How it Begins

A child protection case generally starts with social services being notified that a parent or parents are not adequately providing for their child’s physical, emotional, or educational needs. If social services feels that the information warrants intervention, they will contact the family to begin voluntary or involuntary child protection services. With voluntary services, the parent(s) are given an opportunity to work with social services to address any issues without court intervention. With involuntary services, either the county or a concerned third party files a petition with the court to force the parent(s) to engage in services.


If the initial allegations are serious enough that social services feels that the child is in immediate danger of harm if he or she stays in the home, the child may be removed from the home, in which case there must be what is called an Emergency Protective Care Hearing within 72 hours. At this hearing, the judge will decide whether the child should be placed in foster care as the proceedings progress or whether the child should be returned home.

Reasonable Efforts

In almost all instances, the county is required to make reasonable efforts to reunite the child with his or her parent(s). To this end, they will create a case plan that the parent(s) must work on in order to resolve the problems that led to the intervention of social services. Social services is only required to make these efforts for a limited amount of time, however, and if the parent fails to resolve the initial problems in that time, social services may petition for involuntary termination of parental rights.

Child Protection Attorney

Juvenile procedures follow an entirely separate set of rules than many other civil law matters. For this reason, and because of the enormity of what is at stake in a child protection case, it is very important to get in touch with a child protection attorney to help develop a comprehensive, workable caseplan and fight for your rights as a parent. If you find yourself in need of a child protection attorney, give us a call at (952) 955-8008 or send us an e-mail at!


Written By: Associate Attorney, Micaela Wattenbarger