DHS - DCFS

DHS - DCFS

Having the Department of Children and family Services (DCFS) division of the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) knock on your door can be one of the most terrifying things that can happen to a family. All it takes for them to intrude into your lives is for someone to make an annonymous and unsubstantiated call to the DCFS Hotline to open you and your family up to the most intrusive, and we would argue, agregious violation of your Constitutional rights. The actions of this agency one would think can only happen in a country like China, North Korea, or any other totalitarian government. This agency, and many child protective agencies around the country, have been allowed to operate unchecked for decades; as a result we have a record number of children in foster homes and parents that have had their parental rights terminated for the slimmest of reasons, as there is profit in the foster care industry that is funded by Federal Title IV-E and B money.

Initial contact

Contrary to what the caseworkers at DCFS will tell you, they do not have a right to come into your home, order you to come to their office, interrogate your child(ren) out of your presense and without a lawyer present, or without a warrant and without your consent. They may show up with law enforcement to make you believe they have that right but absent an obvious emergency they do not. If DCFS shows up at your door politely ask them if they have a warrant, if they say they don't need one politely say "yes you do, get a warrant and then you can come in." Also, tell them they can contact your attorney to arrange for an interview of you and your child(ren) whether in your home at the DCFS office, but that you will have an attorney present. This agency, like any state or federal agency, must operate under the Constitution and every word of the US and State Constitutions apply to DCFS.

72 Hour Hold - Probable Cause

DCFS does have the legal right to sieze your child(ren) on a 72 hour emergency hold when the child(ren) are in danger of imminent harm, however, that gets extended in nearly every case by a Probable Cause Petition to keep the children in custody and that hearing must be done within five days of filing the petition, not the 72 hour hold so the 72 hour maximum is really meaningless. If your children are taken you need to contact private counsel right away, the court can appont you an attorney at the Probable Cause hearing, but unfortunately they are paid from from the same source as the attorney representing DHS/DCFS and the attorney ad litem that is supposed to represent the best interests of the child, the conflicts are obvious.

Adjudication

Once DCFS has been given custody of your child(ren) an Adjudication hearing must be held within sixty days to determine whether the child(ren) are "dependent neglected" or not. This is the most important hearing because this starts the clock for them to terminate your parental rights. You must have competent legal representation and should they rule against you, you only have twenty days to appeal it, if you do not you cannot bring up any issue of why they took your kids later, and that is outrageous but true.

Public Awareness

Inform your family and your friends about DHS/DCFS, research the issue as it is a national scandal. Contact your Congress person, your state representative and senator, and demand that DCFS and the abuse of Title IV-E money be investigated. Until DCFS knocks on one's door the public has no idea how vulnerable they are to an agency that believes your children and how you parent are under their domain; the Constitution says otherwise and we need to make this agency accountable for the devestation thay have caused and continue to cause to our children and families. Termination of a parent's parental rights is a death sentence to the parent and the child, the decision to terminate a parent's rights should be made by a jury after hearing all evidence and not left up to caseworkers and a judge.