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CHINS: Child in Need of Services

Skilled Fishers Attorneys Protecting Your Parental Rights

Your parental rights might be at risk if you have been contacted by the Department of Child Services regarding allegations of abuse or neglect. Upon receiving such reports, DCS will investigate the claim and, if it is substantiated, will file a Child in Need of Services (CHINS) case, which could result in you losing custody of your child.

If you are under investigation by DCS, we can help you understand the process and help you maintain custody of your child.

Who Is a Child in Need of Services?

A CHINS is a child under 18 years of age (or person 18, 19, or 20 years of age who was previously involved in a CHINS case) who was subject to abuse or neglect and the parents or guardians refused or were unable to provide necessary care.

The CHINS categories include:

  • A child who is a victim of physical abuse
  • A child who is a victim of sexual abuse
  • A child whose parents or guardians allow them to participate in prohibited sex acts
  • A child who is a danger to self or others
  • A child who is disruptive at school and whose parents do not participate in disciplinary proceedings
  • A child who is a missing person
  • A child who has disorders because his or her mother did drugs or drank alcohol while pregnant
  • A child who had drugs or alcohol in his or her system at birth

How Does a CHINS Case Get Started?

When a person suspects that a child is being abused or neglected and believes the parents or guardians are not providing the care the child needs, they must file a report to the police or DCS.

When DCS receives the report, it will begin a thorough investigation of the claim. A family case manager will be assigned to the family, and they will interview the child, the parents or guardians, and siblings to determine if abuse or neglect has occurred. If a case manager has contacted you about an abuse or neglect claim, reach out to our Fishers defense attorneys to help you through this process and provide you with options if you are facing false allegations.

What Happens After the Case Manager’s Investigation?

After the case manager interviews the family, they will report that the claim was unsubstantiated or substantiated. An unsubstantiated claim is one in which the evidence gathered during the investigation does not suggest that abuse or neglect has occurred.

A substantiated claim is one in which evidence demonstrates that abuse or neglect has occurred. If the claim was substantiated, the case manager might recommend that the family participate in services before having a DCS attorney file a CHINS petition.

The services can include:

  • Service Referral Agreement: The family voluntarily participates in a six-month program and develops a family safety plan.
  • Informal Adjustment: The family is required to participate in a six-month program to remedy abuse or neglect.

If the family refuses to participate in the services, the case manager may then request that a CHINS petition be filed.

A CHINS case can involve the following:

  • Initial hearing: The parents or guardians admit to or deny the allegations.
  • Fact-finding hearing: If the allegations were denied, a fact-finding hearing will take place, during which DCS presents evidence of abuse or neglect.
  • Dispositional hearing: If the parents or guardians admitted to the abuse or neglect, or if DCS provides evidence that demonstrates the allegations are true, a dispositional hearing will take place. During this hearing, the court will decide on the measures necessary to protect the child.

Measures can include:

  • Removing the child from the home
  • Ordering the child to receive outpatient treatment
  • Placing the child in foster care
  • Emancipating the child, either fully or partially

The court will review the case every 6 months to ensure the child’s needs are being met. If circumstances have not improved, DCS may decide to terminate the parents’ rights.

Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation

At Massillamany Jeter & Carson LLP, we know this process can be emotional and stressful: The future of your family is at stake. Our experienced Fishers CHINS lawyers will provide skilled legal representation to help you keep your parental rights. We have 150 years of combined legal experience providing effective counsel to individuals in similar circumstances and will use our insight and knowledge to work toward a favorable outcome for you.

Call us at (317) 434-1490 or contact us online to discuss your case.

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