Child In Need of Care
In the year 2011, our division filed 786 Child in Need of Care (CINC) cases. This number reflects a continued a trend of increased filings which started in 2008. CINC cases are divided into Truancy concerns, or not attending school as required by Kansas Law, and cases involving abuse, neglect or runaway type behaviors. Of the 786 cases filed, 225 were truancy related and 561 were based on abuse, neglect or dangerous conduct of the juvenile. A CINC case is initiated by a report to law enforcement or the Kansas Department of Children and Family Services (DCF), followed by an investigation and a referral the District Attorney’s Office. Truancy referrals are made by the schools or school district.
Just as in Johnson County cases, there are several options early on in a case. Most CINC referrals are made to DCF (the local area DCF office is 913-826-7300). DCF must screen out these referrals and decide which ones merit further investigation. In cases where criminal conduct is alleged (such as abuse), law enforcement will also be asked to help investigate and criminal action may be the result. If the allegations are such that the child could be "harmed", law enforcement has the authority to take the child into custody. In such cases, the court must hear the case within 72 hours to decide whether the child should remain in custody or go home while the CINC case is pending. In the great majority of cases, DCF works with the family without any court filing or intervention.
If a CINC case is filed with the court, an attorney will be appointed to represent the child’s best interests. This attorney is called a guardian ad litem. The child’s parents or guardians are also authorized to retain an attorney to represent their interests. If the parents or guardians are deemed indigent, an attorney may be appointed on their behalf.
In CINC cases, the court must first determine whether all parents and grandparents have been properly notified. Then the court must determine if the child is "in need of care" (meaning, that the child is without proper care or supervision, or has been abused, or is truant, or other statutory reasons). If the court finds the child to be a CINC, the court has tremendous authority to make orders for the child and family. The court may order the child and parents to obtain counseling or treatment. The court may order the child placed in the custody of a relative or in state custody.
If the child is placed in DCF custody and ordered by the court live out of the home, the court may require the parents to complete tasks necessary to establish the child may be safely returned home. The parents will also be required to pay child support to DCF for the time the child is placed out of the home. If the parents fail to complete the tasks assigned by the court, the court may consider termination of parental rights or permanent placement with a family member. The goal in all CINC cases is to have the child remain in the home when it is safe to do so. Termination of parental rights is only considered after all attempts to reunite the family have failed.