TOC Next Previous


The Intervention Cycle

  1. The
    agency receives a report of child abuse or neglect from the community.
    (The steps in the typical process cycle described here are from Ohio’s
    process and may vary in other locations.) The agency does not have the
    authority to initiate an investigation or an assessment without a request
    from the family or a report from the community.
  2. The
    investigation is initiated within one to twenty-four hours of the receipt
    of the report, depending on the severity of the report.
  3. The
    report is thoroughly investigated and assessed by conferring with the
    reporter and by interviewing the alleged victim, all members of the
    victim’s household, the alleged perpetrator, and when appropriate, the
    schools, neighbors, law enforcement officials, etc. (If the report is not
    supported by the investigation, the agency’s involvement with the family
    terminates at this point.)
  4. The
    risk of future abuse to the child is assessed using a combination of a
    risk assessment tool and professional judgment.

agency may determine that the child can safely remain in the home with the
provision of mental health, drug and alcohol, intensive home-based, or other

If the
child cannot safely remain in the home, the agency asks the child’s parents to
identify appropriate relatives (to be approved by the agency) such as
grandparents with whom the child may be voluntarily placed by the parents and
safely live on a temporary basis.

If the
results of the assessment indicate that the child cannot safely remain in the
home and no appropriate relatives are identified, the agency petitions the
juvenile court for an emergency ex-parte order of custody; and if granted, the
child is removed from the home and is placed with a licensed foster family or
in another appropriately certified care setting. (If the order is not granted,
the child remains with his family.)

  1. If an
    ex-parte order of custody is granted, within twenty-four or seventy-two
    hours (if removal occurs over a weekend or holiday), the juvenile court
    holds a hearing to determine whether either continuing the agency’s
    temporary custody, awarding custody to a relative or other appropriate
    caretaker, or returning the child to his family and requiring protective supervision
    by the agency is warranted.

agency is represented in court by the District or Prosecuting Attorney.

are represented in court by legal counsel (court appointed if financially

court may appoint a guardian-ad-litem to represent the child.

If the
court decides that it is warranted, the child will remain in the custody of the
agency and adjudicatory (to determine whether the child is an abused,
neglected, or dependent child) and dispositional (to determine the action to be
taken if the child is an abused, neglected, or dependent child) hearings will
be scheduled. These hearings must be held within ninety days from the filing of
the original complaint.

continuing separation of the child from the family is deemed unwarranted by the
court, the child is returned to his family with either an order for the agency
to provide Protective Supervision or an order to terminate further legal

  1. If
    the court determines that continuing agency involvement is warranted
    either through continuing temporary custody or protective supervision, a
    case plan is developed including the agency, the child’s parents, and the
    guardian-ad-litem, setting forth the activities that need to be performed
    by each party in order to achieve full “reunification” of the
    child with his parents. (The activities in the case plan are time
    limited.) If there is disagreement among the parties regarding the
    contents of the case plan, the court holds a hearing to resolve the
    differences. Once finalized, either through agreement or court decision,
    the court journalizes the case plan, giving it the status of a court
  2. During
    the sixth month following the journalization of the case plan, a formal
    “semi-annual review” is held to assess progress on the case
    plan. Agency representatives, the child’s parents, the guardian-ad-litem,
    the child (if he is old enough to understand), foster parents if the child
    is in foster care, relatives, child serving and treatment professionals,
    and others delivering services in accordance with the case plan attend
    this review. Decisions, based on case plan progress and level of risk, may

work on the case plan for an additional six months.

the child from out-of-home care to the care of the parents with or without
protective supervision.

the child with relatives or in the temporary custody of the child protection
agency with or without modification of the case plan.

the court for: transfer of the child’s custody to relatives or other appropriate
caretaker; especially for older adolescents, an award of PPLA (Planned
Permanent Living Arrangement formerly known as long term foster care) to the
agency; or termination of all parental rights and a grant of permanent custody
of the child to the agency. (The results of this review are reviewed and
journalized by the court.)

  1. Prior
    to the twelfth month, the agency must assess progress on the case plan to
    determine whether or not the agency should file for permanent custody. At
    the point a child has been in custody for any 12 of the past 22 months,
    the agency shall file (absent compelling reasons) and the court may
    permanently sever all parental rights.
  2. During
    the twelfth month, the court holds another dispositional hearing. Again,
    all parties are present for the hearing and represented by legal counsel.
    At this hearing, the court may order:

Any of
the options mentioned above in relation to the semi-annual review.

additional six-months of agency involvement that follows the same or a
court-modified case plan. The same action can again take place at the
eighteen-month point of continuous agency involvement. (Note that the granting
of additional six-month periods can only occur at the discretion of the court
and are based upon the presentation of compelling reasons having been presented
to and accepted by the court.) At the end of the two years, the court must
terminate agency involvement, award PPLA, or award permanent custody to the
agency. If the agency is granted permanent custody, the child is free for

TOC Next Previous