit to care for the child.

“Kids do better when parents stay involved, but until now we had a policy that essentially allowed a CHINS petition involving a transfer of custody to happen without any involvement from the parent,” said Lisa Lambert, executive director of the Parent/Professional Advocacy League.

DSS argued unsuccessfully in court that the parent isn’t entitled to be represented at the hearings because a CHINS proceeding focuses on a child’s behavior, not the fitness of a parent.

In a statement through a spokesman, DSS Commissioner Angelo McClain didn’t directly address the court’s ruling.

“Generally speaking, parents should not have to lose custody to get services. The CHINS system should be transformed in a way that allows families to access in-home and out-of-home behavioral health services without giving up custody,” Mr. McClain said.

Ms. Lambert, whose organization advocates on behalf of families of children and adolescents with mental health needs, said CHINS is the last bastion of a state social services system that once routinely forced desperate parents to trade custody for services.

“It’s hard to know exactly how many this decision is going to affect, but we think it’s going to be significant,” she said.

In an average month, the Worcester County Juvenile Court has a caseload of nearly 780 CHINS cases, according to state figures provided by Ms. Lambert. That works out to about 11 percent of the state’s average monthly caseload of 6,764 CHINS cases.

CHINS cases accounted for 20 percent of all instances in which DSS placed a child outside of his or her home for at least one day in 2005. Most were girls, and about half were 14 or 15 years old, according to the state figures.

Because the SJC case involved a minor, the name of the mother and where she lives aren’t listed in the high court’s decision. The case originated in Worcester Juvenile Court, and the mother was represented by a court-appointed lawyer from the Worcester office of the Committee for Public Counsel Services.

A Worcester Juvenile Court judge issued a CHINS petition on the woman’s daughter in May after the girl ran away from a foster home she had just been placed in by DSS. The judge allowed the mother to be represented at the June hearing on the state’s CHINS petition, but refused to appoint her a lawyer at public expense.

The mother challenged the judge’s ruling on the basis that it violated her right to legal representation, as well as her right to due process and equal protection under the law.

En route to the SJC, the local mother’s case was combined with a similar one brought by a Haverhill mother. In that case, a juvenile court judge ruled the mother had no right to be heard at a CHINS hearing except at a judge’s discretion.

“If the judge wanted to hear from them, that was fine, but until now parents didn’t have the legal right to be involved,” Ms. Lambert said. “The bottom line is kids do better when the parent stays involved, and this allows them to do that.

Children First Advocacy and or their employees or sub contractors do not provide legal advice in any situation. Children First Advocacy provides services associated with procedural actions concerning allegations child abuse or neglect and educational issues facing children and families in Massachusetts.