MYTHS & FACTS ABOUT CHILD WELFARE

           

   

Myth:  A child must be at least twelve years old to be left alone or to watch other children.

 

Fact: There is no law that specifies at what age a child can be left alone or in charge of other children.  Parents have the responsibility to provide supervision and care of their children up to age 18.  There are many factors to consider in deciding if your child can be left alone for a period of time.  These may include but are not limited to:

 

  • Maturity of the child;

 

  • Ability of the child to reach a parent or caregiver;

 

  • Length of time child is alone and/or babysitting;

 

  • Developmental issues or special needs of the child;

 

  • Ability of the child to respond in an emergency situation;

 

If there is an incident at the home and the police are contacted, they must decide whether or not to charge a parent criminally. If we are notified, we may assess the situation and will work with you to determine if your children were or are unsafe.

 

Myth:  Parents who are the subject of a Children Services Report are entitled to the identity of the reporter.

 

Fact:  While in many cases, individuals who are the subject of a report believe they know the identity of the reporter, the reporter’s identity is protected by federal and state confidentiality laws.  A Children Services agency cannot confirm, deny or reveal the identity of the reporting source.

 

Myth:  There is a limit to the number of people who can live in a single home together.

 

Fact:  Foster care and day care homes must comply with licensing rules but for a family household, there is no law that governs how many people can live in a family residence.  The number of people in a home may be regulated by landlords or housing assistance programs such as Metropolitan Housing or Section 8, but cannot be regulated by Children Services as long as the child’s basic and safety needs are being met.

 

Myth:  Children who are opposite sex cannot share a bedroom.

 

Fact:  Foster care and day care homes must comply with licensing rules which may require that children of opposite sex do not share a bedroom but for a family household, there are no laws or rules that limit the number of children sharing a room or prevent male and female children from sharing a room unless one of the children is harming another.  It is the responsibility of the parent to ensure that privacy needs of the child are being met.

 

Myth:  If I am not satisfied with custody arrangements, I can contact Children Services for assistance.

 

Fact:  Generally, Children Services does not have the legal authority to intervene in private custody proceedings.  If a report of abuse or neglect is made, Children Services can assess the situation.  If a child is identified as being at risk of harm in their home environment, steps may be taken to protect the child.  Children Services cannot alter court orders regarding custody arrangements and cannot make parents provide visitation with their child, “be on time” for their visits or tell parents how they should spend their visitation time with their child.  These are civil matters and should be addressed by the parent’s attorney.  A parent can seek legal advice through Legal Aid 740-374-2629 or 1-800-837-2630 or can obtain paperwork that can be filed with the court to address these matters from the local library.

 

Myth:  When Children Services receive a report, they automatically remove children from the home.

 

Fact:  When Children Services receives a report, the information is screened to determine if the child subject of the report is at risk of harm.  If the information obtained warrants the agency to intervene, a caseworker is assigned and makes contact with the family and child victim to determine the risk to the child.  If the child is identified as being at immediate and serious risk of harm, the agency may need to remove the child from the unsafe situation either through implementation of a safety plan or through legal removal of the child.  When it is determined that the child must be legally removed from the home, law enforcement or a court of law must order the removal of the child.  There are several court proceedings that will be held to ensure that the continued removal of the child is necessary to protect the child from harm.  The Children Services agency will then work with the family in development of a case plan they can follow in order for the child to be returned to the home.